Tips N Chat Throwback #20: “Three People Hurt, One Customer Dead”

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an editorial response written by Ed York and published in the January-February 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

THREE PEOPLE HURT, ONE CUSTOMER DEAD

“Chemical blast likely cause of fatal blaze” was the headline that recently screamed across the page of a Denver, Colorado newspaper. A two-column picture showed a firefighter helping a lady tenant, of the Cherry Condominiums, to safety after a two-alarm fire gutted the third floor, and caused heavy smoke damage to the remaining eight-story structure. Denver newspapers, radio, and TV reported the fatal fire was contributed to a workman who was cleaning a chair in the customer’s living room with a flammable solvent.

The employee who was identified as Wayne Eddy, of Colt Cleaners, tried to rescue the victim. When the fire broke out, Eddy is said to have taken the lady by the hand and tried to lead her to safety. All the exits were blocked. Mr. Eddy reported he urged the customer, Mrs. Gladys Nelson, age 68 to follow him. The last thing he heard, as he jumped to safety, was Mrs. Nelson’s screams for help. She did not jump. She perished. A later story published in a Denver newspaper identified the chemical used as one formulated by Professional Chemicals of Tempe, Arizona.

EDITORIAL RESPONSE
BY ED YORK

As Editor of a major trade publication, I attempted to clarify some of the facts given to the Colorado consumers during various news releases. I found a blanket of secrecy around every aspect. I was hung up on, threatened with lawsuits, and cussed out. THIS STORY MUST BE REPORTED. THE FACTS MUST BE CLEARED.

The entire cleaning industry is being held neglectful, to the point of causing the death of a customer. Pro Chem is left accused without any type of clarification. Actually, this company is standing behind a security shield. In all probability, they have nothing to hide. I, personally, have researched their dry solvents, and have found them safe when used as directed.

The news articles fail to tell if dry cleaning equipment was being used. If so, was the room ventilated, and exhaust hose utilized? Why was the customer in the condominium during the cleaning process? And the most important question I would like answered is regarding the chemical formula being used. While I find most of today’s chemicals are perfectly safe, they can be turned into a “tragedy waiting to happen”, when mixed by some of our “barnyard” chemists.

It is mandatory that every cleaner give immediate thought to the procedures and formulas they are now using. For example, a solvent with an extraordinary high flash point can be reduced to UNSAFE when mixed with a second. A solvent vapor aerated and spread over a large surface is certainly different than a volume of the same substance in a cup.

While it is past press time, and this issue is off to the printer, Tips N Chat will devote much of their next issue to SOLVENTS and FORMULAS now in use. We have discovered an early SCT bulletin referring to a questionable formula that has to be withdrawn from use. We are not assuming that anyone connected with the Cherry Condominium tragedy was doing anything wrong.

We do say that we must have some answers. So we can address ourselves to the areas that need concern. This could be equipment failure, but it could just as easily be operator training.

In the meantime let us make sure they are using their products as directed by the manufacturer. Don’t rely on the same “barnyard” formula, that someone says does a super job. Don’t take chances with the untested and unknown. A few degrees cleaner sofa will never take away the sound of your customer screaming for help as you jump for safety.

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an editorial response written by Ed York and published in the January-February 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post! THREE PEOPLE HURT, ONE CUSTOMER DEAD “Chemical blast likely cause of fatal blaze” was the headline […]

Tips N Chat Throwback #19: Are You Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Money?

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from a Pied Piper column written by Ed York and published in the First Quarter 1976 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

When I’m not traveling around this nation of ours talking or preaching carpet cleaning to whoever will listen, I’m conducting a class or on the phone. If I have a “gift” it must be that people do talk honestly and freely with me. Many’s the time that a simple question has turned into a deep and soul-searching verbal encounter into why a person is not succeeding. Each month SCT forwards a Pro-Pak with bulletins on new ideas and programs, as well as Technical Information. The same packet goes to all members. Within a few short weeks I receive a call or letter from someone exclaiming how terrific the idea is and how it is working. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern as to who obtains benefit and profit from these tips and who receives little, if anything, from them. I have turned and tossed many a night worrying about a friend who can’t seem to get ahead and is stagnant. He can’t afford to attend meetings, register for conventions, or even take a vacation.

