Q&A, Comments, and Useful Information for Foam Cleaners
Bill Barnes here with some information that you may find useful, and we will update this section on a regular basis.
This first question is probably the most commonly asked:
Q. What is the best way to build up my business? I keep reading about the super charged marketing programs. Are they really more important than quality work?
A. There are many new marketing programs available to professional carpet cleaners. You really do need a good marketing plan to do well in this business, and some of these programs have a lot of useful ideas to help you. Much of this information is available at no charge through magazines like ICS, and Cleanfax. Some you can purchase. The problem I hear from the fellows and gals, is that while some do very well with the programs, many simply choose not to follow the suggestions. They feel "this is not me, I really don't want to do this." Some pick out a few ideas, and do relatively well, and others do exceptionally well. It depends on the individual. I have tried a number of things in the past 35 years, but was most successful with my ability to bond with my customers, and make them a friend, (and a cheer leader.) No advertising for over 20 years, and all past customer, and referral business. The cleaner's that last longest in this business have friendly, congenial personalities, and know how to treat people properly.
You may have heard this, but it is worth repeating:
Be well versed and confident at what you do, regardless of your method. Show up on time in a nice clean vehicle. Be well dressed, and well groomed. Be courteous, honest, and ethical. Offer your services at a fair price, and don't leave until you have done the very best you can, regardless of whether the customer is pleasant and friendly, or not. Guarantee your work, and ALWAYS offer some type of discount or reward for referrals. Stay in touch with periodic mailings. If they like you, they'll have you back, and refer you to their friends. If they don't...they won't. If you don't build a sound customer base, repeat business, and referral program, you will fail in this business. Repeat business, and referrals are the key to success! It's that simple.
Q. Commercial or residential?
A. If I were just starting out, I would do both. I prefer residential, because if you rely solely on several large commercial accounts, and lose two or three, you've lost a large part of your income. I personally know several fellows that this happened to. By building up a large residential base, you will always have a steady income. Commercial is nice because of the larger paychecks, but you do have to work odd hours, barter rates because of the low-ballers, and wait 30 to 90 days to be paid. However, also on the plus side, it fills in nicely in the slow winter months, and supplements the income.
Q. How much do you charge? By the room, or square foot?
A.We charge 35 cents per sq. foot (with a few exceptions i.e., nightmare conditions) and always offer a discount program, (several types.) Stairs are $2 to $3, and depends on the size, and condition. Three cushion sofa, $75, (add for extra cushions) and chairs, $25 to $35. These rates are in the national average range. Many charge less, and many charge (much) more. I prefer to charge by the square foot for carpeting, simply because I think it is fairer to the customer.
Q. What's the best cleaning method?
A. Aw jeeez, am I going to get picked on by the 'other guys?' Naaah.....anyone who has been in this business a while (with an IQ over 60) knows....it's the operator....it's the operator. I repeat....it's the operator!
Example: Let's take six evenly trashed out, heavily soiled 9X12 area rugs. Now let's take (five) of the most commonly used methods, and give five (new) operators 30 minutes to clean them with ONLY their machine and whatever base detergent (additive/compound) they use. Now, give me a bucket of hot water, some Tide, and a scrub brush for the sixth one. I can guarantee you that at the end of the 30 minutes you will notice a marked difference in the range of appearance of the carpets.
Now, take six of us that have been around a while, with no time limit, and all the additional factors to utilize. I'm referring to experience, education, dry vacuum, pre-sprays, an arsenal of spotters and additives, modifications to their equipment, pile groomers, accessories, etc. I'll take that Tide bucket along with my pre-spray, spotters, groomer, and a good supply of cotton towels to shuffle on, and I'll drag my butt out of that room, (about 60 minutes after everyone else) and you will not be able to tell the difference in the results, (or very little difference.) If there was a single absolute BEST method for every situation, everyone would be using it. Many of the enlightened pros use several methods, and choose one or more to fit the particular job.
Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote in 1992...."There will always be a difference of opinion on the best cleaning method. Even if someone invents a miracle machine that removes every particle of gritty dirt, oil, and stain, leaving the carpet bone dry and ready for use; within a few months a competitor will introduce an improved version that will also repair seams, count calories, and do windows."
Bottom line: Learn your method, improve it's performance if you can, get really good at what you do, and don't hurry. Save time with efficiency---not haste.
Q. What type of equipment do you use?
A. I have been a "dry foamer" since 1972, but in 1992, when we introduced heat to the method, I used the term "Hot Foam Extraction," and the name stuck. I don't do any cleaning anymore, but I have always used a cylindrical brush, with built in vacuum type machine. You can debate forever which method is best, but I'll just say this. Aside from all the pros and cons you hear about the equipment, (you'll get that with any of them) I can honestly say that I have never had a serious customer complaint, and never had a customer ask for their money back in 35 years. How many can honestly say that? Making the customer happy---isn't that what it's all about? Why did I choose them? For several reasons that appealed to me personally. These machines are relatively inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. The mechanical principle of heated foam, brush agitation, and simultaneous extraction, is sound. They do an excellent job, drying time is minimal in most cases, and they don't damage carpets. Also, no problem in winter, and waste disposal is simply not an issue. Of course many are using rotary, and oscillating pad machines now, (another form of low moisture cleaning) and we have a number of rotary (with built in vacuum) operators who also get excellent results. Our products are perfect for these methods, and save these folks a lot of time and $ using them. Do you realize how much money you can save using a 64 to 1 compared to a 16 to 1?
Q. I have a new low moisture extractor. I'm having a very difficult time doing low profile carpet because the vacuum seems to be improved, and this causes my recovery tank to fill up after just a few passes. Also, the foam spits out the top. Any suggestions?
A. We have had many fellows call in with this same exact situation. I use the older machines, and have only had limited access to the new model, but the consensus of opinion amongst the fellows is pretty much the same. The detachable skirt in front, and brush that runs along the length of the vacuum channel confine the foam, and with increased vacuum you'll get a lot of kick-back into the vac channel. The first thing that most guys do is remove the skirt. This will allow more foam to build in front of the machine, and offer less kick-back. Also, you'll benefit from a little more dwell time in front of the machine to help loosen the soil. Another advantage is you can angle into walls at 20 degrees to lay a strip of foam; then brush or towel the edge. For low profile carpet, our Real Defoamer works best on the newer models when mixed with warm water, and fed into the self-feed system. On regular cut pile you can simply squirt some in the recovery tank. As far as the spitting is concerned, (we first started discussing this in 1990) I do not recommend taping a piece of nylon stocking over the 'blow' hole. It's too hard to keep clean. Most of the guys are using nylon mesh pads, (grapefruit bags.) Bunch up several and make a nice insertable pad. They are easier to clean out. Just make sure you don't restrict the air flow. My personal choice is to cut a round piece of porch screen, and hot glue it to the top of the 'blow hole'. (Be careful you don't hot glue your fingers.)
Q. One of my machines really foams well, but doesn't seem to vacuum well. My other machine is just the opposite. It vacuums well, but is not a good foamer. What's the reason?
A. Good foaming machines produce a large volume of (drier) foam, which is pushed out much further in front of the machine, therefore you will recover less. Poor foaming machines produce less foam, and it is wetter. This wetter foam will drift back into the vac channel, and fill the recovery tank much more quickly. Also, running your machine with the brush in the raised position will produce more foam. In the lowered position you will get less foam, (along with a foam kick-back into the recovery tank.) We did extensive testing years ago, and all the results were published in our newsletters. All the answers as to how to improve your foam volume are included. We were amazed at how many folks were struggling through their jobs because of poor foam, and not knowing the simple cures.
