Rambo’s Ramblings: Who’s Buying from Sam? I Am!

Rambo’s Ramblings: Who’s Buying from Sam? I Am!

A couple of weeks back, a friend of mine from Pennsylvania called to say, “I am overnighting you the most fabulous book on selling I’ve ever read!” He is a very successful business man, so I was intrigued. “It’ll be there in the morning”, said my friend. “Gotta go”. A click and a dial tone. My friend is not easily excitable, so needless to say, I was anxiously awaiting for FedEx to arrive the next day.

The truck arrived about 8:30 the next morning, so I headed for the Waffle House for a cup of coffee with my package in hand. As soon as I sat down, I tore open the package and stared in disbelief. The book I was looking at was “Green Eggs and Ham”, by Dr. Seuss! My friend will pay for this, I mutter.

Dr. Seuss books are whimsically seductive, and part of me is still 8 years old!

Unconsciously, I began to read, and then suddenly I was ashamed of my anger toward my friend. It hit me all at once! My friend is not a practical joker at all. He is, in fact, a genius! Green Eggs and Ham is nothing less than a story of the greatest salesman who never lived! I speak of none other than the mythical, immortal, and legendary character Sam-I-Am.

“Will you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox? Would you? Could you? In a car? Eat them! Here they are!”

Sam-I-am asks the customer no less than sixteen times to try his green eggs and ham! Why? Because Sam-I-am knows the average sale is made when the customer has been asked five times whether he/she would like to buy the product or service. Yet, in the real world, the average service person will only ask twice.

When a customer tells you “they will think about it”, what they are often really saying is, “I don’t have any questions yet. Check with me later.” Sadly, few ever do.

Ask yourself these questions:

#1) Is the fear of being perceived as “pesky” causing you to deliver poor service to your customers?

#2) Are you expecting the customer to walk up to you and say, “I’m not thinking about it anymore. Now I’m ready to ask questions.”

If you think this will happen, I suggest you buy a copy of Green Eggs and Ham and pay special attention to the end of the story, where the previously reluctant customer exclaims with wide-eyed excitement, “I do like green eggs and ham! Thank you!

Thank you, Sam-I-am!”

Here is a Trivia Question for you:

A publisher for Random House bet Dr Seuss $50.00 that he couldn’t write a book using just 50 words. Dr. Seuss won the bet by writing which book?

If you guessed “Green Eggs and Ham”, you are correct!

Ray “Rambo” Moody

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Rambo’s Ramblings: New Business Start-Up Plan or… The Slide Show That Changed My Life !!

I was really getting sick and tired of all the constant travelling (covering 10 states and the Virgin Islands) involved with my job in the “Corporate World”. I had finally decided that it was time to start my own business.

So, just how does one go into business for themselves, with no customers and limited capital?

Well, I was certainly no stranger to the carpet cleaning industry, as I had the responsibility of keeping approximately 22 million square feet of it (in 296 buildings) clean as a part of my former job description. My official title was “Maintenance and Energy Manager”. I had toured several Carpet Manufacturing Plants and attended several schools on carpet cleaning, hosted by various cleaning equipment manufacturers, so I felt fairly knowledgeable about the subject of carpet care.

Here’s what I decided to do:

I put together a slide presentation (which also utilized some drawings and a few props) on how carpeting is made and the various cleaning techniques involved in maintaining it. I was targeting this presentation for the commercial end of the market, because I assumed that “cold-calling” area businesses in order to generate enough work would be too slow to be an effective method of marketing for a new business start-up.

I drafted a letter to send to Facilities Managers, Housekeeping and Maintenance Managers, and anyone else who was responsible for the care of the carpeting in their business. The letter invited them to come to a free 3 1/2 hour Seminar at the most expensive hotel in town. In the letter, I described 4 main topics of discussion:

Topic #1. How carpeting is made.

Topic #2. How soil enters your building.

Topic #3. The many different ways to remove the soil.

Topic #4. How to set up a preventative Maintenance Program for your building(s)

I sent out about 90 invitations and to my surprise, 61 showed up. I did not know it at the time, but Topic #4 is what made them come. At the time, my only guess was: “Hey! I must really be thinking outside-the-box or something!” :o) From that one slide presentation, I ended up with more work than I could ever possibly do by myself. Actually, I had to use delaying tactics until I could hire enough employees to handle all the work!

One Manager who attended my seminar invited me to come to his office the next day, whereupon he immediately contracted me to clean and maintain all the carpet and upholstery in his facility. He also contracted me to clean windows and do pressure washing. Another account I ended up getting as a direct result of this seminar with was from the Marriott Hotel. They contracted me to clean and maintain all 280,000 square feet of carpeting in a conference center that they managed. I held this particular account for the next 9 years!
Remember, my focus was on selling “clean-carpet”, not “carpet-cleaning”. In a future article, I will tell you how I structured all that.

If you feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a group, I recommend you join the ToastMasters Group. Did you know that here are many groups just looking for someone to come and speak to them for 15 or 30 minutes. Real Estate Groups, Women’s Garden Groups, Leads Groups, but to name just a few. In order to “sell your services”, you must get a chance to
“tell your story”. If it is an interesting story (and it must be YOUR story), they will buy
what you are selling.

Be honest. Be sincere. Be helpful. Offer the local Nursing Home $1000 in free cleaning.

