This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the second quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Never in the history of our industry has the need for a Code of Ethics been so apparent as NOW. The BLITZ of newspaper advertising that is appearing in the nation's newspapers is horrible. A local firm has advertised a certain area for $19.95. He has been doing this for over a year. I don't object to unit pricing, but I do object to the newspaper allowing the words THIS WEEK ONLY, to be included every week. In 1969 I tossed out thousands of dollars worth of sales aids that had the words OLD method over a picture of a shampooer with a large X marked on it. The flyers were reprinted without the X and the words conventional method. The shampoo method is still a very acceptable method of carpet cleaning.
Ads designed to confuse the consumer as to methods used are wrong. Our profession is an HONORABLE one. Ads designed to downgrade a competitor utilizing deceiving wording or false facts are without HONOR. Not only is the carpet cleaner wrong in using these tactics but even more so is the newspaper that sells the space with no concern as the validity of the ad. These same publishers are the ones you will find giving lip service on local consumer protection boards and naturally the good old Better Business Bureau.
The worst offenders in the industry are the Von Schrader people. A sample of one of their latest publications is a good example. This is outright FABRICATION of legitimate facts put together to create an impression that can not be substantiated. They WON the respect of the "prestigious Nationwide Consumer Testing Institute."
They BOUGHT it. The NCTI was simply doing a job they were paid to do and the Director is highly qualified and was able to deliver what Von Schrader had to have. A copy of this ad is being forwarded to every carpet manufacturer listed in the Carpet & Rug Institute 1977 Directory, to find out if, in fact, they tested all methods and selected the Von Schroder method as the outstanding, premium, highest rated, or whatever you called it, over other forms of cleaning, such as shampoo or steam extraction.
I have three suggestions at the present time. (1) Don't stoop to their tactics and fight them with paid ads. This only gives them free newspaper space and supports the newspaper who is also at fault and doesn't deserve extra profits from his deeds. (2) Offer to your customer a dry foam method. I have been doing this for ten years. To date, I have found THREE occasions where it was requested and in two of the cases, it was the proper method. It is offered at about 50% of the cost of steam cleaning and 75% of the price of rotary shampoo. (3) The most important duty you can do is to write a letter to every Trade Association you belong to and urge them to join in a current attempt to obtain a Code of Ethics with the blessing of the Professional Carpet Cleaners through their Associations. We will then be able to put a stop to these highly unethical practices. Until then, keep your ads full of consumer education and awareness. Yours is an HONORABLE profession. Don't cheapen it by joining the hucksters.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the second quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Guinness Book of Records may not have the results of a recent straw poll listed, but the fact still remains that customers are now paying more per square foot than ever recorded previously. This may come as a shock to many doubting Thomases, who will show numerous advertising specials at a ridiculously low price. Strange as it may seem, they are also correct. The question then arises, as to how can this be?
How is it that some customers are paying record low prices, while others are paying higher total costs than ever? The obvious answer comes swiftly when you look at the big picture. More homeowners than ever are having their carpets cleaned. The prestige cleaners selling quality at a premium price are ADVERTISING their services more than their predecessors ever did. The price merchandisers are placing LARGE display ads in their newspapers. Stop by your local paper someday and check out papers ten years ago, or longer. Try to find an advertisement telling the home-owners that their carpets are dirty.
Hallelujah... The Pied Piper has been shouting this theme for the past decade to assembled cleaners. All we have to do is make the public AWARE that having clean carpets are the IN thing. Yes, clean carpets should be made socially acceptable all over our land. When this is done, then and only then will carpet cleaners be able to take their proper place in our society. Can you imagine, carpet cleaners are actually taking VACATIONS with their families? They are talking: Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico and all sorts of attractive vacation spots, formerly only discussed as where their customers went.
Now once again what determines the prices paid for carpet cleaning. It is not determined by the customer. It is determined by the carpet cleaner. He can be the cheapest in town or the most expensive. He only has to let the consumer know what he is offering. There are folks that want the economy of a Datsun or Pinto, and those that want the Lincolns and the Cadillacs. People who are now paying three times as much for their homes as they did a few short years ago, can and WILL pay for quality work if they know where to obtain it. They still won't, and for this, I'm most thankful, pay premium prices for natty, non-informed, non-professional appearing WORKERS, that have a HIPPY-like-van parked in front. They will pay the professional, that not only does professional work, but most important, looks professional.
So, fellow carpet cleaners, stop complaining about today's customers. If you are not getting your share of this Bonanza Market, then take a look at the home base. Today's consumer are beautiful people willing to purchase your service and pay the price. If you want to offer "price" carpet cleaning then there are those that will want your services. If you prefer to upgrade your package and do prestige work, then charge 22 cents or 28 cents or 30 cents. There is a good market and plenty of takers. DON'T make the mistake of most, however, by offering and pushing prestige cleaning at cheapie prices. The folks who can afford it, won't buy it. They know more than the average carpet cleaner. They know you can't buy quality diamonds at the variety store. So more customers than ever are waiting for your services. Figure out what type of service you want to offer. Price it accordingly. Go to the marketplace and shout your wares. Don't keep them waiting.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the July-August 1975 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Haven't made anyone or any group mad at me this month, so guess I'll stir up the pot some more. After an extremely active summer, meeting with several thousand carpet cleaners throughout the nation at work clinics, conventions and personal visits, I come once again to the conclusion that Carpet Cleaners are still their own worst enemy. Progress has been made, but, unfortunately, it is still at a snail's pace. Before the carpet cleaning industry can take its rightful place of leadership and obtain a true profit picture, changes must be made.
Since our industry is so widespread and loosely knit, better lines of communication must be established. Recently, a Board of Director member of one of the older statewide associations on the West Coast told me his group should give me a trophy. Their group had suffered a decrease of members. Their meetings were irregular, with little new blood showing up. In fact, they were torn with internal strife. SCT, on the other hand, was moving forward. In order to combat SCT's growth, the group's members had some emergency meetings and started to roll forward. Because they started to put something into their program, besides "lip service", their group once again started to function. They now are most active and truly serving their members. They are all working to "out-class" SCT. Guess SCT has served as a most useful catalyst! Funny or tragically, it is a fact that in order to act, we must have a common enemy. I'm positive this same group could have obtained their present status and probably even more so, if they had applied the same effort towards a different goal, such as the 86% of dirty carpets now installed in America. This time our industry lucked out but unfortunately most of the time it has been the other way around.