Q. How do you do stairs?
A. I use a low speed Black and Decker car buffer, modified with a special 7" Braun Brush. Braun was kind enough to make this brush for our foamers group, at my request, along with the .020 bristle brush. I follow the stair scrubbing with a small portable extractor using fiber rinse, and towels to help dry. I've tried many different methods over the years, and in my opinion this is the best for stairs. This information is included in our newsletters.
Q. How much importance do you place on pre-vacuuming, and what type of vacuum do you use?
A. A great deal of importance! Patient, thorough pre-vacuuming with a good upright is crucial to optimum results. The high percentage of soil particles in carpets are dry. It is much easier, and more efficient to remove them with dry vacuuming. If you don't want to haul a $1,000 pile lifter around with you, use a good upright, and your backward pass should be slow. Many of my associates are using the Fantom vac, and really like them. It definitely impresses the homeowner when they see the clear receptacle fill up on a carpet that (they) thought was well vacuumed. If money is an issue pick up a couple of Eureka's. Similar to a Fantom, and very reasonable at $100. 12amp, Hepa filter, and clear (bag-less) recovery cup. I feel that any vac under $150 should be classified as a 'disposable,' but my initial impression is "this is a nice vac for the money, and should hold up at least three years with daily use." Bottom line---don't go by looks---always pre-vac thoroughly.
Q. Do you use tap, or heated water?
A. I highly recommend hot water when cleaning. The hotter, the better. You will get up to 30% more foam with 180 degree water, than with 110 degree tap water. As many already know, our foam cleaner group has been experimenting with bucket heaters, and in-line heaters, for many years now. It is still on-going, and we will keep everyone abreast of the developments. There is no question in our minds that hotter cleans better. Almost all the guys and gals in our group use heated water, and no...it does not damage the equipment. 140 to 150 degree foam is going to cut through greasy fibers much better than 80 degree foam. Can anyone seriously debate this? We also recommend Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda to soften hard water. Call me and I'll explain how to dilute and use. Soft water makes a huge difference in foaming equipment.
Note: We have done numerous heat and foam tests in the past, and all the results were published in our Independent Foam Cleaners newsletters. Much to the consternation of the HWE guys, in many cases we can actually get hotter foam (moisture) at the fiber than they can. The reason is the short span between the detergent tank and the fibers. The actual temperatures from the pour pail, to the detergent tank, to the foam chamber, to the fibers, were documented, (and duplicated by others.) The maximum recorded temp at the fibers was 160 degrees, which, if you use a bucket heater, reduces gradually as the tank empties. With in-line heat it stays constant. As I mentioned, these results were published in our newsletters.
Q. Why doesn't hot foam extraction get the good press that hot water extraction does? It seems that "dry foam" is always mentioned as an interum, or medium soil removal method, and HWE is recommended for deep soil removal. Why is this?
A. A number of reasons---mostly due to good lobbying by the HWE guys, and not so good by the foam guys. Mechanically however, with our new found ability to get consistent 140 to 150 degrees at the fiber, the only real difference is water agitation versus brush agitation. With one you have a hot water/detergent spray, utilizing high psi's to loosen soil, followed by a vacuum. With the other you have hot foam, utilizing a very efficient (rotary or cylindrical) brush agitation to loosen soil, followed by a vacuum. Head to head, with no pre-spray, or prep of any kind----just a single pass with a wand, heated spray detergent, vacuum, versus a single pass with a hot foam extractor with heated foam, brush agitation, vacuum----who'd come out on top? I don't have any problem at all getting the really dirty ones clean, and neither does anyone else in our group who is using heated water. I'm sure there is someone out there that can design a durable, light weight, portable, HEATED foam machine that would make the carpet, fiber producers, and standards people take notice. We put a man on the moon over forty years ago, and this is not rocket science! Of course we've been saying this for years.....ANYONE LISTENING OUT THERE? How about 170 degree foam at the fibers? Wouldn't that be something---combined with brush agitation, and a more efficient vacuum? Annnd....no problems with high rise and apartment buildings, cold weather, natural gas resource's, and air pollution. Also, waste water disposal is dramatically reduced.