That will get your name in the local newspaper and give you a little jump-start in putting your “story” together.

I had loads of marketing ideas (all ready to implement) when I first started out in this business. However, because of the success of that one slide presentation (14 years ago), I have never had the need to implement even one of them!

I have since sold off 70% of my Carpet Cleaning business, and now run one truck and currently have over 800 customers, mainly residential. We also own a Window Treatment business (we manufacture blinds) that grew from our Carpet Cleaning business.

I will “ramble on” about these various subjects in future articles.

If you would like more information, please feel free to e-mail me.

Happy Holidays!
Ray “Rambo” Moody

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Rambo’s Ramblings: Making the Switch, From Truckmounted HWE to VLM

I have just completed a 100% switch to VLM cleaning!

Previously, we had been running three HWE truckmounts (which included a Butler, a Prochem “Legend” and a Bane “Perma-Mount”). I packaged up 75% of my business (which included two trucks and customer list) and sold it. After that, I continued to operate with my Bane truckmount and service only my home county.

I started OP cleaning this year and was blown away with the results! I had used bonnet cleaning systems in the past, but always used HWE as our number one method.

The reasons for switching to 100% VLM were mainly:

– cost
– new chemicals
– ease of use
– easier to train new employees
– having something “different” to offer my customers

We use and will market ourselves as using all natural cleaners. Two tag lines (slogans) come to mind: “I’m a Natural” or “Environmentally Safe Carpet Cleaning”.

I have much lower operating expenses now. Additionally, I use a smaller vehicle to operate out of (I just purchased a Chevy Astro van – not possible to operate the Bane Perma-Mount TM in this type of vehicle). My Astro van handles all of my VLM equipment quite nicely and my GPM (gallons per mile) is higher now that I am not hauling a 2000 lb. TM everywhere I go.

With VLM, it is very easy to expand the business without spending an additional $15000.00 for another HWE truck mount. “Tripping hazards” are almost non-existent, because OP cleaning does not require hoses running throughout the home. Insurance costs less, as well.

I have found that “Padding” is easier on the body than wanding. I recently OP cleaned 6000 square feet of dirty carpet, all in one day without any back pain! Padding is almost as fast as wanding for us. VLM gives you something to talk about at Chamber Of Commerce and Real Estate meetings, especially if you are using an all natural cleaner.

We also clean a lot of furniture using the Von Schrader Dry Foam System as our number
one method (using LST is our number two method). Stairs are cleaned either with the Von Schrader System or by using the OP method (via the Argonaught).

We use a portable extractor on small water damage jobs as well as cleaning certain types of rug fringes and that is all. I really love not having to ride around all day with a 120-gallon waste tank right behind the driver’s seat (and all the odor that goes with it)!
I am not sure how fast VLM will increase in its market share of the “carpet cleaning pie”,
but I see it as growing faster than ever before. Remember that Von Schrader has been around for over 60 years.

I have completely disabled my Bane Perma-Mount truckmount, so there is no turning back now. I am 100% VLM! I look forward to the challenges and the rewards.

Ray “Rambo” Moody

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Rambo’s Ramblings: It’s Time To Do Your Homework !!

After writing my first article for the VLM Central E-zine, I received e-mails from half way around the world (the land down under) and many from the U.S. Everyone who e-mailed me seemed to want a quick and easy way to instantly get tons of business. They wanted me to give them some magical formula that would work instantly.

It soon became apparent, after asking some questions, that there was no way they could approach the commercial market (in my fashion) with such limited knowledge of its inner-workings. So, for that reason, I will (in this article) cover the most important steps to gaining a piece of the commercial market. It is worth the effort. If you have ever worked in the corporate world, you are already ahead of the game!

TERMINOLOGY

You need to speak and understand their language, using phrases such as “proactive vs. reactive”, “life cycle cost”, “how do we extend the years of service”, etc. You must be prepared to tell them what they need to know. After all, you are the expert!

BUDGET

This is very important to them. Their very existence depends on staying within it. They have to do 1-year, as well as 5-year, “projections”. They are looking for a sound return on their general-expense dollars. You can help them with this. I have rarely seen a sound Carpet Maintenance Program in any large facility. In a large office building, you will probably never clean all of the carpet (outside of spotting). If you do not understand this concept, you need to take an IICRC course on Commercial Carpet Care.

Potential commercial clients will be looking very hard at your company, and you will not even get to first base, if you do not have adequate:

#1) Insurance.
#2) Workers Compensation.
#3) Various Workmanship Warranties.

Most, if not all, commercial accounts are only acquired after several, “one on one” meetings. Invite the Facilities Manager to lunch (go to a top-notch restaurant).

Also,
dress like him (wear a suit and tie, if required). You can also invite several Facilities Managers to a “lunch/demo/presentation”. This is a 1 to 2 hour get-together after you put together your “dog and pony show”! :o)

I am not trying to discourage anyone from going after this lucrative market. However, using my method may take you longer to get a contract, but you will have it for years. I had one commercial contract for over 9 years and collected over $500,000.00 for my effort! (Yes, I said, 1/2 million dollars!)

Do your best to reach the company’s “decision maker” and ask that person to lunch (do not waste time on a person who cannot make the decision). You can learn so much, this way.