At the same time, there is many a night I go to sleep practically smothered from the many praises received during the day. The question as to why some people find it so easy to adopt new ideas and programs that are proven winners, while others simply can’t grasp the simplest one, has plagued me. Last week in Salt Lake City, while waiting for a meeting to begin with the area’s Vapor-Vac dealers, I read the Holiday Inn magazine. It carried a copy of an advertisement that I have noticed many times. It was the one where the man offers a booklet on how to be lazy and get rich. Even has his CPA testify that his statements on how he became rich in a short time are true. One phrase that had been there before, leaped out at me…

MOST PEOPLE ARE TOO BUSY EARNING A LIVING TO MAKE ANY MONEY.

The problem for me was solved. It was not that the ideas and assistance we mailed out each month were wrong. It was not that they wouldn’t work. It was simply that “Most people were too busy making a living to make any money”. If you are not MAKING IT, take a look at yourself. Are you doing the LABOR while your business runs itself? Are you SAVING money by cutting out a $3.00 per hour employee and helping pull the tool during the daytime, and being too tired to SELL your services? Are you too busy earning a living to make any money?

Money is like an arm or leg – use it or lose it.

-Henry Ford

 ~ Ed York (1976)

 

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from a Pied Piper column written by Ed York and published in the First Quarter 1976 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post! When I’m not traveling around this nation of ours talking or preaching carpet cleaning […]

Tips N Chat Throwback #18: It Can Be a Van or a Coffin

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an Ed Sez column written by Ed York and published in the July-August 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

For some unexplained reason, owners of cleaning firms are reluctant to report or talk about accidents that happen to them. It may be the fear of liability, but I suspect it is the fear of being talked about by their peers. This is most unfortunate as nothing should stand in the way of cleaning up any problems that lead to unsafe conditions.

I can never forget the story told by a Colorado SCT member about how he entered the business. He inherited it from his father, who in trying to clean a customer’s oily rug, used a flammable solvent in his shampooer. Standing in the middle, he turned on his wet-dry to finish it off. Our member’s mother tells about hearing a loud noise and then seeing her husband running off the burning carpet – a human torch. How horrible.

But is it any worse than a few years ago when I sold 24 “sniffers” to carpet cleaners who used propane? When installed, it would set off a buzzer if the propane developed a leak in the lines or was left open. The problem was that “carbon monoxide” also set it off. SEVENTEEN of the buyers demanded their money back because their’s didn’t work properly. It kept buzzing after every job for at least 30 minutes, even if they didn’t use the propane. There was no way they would accept the fact that it was dangerous for their employees to ride in the van with this amount of “carbon monoxide”. Recently during the Cal/OSHA test, we could only find one van that didn’t have a lethal amount of carbon monoxide present after the unit had run five minutes. This cleaner placed a blower behind the driver which cleared the collected bad air.

This occurred several months ago and I have yet to hear of one person adding this safety feature to their van. It does not require an expensive blower. Pep Boys has a caged fan with brackets for sale at $18.75, that could be hung from the roof of the van, and blow the fumes out the open door while the equipment is working. It is hard to believe a firm will pay from $15,000 to $20,000 for carbon monoxide-producing equipment, and not an additional $18.75 to protect their operators, or themselves. Forgetting the physical liability and only considering the possible financial liability is enough to scare me into action. 

Now I hear by the grapevine of another truck explosion. I have to consider it as non-confirmed because the principal won’t answer my calls, and others say they would rather not be quoted. According to hear-say, this cleaner had a propane powered truck mount unit in the back of a fiberglass body that replaced the pickup bed. Rather than have the propane tank on the outside, it was attached to the inside wall. Evidently, the bottle came loose and fell over. This ruptured the copper line, which allowed the fumes to reach the water heater’s pilot light. One source says that flames went 80 feet into the air. Evidently, the cab of the pickup saved the operator from being a fatality, but what if it had been in a van? Not only are there lots of carpet cleaners driving around with a liquid petroleum tank inside their van, but many of them leave the manufacturer or installer’s place of business with this temporary connection that becomes permanent.

