Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Training Technicians to Please Your Customers

March 10, 2003
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Virtually all technician training, at the company level as well as the certification level, is focused on what we view to be the most common problem in residential carpet cleaning: emergency spot and spill help.

Closer to the truth is that the most common problem your customer has is “dirty carpets” that they wait too long to clean.

That, of course, is why we refer to ourselves as “carpet cleaners” rather than “carpet spotters.” After many years of observation, I have reached the conclusion that customers aren’t interested in the inconvenience and expense of cleaning carpets in their homes, especially the way it is all too commonly performed. What customers really want are clean and dry carpets with no waiting, and they will go for long periods of time with unsightly carpets in their homes until finally, in desperation, they resort to calling a carpet cleaner because they just don’t know a better way to solve their problem.

Warning
Because of powerful competition quietly addressing this exact customer problem at this very moment, it is now time for you to crank up your training and education efforts to ensure that the carpets your technicians clean dry very, very rapidly. Take a quick trip back to the 1980s with me for just a moment . . .

Remember all the disillusioned residential carpet owners, especially the very unhappy and dissatisfied customers that you have talked with since the stain-resist nylon revolution began? The marketing program presented to the public by the manufacturers was like nothing we or the consumer had ever seen, and what burned in our minds, and in our customers’ minds, was an image of the unbelievable ease with which terrible spills were wiped up right in front of our eyes.

The message the consumer received loud and clear was “This carpet will stay clean!” Forget any other intended message, because “This carpet will stay clean!” is exactly what they wanted to hear. The rest is history.

People Purchase or Ask for Things They Want, Not Things They Need
Your customer wants clean and dry carpet. That’s why they buy magic potions at the supermarket and attempt spot-and-spill removal themselves, to try and restore their carpet to a clean appearance without dealing with the inconvenience of wet carpet for a day or more (or 6 to 8 hours at best). Quite frequently their efforts produce less than satisfactory results:

  • The spot or spill spreads, making the carpet look worse, or
  • The spot or spill comes out, only to return looking worse a week later, or
  • The spot or spill comes out completely, leaving a noticeably clean area that makes the rest of the carpet look dirty.

    Of course you, the professional, know that your customer needs to maintain the carpet properly. They need walk-off mats, they need a well-maintained vacuum cleaner and good vacuuming procedures, and they need a spot removal program available when an accident occurs. They need their carpets cleaned periodically by a professional who is committed to keeping the carpet looking clean as long as possible. This can only happen if the carpet dries quickly with a minimal of residue

    So What’s the Problem?
    The problem is that customers have no one to guide them. Too many cleaners just want to clean the carpet, collect the money and come back next year. The retailer that sold the carpet wants to sell it, get the money and hear from them in five to seven years to replace the old with new. The supermarket wants to sell them a magic potion, sell them some more, then rent them a cleaning unit (along with some more magic potions). Is it any wonder the consumer has become so jaded?

    Educating your customers is a must in this “Grumpy Consumer” era. If you as an owner/manager can grasp the concept, sell it to your employees through constant training, and truly make the commitment as a team, a profitable future will be assured by your customers. But before you can educate your customers, you must first get your own house in order.

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