Traditionally, carpet cleaners have received from 10 cents to 15 cents per square foot for their work. Along came a new method which was dubbed "steam." The old-timers wouldn't accept it, so non-professionals entered the market, and with some advertising, were not only able to sell it to the consumer but able to obtain from 20 cents to 30 cents per square foot. In their enthusiasm, however, they kept pushing the old-pro to try it. They finally succeeded, and the first thing that happened was the old-pro dropped his prices. The more old-pros that entered the "steam" field, the more the prices dropped until the old time standard was once again reached.
In 1969, I introduced "method" selling. This was geared to offer a variety of methods, instead of discounting or "panning" all other methods available. The significant difference was that each method carried a different price. The consumer loved it and was happy to pay more for "steam" than rotary. She paid more for the combination than one method. In fact, she was happy to pay additional for our "premium" service. Wasn't long, however, until the old-pro figured out how to do the same thing, but since it cost very little if any more, to charge the same price. In fact, rather than keep the methods different; in order to have a different price structure, it was now standard to do it all for the old traditional price. In 1974, "Package" selling was introduced but lay dormant until Blue Ribbon Carpet Service of San Diego put it to work. It was immediately effective and pushed their average job from 12 cents to 22 cents. Rather than keep his success a secret, this on-location carpet cleaner freely distributed the facts and know-how to all who would listen. It is not only working in San Diego but all over America where the bold new breed is presenting it. The tragedy lies in the fact that the subject is now being "poo-pooed" by the old-pro. In fact, a recent circular was distributed to members of an association advising them of an upcoming meeting regarding the "CONTROVERSIAL PACKAGE" selling method.
ADVERTISING...In some areas, carpet cleaners have joined to promote CLEAN CARPETS. Once again the old-pro has risen to the occasion. He has doubled his Yellow Pages advertising. If a person would check their local telephone Yellow Pages, and count up how much money is being spent in the quest to snare this estimated 14% of the market rather than devote this money to 86% of the market untouched by Yellow Pages, they should hang their heads. Oh yes, the Yellow Page salesman comes by once a year and makes a hero out of you, but try to find him 60 days later when the first bill becomes due. They don't have to be available, they have a 100% mortgage on YOUR BUSINESS. The biggest advertising program I have ever seen was in Santa Barbara, California. There TWO old-pros spent hundreds of dollars every week telling the consumer how horrible the other one was. They managed to destroy a very lucrative market. Sure, folks in Santa Barbara are still having their carpets cleaned, but what would have happened if these two GIANTS had advertised Constructively rather than Destructively.
"STEAM"...Rather than devote our efforts to creating standards, our industry is still being torn apart by our industry on the position of whether steam is "Steam." Instead of performance bond issues and quality standards, a Carpet Cleaning non-steam equipment manufacturer in Wisconsin caused so much pressure on the Milwaukee Better Business Bureau to try and outlaw steam that the Attorney General has been brought into the Act. A test suit will take place in September. The Wisconsin Attorney General will tackle a small Independent Carpet Cleaner on the horrible crime of offering "steam" cleaning to his customers. At the same time, the old-pro firm is flooding the nation with flyers on how a person can enter the carpet industry with nothing more than a DRY FOAMER and make a bundle. I'm confident if the Attorney General of Wisconsin was hit in the face with a handful of DRY FOAM, he would find it quite WET. Too bad their legal arm isn't aimed at requiring the firms at least to have a business license and a small consumer protection bond. My hat is off to a small group of Professional Carpet Cleaners who make up a Wisconsin Association who have hired an attorney to make sure "steam" is at least represented fairly. SCT has offered to help with legal costs. I wonder where'n'ell are AIDS. RCI. CCI. OHIO ASSOCIATION, and the other big guns during this time of put up or shut up. The way this case turns out will have a powerful effect on all CARPET CLEANERS.
EFFORTS...Our efforts of today will set the pace for tomorrow's future. Do we have to continue to fight among ourselves? Regardless of our names, type of equipment we use, and supplies we like, we have a common enemy-- consumer apathy toward clean carpets. Dirty Carpets should be our enemy and not a method, or type of tool or personality.
I am firmly convinced that while I am one, the only thing wrong with the Carpet Cleaning Industry, is Carpet Cleaners.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post was written by Ed York in the October 1971 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Correspondence from a man in Denver, wanting information about steam cleaning and what it costs, how it works etc. Plain stationery, with typing as bad as mine. I sent what I could from time to time and decided to stop by last week while in Denver. The Yellow Pages told me that he had been the leader in STEAM since 1965, looked like a big company, with my mans name as the PRESIDENT. Evidently, he is a sneaky Pete that is afraid to come out from under the rocks.
I have many competitors that correspond with their own names. My friend, Gene Bates of Steam Genie always takes time to have long talks on the pros and cons. We respect each other, and I'm sure would help each other if the need arrives. I often wonder who these weasels think they are fooling. If their product was half what they claim, it would stand up to discussion. I'm trying to get the carpet cleaners to establish friendly relationships with each other to improve the overall image and uplift the entire industry. Then, to discover that manufacturers are some of the worse offenders. The carpet cleaning industry needs and must have LEADERS, not sneaky petes.
CALL YOUR COMPETITOR...
Rather than spend frustrating minutes trying to check out your competitor with phony calls for pricing etc., give him a call. Introduce yourself, and your company. Tell him what you are charging. Tell him honestly that you do not want to obtain jobs by cutting his price, and that you AREN'T doing so. You are trying to do a good professional job. It is a proven fact there are more dirty carpets in your town than you and he can both do, working full time. You will be surprised that in most cases, your competitor is just as worried about your attitude and price cutting as you are of his.
I lose all respect for the cleaner that calls his competitor out to FREE estimate his mother-in-law's carpets just to find out how cheap she can get it done. Don't wait for him to start upgrading his profession... You start it! I challenge you to call your most miserable competitor and take him to lunch. You will find some interest in common, and both discover the other guy isn't as bad as you had built him up to be. He will think twice the next time you run head-on in the field because he remembers your good points. Plus, he has to see you over lunch next Wednesday, when he repays your hospitality.
We have two SSA members in a smaller town. They fight like cats and dogs, with me in the middle. I can't seem to get through to them that they are both doing better business and better work than ever. With their effort to outdo each other, they are waking up the customers to the fact they are living on dirty rugs, and need them cleaned. Let's stop trying to beat our competitor's price and start cleaning up our own towns dirty carpets.
The Elements of a Successful Business
Lewis Migliore of Magic Steam Cleaning in Rochester, New York has been a part of the cleaning industry since 1973. He is currently a Regional Supervisor for IICUC, a Regional Coordinator for SCT and a member of Ed York's Consultant Sales Team.