Q. What about Warranties and "recommended" method?
A. There is a great debate raging right now about carpet manufacturers requiring certain equipment and products being required to validate their warranties. You can go to the ICS (Installation and Cleaning Specialist) site to get all the latest on this nonsense. Bottom line: The only thing the manufacturer's should be concerned with is: Did the operator do a good job, and was the client happy with him/her, and the results---regardless of method! Their warranty will be safe if the customer is happy!
Q. Drying time? Is our method faster drying than the hot water extraction operators?
A. Honest answer: It depends. Don't forget, you are comparing less than a dozen types of foam equipment to hundreds of HWE systems, all varying in quality and performance. The cheap units can leave the carpet wet for days, but some of the real good HWE units will do as well, and in some instances better than us, because of a more efficient vacuum. First of all, foam is WET, not dry. We get them wet, just like everyone else. Heated water helps, and I have seen carpets dry to the touch in thirty minutes, but I have also seen a few take as long as 24 hours to dry. Several factors apply: type and thickness of the fiber, degree of soil and oil, number of passes, vacuum efficiency, the season/weather, type of heating or cooling system in the home, air movement, soft water or hard, and good running equipment producing drier foam, as opposed to a poor foaming machine putting out wetter foam. (Haven't even mentioned pre-spray/rinse/after-spray.) Anyone using wet cleaning (regardless of the method) who professes one hour drying time or less in every case is misleading the consumer. Of course this is one of the reasons that for as long as I can remember I have always carried about a dozen thick and thirsty bath towels along on every job. "Peppermint Twist," and "Shuffle off to Buffalo" may as well have been my theme songs all those years. They REALLY help on over-wet spots and areas, and pulling up any remaining deep soil in high traffic areas, and doorway's.
Q. How about detergent residue (sticky or otherwise) left in carpet?
A. Now here is a subject that causes a great deal of confusion. The HWE guys like to keep saying that when they follow up a foamer they get mounds of foam out of the carpet. Well, ALL methods leave a detergent residue. What they fail to understand (or don't want to admit) is that they also pull old detergent out of a carpet when they follow themselves, or another HWE operator. They just don't see it. Why? Because it is a low/no foam type formulated for HWE systems. You're not supposed to see it! They go into commercial accounts and do a demo showing how they pull foam out of the carpet. The property owner doesn't understand that the same thing is happening when they follow their own method! Since it is a no foam type of surfactant, they simply don't realize it. The main thing is not to leave a sticky residue, as almost all the HWE detergents do.
Q. What about brittle drier's, now referred to as "encaps"? Do they help with the re-soil rate?
A. The obvious answer is yes. Who wants to leave sticky fibers? As many folks in the industry know, our Premium Blend is the epitome of brittle drier's. It contains pure surfactant, and a state of the art brittle drying polymer. Pour a little in a flat dish, fan it dry, and it will sometimes actually pop off the plate! Another factor is humidity and moisture. We placed dry samples of two other well known brittle drying detergents along with Premium Blend in a damp crawl space for several days. Premium Blend stayed brittle. The other two softened up. Same thing would happen on fibers, on humid days. This type of detergent is certainly preferable to the normal sticky drier, and that includes HWE detergent. We have tested a number of the leading liquid HWE detergents and were absolutely amazed at how they dried, (or I should say---- didn't dry.) Month's later a number of them felt like Vaseline. With no sticky residue, subsequent dry vacuuming is more efficient, and the carpet will stay cleaner much longer.
How does your detergent dry? Here's a simple test: Dry a 4" circle of your present detergent in a flat dish. A fan will speed it up. Scrape a piece up with a razor blade, and see if it will snap like the above photo of Premium Blend.