Let me ask you carpet cleaners this question. “Why do you think safety is for the other guy? Wives, please tell me why your husbands insist upon taking chances? Children, why does your daddy tell you it’s not safe to play with matches or loaded guns? I don’t care what state you live in, there are ample places where you can have your van checked FREE of charge without worrying about getting a fine. If you know it’s safe, then why be scared to have it checked?

If you own the company, then it’s up to you. It’s your choice whether you want to work in a van or a coffin.

~ Ed York (1981)

Below is the original article. 

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an Ed Sez column written by Ed York and published in the July-August 1981 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post! For some unexplained reason, owners of cleaning firms are reluctant to report or talk about […]

Tips N Chat Throwback # 17: Your Service Is Worth the Price

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from one of Ed York’s Pied Piper columns published in the Third Quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

June was a month of mixed emotions… A mailing to the south to 5,000 firms listed in last year’s yellow pages brought back over 1,200 marked “Moved, Address Unknown”. It is indeed a sad time when you think of so many dreams that probably became nightmares. These, for the most part, were good people; they did something wrong.

The SCT convention was exceptional and everyone attending had an excellent time, and reportedly gained much in knowledge and a better understanding of the business. This naturally was a good feeling. But, unfortunately, my mind was on good friends who couldn’t make the trip because they couldn’t get away from their business that long.

Some days were exceptional when we visited with those whose business was climbing every day. One bright experience was talking to a former furniture store owner, who several years ago, attended my 4/M class and was hot on price merchandising. Following the class and a year of SCT membership, he changed his operation to one of PRESTIGE. His shop was a testimonial to a good book operation. His office walls were decorated proudly with association material. He says he has doubled his prices and then some. He also says he is now booked a week ahead and has gained a reputation that unless you have a recommendation, his firm won’t even accept you for a client. His wife told Wanda that they had made more PROFIT the last year than the previous three put together. All they did was to seek direction and follow the advice of winners. Formerly he said, “maybe in your area it will work, but not in MINE”. Something caused him to change and say, “I’m just as good as the next man, and if he can do it, so can I”. He tried it. Not just once, but again and again, until it was his way. Carpet Cleaners have a hard time seeing it in their own profession, so let me tell you a story that happened here in Fresno to folks that I know.

Our former answering service had become lax. They used to give service, but they changed this to excuses. Our people investigated the others. One was high on three different reports. An interview with the owners was most pleasant. They were excited and determined to give the best service. I agreed to switch to their firm. I had expected to pay $35 to $45 per month. I was surprised to find that they only charged $22 per month. I figured it was a mistake, but the six months that followed proved the figure was correct. Our calls were never handled any better. They cared, they gave service, they were the best. Last month our phones were silent after-hours. The phone company had shut off our answering service’s equipment for lack of payment. The young couple had gone BROKE. I was stunned and called some of the other subscribers. They all agreed this firm was the best and also stated they would have been tickled to pay 50% more each month, rather than 50% less because of the great service they received. Pathetically, they were never given the opportunity. They naturally only paid what was asked.

~ Ed York (1977)

Below is the original article. 

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from one of Ed York’s Pied Piper columns published in the Third Quarter 1977 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post! June was a month of mixed emotions… A mailing to the south to 5,000 firms listed in […]

The Top 5 Scary Reasons You’re Not Using ServiceMonster

Having served the industry for over 15 years now, we’ve talked with a lot of carpet cleaners, window cleaners, pressure/power washers, and many other business owners along the way. Many decide to use ServiceMonster, but some do not. We have found that the vast majority of people who decide not to use ServiceMonster give us one of five common answers. Don’t get spooked by one of those answers!