Magic Steam Carpet Cleaning, Inc., owned by Lewis and Bruce Migliore, was started in March of 1973 with the philosophy of delivering quality service at a fair price as well as becoming the biggest and best in its field. This was quite a task, but not impossible for two brothers who have been successful and determined since boyhood days. The organization has grown, in this short period, to cover an area of 10,000 square feet and employs five full-time people plus a number of sub-contractors and agents. The plan we follow is not without pitfalls and problems and certainly should not be considered perfect, for we continually investigate and improve each aspect of the business. As we grow, we learn and as we learn, we change things to be more profitable, easier, more efficient and less costly, regardless of what it takes. One thing we are not afraid to do is change when it is necessary. All these statements are generalizations, but our business functions on a careful balance which no one is exempt from adhering to. This is the most important reason for our success.
From point one, our exposure to the public maintains an important image whether it be yellow pages, newspaper, T.V., or radio. Our business tie-ins with the largest and most recognized carpet and furniture retailers, the Hoover Co., Welcome Wagon, beauty salons, auto dealers, realtors, contractors, etc., keep our name in front of the public. But the only reason they do this is because they are dealt with sincerely by business people, not people in business for themselves.
When our phones ring they are answered by a pleasant voice which smiles and is nothing but cheerful, courteous, and can sell! Our girl's job is to get us in the home or business for a written estimate, or if that is not possible, which is relatively rare, they sell over the phone and sell our best package besides, with very little trouble. All work is written up on job sheets specifically by our girls or by inspectors making calls. Any agent who works with us must supply the same information for his jobs or they are "No-Go's".
Our men are prompt, courteous, knowledgeable, neat, skilled and well-equipped. We treat them well and pay them well and they deliver for us. They are "the company" in many cases. We have very little turnover of personnel, but we demand they produce! We do not skimp by on "cheap" chemicals or equipment. If it is evaluated as beingbetter but costing more, and yet can justify our use of it, we buy. If not, it doesn't get in. Our men also leave our customers with evaluation sheets to critique our business and a carpet care guide. We know how long each job takes, who did it, when it was done, where, how, where they got our name, why they purchased their service from us, etc., etc., etc. We take cash, check, Master Charge, VISA, and if they qualify they can charge for seven days.
Follow-up is imperative! Each customer gets a thank you from us at the end of each month. We keep a separate folder on each job. We make call-backs on all pending, previous, and lead jobs, and it pays. We produce approximately $2000.00 extra per month because we are consistent at follow-up and everybody works at it. It's called paying attention to detail. Our furniture cleaning operation is handled a little differently. We feel it is one of the best in the country and getting better every day. Everything comes to our shop for cleaning and is picked up and delivered in a large truck purchased especially for the furniture operation. All furniture is cleaned by women. Total time from pickup to delivery is 4 days. Our furniture business grows daily as does our entire operation.
We are heavily involved with the Chamber of Commerce, registered with the Better Business Bureau, registered with Dunn and Bradstreet, belong to a neighborhood business group, and are constantly investigating areas to make money. There is much strategy involved in the way our business is run. One point I can give you and it is the most important part of our business. We sell and market SERVICE not cleaning, and that's something that doesn't come cheap. We aren't the first to do it and we won't be the last. There is no reason why everyone shouldn't be doing the same. It's probably the best thing our industry can do. It's a little slower and demands more from everyone, but when it starts to pay off — it comes in bushels. I'm sure that all of us would rather have it that way!
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from the July-August 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
A Phoenix, Arizona firm advertised their carpet cleaning special of $11.95 prior to doing the job. The firm would then make disparaging comments about the special and sell a more expensive service. The firm also offered a customer satisfaction guarantee. According to a suit filed by the Arizona Attorney General's office, the firm wouldn't correct any reported problems or take care of shoddy work.
Wayne K. Brown and Jacqueline Aguayo, operators of Springtime Fresh Carpet Cleaners of Phoenix, Arizona admitted the charges, as well as admitting they would sell their clients a protective coating for the fibers, but would actually spray on a solution containing water.
Along with the other charges, Brown and Ms. Aguayo also admitted to misrepresenting their company as Sunshine House Carpet Cleaning. Sunshine is owned by Donald Kristofferson, long time SCT member who operates a known and respected cleaning company based in Mesa, Arizona.
Brown formerly operated the defunct Anderson Carpet Cleaning and Dyeing Co., located at the same address. This firm ran into trouble earlier for the same illegal practices. $15,000 of the total fine represented costs and fines from a preliminary injunction order in 1979.
This firm is no stranger to Tips N Chat or to SCT with their tactics being the subject of previous complaints. Their misleading advertising has been discussed in Chapter meetings, and Kristofferson had reported the misrepresentation of his firm by Springtime Fresh telephone solicitors who also reportedly claimed SCT membership as well as IICUC Certification.
Prior to Anderson Carpet Cleaning settling in Phoenix, they operated a company in Hawaii. Their advertising and work habits caused a good deal of trouble to SCT members Leith and Jean Anderson, who founded Deep Steam Carpet Cleaning in Hawaii. With Leith being a fourth-generation Hawaiian, and the Anderson family being so well known, it was easy for a potential customer to be confused and call Anderson Carpet Cleaning when they wanted Leith Anderson.
Tips N Chat is happy to report that after almost ten years of misrepresentations, the State of Arizona was able to take punitive action against this operation. In addition, a word of encouragement to the Leith Anderson's o' Hawaii and all the other legitimate carpet cleaners whose integrity and professional image was tainted along the way by the shoddy ethics of Brown and Aguayo.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an Ed Sez article all about Ed York's position in the carpet cleaning industry. It was featured in the March/April 1980 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location cleaning technicians”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Wearing a Black Hat Isn't Fun
by Ed York
I've been accused of looking for ways to make folks angry at me... that I must do it for fun. Well, let's set the record straight: Wearing a black hat isn't fun. I don't have to search for ways to make folks angry. All I have to do is refuse to walk the same traditional path that others are traveling. No matter if that path is unreasonable or leads to destruction, or simply serves someone's special interest. Well, I've never tried to hide my special interest. I believe in the dignity of the service technician also known as a carpet cleaner. I respect their desire to succeed. I'm also in this business for profit. Now when the time comes that I can't combine these, then it's time for me to leave.