Q. What's the difference between Premium Blend and Restaurant Power Foam?
A. Premium Blend is unquestionably the best high foam, brittle drying detergent on the market. It is one of the very few using pure surfactant. This means it is much more efficient than the run of the mill detergents, because almost all of the inert ingredients, and fillers, are filtered out. There is more active surfactant at work, and that is why the carpets appear cleaner, and brighter to everyone, when they compare it to what they had been using. It also contains, among other ingredients, a superb Acrylate Copolymer, which gives it it's unique brittle drying ability. Restaurant Power Foam does not contain this Copolymer because what we wanted was simply a MONSTER foamer that devours grease and oil, to enable us to do jobs that we couldn't get through in the past. It contains an extremely high solid content of a different type of surfactant. The formula is classified trade secret, but in essence it is a very high foam, oil stable, degreasing type surfactant.
Q. What is the difference in how they are used?
A. Premium Blend is used primarily in homes, where priorities are optimum appearance, and minimum residue. RPF is used for restaurants, commercial jobs, and trashed out, heavily soiled, greasy conditions. I must say however, that many of our associates now use RPF exclusively, simply because they can go faster, and do anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000+ worth of cleaning with just one gallon! We've had many fellows call, almost in disbelief, saying that they cut their time on many jobs by 50% without sacrificing quality. A common remark is, "If only I knew about RPF a few years ago....think of all the time and money I would have saved." Also, we have determined over the past few years that even though RPF does not have the brittle dry aspect of Premium Blend, none of us has noticed a marked difference in re-soil rates. We now believe the reason for this is the fact that we all use heated water, and take less passes than in the past, and since RPF removes more oil from the fibers than conventional surfactant, subsequent dry vacuuming by the homeowner becomes more efficient. It appears to all of us who use the two regularly, that there is almost an even trade-off as far as re-soil rate, which seems like a contradiction to what we discussed earlier, but none the less true.
Q. How does Restaurant Power Foam remove grease and oil better than regular detergent?
A. First of all, let me make something perfectly clear. I am certainly NOT a chemist, but I have been involved closely with some good ones the past twenty two years. The key element, or word, is 'surfactant.' In simple terms, in order to release soil, or oil from a fiber, you have to 'push' something between the two. Our cleaning procedure uses water. However, water alone has too high a surface tension to squeeze in there, so you have to help it by adding a detergent to reduce it's surface tension. A detergent is comprised of several ingredients, including a surfactant. Premium Blend uses a premium Akyl Sulfate Anionic type, but RPF uses a degreasing type that allows it to both emulsify and 'squeeze' in between grease and oil more easily than regular surfactants. It also has a huge solid content. This may surprise many of you, but most detergents have a solid content of around 10% or less. The rest is water. The better ones are around 15%, and the best 20%. Premium Blend is a little over 20%, and Restaurant Power Foam is over 30%! That's why most operators are using less than two ounces per gallon on medium oily conditions. Other factors are machine performance, and (soft) hot water of course. I know several fellows who only add 5 or 6 ounces to their 5 gallon tank, and get mounds of foam. The other reason everyone loves RPF is there are no stalls when you hit oily spots. These stalls or 'disappearing foam' impasse's are caused by oil coated asphalt drives, cooking oil, animals, bare-foot homes, and furniture sprays. Ever go past a shelf unit and see your foam nose dive on you? That's furniture spray. Around a bed---oil from bare feet. If you're using Premium Blend, a quick squirt of RPF as a boost will give you an instant mound of foam. Bottom line: Whether you use one or the other, or both, there's none better out there.