We think that none of these reasons are actually obstacles, as we have designed ServiceMonster to help service businesses grow and become more efficient, no matter what “stage” they are in. Here are the top 5 answers we hear from the “No’s” and the “Not-Right-Now’s,” along with our response to each. 

1) “It’s too expensive.”

Is growing your business worth less than $80 per month? How about all of the time you’ll save by integrating your scheduling, billing, invoicing, and marketing? Even if $80 a month would put a strain on your budget, you can get ServiceMonster for FREE simply by referring one friend each month (credit will be given after friend has been with us for 45 days).

2) “We’re a small company and we don’t need help keeping organized.”

One question: how much of your time and attention does your current system require? With ServiceMonster, you can save a ton of time by automating all of your processes that would normally require paperwork. This makes tax season less stressful and frees up your after-hours life so you can focus on family, friends, and much-needed R&R. We also have a ton of owner/operator clients who swear by our FillMySchedule direct mail marketing service that sends out thank you and reminder cards to keep your clients coming back.

3) “I already use free programs (Google Calendar, etc.) that basically do the same thing.”

Does Google Calendar tell you what type of jobs earn you the most money, or what day of the week you are most likely to sell protectant? Does it give you the power to send out thank you cards at the click of a button? Yes, there are free programs that can help you handle the basics of running a business. The difference is that ServiceMonster empowers you to grow your business.

4) “Why pay a subscription for a software program? Shouldn’t I just have to pay for it once?”

Because our software is cloud-hosted with a secure server that automatically protects and backs up your data, we need to charge our subscribers monthly. We are also constantly working to improve our platform to help our clients grow. When we develop an upgrade to our system, it goes out to all of our subscribers at no additional cost. Plus, you get unlimited training and support from our dedicated staff who know the software and are always here to help! Also, we do not lock our clients into any kind of contract, so if you are ever unsatisfied or need to cut costs, you can turn your subscription off without any complications.

5) “We’ve heard great things about ServiceMonster. We’re just too busy right now to worry about learning a new program.”

We built ServiceMonster so it could be learned quickly by people who are not computer experts. The vast majority of our clients are comfortable using our platform after only two one-hour training sessions. For people who require a little more assistance when it comes to new software, our support staff is more than happy to help. Don’t let a busy schedule prevent you from making the decisions that will help you grow your business!

So, let’s recap:

Unlimited free support. Unlimited free training. Free lifetime upgrades. No annual contracts. Powerful tools to help you grow your business. Nothing scary!

What are you waiting for? Give us a call today at 888-901-3300 or click here to request a free demo!

Having served the industry for over 15 years now, we’ve talked with a lot of carpet cleaners, window cleaners, pressure/power washers, and many other business owners along the way. Many decide to use ServiceMonster, but some do not. We have found that the vast majority of people who decide not to use ServiceMonster give us […]

Tips N Chat Throwback #16: Professionalism Conquers Methods

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an Ed Sez article published in the April-May 1974 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

 

As long as the world is made up of people, I won’t have to go to a Broadway show for amusement. Even though I’m snowed with work that should have been out last week, I still try to skim through the many publications that we receive each week. I’m sure others find more than sufficient items in our presentation to be able to criticize to their hearts’ content. We have tried to dispense some factual information, keep our customers advised of what others are doing, and add enough of our own family information to prevent having to write to the kinfolk as often. Now that I have publicly confessed that we are not perfect, I’ll share one of my latest chuckles at some of the actors in today’s World Comedy.

The setting is Jan.-Feb. issue of CM (Cleaning Management), a bi-monthly publication of the American Institute of Maintenance. Allan Ames, their Technical Editor reported on the better-known methods of cleaning carpets. He referred to Steam Cleaning and its accepted virtues. There was very little to add to what is now an accepted fact. Steam Cleaning is a preferred method of cleaning some carpets. The March-April issue of the magazine contained a Letter to the Editor by Tom Fisher, Marketing Manager of ADVANCE FLOOR MACHINE CO. His letter pretty well takes Mr. Ames to task for his earlier report and pans STEAM CLEANING and its so-called shrinking problem, and Mr. Ames for even suggesting it was an excellent method.