One time, I was having lunch with a Facilities Manager; I was asking him what else I could help him with. He mentioned that he was having trouble with “over billing” by one of his current Contractors. He said that, many times, this particular Contractor would not even show up to do the job! Bear in mind, this Facilities Manager was in charge of 55 Bank branches in the Atlanta area and the contractor in question was pressure washing all the drive-thrus once a month (a piece of concrete 9’x25′). That made for 147 of them, total.

He asked me if I was interested in cleaning them. So, I asked him what he was paying per drive-thru, and much to my surprise, he told me $50.00 each! That’s another: $7350.00.

I immediately went into the pressure washing business. Additionally, that led to sign cleaning for this account (55 signs x $148.00 each) as well as tons of other business from just this one Facilities Manager! That’s another: $8140.00.

To sum it all up, my advice to you, is to:

* Do your homework.
* Get certified.
* Go get the business.

It’s out there and someone is doing it right now, why not you?

Ray “Rambo” Moody

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Rambo’s Ramblings: “B” Rules and “Selling with Guts!”

B-Smart: This is a favorite of mine. All my life I heard stuff like “nose to the grindstone”, “work hard”, You’ve got to have a good work ethic”, and so on. If working hard is the key to success then why isn’t my local garbage man a millionaire?

There are too many of you going through all the motions of working hard and not getting to your BANK. Working hard is only half of the solution. You must work smart enough to get to the place that allows you to achieve the financial freedom you deserve.

B-Happy: (sounds like a bad reggae tune!) If you do something that is fun for you everyday, work never becomes a four-letter-word. Sure! Money is important, but how do you keep the fire burning within if you are the world’s highest paid cesspool cleaner? Unless you love standing in excrement all day, it really won’t matter how much money you make. Life is too short to be flipping hamburgers!

B-Gutsy: It is too easy to fall into a complacent lifestyle. Stop accepting mediocrity as a standard.

B-Hungry: You have got to want it badly. B-Teachable: Be willing to learn all the time.

B-Decisive: Make a decision and stick with it.

B-Original: You should strive to be as original as possible. Although, it can be tough to be “an original”. If you don’t believe me, start researching all the greats in exploration, science, the arts, you name it.

B-Yourself: I remember a time in my life when I was unbelievably shy. (Yea,I know it’s hard to believe!) I was always worried what others would think. One day I made a commitment to change. I would express my thoughts, be who I truly wanted to be, and to hell with the embarrassment, consequences or judgment of others. Popeye said it best, “I y’am what I y’am and that’s all that I y’am!” S

Selling with Guts
Since I have reopened my Vacuum Store, I had to retrain myself on selling, here are some things I had to relearn. Make your prospects miserable and put them in pain!

Let me explain….

Prospects do not buy “Feature and Benefits” (forget what you have heard on this subject).

They buy in order to avoid pain and it is your job to make them realize how much trouble they are in.

Forget about getting to Yes. Always go for the No’s. Most of us waste far too much time and energy with “time wasters”. Qualify your prospects quickly and get the “no prospects” out fast so you can work with viable prospects.

If your competition is doing it, then change it ASAP! Be an innovator and let everyone chase you.

Always start at the top. When making a presentation, go to the top and work your way
down, instead of from the bottom up. Yes, it takes guts, but it is worth the effort.

Sell today and educate later. Stop giving free consultations to unqualified suspects. Your
time, knowledge and energy have value, but only if you show others that you respect yourself. Remember to qualify first and sell later.

Life is too short to make “cold calls”. Never make cold calls unless you have a prospecting sales system (I send out samples) that can convert cold calls into warm or hot prospects.

It’s OK to hate cold calls!

Never give a presentation until you have qualified the prospect up front. You need to ask the tough questions that most are afraid to ask.

Examples:

“Mr. Maintenance Manager, why am I here?”

“What would you like to see my company do for you?”

“What problems are you experiencing?”

“Do you have money budgeted to purchase our service/product if it meets your needs?”

“Could you share that amount with me in round numbers?”

“What is the decision making process in your company?”

For those of you interested, here is a run-down of what my business is currently involved with:

We mostly sell vacuum cleaners in our showroom along with blinds,shades and shutters, but we also sell in the field our carpet cleaning service and our newest business of distributing cleaning supplies and equipment to hospitals, schools, and churches throughout the state of Georgia.

Ray “Rambo” Moody
Copyright 2003 Ray Moody. All rights reserved.

Used here by permission of Ray Moody.

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Out in the Field with: Carpet Cleaning From The Heartland!!

In this, the third installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Bob Parks (aka – Bobo), a real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO from the great state of Missouri.

[VLM Central E-zine]: Bobo, how long have you been a Carpet Cleaner?

[Bobo]: I have been cleaning carpets almost 7 years. I started in July of 1995.

[VLM]: I see you are located in Kansas City, Missouri. Are you a native of Missouri?

[Bobo]: I grew up just north of Kansas City, I have lived here most of my life.

[VLM]: I know from working here in Georgia, it freezes a little in the Winter. What is it like cleaning in Missouri in the Winter time?

[Bobo]: It depends… This year, it’s been like cleaning in April. Sometimes, ice stays on the ground for 3 to 4 weeks. If you don’t like the weather here in Kansas City, wait an hour or two. It will change! Most adjustments are for like anywhere else. I have a 1-ton “long” van. I plug it in (heater) religously in the winter and I park it away from the house!