If the industry would grow up and produce leaders who are interested in more than just what they can sell--then there would be no market for me. I can only exist because of the simple fact that someone better isn't doing it. The reason I established a school was because, at that time, the suppliers didn't care enough about their customers to educate them. I established a supply house because suppliers were not willing to carry the necessary but unprofitable little items that every cleaner needs. I helped organize a Certifying body to help provide the carpet cleaner who wanted to earn his stripes some dignity and recognition. SCT came about only because trade associations at that time were places to go once a year as a tax write-off or to gather every month or so for a keg of beer. I continue to issue bulletins every month so carpet cleaners can share knowledge and not handicap their progress by hiding behind a phony "trade secret" cop-out. I continue to bring competitors together, as I truly believe that if they can learn to sit down and have a cup of coffee together, they will work together in harmony against their real enemy: DIRTY CARPETS.
So I challenge those who become riled at me because I upset their apple cart to start giving the carpet cleaner some real, honest leadership. Manufacturers are now building superior equipment, so they don't need to exaggerate its ability. "Tell it like it is." A prominent manufacturer once threatened to sue me because I challenged his salesman for installing a unit with the gas line feeding from a portable gas can sitting in a loop of hoses. The manufacturer now requires factory-approved installation and I don't need to shout.
A chemical manufacturer tells a class of students that breathing mineral spirits isn't harmful. He is angry because I shout WEAR a respirator! A supplier peddles an exclusive Hot Fogger for $550.00 to our members and gives him a $50 discount if he buys TWO. He is furious when I point out that the item has a list price of $425.00 at any pesticide supply house.
The trade magazines continue to publish stories written by and for the glorification of their advertisers. It matters not if the material has any substance. I make no bones about this magazine--it is published as a fun-thing for carpet cleaners to enjoy. It wasn't established to be a crusade or a voice. It is a tragedy that most trade publications provide little more than an ego trip for their advertisers. It evidently doesn't matter if the contents are fabrications merely to highlight a product, as long as the contributor continues to advertise.
If I've ruffled some feathers in the past, then the future should really be interesting. Since I'm not controlled by any special interest group, I'm going to dedicate the future issues of TIPS N CHAT to not only carrying some chit-chat about our good readers, the Carpet Cleaners-- but also to bringing out some true FACTS about our industry that others may not be able to publish. Guess that's enough for now, besides I have to go see my Haberdasher, as I'm buying myself a new BLACK HAT.
~ Ed York (1980)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is a guest editorial written by Michael Thompson regarding economic issues and how carpet cleaners are affected. It was featured in the January/February 1983 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
A recent article by Michael Thompson, Marketing Director for Hydra-Master, in his company's newsletter was so profound. I felt it deserved repeating. It is published as a Guest Editorial, with thanks to Mike.
The economic downturn we are experiencing is having a devastating effect on many professional carpet cleaners throughout the country. Reports are constantly coming in of areas in which carpet cleaners are suffering decreases in business of 50% and more. Regional trade show attendance reflects these losses in sharply curtailed turnouts--cleaners simply do not have the money to spend on travel and lodging this year. Direct mail campaigns to carpet cleaners by suppliers are experiencing record returns of mail out pieces marked "correspondent unknown-undeliverable"-- a further indication of the decline in carpet cleaners. A telephone solicitation of carpet cleaners listed in the yellow pages - many with 1/2 page ads - produces a response from operators that the number called is "disconnected" or "out of service". Trade publications also reflect the malaise or demise syndrome affecting carpet cleaners-- classified ads in these trade journals point out the surrender of many of the industry's "finest." What the hell has happened to our industry?
I believe that many cleaners have forgotten their "roots." When they first began in carpet cleaning, they didn't run a half-page yellow page ad and wait for the phone to ring - they couldn't afford it. In most cases, they began their cleaning career as many a life insurance salesman began his sales career -- first, they sold their family and friends. From there, they contacted acquaintances and neighbors and before long, they had a steady stream of jobs because THEY ASKED FOR THE JOB! Later, as business grew, there came a day when they had a full schedule booked a week or so ahead and had to turn business away. From that point, our carpet cleaner had generally all the business he could handle. He began to be able to advertise in the Yellow pages and gradually increased his ad to a half page at great monthly expense. That done, he became complacent and turned his attention to the myriad duties of managing a growing and increasingly complicated service business.
Then the recession hit and suddenly the telephone stopped it's incessant ringing. Instead of having three trucks head out in the morning with full schedules, it dropped to two and then one. Perplexed, our hero sat in his office and grumbled about how bad business was. Meanwhile, across town, FBN (fly by night) Carpet and Upholstery cleaning were steaming ahead at full tilt doing business as usual ("your entire home carpeting cleaned for only $14.95 -- steam method"). Aware of this, our hero grumbles about the competition being "rip off artists" and "bait and switchers", all of which may or may not be true. The important question is: Are they getting the business because of their low price? Our hero says "yes" and that he can't compete because of his overhead costs - incurred while trying to run a "quality" cleaning business. I say "no", the price is not the reason.
The reason is plainly and simply that FBN Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning gets the business because they ASK FOR THE JOB! Day in and day out they run ads in the PENNYSAVER, the TV booklet in Sunday's paper, and in the local papers. They also, in most cases, run a "boiler room" telephone solicitation campaign calling homes all over their city ASKING FOR THE JOB! "Disgraceful" our hero grumbles, "unethical," his colleagues say--"high-pressure tactics" they chorus. In many areas, they exclude each "schlock operators" from their cleaning associations -- depriving themselves of the opportunity to learn from these successful people. In the mean-time, the public sees only one side of the carpet cleaning business -- the low price, cut-rate, discount-oriented, cut and run carpet cleaners. Is it any wonder carpet cleaning is unfavorably compared with scam businesses?
I think not - but what can be done? The answer should be as clear as the nose on your face: START ASKING FOR THE JOB! You need not set up an expensive "boiler room" operation in order to begin telephone soliciting. If your wife works with you in your business and has a good "phone voice", she can begin your program by contacting customers you have done work for in the past. Once they have all been contacted, obtain a "criss-cross" directory, (listings by street rather than name) and begin calling homes near your existing customers; when you contact these people, you can mention that one of their neighbors is a satisfied customer of yours. When this source of leads is exhausted, I suggest you begin calling people listed in the "criss-cross" directory as living in upper-income areas. The reason for this is that they are more able to afford (and need) your services. From there, you can move to middle-income groups, etc. I strongly suggest you follow up your calls with a direct mail postcard to the person contacted confirming your conversation and thanking them for their time in talking to you. THIS SHOULD BE DONE WHETHER OR NOT YOU GET AN ORDER.