Now since Advance is an honorable name in the floor machine sales, and probably has, and will have, major emphasis on Scrubbers, you can understand his displeasure of a Technical Editor saying anything else but the scrubber was an approved method. The item that amuses me, however, is that in the SAME issue under the magazine’s Products on Parade section they have a picture and write up about the LIQUIDATOR, manufactured by Advance Floor Machine Company. The propaganda says the Liquidator is a carpet RINSER. They don’t mention Steam Cleaner at all. They describe the function of the Liquidator being connected with a 50-foot hose to the HOT water or cold water tap, and the water is evenly inserted into the carpet fibers by four jet spray nozzles. The dirty water is then picked up by one of 3 Hydro Vacs.

Recently a young and aggressive salesman from one of the biggest and best-known chemical houses called upon me to introduce their NEW shampoo which was also a STAIN REPELLENT. He left a gallon which in big letters said it was a SOIL RETARDENT. I questioned the difference and he admitted he didn’t know there was any difference.

Two weeks later, he returned with his Regional Supervisor to explain it. I again asked the question and received a blank stare for an answer. The sales pitch quickly changed to a NEW super spot and stain removal. You simply aerospray it on the spot and then apply water which changes it to a shampoo, and then we go ahead and agitate prior to cleaning. It’s great. I questioned him if our unit would cause the same reaction with its hot water and pressurized force. He didn’t know for sure, but still claimed it was designed for this use. I then asked him if he had ever SEEN a carpet being Steam Cleaned. He had to admit he hadn’t. That ended the conversation. A Regional Manager claiming he had the magic answer for our pre-spotting, that had never even seen ANY steamer in action. Ridiculous!

The tragedy of today’s manufacturers & suppliers is their reluctance in accepting the fact that the ability to clean carpets comes from good equipment, good chemicals, and superior knowledge of the techniques, and the ability to use them at the proper time and under the proper conditions. In their drive to SELL their product, they concentrate on tearing the other fellow down, rather than helping their customer to better and properly use their equipment.

Many of the pioneers in Hot water extraction methods are very small and do not have the financial ability or staff to do this. My hat is off to them, however, because if it hadn’t been for their entry into the field, the consumer would still be without the CHOICE of the methods. The Giants in the field, however, who waited on the sidelines until entering the Steam Cleaning field was forced on them, owe the industry something besides hate letters and snide comments. “Steam” cleaning is a proven method and will be with us for some time. Hopefully, you will remember the few companies who dared to put their life savings on the line to be different and bring you a new concept in fiber cleaning and give them your support. They might not have the fancy name or distributor network of the conservative Giants, but they are the reason you are enjoying more on-location cleaning than ever in the history of carpets. At the same time, it is hoped that some of the fanatic “steam” cleaning equipment suppliers will also recognize that many carpets require a method other than “steam”.

I personally do not advocate your being a shampooer, nor do I believe you should be a “steam” cleaner. I hope that each of you will strive to be a PROFESSIONAL carpet cleaner, offering the method needed, with the equipment and chemicals needed, to do the best job possible, based 100% on the carpet’s NEEDS. 

~ Ed York (1974)

Below is the original article. 

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an Ed Sez article published in the April-May 1974 issue of Tips N Chat. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!   As long as the world is made up of people, I won’t have to go to a Broadway show […]

Tips N Chat Throwback #15: What Are the Possibilities Today?

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an Ed Sez article published in the August 1972 issue of Western Cleaner & Launderer. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

What Are the Possibilities Today In the On-Premises Rug Cleaning?

By Ed York – Steam Services

It is an impossible task in the short time allotted to go into any detail on how you can diversify into the carpet cleaning field or what would be required to obtain the best results for your own personal operation. Therefore, I will limit myself to some general comments for your consideration. I know of many of your members who have made a successful diversification into this field, and I would be happy to provide those of you considering the move, their names so you can contact them individually.