[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?

[Bobo]: I was a full-time firefighter here in KC – MO. I had my paramedic licence lapse due to a paperwork error at the state level. Nothing happened to me, but it got me to thinking, “I don’t know how to do anything else!” That month, I was selling my house and I hired a friend of my Dad’s to come by and clean my carpets. He was getting out of it, so, I got in. I like being my own boss, the challenges of running a small business, and I enjoy immediate gratification when I work. Carpet cleaning falls neatly into those categories.

[VLM]: I feel exactly the same way! I’ll bet many carpet cleaners feel this way too. What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use?

[Bobo]: I use Von Schrader machines (with all the modifications). I use the: #1) LMX. #2) VS12.
#3) Plenty of HEAT.
#4) Black & Decker Buffer (with Braun brush for “problems”/ steps).
#5) Hydroforce spotter. #6) Water Claw spot lifter. When I was first starting, it was easy to call up Von Shrader and ask them a question, if something went wrong. Even if I was the only one to ever have that problem! :o) Overall, I achieve otstanding deep cleaning with very “mechanically accessible”
machines. They are easy to work on (when and if you need to).

[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?

 

[Bobo]: I use the V.S. 2 or I clean them by hand. In my opinion, customers like to see
fancy toys when they are paying to have things cleaned.

[VLM]: I agree. Many clients do tend to judge us (at least, initially) based on our “toys”.
What additional services does your company offer?

 

[Bobo]: I just got out of window cleaning. I am happy to say, I had 3 great fellows who
worked for me doing this. Currently, I offer Carpet Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaning, and minor to medium carpet repair and stretching. Also, I am dabbling a little in Ceiling Tile
Cleaning. Now there’s a tough nut to crack! (for me, anyways).

[VLM]: Wow! You are really covering quite a few bases there. Which would you say is your main market, residential or commercial?

[Bobo]: Definetly residential, with hopefully a little bit more commercial work in the
future.

 

[VLM]: Why did you choose the carpet cleaning system you are currently using?

 

[Bobo]: It was a great way to get started! The fellow who helped me get going was a satisfied VS user. I really liked the fast drying time and the fact that not much overhead
is needed to get started.
I purchased a VS-1, then was able to work out of a pick up and add a VS-2, and so on.

 

[VLM]: What cleaning agents do you currently use and why?

 

[Bobo]: I use Premium Blend Just Rite products (especially the detergent) for it’s
cleaning abilities, and its brittle drying nature. It foams as good or better than VS when you add the heat with air agitation. But, most
of all, I like to support small business when I can. I enjoy the luxury of calling up the
Boss to order, ask questions, or just chew-the-fat. I beleive that is what helped me in my small corner of the world. Once in a while, I will go down to the local Bridgepoint
distributor and get some “goodies” to try out.

[VLM]: Ok. Here is a personal question for you. What was your most embarrassing moment on the job?

[Bobo]: On one of my very first jobs, I used almost an entire quart of VS spot remover to clean “chandelier shadows”! They didn’t come out, and I didn’t get invited back! After I finished,those were some wet shadows! (old green/gray shag, you can understand – right?)

[VLM]: LOL! I hate to admit it, but I have cleaned “shadows” myself!. Ok, what was your proudest moment on the job?

[Bobo]: Every once in a while, I still surprise myself. I was recomended to a very affluent Anesthesiologist in the area. This particular house had a light shaded carpet that was riddled with small pet stains and odors and heavy filtation lines. With my various arsenal and appropriate cleaning agents, I made the whole place lookand smell like new! It took 2 visits, but he was esctatic! I have since been in the loop of his associates, with wonderful referrals.

[VLM]: Good job! We could all use more clients like that! What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?

[Bobo]: Word of mouth. I have never considered myself a very good marketer, I just use the mail. This is definetly my weak suit. I am working on this with postcards.

[VLM]: I can empathise. Effective marketing strategies are our business’ “life breath”. What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business?

[Bobo]: Take a class, read posts and articles (Maxin, VLM Central E-Zine, etc.). These are some great hints, guidelines, and most importantly, contacts. Get out there, call people, and make contacts.

[VLM]: Any final thoughts?

[Bobo]: Carpet Cleaning has meant far more to me than just an extra job. I receive great satisfaction from my work. I have made many new friends, all the while, increasing the quality of life for my family. 1000 thanks to Bill Barnes, Rick Larson, Lonnie McDonald, and Terry Van Dyke (for getting me involved), and all of the customers who ever gave me a whirl. Without the help of these fine folks, I would still be trying to get those shadows out of that shag!

[VLM]: Thanks, Bobo!

[Bobo]: Thank you!

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Out in the Field with: VLM Carpet Cleaning In The Sunshine State !!

In this, the 4th installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Danny Strickland, another real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO from the great state of Florida.

[VLM Central E-zine]: Danny, how long have you been a Carpet Cleaner?

[Danny]: Since July, 1986.

[VLM]: Are you a native of Florida?

[Danny]: Yes, and am proud to say I’m a native. I was born in Miami, some place you don’t think of someone being from and being a native.

[VLM]: What is it like cleaning in Florida in the Summer time?

[Danny]: I sweat more before 9:00AM than most people do all day. I freeze bottles of water and let them thaw out during the day. It’s a great way to ensure having a cold drink throughout the day.

