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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – December 2004

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

When the king finished singing, he sat down on his throne. He noticed that it didn’t look as grand and beautiful as it once did. He wondered aloud if there was a way to restore the grandeur and beauty that he remembered… well, there is!

For years, professional cleaners have asked about upholstery cleaning. It seems to be a natural add-on service; clean the carpet and clean the sofa. The benefits of HOST Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning, clean, dry and ready to walk on are benefits that resonate with the consumer. Today we are introducing a new Dry Upholstery Cleaning System that delivers those benefits for upholstery – but don’t walk on the sofa.

Aridex is our new dry upholstery cleaning system. It is a great addition that will allow you to expand your business with your current customers. The attached brochure explains the features and benefits of Aridex. These machines will be available from your local distributor starting in January 2005. We will be including training on the Aridex System in our HOST School training program. If you have questions about the new Aridex line, feel free to contact Debbie or me for more information. We are excited to bring you this new product to help you expand and develop your cleaning business. We think you will be just as excited.

Another drum roll please…

Geoff Greeley

Director of Training & Technical Services

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – November 2004

The Great Grout Epiphany,
By Deborah R. Lema

Once upon a time, there was a King. This King was a very good King, and everyone loved him. He was happy that everyone thought so highly of him, and he liked that he was good at his job. So all he did was his job. Except some-times, when he was alone, he would sing.

One day he was overheard. “What a lovely voice you have, sire! Sing more for us!” He shook his head modestly and blushed.

“That is what singers are for. I am the King. Kings don’t sing,” he told them. “If you wish to hear singing, I will hire a singer.”

The people didn’t agree, and argued with the King. Why should he hire another person to do something that he could do, and do well? Saving labor, time and money, all to do the same (if not better) job! He thought about it, and decided the arguments made sense. Why limit himself? Why shouldn’t he sing, even though he was King?

And so he sang, and everyone continued happily for quite some time.

The moral of the story is, if you have a really great carpet cleaning system that can clean grout too, it makes sense to use it both ways.

Drum roll, please…

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – October 2004

Letter from Edward Flicker

The enclosed letter from Edward Flicker, the Custodial Services Coordinator for Pasco County Schools in New Port Richey, Florida, describes the results of a carpet cleaning test in which HOST Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning was the clear winner.

The cleaning methods involved in the test were: high flow water extraction, portable water extraction, low moisture crystal forming, low moisture absorption (HOST) and truck mount water extraction. As you will note from Mr. Flicker’s letter, HOST was, “viewed as superior for the following reasons:”

  • No drying time after cleaning
  • Limited set up and clean up time
  • Cost of operation
  • Ease of operation and operator fatigue
  • IAQ factors

This independent test shows that when HOST is used as we say it should be, the carpet is thoroughly clean and dry and ready to be walked on. Most importantly, the HOST cleaned carpet stays clean longer than with other methods of cleaning.

If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint Presentation that Mr. Flicker offers in the letter, please send me an email and I will arrange to have a copy forwarded to you.

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services
Email: ggreeley@hostdry.com

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – September 2004

Power Cords

Before I muse about power cords, please allow me to introduce myself. They call me Deborah Lema now, as I have recently married. The title to my car, however, still reads Deborah Rench, as I haven’t changed it yet. I recently joined HOST as the Training Associate; although being a Rench daughter, I have always been a member of the HOST family. I am excited to be working closely with Geoffrey Greeley, Director of Training and Renowned Guru Extraordinaire. Some of you will talk to me on the phone, and some of you will see me in the HOST School and at trade shows; I look forward to making your acquaintance and trading knowledge with you!

Speaking of which, I promised you musings about power cords. I happen to come to this job with an oddly large amount of knowledge of electrical cables. I was a stagehand electrician for a number of years, so I have spent hours upon hours making cables, coiling cables, fixing cables, and cursing cables. I’ve even taken a nap on cables. When I heard that a few people out there were having issues with their power cords, I thought I could lend a few suggestions.

The issue at hand is cords curling in a frustrating way. Not only is it frustrating to wrangle these twisted and misbehaving things, but it also takes extra time on the job to deal with, looks bad, and weakens and breaks the wiring inside the casing so one is left with lessened or no power. Therefore, it saves money to take care of your power cords.