From all reports, the dry cleaning field is experiencing some troubled waters. One of my accounts in Louisiana, who has a long established dry cleaning business, told me the wash and wear shirts forced him into the carpet cleaning business, and that polyester forced him into Steam Cleaning! Let’s take a brief look into the carpet industry. In 1964 the mills produced some 80 million square yards of new carpets. This year they will hit around 640 million yards. In 8 years they have advanced their annual production 800 percent.

Recently an executive from Bigelow carpet mill told a convention of maintenance contractors that less than 10 percent of the carpet laid today has been cleaned.

Who is going to clean these carpets? Prior to coming here today, I checked with Dun and Bradstreet, who reported only 2,800 listed in the United States and about 10 percent or 280 from California. In February of this year, I attended the 1972 Convention for AIDS International, the new name for the National Institute of Rug Cleaning. Registration was about 300. Their total membership is around 600. Their magazine called “Voice” is the trade magazine for the carpet cleaners and has a worldwide subscription list of about 2,500. Who is going to clean these carpets? Do you realize if every carpet cleaner in the nation worked their equipment and crews around the clock, without stopping, they couldn’t handle the task.

The population explosion hit our country after world war two and we saw what happens when one isn’t prepared for it. The carpet cleaning explosion is knocking on our front door. Once again, I ask who is going to clean these carpets? Unfortunately, it is not the rug cleaner of yesterday. He is still sitting in his big plant with the big investment wondering what happened to the loose rug business. He, for some unknown reason, refused to change with the times. While he insists on a jet plane to travel in, he continues with a horse and buggy operation. Most of the small firms only know one thing — how to say they can do it cheaper. Today’s carpet owners are demanding professionals.

A few years ago it was rugs, now it is carpets, wall to wall. Yesterday’s rugs were predominately cotton and wool. Now they are made from new synthetic fibers that require new methods of cleaning. Yesterday’s carpet cleaning was mostly a physical process, but with today’s modern on-location equipment science plays a most important part. We now have chemicals that help do the job. This means we need qualified, trained operators with stain and spot removal know-how.

Two weeks ago I spoke on the value of clinics to a group of the leading maintenance contractors representing the biggest and best in the western states. I gave them a sample test, covering minor items. One of the questions was concerning the pH scale. The low and high reading plus what was neutral. Which side was acid and is most soil acid or alkaline. Only three of those attending knew that 7 was neutral. No one could answer 0 to 14, or that acid was on the low side, or that most soil is on the acid side.

Once again I ask who is going to clean these carpets? Frankly, I don’t know for sure at this time. I do know that those carpet cleaners that have taken the time to become truly professionals in the last couple of years are all enjoying great success. I earnestly believe tomorrow’s carpet cleaners will come from the dry cleaning field.

Why do I say this? It’s simple. You men have the know-how. You know spot and stain removal. You already have the base of operation needed for an on-location carpet cleaning operation. You have the phones. You have the bookkeeper, you have the office staff, and most important you have the management. Most of these carpets will be cleaned during the summer months. This is your slump season. As a licensed dry cleaner you can qualify for contract to hire and train new employees to handle your carpet cleaning, and the government will pay to do this.

You have a ready-made customer list. You see these customers all year long. You already have the reputation for spot and stain removal. Many costs such as liability insurance, business licenses, and display signs are already provided. Who is going to clean these carpets? The professional. The firm that features quality and carpet know-how. The firm that looks and conducts his operation as a professional. Of all the service trades known today, there is no one more prepared and more able to enter this market, that is ready to bust at the seams, than those of you here today — The Professional Dry Cleaner.

~ Ed York (1972)

Below is the original article.