[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?

[Danny]: MONEY! I needed a job after I left the military. I met a man who ran a family (carpet cleaning) operation. He paid good wages for me to join his “bucket brigade” (what we called the two 5 gallon buckets that held clean and soiled water from our portable machines). But, now it’s the satisfaction of knowing my clients trust me with their homes and businesses.

[VLM]: What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use?

[Danny]: Here’s my list:
#1. Absorbent Pad
#2. Rotary Bonnet
#3. HWE
#4. and soon to add a Cimex for “Dry Crystal” cleaning.

[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?

[Danny]: I clean a lot of upholstery. It seems I am about the only cleaner in my area who really enjoys cleaning it. Lots of other cleaners here do it, but they say they really don’t like too. It’s very profitable if priced so you can take the time to do it right.

 

[VLM]: What additional services does your company offer?

[Danny]: I mainly stick to carpet and upholstery cleaning, but for the one PM I work for, I also do odor restoration. I also mix in some water restoration, mainly emergency
extraction for my clients, then I call in another company to do the drying and
monitoring, as I am not equipped to handle that part.

 

[VLM]: Which would you say is your main market, residential or commercial?

 

[Danny]: I would say 60/40, residential to commercial, but I am working to change that
to 80 – residential/20 – commercial. I have always enjoyed designing and implementing
CAMP’s.

 

[VLM]: Why did you choose the VLM carpet cleaning system you are currently using?

 

[Danny]: To separate myself from my compition. Most of the cleaners, who work for the
class of clientelle I work for, use TM HWE. I also like the ROI (return on investment) I
get with a VLM system. Not burning fuel while I clean certainly helps my bottom line.

 

[VLM]: What cleaning agents do you currently use and why?

 

[Danny]: I’d be happy to answer that question, but then I’d have to kill you! LOL.
Actually my two main products are Abstraction VLM and Procyon. I can use both for VLM
or HWE.

 

[VLM]: What was your most embarrassing moment on the job?

[Danny]: I was on a night job at our local airport. I went to the restroom and the button
on my pants busted! And this was one of the only nights I wasn’t wearing… a belt. LOL.
I had to hold my pants up and go home and change, and return to finish the job. Wearing a belt of course! LOL.

[VLM]: What was your proudest moment on the job?

[Danny]: Giving my service away to some people down on their luck. I thank God for my
talent, and if I can serve others through this talent, may He get the glory.

[VLM]: What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?

 

[Danny]: Quality work and a good attitude. The customer deserves both and they will
recommend you if you have both, but if your missing one, they don’t cheer quite as
loud.

 

[VLM]: What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business?

[Danny]: READ, READ, READ! Education is so important, and there are many good
articals in trade mags and on the BB’s, and not just about cleaning. Carpet cleaners need to know the financial importance of business. If I had it to do over again, Chuck
Violand’s business planning work shop would be my first investment. And, get to know other cleaners in your area. I am fortunate to have other cleaners I can depend on to help me when needed, and I do the same for them.

[VLM]: Any final thoughts?

[Danny]: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all else will be added unto you. God – Family – then Work. It has put me where I am today.

[VLM]: Thanks, Danny!

[Danny]: My pleasure!

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Out in the Field with: Talkin’ Texas Clean!!

In this, the first installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Russel Willis, a real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO from the great state of Texas.

[VLM Central E-zine]: Russell, how long have you been a Carpet Cleaner?

[Russell Willis]: I have been cleaning carpets since 1998 but this is my first year doing it “full-time”. Once you start depending on carpet cleaning as your only source of income, you really start to understand what it takes to make it out there. You get a real since of urgency.

[VLM]: Believe me, I know exactly what you are talking about! I see you are located in Arlington, Texas. Are you a native Texan?

[Russ]: Yes, I was born in Midland Texas and moved to Dallas/Fort Worth when I was a teenager.

[VLM]: What is it like cleaning in Texas in the Summer time?

[Russ]: It is Hot! Sometimes, it is all I can do to compose myself when entering a client’s home, wiping the sweat off. Some of your tools will burn your hands if left out in the sun for only a short while! I would have to say it is not fun (LOL) but you get use to it.

[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?

[Russ]: It was the instant gratification I got from cleaning a client’s carpet. It may sound corny but I enjoy cleaning carpets and when a client tells me how much they like my work, I really get a little bit of euphoria from it!

[VLM]: I get that same feeling too! What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use?

[Russ]: I use the Oscillating Pad System from CCS. This system has enabled me to take my carpet cleaning to the next level. With it, I am capable of walking into most any cleaning job with complete confidence.

[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?

[Russ]: I use Hot Water Extraction (HWE) with an upholstery “dry-tool. I feel that anyone who is planning to go into the upholstery cleaning business should first take the IICRC’s Upholstery Cleaning class. While the new dry-tools can make it very easy to clean most any upholstery. There is much to gain from taking an IICRC class. This will help you perform a more professional job.

 

[VLM]: I agree 100%. Receiving proper training really takes the “fear-factor” out of
upholstery cleaning. What additional services does your company offer?

[Russ]: Tile and Grout cleaning as well as Leather cleaning. In addition, at the end of
this month (October) I will be taking a Marble and Stone Restoration class given by
Stone Tech.

