In The Eye Of…

In The Eye Of…

In The Eye Of…

[ Editor’s Note: This article holds great relevance for anyone (especially, any cleaning professional) in today’s “post 9-11 world”. ]

Imagine yourself in your favorite restaurant. You are there with your wife and kids having a very agreeable lunch. It is noisy with the sound of children enjoying their school vacation.

… Inside of a second, the entire scene changes completely.

An enormous explosion totally swallows every other sound and sucks the very air out of the room. The scene is now one of complete chaos. Lying strewn around the restaurant are the bodies of men, women, and children who lay dead, dying, or horrendously injured. Pieces of metal or nails that have been intentionally imbedded in the bomb are now imbedded in human beings.

The sound has now changed to a cacophony of screams, sobs, and people yelling out the names of their family members or friends. You can easily change the location of this scene to your local supermarket, buses, schools, or discos because, suicide (homicide) bombings have happened in all of these places. Furthermore, to finish the scenario, imagine it was only happening in your city with a frequency of two or three times a day.

Ok. So, how does these present circumstances effect you if you are self-employed? Even before the current “intifada” started (Intifada: Arabic for “shaking off” or “shivering because of fear or illness” – politically; the word has come to symbolise the Palestinian uprising against Israel), an economical recession was beginning in Israel. These terrorist acts have only helped to deepen it.

For instance, every store, restaurant, bank, hotel, etc. now must have at least one security guard at the door. The money for the security guard’s wages come mainly from a reduction in a company’s expenses, including, of course, that money which would have been allocated for “carpet cleaning”. Residential work is also down because; as you can imagine, (while the population here is relatively calm) the atmosphere is not very conducive for easy sales. (I am interested in any marketing ideas you guys and gals might have!)

Additionally, everybody between the ages of 22 and 50 must do “miluim” or as it is called in America: “Military Reserve Duty”. You must serve 30 to 45 days a year. It does not matter if you are an unemployed youth or a 45-year-old self-employed carpet cleaner. You must serve! You are paid, but this does not make up for the disruption in your business. I, personally, do not do miluim (one of the only advantages of being older), but next month, both my son and one of my employees will
be serving.

Because of its depth of coverage, today’s media can and does give us an “avalanche of
information”! Usually, it is accurate information, but sometimes, however, it is not. What
this information alone cannot do, is to allow you to “experience” what the people in the
midst of these horrible events are feeling.

The fact that Israel has been in a permanent “state of war” since its foundation has
given most Israelis a certain degree of “acclimatization”. There are limits, however. Currently, there is a general feeling of weariness about whether there will ever be an end to the circumstances at present, but Israeli people are great optimists and bounce back very quickly.

Somebody recently and very kindly sent me an e-mail of support and asked if my family and I were close to where the homicide bombers had struck. As I explained to him, “all things are relative”.

– America is 9,629,091 square kilometers in area.

– Israel is 20,770 square kilometers in area (slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey)

So, comparatively speaking, one is never very far from any incident here. In my town alone, there have been five bombing incidents (including one in a café less than one mile from my home that my family and I often frequent).

Israel is rarely out of the news and I always used to say that Israel’s dynamism makes it an exciting country in which to live. Although, I must admit that occasional boring anonymity would be most welcome.

Harvey Fish

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: The Winds Of Change

As you may have noticed, this e-zine is sporting a whole new look.

The old format was taking much too long for many out there (with slower modems) to view.

The reasons for the slow loading times are many. Chief among them is the large amount of graphical content contained within each page. To a lesser degree, there are also issues of server speeds and maintenance, as well as, “line-bandwidth”, which fluctuate daily. These variables cause all websites to load slowly, from time to time.

My own solution to this “speed” problem was to re-format the entire site utilizing a “multiple-frames” environment (as well as, re-edit most of the graphics with better compression software – Fire Works and Photo Impact).

These two programs are mentioned at the end of this issue’s Cover Story. Here are a few things I highly recommend you do, that will not only make viewing this website more enjoyable, but also, vastly improve upon your entire “Internet Experience”.

#1) Always use the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer as your web-browser. Download it for free Here.

#2) If the service is available in your area, get yourself hooked up with a DSL modem. If you are still using a 56K modem, your time is being seriously squandered, waiting for web pages to load all the time. Trust me. Once you start using a DSL modem, you will never want to go back to “surf the net” without it!

#3) Consider upgrading your old “slower” computer to a “faster” model.

I really surprised me, how the Internet seemed to just “come alive” after I upgraded my computer [ Compaq Presario 1.2Gig Celeron 40Gig HD Windows XP ].

I won’t lie to you, it was a hassle having to move all my data from the old computer to the new one, and Windows XP took a little getting used to. However, the move was well worth it.

I’ll give you the “car analogy” to visually demonstrate my point. “If my old computer was a 1974 Ford Pinto, my new computer is a 2002 Cadillac Coup DeVille! Which vehicle would you rather drive on the (Information) Super-Highway?”

If you decide to upgrade your computer, I highly recommend you check out Comp-USA. They have some of the best retail prices that I have seen. We as a group of dedicated VLM Cleaning Professionals have come a long way since this e-zine first made its debut! I, too, have been through changes along the way. Many of them were not necessarily easy or immediately comfortable, either. But, through it all, what remains and grows even stronger today, is our desire to be the best we can possibly be and to help our fellow cleaners get there with us!

Until the next issue,

Happy Reading!… and I’ll see you on the VLM Cleaning Technology Board! Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: Knowledge Is Power !!

This age-old saying is truer today than ever before.

Knowledge = Power.