Q. Pet stains and odors. What's the correct way to treat them?
A. 'Correct' to me means; what works? There are many ways pro's treat urine odors and stains; some with success, and unfortunately, most without. The biggest mistake is that most pro's try to do both the treatment and the cleaning on the same visit, with less than satisfactory results. The bulk of the urine is (under) the carpet, and out of reach of the cleaning. It is best done as a two step process. Without going into this in finite detail; this is the way I do it. First, you set up two appointments, (being prepared to charge accordingly.) On the first visit, you explain the problem to the homeowner, (expanding on the initial phone conversation)...then locate the urine. A $10 black light in the evening will out perform a $300 pro style in daylight, and is more efficient than a moisture probe. If you determine it is a treatable situation, (not a complete wipe out requiring replacement, and sub floor treatment) mark your spots. Explain spot/stain/dye loss scenario to the customer. Treat by spraying a tannin spotter, (whether there is visible stain or not.) Inject industrial grade enzyme bacteria culture. Don't use a needle of course; informed pros don't. We determined many years ago they are inefficient. They are too pin-point specific, and miss to much. Use a pump, or electric sprayer, and press (semi-firm) into carpet. The force of the spray will penetrate through to the sub-floor on a much wider dispersed area than a needle. We did a lot of testing with different carpet and pad samples to verify this. Tamp with shoe to disperse evenly. The carpet should be a little squishy.
Then mist a good topical odor neutralizer, (Instant Odor Neutralizer 3X™) on the surface area, (immediate odor relief for the homeowner, and helps prevent scent marking by the pet.) Then, cover with small wet terry cloth towels overnight. Tell the customer to remove the towels the next day. The first 8 hours any re-actable urine pigment, or urine salts (which cannot be consumed by the bacteria) will be dissolved and released by the tannin spotter and culture, and will wick upward through evaporation, and capillary action. The wet towel will absorb this part of the urine. The towels should be removed the next day so that nothing tracks back into the fibers. The organic urea portion of the urine will be consumed by the bacteria the next several days, and when the urine is gone the bacteria will die by converting to carbon dioxide, water, and evaporating.
Note: For new urine (hasn't aged to form salt crystals) we have found that just spraying the Instant Odor Neutralizer 3X will work all by itself. It is an amazing product!
Your next appointment for actual carpet cleaning should be set up about two weeks after the treatment. This way you will not activate, or spread any urine or bacterial activity, (which happens when you try to do it all at the same time. ) If there is any slight odor or pigment stain it can be re-treated at this time. Clean the carpet as usual, skirting any re-treated spots. Charge accordingly---this is a deluxe method, and homeowners with severe pet problems, which they have not been able to correct, will be happy to pay more for complete relief. Bare surfaces are treated differently. You have probably read about elaborate sanding, acid treatment, sealing procedures. The reality is, (unless the sub-floor needs replacement) these procedures are simply not needed. There is a very simple three step method for treating bare floors. Give me a call (eve. preferred) and I'll explain. This pet problem subject is really a little too complex to fully cover on this page, with many operators using different procedures, (if they are working for you--stick with them) and if you need more detailed explanation on how we do it, just call me.
Note: We did not go into permanent stains, and dye loss from pet accidents. In my opinion odors are the easy part: stain removal, dyeing, and bonded insert, (patching) the harder part. The patching and dyeing aspect you may wish to delegate to someone who specializes in this field.
Note: The inert phosphorus components of urine that fluoresce a white/yellow glow under the black light have nothing to do with the odor. (The odor is caused by the bacterial decomposition of the organic urea, and the actual bacterial secretions.) They are simply a sign-post that shows you where the urine is, and they bond very tenaciously to the fibers. Even if the carpet has been cleaned several times, in most cases you will easily detect the spots. Be sure to explain this to the customer in case they have, or obtain a black light, and see the same spots a month or two later. Also, urine will not glow while wet.