One of the most important things one can do to prolong the life of any power cord is to respect its memory. A cord’s memory is its “natural” shape. Without getting into too many details, I’ll just say that cords don’t appreciate too much change. Cords like to coil clockwise or counterclockwise, not either/or. If you find yourself having a hard time making a nice, smooth coil with it, it most likely means you’re fighting the cord’s memory. This is a primary cause of kinks, and kinks are bad. Unfortunately, once you’ve got kinks, it’s hard to get rid of them. There are a couple of things you can try, however, besides replacing the cord. The first is to stretch the unplugged cord all the way out on the floor, and see if you can gently work out the kinks by twisting them out. If it seems pretty straight, go to the machine (female plug) end of it, and look at how it hangs naturally. Does it curve slightly one way? If so, that is probably its natural memory. So follow its suggestion and coil it the way it wants to go. A good idea is to note which way you are coiling (clockwise or counter-clockwise) so you can remember to ALWAYS coil it that way in the future, and so you can inform others that may use the machine to coil it that same way. This method often works for people. Sometimes though the cord has been through too much to cure it this easily, in which case you could try laying it out in the sun for a sane amount of time so that the casing warms up a bit and softens enough to work out the kinks more easily.

Other cord tips:

Uncoil the entire length of the cord when it is in use. A coiled up cord creates some resistance, which causes heat. This heat dissipates unevenly, drying out areas of insulation inside the cord. Cracks can form, and the casing can melt. Not only is this a possible fire hazard, but also melted casings can retain their new melted shapes, adding to kinking problems.

Unplug the power cord before coiling it up. This may be the simplest thing you can do to prevent kinks.

Unplug the power from the plug, not by pulling on the cord. I have to fight my own urges to do this, as it’s so easy to just yank on the cord instead of walking (ALL THE WAY OVER THERE!) to the outlet and bending down again. However, if you could see what happens to the wires when they are yanked, you would be nicer to them. Pulling a power supply out of an outlet by the cord and not the actual plug puts unnecessary strain on the inside connections. This can result in disconnected wires inside the plug or casing, causing power loss, which is just plain bad for business, and also can result in dangerous electrical shorts within the cord. Shorts can melt the casing, possibly exposing users or clients to the current, and shorts are also major causes of fires. Fires are, at minimum, extremely bad for business. That goes for electrocuting yourself or others as well. Bottom line: no yanking.

Never coil a cord around your elbow. This handy trick destroys cords. Every cable has a “bend radius,” which is a mathematical limit that a cable can safely bend without any internal damage occurring. The point of one’s elbow is beyond this radius. In fact, I’m so careful about offending a cord’s bend radius that I coil a machine’s cord in my hand and then hang it on the top bracket, rather than winding it around.

The use of extension cords with HOST machines is not recommended. Why? The forty-foot power cords on HOST machines are designed to give the user mobility while delivering the kind of energy they need to run properly. While the use of extension cords with our products has not been evaluated, we pride ourselves on manufacturing safe, powerful products that will last. We cannot recommend using extension cords with anything powerful for two reasons: safety and longevity.

First, let’s talk about safety. How could extension cords be unsafe? Common extension cords tend to be of a smaller gauge than our power supply cords. Smaller gauge cords cannot handle the amount of power required, and can heat up. This heat could melt the insulation inside, causing a short. Arcing, melting, and fires can also happen inside the wall outlet. Gauge basically refers to the amount of wires a cord has. The bigger the gauge, the more copper, or conductor, it has. This can be confusing for those new to the topic, as gauge numbers go down as the gauge size increases; for instance, the Freestyle has a 16 AWG (gauge) power cord. The larger Liberator has a larger gauge, 14 AWG cord. Bigger gauge = smaller number. Gauge is important, and so is length.

Longevity is another concern besides safety. The length of an extension cord can affect a motor’s life, which is something many people don’t think about. The longer a cord is, the more it can create resistance known as voltage drop, which means that energy diminishes the more it has to travel. The voltage drop over a long cord can make a motor run slower, which in turn can create carbon deposits on the brushes, decreasing the motor’s efficiency. I’ve heard plenty of stories about people burning their motors out of their favorite power tools, and thinking that they were using them wrong or that they were poorly made. The real culprit is coiled innocently on a hook in the corner. Convinced? Good. As I do live in the real world, however, I can see that there may be situations where one might decide to use an extension cord. If you choose to do this, understanding your liabilities and remembering that we do not recommend it, please try to remember that using the shortest extension possible with a bigger gauge (smaller number) than your machine’s cord is best.