In addition to phone solicitation, there are several things you can do to stir up business. ADVERTISE -- run as large a space ad as you can afford in your local paper. Accentuate quality work, length of time in business in the area, any specialty service you offer, a small free gift with every estimate or whatever else you feel will attract a response. Stay away from price -- you'll lose every time in a price war with the $19.95'ers. PROMOTE -- contact women's clubs, senior citizens clubs (offer them a senior citizen discount), garden clubs, etc., and offer to speak to them about carpet and upholstery cleaning. Explain why they need your service, your methods, etc. This is an excellent source of new business. COLD CALL SALES -- call on commercial accounts -- find out what their cleaning problems are and then figure out how to solve them -- you'll get the job.
The foregoing suggestions are only a few of the things you can do to get your business going again—you can come up with many more if you'll reflect on your past successes for a moment or two. The main thing is to get going NOW, not tomorrow or next week. The sooner you do, the sooner the "recession" will be over for you.
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post addresses sub-contracting between competitors, written by Ed York as a Pied Piper column. It was featured in the March 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
I had the opportunity recently of visiting the St. Louis, Missouri area. The weather was sub-zero and the falling snow was literally whipped back and forth by the cold wind, but I must admit I felt exceptionally warm inside. It came from seeing the results of a small regional trade association made up of active carpet cleaners. The St. Louis Carpet Cleaners Association is definitely not the largest, or the oldest, or the best looking, but they certainly top the ladder when it comes to members working together. I hear reports from other associations about their group's unity, but for the most part their real cooperation is between members many miles away, and not next door.
St. Louis is definitely different. It has been five years since they first banded together to challenge the Better Business Bureau's false and vicious, anti-steam cleaning campaign. While they handled the BBB in record time, they also found a common reason to be friends. They found they could give better service and make more money by backing each other up. A system of sub-contracting was developed, after realizing most of the membership consisted of owner-operator shops that couldn't handle the rush of larger jobs. Rather than go into hock to purchase a standby van and equipment, they simply "subbed" the extra work to a "competitor" that had attended FCSA's operator school. This also allowed the small operator, who had no work that day, to utilize his non-working equipment.
One story I heard concerns a carpet cleaner who, while away for a short vacation, left a job for a member to do. The member received an emergency job and "subbed" it down the line. Before the job was completed (on time, I might add), EIGHT different carpet cleaners had been assigned the job. When the main contractor returned, he found a happy customer who had never known there had been a problem. In fact there wasn't a problem, because the job had been done correctly and on time.
In my various talks with the members, the point continued to come up on how they worked together and how they had all profited by the "subbing". I was pleased to receive so many kind remarks about my help to them in those early years and for introducing the idea of sub-contracting between members, rather than fighting among competitors. Well, St. Louis, I thank you, but you deserve 100% of the credit. Suggesting is easy, but it's taking those first wobbly steps that take courage. You have proved it will work. I stand up to salute the ST. LOUIS CARPET CLEANERS ASSOCIATION.
~ Ed York (1978)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an article written by Cathey Manning about the benefits of advertising your business image. It was featured in the January 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
Does It Pay to Advertise Your Business Image?
By Cathey Manning
What does it mean to advertise your business image? Product advertising has long been accepted as a major sales tool. Many studies have been conducted over the years by advertisers and their agencies to determine the effect of product advertising. Until recently, though, little research has been done in the area of corporate image advertising. Major oil companies, steel manufacturers, and life insurance companies are only a few of the types of corporations that have ventured forth in this area.
A study was recently prepared by Yankelovich, Skelly and White, Inc., for Time magazine on the effectiveness of corporate advertising. The objective was to determine if the advertisements created a favorable attitude toward the corporation, its products, and stock value. Five companies who are currently doing corporate advertising were compared with five who are not. The group of people who were questioned consisted of upscale business executives in both large and small corporations with an annual income of $25,000 or more.
At the conclusion of almost 200 personal interviews the data suggested that of the companies that did advertise their business image, there was a greater recall of their ads and a higher familiarity with their logos. For these advertisers there was a 22% higher familiarity with the company and a 34% higher overall impression of the company. Several favorable attitudes found associated with the corporate advertisers were the quality of their products; the competence of their managements; and the soundness of their financial situation.
What does this mean to you as an advertiser in the cleaning field? With competition at an all-time high it is important to clearly evaluate your advertising situation. A rock-bottom price can be a selling point, but if you have an established company with trained operators, trying to outbid the fly-by-night company across town can be frustrating. Better equipment is another selling point, but as more and more companies offer a variety of cleaning facilities, this can also be a minor point. Service is one area where you can be different if your company's name is synonymous with quality work; competent personnel; and a business that stands behind its work.
The local carpet cleaner with one truck-mount and a few operators doesn't have a lot in common with IBM except where advertising is concerned. The problem is to find the most effective way to reach the public with the company name. One way to consider, as shown productive by the above study, is to advertise the business image; to advertise the high standard of professionalism of the company. A concept that has proven effective for Texaco and U.S. Steel can also be a concept that works for you!
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post comes from a column called "The Pied Piper", written by Ed York about the importance of hard work, and an interesting acronym called "KASH". It was featured in the Second Quarter 1976 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
To the best of my knowledge there are only three ways to obtain money, and that is: inherit it, steal it, and work for it. Most of us will never have a chance to inherit it, and if we could steal it, we wouldn't, so that leaves only one option -- WORK for it.
Unfortunately, for the carpet cleaning industry, most of the participants entered the field under a misimpression. They were told they could make a lot of money without working as hard as when they were just employees. Guess that makes us carpet cleaners just about the most gullible bunch of yokels in the country, cause we sure fell for it.
In the past we were able to get away with sliding by. No one really expected a carpet cleaner to make much money or be able to join the country club anyway. Now along come some real energetic souls who are not hamstrung by tradition, and they are re-writing the business. They are making PROFIT while racking up solid customers. They plan on a real future. No, it's not easy. They are WORKING.
Most carpet cleaning firm owners have the mistaken idea that they must sweat to work. Pathetically, many firms are held back because the owner, in trying to be a good guy and do what's right with his business and family, works the jobs. They are trying to save the price of labor. For the most part, however, the reason why the majority of owners who work their own jobs do it, is that they are not willing to extend the effort needed to assure success. It's easier to pull the tool and wait for the phone to ring.
Managing an on-location carpet cleaning firm requires a lot more work than pulling a tool or man-handling a scrubber. Every unit should have at least SEVEN employees to insure its potential. Ask any owner who doesn't have this many "why?", and he will admit it takes too much energy to keep 7 people busy. It's EASIER to let the prospect call and cop out for a cheaper price over the phone, and then go out and do the job for wages.
