Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Spt-Oct 2015 Contents 48 INCLEAN September/October 2015
CARPET & RESTORATION
By Robert Kravitz*
Several years ago, I was asked to take pictures
for a photo shoot that had a working title of
'Identifying the Sloppy Carpet Cleaner and the
Professional Carpet Cleaner'. Essentially, this
publication wanted two sets of images: one of
the carpet cleaner frst greeting a prospective
client looking either sloppy or professional
and the other of the technician actually in
someone’s home or offce cleaning carpets, again either looking sloppy
or professional. The goal was to show readers that the way we look can
send a very powerful message to our customers.
In this case, these pictures were worth a thousand words because
by the time they were fnished, it was clear how a technician should
look when greeting and working with a client and alternately, what
does not make the grade. Another goal of the images was to help
technicians present themselves in such a way so as to make the sale
with a new client and turn a new client into a loyal client.
I no longer have those images, but I'll try to convey what they revealed
starting with the very frst encounter with a new customer. Wear some
sort of uniform, even if it is just a clean white shirt (preferably with
your company's name and logo) and dark slacks. You want to make as
professional an appearance as possible. Potential clients do not know
you or how skilled you are at carpet cleaning and will look for indicators
such as how well dressed you are, whether you are well groomed and
clean, and your overall appearance to help them decide if you are the
right person to clean the carpets in their home or offce.
Some other things to consider include the following:
Keep back. No one likes to have someone 'in their face' --
especially a stranger. If calling on a residence, ring the bell (or knock
on the door) and then step back a good metre or more. View this as
the customer's safety zone as he or she gets to know you.
Remove shoes. If calling on a residential customer, it's a good
idea to remove your shoes as soon as you step inside. In some parts
of the world, this is general operating procedure when walking into a
residence, but in other parts of the world it is viewed as respectful.
Have a great attitude. Always greet new customers with a smile and a
positive attitude. Once a building service contractor told me he was waiting
to meet a prospective new client and had just received a complaint call
from one of his existing customers. The call upset him, and that showed
on his face. Needless to say, he never heard from that prospect again.
Name-drop. People like to hear their own name. Once the
prospect gives you his or her name, repeat it as soon as possible -- this
helps you remember it. Then use the name frequently during the
course of the meeting.
Be thoughtful about the handshake. It's usually a good idea to
let the customer decide if he or she wants to shake your hand. People
can be funny about handshakes today. Let them make the frst move. If
you do shake hands, shake hands frmly. A frm grip exudes confdence.
Make eye contact. Along with smiling and having a positive
attitude and a frm handshake, maintain steady eye contact. It
helps the customer feel comfortable around you and believe you are
someone to be trusted.
Focus on the customer. The frst meeting is all about the customer.
Focus on his or her needs, listen to the carpet cleaning issues, fnd
out about the carpet to be cleaned, etc. At the end of the meeting,
and especially if this is a pre-inspection, you can talk a bit about
yourself and your credentials. (A pre-inspection refers to meeting with
Professional carpet cleaners: the
right tools and the right look
a customer in the home or offce in order to give an accurate carpet
cleaning estimate. In addition, this can be used as an opportunity for the
customer to learn more about you, the carpet cleaning technician).
Take notes. Always have a notepad and pen handy and ready to
go. This is not only professional; it tells the client you care about his or
her carpet cleaning needs.
Equipment Issues. If you have won over the customer with your
conduct and the way you look, the next professionalism issue is the
equipment you use. In the photo shoot, we captured a number of images
of a technician with electric cords and hoses strewn all over the place.
Along with trying to gather the cords and hoses, the technician also was
trying to carry the wand for the machine. It looked like a juggling act just
waiting to crash. This is not how you want your new customer to see you.
According to Sara Thurston with Nilfsk, maker of professional
cleaning equipment and manufacturer of the U.S. Products line of
portable extractors, looking professional on the job includes the carpet
extractor you select to work with. She suggests these 'must-haves' to
ensure you've got your professional act together:
Select an 'easy transport' machine designed for easy moving and
manoeuvering by one person. An upright machine with front lifting
handles is usually easier to load and unload.
A built-in wand caddy, retractable hose wrap, and built-in cord wrap
keep everything orderly and in one place.
Should a maintenance issue occur at a job site, select a machine with
a hinged tank for quick and easy access to internal components
Look for a machine that is quiet. Especially in a residence, a low-
decibel extractor is not only less disturbing to you and your client, it
sounds like a higher-quality machine.
If the machine has earned the seal of approval from the Carpet and
Rug Institute, add that label to the machine; it says a lot about the
machine... and you.
"If selecting a machine with two cords -- one for the heating element
and one for the vacuum motor -- be sure the extractor has a 'smart'
circuit locator," adds Thurston. "The last thing you want to do is to
blow a circuit at your customer’s home or offce. Being embarrassed is
*Robert Kravitz is a for mer building service contractor and now a frequent writer
for the professional cleaning industry.
...Continued from page 46
"A lot of the thought processes and teaching are becoming
antiquated. And we didn't like the testing model of a such a large
sit down exam. Our theory is that you learn more by interactive
learning. And we believe a new learning module was the best
thing for the industry. And it's probably the best thing we've ever
done. The results that the students get from this type of training
Course attendees still receive the same theory based information;
however they also receive a full hands-on component. Hickey also
explains that they update all the data every six months to replicate
the real industry and don't need to get approval from a board
of members to do so. "This is what makes ITI different," states
Hickey. "And we hope all our clients' businesses are just as successful
as ours because of it."
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