With a little care, your power cables should last a long time and not give you headaches!

Deborah Rench Lema
Training Associate
Email: dlema@hostdry.com

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – August 2004

Coffee spills?..

A customer asked me to evaluate a carpet with which they were having difficulty. They were unable to remove coffee spills.

The manufacturer told the customer that it is a solution dyed carpet so they could use bleach to remove the spill. They found that even with bleach they were unable to remove it. I tested the carpet here in our lab. It is indeed a solution dyed nylon fiber. We were also unable to remove the spill. I am not sure why, but I have a theory. In order to explain my theory I need to describe how nylon is dyed.

The conventional way to dye nylon is with an acid dye. The nylon fiber is dyed with hot water and the acid dye. The heat of the water causes areas on the fiber to open up. These areas are usually referred to as dye sites. When the dye sites are open, the dye, which has an affinity for the fiber, enters the fiber. At the end of the process, the nylon is rinsed and the dye sites close up. Cleaning chemicals and bleaches can remove this dye because it is a coloring that was added after the manufacture of the fiber.

In solution dyeing, the fiber is colored during the extrusion process, meaning that the fiber in a liquid form is mixed with the pigment and then extruded through a spinneret. The fiber emerges from the spinneret the color of the pigment and the pigment is a permanent part of the fiber, bleaches or other harsh chemicals cannot remove it. Many believe that a solution dyed fiber is more resistant to staining because of this color fastness.

Actually, it has been our experience that a solution dyed fiber can be more susceptible to staining. The reason is that the dye sites that would normally have been filled with some dye during the typical dyeing process are empty. They exist, but there is no dye in them because the coloring was added with a pigment during extrusion. It is these empty sites that are holding on to the coloring of the coffee and causing the discoloration. This discoloration is most noticeable on the lighter fibers. The carpet sample had a blend of gray and white fibers.

Brush Wear
Here is an interesting way to measure the wear of the cleaning brushes on a HOST Machine. With the brushes off the machine, take the lid of either the C12061 Hand Dispenser Jar or the C12103 Shaker Jar (also found in the C12100 HOST Dry Carpet Cleaning Kits), and place it over the top of one of the ends of the brush. If the brush bristles fit inside the lid, the brushes have worn to the point of needing replacing. I thought this was an interesting and useful tip and wanted to share it with you.

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – July 2004

A carpet isn’t clean until it’s dry..

The attached article from Contracting Profits magazine makes some good points about carpet care and the use of moisture. Considering the Carpet & Rug Institute’s promotion of “Carpet, clean and dry,” we thought it was fitting to pass it along.

At HOST we have always believed that “A carpet isn’t clean until it’s dry.” The HOST System was developed in order to be able to effectively clean a carpet while being able to return it to traffic immediately. The article states, “no carpet cleaning process is completely moisture free.” That is a true statement. Without water, detergents and wetting agents you can’t effectively clean a carpet. With HOST Dry Carpet Cleaner, we use about 1 teaspoon of liquid per square foot of carpet during the cleaning process. The word ‘dry’ in HOST Dry Carpet Cleaning refers to the end result, not the process. The carpet is dry and ready to use when the cleaning is done.

The article lists all the tools and equipment needed to get the carpet dry within 12 hours: extractors, dehumidifiers and fans. The equipment works and does help to dry the carpet, but it is costly and time consuming to set up and take down. With HOST, the job can be done and the carpet dry all with the use of just one piece of equipment; the HOST machine vacuums, pile lifts, dry cleans to remove spots and dirt and leaves the carpet dry. There is no need for dehumidifiers and fans saving time and money.

Both the article and the CRI’s newly published “Carpet Maintenance Guidelines” stress that “cleaning is not complete until carpet is dry and ready to be trafficked.” Remember that HOST delivers on that promise. I have also enclosed a, “HOST vs. wet cleaning advantages/benefits” list which you might like to incorporate into some of your advertising materials.

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – June 2004

This is your last chance to renew your membership and be eligible to receive the new HOST© logo shirt with the “Better than Wetter” logo.