An old time Insurance Agent told me back in the post "big war" days, that every person was working for an item called KASH. Was a wise old man, even if he couldn't spell. Anyway, he said to have lots of KASH, it required 4 ingredients in the proper proportions. Said it was all in the word KASH... K equaled 5% KNOWLEDGE, A was for 5% ABILITY, S included 5% SALESMANSHIP, and the balance or 85% stood for HARD WORK.
The important point is, make sure the work you're doing is necessary work... necessary work to insure a profit. The owner's job is not doing the job, but coordinating the skills of the employees to keep the firms equipment WORKING. Any time your carpet cleaning unit is off-duty more than it is employed, it means the BOSS isn't working. How about you, Mr. Employer, did you really work last week?
~ Ed York (1976)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an open letter to all carpet cleaners regarding advertising practices. This ran in the First Quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
OPEN LETTER TO ALL CARPET CLEANERS:
Advertising... Keep It Clean
The accompanying article about a carpet and upholstery cleaning business accused of false advertising and unfair business competition brought to our attention the need for the professional carpet cleaner to build a good name and standing for his profession.
Professional carpet cleaners need to beware of following "bait and switch" advertising factions who toss around fraudulent statements just to catch the eye of the consumers. If a carpet cleaner advertises to clean a carpet for $8.00, then he should charge only $8.00. If he really wants $20.00 for the job, then he should advertise the fee as $20.00.
The type of false advertising referred to in the news article has been discussed and discouraged by the Carpet Cleaning Trade Association Council. Similarly, representatives of various major trade associations are encouraging their members to advertise legitimate prices for legitimate jobs.
Unfortunately, the people who fail to practice good advertising tactics are, for the most part, business people who aren't members of professional groups. Evidently, they don't realize the trouble they cause for others.
Ed York, Executive Director of SCT, in a special message to SCT members encourages them to take a copy of this article "Carpet Cleaning Firm Accused of False Advertising" to their local newspapers and business associations to make it clear that their own advertising will not follow the accused carpet cleaner's example, but will be completely honest and above-board. As mentioned before, the professional carpet cleaner must do everything he can to promote a good name and honest relationship with the consumers.
Transcribed below is the aforementioned newspaper article:
Carpet Cleaning Firm Accused of False Advertising
Santa Ana - The District Attorney's Office Thursday filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against a Santa Ana carpet and upholstery cleaning business, alleging false advertising and unfair business competition.
Named as defendant in the civil action filed in Superior Court was Ben Timmons, doing business as Carpet Masters.
According to the complaint, Carpet Masters falsely advertised that the firm would clean a carpet for $8 when the minimum charge actually was $20, and that the firm would clean the carpeting in a house for $29.95, when actually this price applied only to a one-bedroom residence.
The lawsuit seeks $2,500 in civil penalties for each violation of state laws and an injunction prohibiting future violations or any price advertising not accompanied by clear descriptions of any conditions or limitations.
~ Ed York (1977)
This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is a short article written by Ed York in his column titled 'The Pied Piper'. This ran in the Fourth Quarter 1975 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
During the past seven years my main function has been to teach those interested to be better carpet cleaners. I have traveled by boat, car, horseback, and airplane to deliver improved carpet cleaning techniques to anyone who would listen. Whether you call it preaching, teaching, or plain old shouting, the message has always been clear; we must become better "Carpet Cleaners". While I knew I was right, I also felt something was wrong. Some of my best students (or copiers) were having a hard time trying to earn a good living. Some of those who listened enjoyed a nice growth in volume and profit, but others remained where they were. I was convinced it wasn't the area. All territories have more dirty carpets than the total carpet cleaning profession could possibly clean.
Recently, while chatting with an Illinois Dry Cleaner who was diversifying into Carpet Cleaning, my "student" made a comment that unlocked the doors for me. He answered the question of what was wrong with our industry. He revealed to me the reason 86% of all homes in the U.S. have dirty carpets. The answer is simple. My friend said, "I'm not trying to teach my workers to be carpet cleaners, but PEOPLE PLEASERS."
What does it matter, business-wise, if you do the best carpet cleaning job ever done on Mrs. X's carpets, if she isn't really PLEASED. It would be better for her and the carpet cleaner, if she had received a slightly less-than-perfect carpet cleaning job and had been REALLY pleased. While PRIDE may arouse some quarrel with this observation, I will assure the doubters that a PLEASED customer will have her carpets re-cleaned much sooner than the one who only has clean carpets. She will also tell others about this fantastic PEOPLE PLEASING firm.
Guess I'm too old to change my ego, pride, or devotion to the carpet cleaning industry and stop trying to share whatever knowledge I obtain with others on how to do a better job, but from now on my message is going to be slanted. We not only need better "carpet cleaners", we also need better PEOPLE PLEASERS.
~ Ed York (1975)
This week's featured Tips N Chat Throwback post highlights a carpet cleaner named Dave Nofs and his unusual methods of advertising his business. This article was written by Megan H. Wagner in the March/April 1979 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
"Dave Nofs: Unusual Advertising His Specialty"
by Megan H. Wagner
"Getting your name in front of the people is the name of the game," says Dave Nofs of Nofs Carpet Care in St. Petersburg, FL. Nofs has been experimenting with various methods of getting, and keeping, his name in front of consumers.
"Promotional items and 'giveaways' are amazing things to get into," Nofs believes, and he has reason to think so. "I got to talking with a friend in specialty advertising, and started picking through his catalogs, picking out different things and attention getters." Nofs found many, many unique items sure to attract attention through their novelty.
But Nofs realized the importance of keeping track of the effectiveness of the promotional items he experiments with. He keeps records of the cost, distribution, and return on all novelties he uses for advertising purposes.
"Many of these items are very reasonable," he says, "costing around ten to thirteen cents a piece. They go all the way up to five to eight dollars each, too. There's a wide variety and I've found it's helpful to discuss what might be beneficial for your area, your business, and your objectives," he relates.
The most effective items Nofs has used are, he informs us, small magnets designed to be placed on refrigerators and cabinets in the home. Printed with his name and phone number, these magnets are, he explains, "always there in front of the customer." The magnets have proven to be extremely popular, and Nofs reports seeing them all over town.
"The magnets really have helped my business tremendously," Nofs emphasizes. "Also, small wallet-sized calendars have been effective." Nofs distributes these calendars to customers and to realtors in the area, who provide a good source of referrals. "My wife is in real estate," he notes, "and that helps give me an 'in' with her company and others.
"Most important, the magnets and calendars are used by customers and are kept handy. This means that Nofs' name is always at hand. "We do a lot of work in condominiums here in Florida, and often a neighbor will visit a friend and say, 'Your carpets look so terrific, where did you get them cleaned?' and our customer doesn't have to search for our name. It's right there on her refrigerator door." Also, in the condominiums, Nofs has found that his giveaways, particularly the magnets, "mushroomed." He finds them in places he has never distributed them, and in the condominiums, "our business just spreads," he says.