 

[VLM]: That’s great! Keep us updated about how the class went. Which would you say is
your main market, residential or commercial?

 

[Russ]: Currently, my main market is residential but I would like to acquire some more
commercial accounts this year.

 

[VLM]: Why did you choose the carpet cleaning system you are currently using?

 

[Russ]: Well, I have a few friends who are carpet cleaners and I did not want to copy
what they were doing so I started researching various “Dry Cleaning” or VLM carpet
cleaning methods. I was not impressed with “standard” Bonnet Cleaning systems so I
started researching for alternatives on the Internet. I found the Cleanfax Message Board
and the “old” ICS Message Board (I don’t know if any of you remember the old ICS
board but there was a wealth of information there!). Once I became friends with people like John Geurkink and yourself (not to mention a
number of others professionals who were and still are the best of the best) I was able to
put together a VLM system that just worked well for me and was also very consumer
friendly for my clients.

 

[VLM]: That’s very interesting. I suspect that those Boards may be responsible for many
of us who are carpet cleaners today. Ok, next question. What cleaning agents do you currently use and why?

[Russ]: Argosheen. If you ever used it with a Pad Machine, you will know why. I have
tried a host of other products and continue to use some of them but Argosheen is
always the one I keep coming back to.

[VLM]: Ok. Here is a personal question for you. What was your most embarrassing
moment on the job?

[Russ]: That happened shortly after I started cleaning carpets. I was cleaning at a
client’s home which happens to nearly back into to the golf coarse country club were
they hold the Byron Nelson Tournament (and, it just happened to be going on at that time). Well, somehow as I was cleaning, the family dog got out and ran onto the golf
course. The client was not home at the time so I had to chase him. He ran in and out of
the crowd with me giving chase. (LOL) I was just happy that I didn’t make it onto the
Evening News! (LOL) I have had many more embarrassing moments but that is the one
that comes to mind as “most embarrassing”.

 

[VLM]: That is hilarious! (LOL) Ok, what was your proudest moment on the job?

 

[Russ]: There have been a few. I guess the latest would have to be just the other day when I pulled up to a job and one of my clients was at this clients house (they did not know that they were both using my cleaning service). She came out, gave me a big hug, and then turned to her friend to tell her what a great guy I was. Then, her friend could only say, “I know. I know.” Not to be vain, but that was a very happy moment for me. When people appreciate my work, it always makes me feel very proud.

[VLM]: What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?

[Russ]: We all know that “word of mouth” is the best. However, I would have to say leaving my clients with a bottle of free spotter (with my company name and telephone number on it) has been my best marketing tool.

[VLM]: What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business?

[Russ]: I am probably not qualified to give advice as others are, but I would say, “Just hang in there! Do the best job you can do on every job. Remove every stain you can, even when you are not being paid to do it. Follow up on every job and every ideal you have. Nobody knows you better than you do. Just when you think you are not going to make it, you will meet that one client that pushes your company to the next level. Furthermore, year after year, the more you have these types of clients, the better you will do. Believe in yourself. That is good advice for anything you do in this life!”

[VLM]: That is excellent advice for anyone! Any final thoughts?

[Russ]: Carpet Cleaning has probably been the best thing to ever happen to me, other than my wife and kids. It continues to challenge me, while at the same time, rewarding me. It has put me on a level playing field with many of the people, that at one time, I did not feel I was equal to. The friends I have made online alone are reward enough, to do this work.

[VLM]: Thanks, Russell!

[Russ]: Thank you!

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Out in the Field with: More VLM Carpet Cleaning In The Sunshine State !!

In this, the 5th installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Barry Wycoff, another real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO cleaning in the Northern Florida area.

[VLM Central E-zine]: Barry, How long have you been a carpet Cleaner?

[Barry]: I’ve been cleaning since 1996. I started working here in Northern Florida after I left the Military. I started with a local Dry cleaning company. I worked there for four years and realized I needed to be doing this for myself rather than making money for somebody else the rest of my life. So, I decided to buy some equipment and set out on my own. It was a little scary making the decision, but once I did, I never looked back. I went for it hard as I could!

[VLM]: Are you a native of Florida or are you from somewhere else originally?

[Barry]: I’m originally from Bossier City, Louisiana (across the river from Shreveport) which is 160 miles due east of Dallas, Texas. I was stationed here in the Military in 1992, then I went overseas. So, when I decided to get out of the Military, I preferred the Beach to Bossier City. Now, they have all the casinos in Bossier City. Sure must be a ton of carpet in those casinos to clean!

[VLM]: What is it like cleaning in Ft. Walton Beach Florida?

[Barry]: Hot and humid! However, the winter is great! I look forward to the slow season of January through March each year. But, the rest of the year is hot and sticky. You get used to it after a while. I don’t get hot till it’s over 96 degrees! I thank God I started here because of all the condos along the beach in Navarre, Ft Walton and Destin. I landed 5 condo accounts in my 1st week. I could not have made it without them. Within 3 months I had over 20 condo accounts which I’ve maintained to this day. The only bad thing about the condos is that many will call you without any notice and if you refuse to clean for them that day , somebody else will. So, I can’t turn down “request to clean” from my condos. Now I have all of them trained to give me advanced notice except 5 accounts (which of course happen to be my largest accounts!) Residentials are tougher to get into but I haven’t been doing too bad. I’m working on getting better at acquiring residential work.