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is from an Ed Sez article published in the August 1972 issue of Western Cleaner & Launderer. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post! What Are the Possibilities Today In the On-Premises Rug Cleaning? By Ed York – Steam Services It is an […]

Tips N Chat #14: The Kreeping Krud

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an Ed Sez article referencing what Ed calls the “kreeping krud”. It was featured in the Fourth 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!

THE KREEPING KRUD

Every industry making progress today has one thing in common: They present a united front to the world. They have learned that to grow they must have strength to protect themselves from the outside forces working against them. They know it takes understanding and MONEY.

The poor carpet cleaning industry shuffles along dragging their wounded limbs, saying “woe is me” every time ‘THEY” do something to take a bite out of our profit. Never could figure out who “THEY” are, but I’ve got a hunch it may be the person we see in the mirror when we shave.

Our industry is plagued with a contagious condition known as “The Kreeping Krud.” It consists of several strains of ignorance, hard-headedness, and apathy and it has claimed victims in every state of every land.

Let’s take an example: The BBB and its ridiculous stance on Steam Cleaning. While many carpet cleaners say the BBB is wrong, they aren’t willing to “make waves” as long as the problem stays out of their town. Yet when they are hit, they suddenly start yelling that “somebody should do something about this WRONG.”

The latest outbreak of “The Kreeping Krud” is reported in ALASKA where the Attorney General is being pressured to stop Steam Cleaning. Sure, several of us have protested, but most have turned their backs (Why bother the safe nest when Alaska is ‘way north of us?). “AWAKE,” I cry, “before you, too, are all alone when the Krud comes Kreeping YOUR way!”

Recently, I purchased a Commander motorhome. Here’s a prime example of “The Kreeping Krud” as you’ll see in the story in this issue. It would be easy to say “So What?” and forget it but I am challenging the Commander company’s stand. How about the rest of you? Do you have Commander dealers spreading “The Kreeping Krud” in your area? Will you donate some time to your profession to check it out?

Congratulations to Jean Smith in Rupert, Idaho who is fighting a pure case of “The Kreeping Krud” singlehandedly. We’ve included her story in this issue. Read it and then tell me: How many professional carpet cleaners have KNOWN of similar cases but have refused to stand up to FALSE information handed out by upholstery fabric manufacturers?

Carpet Cleaners routinely continue to patronize places that have FILTHY carpets. Why don’t we stand up tall and say “NO MORE until you clean your carpets!”

Examples like these are all around you and happen every day. Like any battle, it can’t be won by isolated individuals. Only individuals JOINED TOGETHER toward a common goal will overcome “The Kreeping Krud.” Congratulations to organizations like the California Carpet Institute (CCI), the Steam Carpet Cleaners Associates and the Society of Cleaning Technicians who fought the BBB in their attempt to blacklist professional carpet cleaners who don’t use the Von Schrader folks’ method of dry foam cleaning.

Congratulations to the St. Petersburg, Florida carpet cleaner who refused to allow the maitre d’ to seat his party at an expensive and well-known restaurant because the carpets were FILTHY. Every carpet cleaner who refuses to do that allows “The Kreeping Krud” to infest our lives.

A carpet cleaner who CUTS prices to keep up with his inferior competition is guilty. An association, group or individual who visits a mill or retail store that publishes propaganda adverse to our industry and doesn’t do anything to educate the owners and managers to the truth is guilty.

Carpet cleaners who spend their time fighting with each other instead of spreading the word that 86% of the public are living on dirty carpets are already infected with “The Kreeping Krud.”

So stand up and be counted, all you noble men and women, and attack this contagious disease with all your resources. Let’s keep our identity AND our independence, but join forces against a common enemy and STAMP OUT “The Kreeping Krud!

~ Ed York (1976)

Below is the original article.

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an Ed Sez article referencing what Ed calls the “kreeping krud”. It was featured in the Fourth 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! […]

Tips N Chat Throwback #13: Wearing a Black Hat Isn’t Fun

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)

Below is the original article.

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 […]

Tips N Chat Throwback #12: “Recession Blues”

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. 

RECESSION BLUES 

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.

The original article is pictured below:

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 […]