Coupon keepers, checkbook-size holders that fold over with two pockets and designed to keep coupons handy, were not popular says Nofs, and he had only minimal success with them in his area. Phone directories have had a mixed response, on the other hand.
"In one condominium that I distributed phone directories, I haven't received one call. In another, where the directories have been out since last September, I've received three calls in the past week, and closed all the jobs," Nofs relates. "Those three jobs paid for the cost of using that form of advertising."
Aside from the promotional items that Nofs uses to advertise his business, he also distributes flyers around town, making a mailing list from the engagement and wedding announcements in the Sunday section of the local newspaper. "The announcements give you names and addresses of potential new customers who will be establishing homes," says Nofs.
For the professional cleaner who wants to develop unique methods of advertising, Nofs suggests consulting with specialty advertising companies. A look through the catalogs will introduce you to many novel items, and a discussion with the specialty advertiser should help to formulate ideas of which items might be effective for your needs and customers.
This week our featured Tips N Chat Throwback post explores the beginnings of steam carpet cleaning... all the way back to a man who clearly lived up to his surname: Bill Wisdom. This article is our first featured post that was not written by Ed York, as it was instead authored by Cathey Manning in the July/August 1978 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!
"In The Beginning..."
Arlen Knight of Kleenrite and Vac-O-Steam looks back over steam carpet cleaning's past
by Cathey Manning
1962 was a great year, remember? Sock hops, "surfing" music, "hot" Chevies... and the year Bill Wisdom created a machine for dyeing upholstery! What? Was this the birth of the steam cleaning concept?
Wilbur Sutton was the owner of Crown City Carpet Cleaners, Pasadena, California, when he was approached by Bill Wisdom with a machine for dyeing upholstery. The machine used live steam produced by natural gas or butane. The process combined the dye and cleaning solutions and was applied with a hand-held tool. A vacuum attachment removed the excess moisture.
Sutton wasn't interested in upholstery dyeing, but thought the machine could be used for upholstery cleaning. He called the process "Deep Steam". Two months later he brought the machine to Arlen who was president of Star Rug Cleaning in Santa Barbara, California. Here is where carpet cleaning came into the picture! If this concept worked for upholstery, why wouldn't it work equally well for carpets?
So it was back to the drawing board for Bill Wisdom! He designed a portable cleaner where very hot water was produced instead of steam. Fred Hayes built Wisdom's creation and Arlen became a proud owner. "It was horrible", remembers Arlen, "a hundred headaches! But we took the machine and by constantly changing, experimenting and updating it, we were ready to market the machine by 1965."
What excitement! An idea to revolutionize carpet cleaning! A renaissance for the whole cleaning industry!... and no one was interested! Because the machine turned out not to be marketable, Arlen started the Deep Steam franchise, which included the incredible steam carpet cleaning machine. It was the success of these franchises which created a demand and got others interested in steam cleaning. The rest is history.
Arlen went on to develop the first upholstery cleaning tool which wasn't merely a hand held carpet cleaning instrument. This is in its fourth year on the market under the name of Kleenrite. He has also helped develop a drapery cleaning tool as well as the innovative Vac-O-Steam which does a combination of steam carpet cleaning, dry or steam upholstery cleaning and dry cleaning of drapes.
Arlen and his wife, Florence, still reside in Santa Barbara. They have two sons: Mark, 24, and Steve, 26. Steve, who is active with fire restoration and the franchises of Deep Steam, has made it a third generation business. Arlen took over management of the local carpet cleaning in 1958 from his father who started Knight Rugs Works in 1929 and purchased Star Rug Cleaners in 1932. Arlen's younger brother, Tim, is also active in the business, as he manages Star Rug Cleaning, Inc. "We Now have 42 franchises in the United States and England, and are planning to open another in Saudi Arabia". Steam carpet cleaning, with the help of Arlen Knight, has certainly come a long way!
This week we are featuring an "Ed Sez" editorial published in the March/April 1982 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. The focus of this piece is differentiating between promoting carpet cleaning and promoting clean carpets. Keep in mind that this piece was published 36 years ago, so not all of the sentiments presented are necessarily accurate for today's industry. However, the general theme is still very relevant to today.
After some twelve years of working with the on-site cleaner, I believe I have found the answer to why we are second class citizens to the business community and the rest of the carpet industry. Before I expound on my conclusions, let me clear up one point. What we have been doing since the beginning of on-site cleaning is wrong. The bankers look upon us as next to the bottom of their list for credit. The suppliers treat us like children. The retail outlets won't even admit that they know us. Our peers think we are monsters. Our customers forget us, and society won't even accept us. With all of our past efforts, dirty carpets are socially acceptable. In fact, dirty fibers and fabrics are a way of life. Over eighty percent of all carpet owners have never had their carpets cleaned. Our neighbors live on dirty carpets and most of us live on dirty carpets. Our problem is simply, that in the past, we have promoted carpet cleaning rather than CLEAN CARPETS.
There will be those who will immediately defend their present position and try to justify their past efforts. It can't be done, even if some have been successful and make a better than average living. Just imagine what they could have accomplished, if clean carpets, not dirty carpets, were the only accepted condition. The sooner everyone connected with the cleaning industry accepts the fact that we have been wrong in the past, the sooner we can start on the road to real success.
For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of working with the on-site cleaners in Japan. They have enlightened me greatly. Their philosophy is that dirt is unsightly and embarrassing to the home, or commercial building owner. Their concern is to keep their homes and offices from getting dirty. They understand this can't be done on a once-every-two-or-three-year basis, but is a continuing process. It is their custom to prevent dirt from entering their home. Outside shoes are left outside the home. Since this is impractical in business, the entry areas receive special care. This may be weekly, monthly, or daily. The Japanese do what is necessary to keep their carpets looking attractive at all times.
We must accept the same philosophy. We must stop asking our customers to give us a call when their carpets get so bad they are an embarrassment. We must initiate a service which will keep the customer's carpets from becoming soiled. Carpets should be a possession of pride to their owners. They can be, if we will only change our emphasis. It is easier to promote clean carpets than carpet cleaning. If we can't clear our thinking as to carpet cleaning, let's try it on something else. For example, which would you rather pay your doctor $50 for? Clearing up a cold you have, or providing a service which prevented you from getting a cold? You can do the same thing with dirty carpets. When a person has just spent $20,000 for a unit to clean carpet, it may seem foolish to purchase $500 worth of equipment to prevent a carpet from getting dirty.