Q. Light colored olefin, (polypropylene) carpets are sometimes difficult to clean.....why?
A. Think about what is involved. On the one hand you have a fiber that is practically impervious to staining, because you have a solution dyed poly fiber that is one color through and through. There are no empty dye sites to alter. Nice for kid and pet areas, but it has it's drawbacks. Being a thermoplastic polymer it is less resilient than nylon to abrasion, and fiber distortion. It has an affinity for oil, and therefore dry soil particles adhere more tenaciously, making dry vacuuming less efficient. This causes more fiber abrasion, and altering of light refraction in the walk areas, and that is why one of the complaints you hear most about it is, "90% of my carpet looks great, and 10% looks terrible." Poly fibers are adsorbent. In other words, they don't absorb moisture like nylon, or wool. Depending on the method, and efficiency of the cleaning, some of the flushed soil and oil may settle below the visible fiber, and wick up later. I believe foamers, and bonnet users have an advantage here because foam suspends briefly, rather than flushing downward, and bonnet cleaning, whether rotary, or the more efficient orbitals, also by their design, introduce less moisture, and cotton pads excel at absorption. Our SPC pre-spray, and Restaurant Power Foam, are perfect for olefin carpet, and upholstery. Many in our group also utilize non-chlorine oxygen bleach additives to lighten bad areas on carpeting. My best advice is to explain the pros and cons to the customer before the cleaning, just as you would with stains, fiber loss, dye loss, pooling, etc. Educating the customer first, so that you don't have to apologize later, should become an integral part of your operation.
Q. What is the best way to do wool Orientals? Can you do them properly on site?
A. Want to know how many of the people who make, use, and sell these carpets recommend they be cleaned by homeowners? This may surprise you, but hand cleaning for the majority of wool Orientals is recommended by most, (unless they own a plant ;-) First the carpet is placed upside down on a hard surface floor. Then you vacuum the back of the carpet with an upright---very, very, slowly. You will be absolutely amazed when you look under the carpet. In most cases you will see a solid layer of gray/black dust covering the floor, under the carpet! The brush vibration shakes the dirt loose from the fibers, and the first time you try this you will not believe what comes out of that clean looking carpet. Next you vacuum and wipe the floor clean, and turn the carpet right side up. Then you vacuum the top very thoroughly. Next you hose the carpet with water, and then hand scrub the carpet with Ivory soap, doing one small section at a time. This is followed with hosing, and squeege'ing (did I spell that right?) several times. Then the carpet is laid out on the grass, and sun dried. How do we do it? This is another subject that requires a lot of explaining, and is better served by conversing. Give me a call, (eve. is best.) Here's an excellent site on Oriental carpets: www.jacobsenrugs.com/index.html
Q. Slow winter months...how do I book every day?
A. That's an easy one. Offer a BIG discount. Traditionally, January, February, and even March can be slow in most parts of the country. If you've already made 100+ you may want to kick back, and just take what filters in, but most of us would prefer to keep working. For the past 15 years or so, we've offered a 30% discount in January and February, and 20% in March. This may not sit well with some of you, but I would rather make $140 off a $200 job, and be pleased to see a $140 check sitting in front of my bill holder on my desk, rather than an empty space. Also, it's easy to add a sofa for the $60 difference, and you'll wind up with the $200 anyway. Who cares if it took an hour longer---you're probably only doing the one job anyway. Some years we did 20/20/10, and after a few years you will see the same group of customers booking in these months. You can trim your mailings down to that group, as reminders. A simple post card will do nicely. If you're just starting out, and don't have a customer base, it's HUSTLE time, complete with all the worries, and doubts that you're in the right business. As I mentioned, here's where some good commercial accounts really help out.
Q. Is the Independent Foam Cleaner Association still functioning?
A. No. After George Hagele (The Masters Touch, AR) had major surgery several years ago, he had to step down as President, and editor of the newsletters. I did the first ten 'form up' NL's. The association was formed, and George took over and followed with ten more. We now use this site to communicate.
Note: Our group is NOT comprised of followers. Manufacturer's who glory in playing "big brother" don't impress them. They are smart, independent, free thinkers, and don't need to be told what to do, or not to do. Buying someone's equipment is one thing; marching to their tune is another. We share names, methods, machine improvements, products, parts suppliers, repair companies, wholesale equipment suppliers, (20% off new equipment) and a monstrous volume of practical information. Nothing is hidden, distorted, or denied anyone, and that's why everyone likes it. I personally guarantee you there is complete honesty here, and anyone who has been affiliated with our group will tell you the same.
Call me anytime if you just want to chat. Eve. & week-ends are best.
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