[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?

[Barry]: I wanted to do something that I already knew a little about. So I thought
anyway…

I looked around at the competition and figured that I could do a better job than most.
In the four years I worked for another company, I had heard several bad comments
about almost every company in town except for 2 or 3. I figured… I couldn’t do any worse than these guys! …And they make a living at it. Why can’t I? [VLM]: What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use? [Barry]: I’ve always been a bonnet cleaner. I use the No Soap carbonating sprayer system which is very nice. With 10 gallons of solution and 85 ft. of hose I can set the sprayer outside the door and never move it do an entire house, and I don’t have to constantly refill it!

I have one van and one truck. I have a new employee that I’m training so we are working together till he’s up to speed and ready to go out on his own. I have 5 buffers and four sprayers and over 65 Bonnet pads. I also use the Dirt Napper system often. I had been using the No Soap Carbonating Cleaner, but recently, I have been amazed at the results I am getting with Carpet 123. I also use Laser-Brite 2 which is an awesome carpet cleaning solution. I’ve found that in certain situations each cleaner has it’s strong points. So depending on the job, I will use any of those cleaning solutions. Fairly soon I plan to purchase the Challenger Pad System, probably after tax season. All you guys have peaked my interest with the OP Method. Any one Near Ft. Walton beach, Florida with the Challenger need a free employee for a day? I’d love to see one in action!

[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?

[Barry]: In my truck I don’t have room for a large upholstery machine so I have really
good mini-extractor. In the van I have a 100-PSI Ninja. I use mostly Bridgepoint upholstery cleaners and their spotters, as well. I can’t say enough good things about Bridgepoint’s upholstery cleaners!

[VLM]: What additional services does your company offer?

[Barry]: Right now just Pet Odor Removal. I farm out all my water damage work to a friend of mine who refuses to clean carpet. He just does water damage. I used to do duct cleaning for the company I previously worked for. We used a RotoBrush. It is a great machine if you take your time and do several passes. I plan to purchase one, one of these days and pursue this market ardently. It’s simple-clean-effortless-easy work that pays high. Tile cleaning is another market I may pursue in the future.

[VLM]: Which would you say is your main market, residential or commercial?

[Barry]: I do allot of condo work. I’d say it’s 80% commercial and 20% residential. My residential market has grown this year due to using Val Pak advertising. I’m trying hard to grow my residential market. It’s been difficult but I’m slowly getting there. I bought an expensive marketing system which I have been unable to get to work well. Actually I was doing much better sending out my own letters I designed myself. So guys… if you are looking for an easy quick get rich scheme?…there is none. I have a small ad in the phone book. Here, there are two companies with 3/4 page ads, I believe these two companies get a large portion of the residential market. I plan on increasing my Val Pak distribution area as soon as my employee can handle more condos per day, by himself.

[VLM]: Why did you choose the VLM carpet cleaning system you are currently using?

[Barry]: Start up cost was the major factor. If I’d known about the Challenger Pad Machine, I would have considered it greatly. If it cleans as deep as I’m thinking it will, I will implement it for residentials and probably for condos as well. Another factor was I wanted to be a Dry Cleaner. Down here on the Emerald Coast, most people don’t want their carpets wet for 1 to 3 days. I wanted to be different. The condos need Dry Cleaning. I can clean a unit at 9:00AM and they can put a guest in the unit by 11:00AM!

[VLM]: What cleaning agents are you currently using?

[Barry]: Carpet 123 is just amazing. It may well end up my main cleaner. I’m trying out CleanCraft’s Carpet Cop, as well as Abstraction. I use the Laser-Brite 2 allot. I also use the No Soap Carbonating Cleaner that comes in the two separate chemicals that mix together, self-carbonating in the sprayer hose. For spotters, I use mostly Bridgepoint.

[VLM]: What was your most embarrassing moment on the job?

[Barry]: I once drove off after a job leaving my Buffer, Sprayer, Pads, Spotting Kit , my check for the job, and my employee! Not too bright, eh? Good thing I have a cell phone! :o)

[VLM]: What was your proudest moment on the job?

[Barry]: When I worked for the “other company”, I had one job where the woman was
not satisfied with the cleaning (the house was a Pig Pen!) and refused to pay. Later, that same lady had me (my company!) clean her house and was blown away with the job I did. She didn’t remember me at all from the previous company. Not only that… she’s a Realtor and I have been cleaning for her ever since!

[VLM]: What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?

[Barry]: Just walking in and giving my own Flyer to condos. Next to that, it’s been Val Pak. I get anywhere from 11 to 25 new clients each month from Val Pak distributing in one 10,000 area. I plan to mail to another 10,000 as soon as my new employee is ready.

[VLM]: What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business?

[Barry]: Treat your customers like GOLD, because they are! Stay in constant touch with them any way you can. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Get to know your chemicals. Read everything about them, and everything about the ones you don’t use too! Learn everything there is and then look for more to learn. Study marketing, but use your own ideas. Nobody can market your ideas better than you. Your day does not end at 5:00PM when the physical work is over. For the first 2 to 5 years, it should end at 10:00 PM. Just jump in and don’t look back! Don’t be afraid of the water. It’s fine!

[VLM]: Any final thoughts?