How do you begin? First, draw a line down the center of several pages. Title each one, equipment, personnel, emphasis, and capital investment. Place production on one side and procurement on the other. List your firm's ability and capabilities on each page. A successful company will have true balance in each of these areas.
While we must always be dedicated to technical advances, we must realize our efforts to include a full sales department. Our sales staff must be trained to do their job, and not to help deliver furniture or answer the phone. We have a story to tell and a service that the homeowner and business person alike will buy, if we allow them to. It won't work, unless we accept the fact that what we have been doing isn't working and re-adjust our work habits and business philosophy. We must become sales orientated. We must stop selling carpet cleaning and start selling clean carpets.
~ Ed York (1982)
This week, we’re taking a look at an "Ed Sez" editorial written by Ed York in the February/March 1974 issue of Tips N Chat. The focus of this piece is Ed's advertising strategy for service professionals, along with a fitting personal example of how that strategy works.
One of the first steps the on-location cleaner takes after deciding he wants to present a professional image to the consumer and increase his volume is to lay out an advertising campaign to tell his story. I am then asked to recommend an ad that will do the job. Everyone wants the catchy ad that attracts the homeowner and convinces her that she needs her carpets cleaned right now, and that our man is the one to call. I wish I could provide this perfect ad. I haven't found it, and I have tried hundreds over the past years. I have come to the conclusion there isn't such a thing. What appeals to one person is missed by the other. The best answer is not in the perfect ad, but in the repetition of three basic points: 1. You clean dirty carpets, 2. You are a qualified professional, and 3. How to contact you.
You can switch from simple ads to complicated ones. Serious ads to humorous ones, but they should contain and highlight these basic three points. It doesn't matter how many different ways you tell the story, just make sure you tell it.
A good example of my theory on advertising was demonstrated to me last week quite graphically in the form of a traffic ticket. I was driving my father to the barbershop in the morning and after entering the main street of our small town (Clovis, Calif.), I drove about 3 blocks when I noticed a sign in the crosswalk. It proclaimed the pedestrian's right-of-way. A quick glance to my speedometer showed that I was going around 35 MPH. I slowed to 25 and then noticed a big red light following me. A member of our town's finest proceeded to pull me over and presented me with a citation for doing 35 in a 25 mile zone.
I attempted to explain to the man that I had only driven 3 blocks on Clovis Avenue. While my speed was higher than evidently the speed limit was, I wasn't going too fast for road conditions and that I had slowed down on my own when I saw the FIRST sign indicating extra caution. He then advised that I had been clocked on Radar and that the speed limit was posted and I had passed 3 traffic signs in THREE blocks. Now, I can't fight the ticket, especially when it was clocked by RADAR, but I am observant of traffic laws and I can see a SIGN if there was one.
I had noticed a small pedestrian sign that didn't even mention speed and had associated it with my speed, so it made sense that there WASN'T a speed sign. He smiled, handed me the ticket and suggested I re-drive the three blocks and see if I could spot the signs. I did and was flabbergasted when I now was clearly able to see three signs, big as life, staring out at me during the short drive. The first stated in bold print the speed limit of 25 MPH. The second stated that traffic laws were strictly enforced, and the third cautioned that speed was checked by radar. My point is that the City of Clovis had in effect placed 4 ads in the 3 blocks I had traveled. Each of these ads were carefully worded, and should have alerted me to the fact I was either going too fast or if I continued, then I might be caught.
I failed to see or notice the first three. I did see the 4th one and took action to comply with it. My problem was that I was too late. The damage was done and I had a ticket for my reward.
A speeding ticket might not relate to carpet cleaning, but the facts of the case do. Your potential customer is busy doing something else and just hasn't noticed your ad yet. She is having carpet danger signs, but overlooking them. Hopefully she will see your next sign and take heed before she gets a ticket from you saying "sorry lady but you missed my ads too many times. Your carpet is past saving".
One ad may not do the job, it may take a steady flow of them. I do know that now since I have "bought" a ticket the first time, I see all 4 signs each time I travel this street. I also travel at 25 MPH. We don't care if your customer doesn't see all your ads, just so she has a second, or third, or fourth chance. Hopefully, she will before it's too late and become a regular customer. It would be a shame, however, if she never had the extra chance, and never had the pleasure of having as good a firm as yours serve her future carpet and upholstery cleaning needs.
~ Ed York (1974)
This week, we're taking a look at a short article written by Ed York in the July/August 1973 issue of Tips N Chat. Yes, this article is 45 years old. However, the underlying message of being the best you can possibly be at what you do is just as relevant today as it was back then. Enjoy!
"Profit is Not a Dirty Word"
With the prices of everything but "carpet cleaning" rising each day, we should take a sound thought of why. Every time the price goes up, the one doing so advises they are justified because costs to them have also been increased. The American public accepts this, even though they gripe about it. Carpet cleaners on the other hand are scared to suggest this to their prospective customer. They also have had price increases. They have advanced in knowledge. Their services are needed more today than ever before. The customer, while paying more for other items, is also making more money than ever before. Why are the carpet cleaners afraid? It's not because of what the customer might say, but what their competition might bid. Let's make sure the one we are afraid of is the competition.
If the "other" bidder is untrained; operates with TOYS or inferior equipment; uses few, if any, laboratory tested and proven chemicals; carries no bond or insurance; doesn't have the facilities or resources to back up his workmanship, then they are not your competitor. They are offering a different service than you are. If your customer asked you to sell them a horse, surely you would distinguish between a plow horse and a registered Quarter horse. Both may be called "horse", but they are not the same things.
Let's start making a difference in what type of SERVICE we are offering. Is it a hit and miss appearance cleaning, or a DEEP cleaning job with detailed spotting? Food for thought... If you were charging 10 cents per square foot in 1967 for shampooing, then you would have to charge 13 cents today, just to break EVEN with the cost of living index. 15 cents per square foot would necessitate 19.5 cents to break even. Someone has to reverse the price-cutting trend. If you are a professional, then it must be you. There will always be someone around that can cut your price. They should be cheaper than you because they are offering a cheaper service. Let them fight over the old, badly soiled carpet belonging to the person who has neglected to even properly take care of it. Lift your sights to the person with the quality carpet who wants PROFESSIONAL care and is willing to pay a fair price for it. I guarantee there is less competition at the top. Lots of folks are trying to be the cheapest, but very few are striving to be the highest. We are, in our area, and strange as it may seem, we do the most business.
Bill Braeunert, our new Vapor-Vac dealer in Northern Milwaukee is using the motto "You walk on our reputation".