This is what you get from your membership in the HPCA:

  • Monthly bulletin on hot topics
  • Discount on HOST sales literature
  • Use of HPCA logo
  • Technical support from HOST
  • Factory direct repairs
  • Access to HOST-at-Home products direct from the factory
  • Lead referral program
  • 3% cash back advertising allowance based on purchases

We received the following email from a satisfied customer in Maryland about HOST PCA member, Jim Rebbel:

“I got in touch with Jim Rebbel of Spot Wizard and he was absolutely wonderful. Jim provided us with his professional advice and recommendations, and everything he said turned out to be 100% correct. We are so pleased to have found such a thorough professional in our area, and we will be recommending him and HOST to all our friends. Thanks so much for putting us in contact with Spot Wizard.”

We would like to congratulate Jim for his professionalism and superior customer service. Jim is a great example for us all. This letter reminded me of how valuable customer referrals are to our business. How many of you have a ‘reference portfolio’? We always discuss this great sales tool in our HOST Schools. The reference portfolio should contain letters, such as the one Jim received, along with pictures of your jobs. Today the digital camera has made this so easy. Take a picture of the carpet before cleaning and then a shot after cleaning. Print the pictures and place them in your portfolio next to the letters and comment cards that you have collected from satisfied customers. Use the portfolio as a sales tool when you talk to prospective customers.

This kind of tool is very powerful and is almost like giving the prospect a demonstration. As you know, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If you haven’t put a portfolio together, now would be a great time to do it. As a start for your portfolio, go to our web site, www.hostcarpetcleaning.com and click on “What’s New.” You will find .pdf files of many of our case studies on successful HOST users. Print them out and use them as a foundation for your list of satisfied HOST customers. Start taking pictures, collect the best ones and place them in the portfolio as well. I know you will find this a valuable sales tool that will help you to close the sale.

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services

P.S. Don’t let your membership lapse; send in your renewal today!

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – May 2004

WOOLSAFE Certified Operator

In a recent bulletin we mentioned that both HOST EXTRA! And HOST Spot Remover carry the WOOLSAFE approval. We are considering offering the WOOLSAFE Certified Operator Program to HPCA members. This program would allow you to display the WOOLSAFE Certified Operator logo on your vehicle and other marketing materials. It can be another way to differentiate you from the competition. To get the certification, you must attend the WOOLSAFE course, which we can do here in Racine, Wisconsin, and pass the WOOLSAFE exam. The exam consists of 33 essay type questions and an open book test. The test is corrected by the WOOLSAFE
organization in the UK. The course includes a detailed WOOLSAFE Manual which you can use as reference when taking the test. The WOOLSAFE course is a ½ day course. These are the WOOLSAFE membership requirements:

  • Practicing carpet cleaner continuously for 5 years or more
  • Trained in all aspects of carpet cleaning (recognized training course)
  • Member of cleaning industry trade association or franchise
  • Fully insured
  • Attend WOOLSAFE training course (pass the exam – 80%+)
  • Agree to use WOOLSAFE APPROVED PRODUCTS
  • Pay registration and annual membership fee

The HOST School is a recognized training course and the HPCA counts as an industry trade association. We are ready to offer the course to interested HPCA members. Please email or call me to express your interest. When we have an idea as to the amount of interest, we will contact all members with some possible dates. There is no cost for the class, but WOOLSAFE Certification requires dues paid to the WOOLSAFE Organization to maintain your certification.

HOST PCA Renewal Gift

It is HPCA renewal time again. This year we are offering a new navy polo shirt with a newly designed clever logo which sends a message and catches your eye. Each HPCA renewal will receive one of these new shirts. The logo is pictured below.

 

 

 

 

 

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services
ggreeley@hostdry.com

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – April 2004

We recently received this comment from a customer

“In 1997 I had the carpets cleaned using the HOST method. I felt it was a very good process and I liked that the carpet smelled fresh, was soft to the touch and stains didn’t reappear. My local HOST professional has stopped using your products and has gone to the steam method. I had my carpet cleaned a couple of years ago by the same professional, this time using the steam process. The spots seemed to reappear in no time at all and the carpet was somewhat stiff to the touch. I just had my carpets done again today, by the same professional. He used the steam method again – he no longer uses your method of dry extraction. My carpet is drying right now. I also had it treated with Teflon since it gets dirty quickly now that I am married – there is substantially more traffic. I have to wait from noon to 6 pm before I can walk on it. I am not completely convinced that steam is the best way to go. I would like to know of another professional in my area using HOST. I may have to have them cleaned all over again.”

This really got me thinking about customer focus. Obviously this customer had confidence in his professional cleaner and took his advice on cleaning. Even after a disappointing result, the customer allowed the cleaner a second chance. The results were still disappointing and the customer is finally looking for a HOST cleaner again. I don’t know who the cleaner is or why he changed to wet cleaning, but the lesson here is, don’t underestimate the value of your customers.