[Barry]: I really enjoy the VLM Board you have here. I appreciate all of you guys that I interact with here. It’s nice having friends that I’ve never met. This is a GREAT, GREAT web site! I look forward to meeting many of you one day soon!

[VLM]: Thanks, Barry! [Danny]: Thank You!

November 30, 2005 / by / in
Out in the Field with: Clean Life Carpet Care!!

In this, the second installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Jeff Brown, a real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO from the great state of Alabama.

[VLM Central E-zine]: Jeff, how long have you been a Carpet Cleaner?

[Jeff Brown]: I guess about 10 years, I left the business a couple of times, but never for very long.

[VLM]: I see you are located in Lanett, Alabama. Are you a native of Alabama?

[Jeff]: Yes I am. I have lived in Alabama most of my life, but I have also lived in different parts of Georgia and I even spent a few years living in Germany.

[VLM]: I know from working here in Georgia, it’s a real “sauna” in the Summer. What is it like cleaning in Alabama in the Summer time?

[Jeff]: It gets pretty hot in the Summer here too. 80’s and 90’s, I guess, is about normal for here. It’s also very humid.

[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?

[Jeff]: Well, at first, I started a window cleaning business because of how easy and inexpensive it was to get into. Then, I added rental property clean-up (which required carpet cleaning) to my list of services. I soon discovered that I really enjoyed cleaning carpets, so I started marketing more towards building a carpet cleaning business.

[VLM]: That’s great! Diversification really helps “recession proof” a business. What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use?

[Jeff]: I use an Orbitec Towel Machine, a Chemstractor, and a portable hot water extraction system.

[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?

[Jeff]: Yes, I clean upholstery, but I don’t clean a lot of it. I am not real crazy about cleaning upholstery, but when I do, I use hwe with a dry tool or my dry steam vapor machine.

[VLM]: Dry steam vapor? That sounds very intriguing! What additional services does your company offer?

[Jeff]: I offer janitorial services and some hard floor cleaning for my residential customers.

[VLM]: You are really covering quite a few bases there! Which would you say is your
main market, residential or commercial?

[Jeff]: My main market is residential, but I want to build a larger commercial base.

[VLM]: Why did you choose the carpet cleaning system you are currently using?

[Jeff]: I got tired of using a two-step method of cleaning (one machine to scrub and
another to extract), tripping over hoses and cords, having to bring in a lot of equipment
to do a good job, and all the time involved. I started looking into all the Oscillating Pad
machines that were available a couple of years ago and decided on the Orbitec Towel
Machine. I decided on the towel machine because of it’s one-step cleaning ability. Also,
the machine only weighs 50 lb., the towels are inexpensive, and the square pad driver
allows me to clean edges, corners, and stairs without the need for additional equipment. I also recently bought a Chemstractor because I wanted something with the ability to
extract, clean really well and still be a VLM system to do my commercial accounts with. I
also needed something to increase my speed on these accounts and the Chemstractor
has done just that. I have also found the Chemstractor to be excellent on residential carpet.

[VLM]: I know what you mean about the 2-Step method. I have found it can be very
tiring as well. It looks like the Chemstractor is the solution, in that regard. Ok, next question. What cleaning agents do you currently use and why?

[Jeff]: With my towel machine, I use a natural based cleaner from 1st Enviro-Safety, which is based on the new science of colloidal chemistry. I have tried many other cleaning agents and will continue to try others, but for now the Enviro-Safety product is doing a good job for me. In my Chemstractor I am currently using VonShrader’s Grease Lighting. I have used Betco’s Dry Foam Shampoo and was happy with the results. I have also tried a little of Just Rite’s Premium Blend which did a great job. I also use some of the MasterBlend and UltraChemLab product line.

[VLM]: I’ll have to try some of that 1st Enviro-Safety product for myself. I have never
heard of it before. Ok. Here is a personal question for you. What was your most embarrassing moment on the job? [Jeff]: I think it was when I turned two light green recliners pink! Back then, I didn’t know how to correct the problem, so I had them recovered.

[VLM]: Ouch! I’ve had nightmares about being in that situation! That really shows your
integrity by paying to have those pieces recovered for the client. Ok, what was your proudest moment on the job?

[Jeff]: I couldn’t really say what my proudest moment was. It always makes me proud when a customer tells me that I got their carpet cleaner than the last person did. It also makes you proud when a customer likes my work so much, they give me a tip. Just yesterday, a customer gave me a $50 tip!

[VLM]: That’s great! We could all use more clients like that! What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?

[Jeff]: I would have to say that my best marketing tool has been passing out flyers in upscale neighborhoods. I did this frequently when I first started my business. I would average about two customers per hundred flyers, then of course these customers would refer me to others.

[VLM]: What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business? [Jeff]: Read everything you can about marketing. Find an area you want to work in and pass out flyers. Contact carpet retailers, janitoral suppliers, maid sevices, dry cleaners, etc. to work out a referral system. Drop in on businesses that deal with the public such as banks. Leave them information about your business and offer them a free demo. Get involved in your community and try to find a way to stand out above your competitors.

[VLM]: Any final thoughts?

[Jeff]: I would like to say Thanks to all the Professionals who participate on the VLM Board and this E-zine. The knowledge I have gained from them has helped my business and my enthusiasm for my business.

[VLM]: Thanks, Jeff!

[Jeff]: Thank you!

November 30, 2005 / by / in