Statistics show that it costs seven to ten times more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing customer – 68% of customers quit due to lack of attention, not price or product.

What are you doing to improve customer retention? This customer was lost due to the cleaner’s lack of follow-up. Obviously he didn’t ask about satisfaction with the job. He followed an old adage; no news is good news, except in this case it wasn’t. Customer retention is at least as important as customer development. So what can we do to improve customer retention?

Here are some ideas:

Follow-up phone calls after the job – this is one of the easiest but most often overlooked customer retention technique. I am amazed at how often I discover that the cleaner skips this. I get all kinds of excuses, answering machines, time limitations, fear of bad news (would you rather have the customer’s friends and relatives hear this instead?). A simple call to determine that all went as planned can save you lots of time and trouble later.

Feedback surveys – once the call has been made, whether you talked to the customer in person or not, send a survey card. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, just a few simple questions about satisfaction with the service. I know you won’t get 100% response, but the ones you get will often be invaluable as references.

Thank you cards – another simple tool that tells your customers that they are important and that you care about them and their satisfaction.

Direct mail pieces and programs for customers – have a strategy for repeat business. Think about specials and promos that are for current customers only. It could be specials on spot kits or incentives for referrals.

Holiday cards and reminder cards – holiday cards serve as a way to keep your name in front of your customer, so they don’t forget who their cleaner is. The reminder card (usually sent 9 or 10 months after the initial cleaning) is a way to ensure repeat business by reminding them that their carpet needs cleaning.

Write to me and tell me your customer retention techniques. I will share them with the members.

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services
ggreeley@hostdry.com

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Professional Cleaners Association Bulletin – March 2004

Carpet Cleaning Research

“Carpet that has been wet extraction cleaned should be vacuumed with machines equipped with HEPA filters before being returned to service. Considerable respirable (inhaleable) particulate remains in the carpet after wet extraction cleaning and drying.” Phillip Welty, PhD, Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin.

This study was done several years ago but didn’t get much publicity. The study showed that the dissolved soil in the water, that is an inevitable result of hot water extraction cleaning, remains in the carpet and slowly “wicks” to the surface as the carpet dries. The water evaporates leaving the particles of soil behind at the tips of the fibers. When the carpet is vacuumed these fine particles can be released into the air unless a vacuum with a HEPA filter is employed. For some people, this fine particulate could trigger a reaction.

There are two features of the HOST System that you can capitalize on as a result of this study. First, if you use the HEPA filters in your machine, you will be able to promote removal of fine particulate which may have been left by other cleaning methods. Second, the HOST® SPONGES® absorb the soil that is dissolved during the scrubbing action of the process; it is not driven to the base of the carpet. At the end of the cleaning the carpet is dry and clean, there is no chance of “wicking” of fine particulate to the surface. So when the customer vacuums after you have left, they will experience nothing but clean, dry carpet.

An independent test carried out by CAMRASO, the British Carpet Technical Center – Cleaning & Maintenance Research & Services Organization, has proven that in-plant cleaning removes 90% of soil particles while “steam cleaning” removes 40%. Similar evidence has been provided in work carried out by the International Wool Secretariat. Several 100% wool, Wilton carpets were laid on London Transport Buses and soil levels as high as 6 pounds 9 ounces per square yard were recorded. After in-plant washing the level was reduced to 5 ounces per square yard, which represents a soil removal of 95%.

What does this tell us? Hot water extraction does not remove “all” the dirt. The only way to get close is to have the carpet in-plant cleaned. In-plant cleaning is the process frequently used to clean loose area rugs. The rugs are placed in a giant “cleaning machine” that vacuums and wet cleans and then are hung up to dry. Of course this is impractical when it comes to the carpet installed in homes and offices.

The combination of the superior dry vacuuming and pile lifting capabilities of the HOST extractorVAC® series and the controlled dissolving and absorbing of the remaining soil using HOST SPONGES is the closest we can come to “in-plant” cleaning on location. We don’t claim 95% removal of soil, but independent tests have proven that one cleaning with HOST and HOST machines removes dirt and removes 89% of the dust mite allergen and 97% of the mold spores in a carpet. Those seem like pretty good numbers.

Geoff Greeley
Director of Training & Technical Services

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