What a great equation! It reminds me of Einstein’s E=MC2. Let’s take a closer look at this deceptively simple phrase and see how it applies here. Yes. Knowledge is indeed power, but only if the recipient of that knowledge is “open” to receiving and applying it. And, of course, this knowledge has to be reliable and true, for it to benefit the recipient. For instance, if you learn a procedure for removing a rust stain that does not include an effective rinsing technique, then this procedural “knowledge” is actually incomplete and could possibly lead to liability.

So, with that in mind, I would venture to say, a better phrase would be: “Truth Is Power!” This is where things get a little complicated, though. Truth can be a very subjective thing.

For instance, in this month’s issue’s Cover Story, “Where Does It Come From?”, John Geurkink uncovers the “truth” about the depth of cleaning that his Oscillating Pad System delivers. Yet, in the mind’s of many HWE-only carpet cleaners, the “truth” is entirely something else. Can there be more than one truth? Is it possible that several truths can co-exist? This is starting to get pretty deep, philosophically. So, let me get to the point! Truthful knowledge is a very powerful tool in the hands of those willing enough to receive and apply it in their own lives.

This E-zine has been created for that very purpose. To empower. Each of us carries a smaller or larger (depending on experience) piece of the “Truth Pie” within us. Or, you might think of it this way, everyone has a piece (or several pieces) of the “Big Puzzle”. When we, as carpet cleaners, bring those puzzle pieces together and place them down with everyone else’s, we can begin to see a “Big Picture” form.

This big picture represents “The Truth”. And that is a VERY powerful thing! Do you remember the phrase: “The truth shall set you free”? (Here we go again!) Now, Truth = Freedom. What’s missing? Sharing. Giving of yourself. Taking what you know to be true and unselfishly taking the time to sit down and write it out for others to use and benefit from. This kind of sharing could be anything from, what marketing materials bring in the highest return for you, to an effective technique for removing red Kool-Aid stains. The bits and pieces of useful
knowledge we all have, collectively, is nearly endless.

When we share what we know to be true, we share our power.

And that brings us “full circle”, right back to where we began: “Knowledge Is Power”.
I hope you enjoy reading, absorbing, applying, and benefiting from all the various usersubmitted information in this growing publication. I urge you to share what you know to
be true and thereby, help us all benefit by increasing our knowledge. Since we are all in
this together, there is no reason why we shouldn’t all succeed together!

Thank you.
Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: Stages

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players!”

These famous words from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” were as relevant hundreds of years ago as they still are today.

Furthermore, we “players” on “life’s grand stage” have our own personal stages we enter and depart from. Let’s take this E-zine for example, it is now on it’s 9th issue or “stage” in its development as an Industry resource.

This E-zine is a collective effort of many Industry Professionals (you!) who freely share their time and knowledge in order that all who read it may be enlightened, motivated, and even (dare I say!) educated. Hey! Why not? There is still no better educator than “personal experience”. The knowledge presented here is definitely what I would call, “hands-on knowledge”.

It has been learned and earned the hard way – through experience! That is precisely what I love so much about this E-zine. Every stage in our careers as professional cleaners brings us invaluable lessons! Lessons that need to be shared with others. Hey! We all tend to make the same mistakes every now and then.

However, if only one of these common mistakes can be circumvented because somebody remembered the expert opinions they read here and/or received on the VLM Cleaning Technologies Board, I feel a huge sense of satisfaction in knowing that we are making a difference in people’s lives! Back to the metaphor of us as players on this stage…

Ask yourself, “What kind of player am I? Am I the kind who freely gives of himself so that others may benefit?” I hope so! We all should be. Recognize the true potential that this E-zine, Bulletin Board, and organizations like the LMCCA are offering us.

Don’t be just “a lurker” who only reads what is being posted. Be an “active participant”. Get in there and say Hello! Let your opinions be known.

Keep an “open mind” and share with us what you know is true! You will be welcomed with arms wide open. And, that’s what its all about, my friends!

Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: Progress Report

So here we are again. Another year is passing into history and a new one is just beginning. We, as a country, have much to be thankful for.

We are so very lucky to live in a country as prosperous as we do. It is my sincerest wish that everyone here and abroad have a safe and prosperous 2003 and beyond!

First, with great pride, I would like to thank all who have contributed to this e-zine and the VLM Cleaning Technology Board. For nearly two years, both of these sites have been a great place to come, for those seeking knowledge, expert opinions, and fellowship. All who participate (or even just “lurk”) have made it what it is today!

Thank you!

I just want to say a few things about this issue of the VLM Central E-zine before you get started reading all the fantastic articles contained within. Articles, by the way, which are geared toward one purpose… educating you, in hopes that you will use this knowledge to increase your company’s success.

It still blows my mind that all this priceless information is FREE to all (no fees or memberships required). That is what makes it all the sweeter, however! This is what I thought the Internet was supposed to be all about, anyway… free exchange of information. Let me say just a few more words about this publication and its future. Over the last six months, I have noticed more and more websites incorporating Flash technology in their content.

The over-all effect makes these sites much more entertaining and effective at distributing their knowledge. It is my intent to have ready by Summer 2003, a more “Flash enabled” VLM Central E-zine. I want the format to be extremely easy to navigate and much more “interactive”.

I highly recommend that everyone make sure that their computer systems have a Flash player (Windows XP and others already come with a Flash player, built in). If you don’t have Flash, download it for free here. This e-zine is getting quite large now, (almost 100 articles deep!).

That is a wealth of information. Creating a navigational system that makes it easy to “mine” for the exact information you need is going to be my top priority in 2003. Harvey Fish’s section (View From Afar) and Dave Roderick’s section (From Start to Finish) will be back in the Spring – 2003 issue, so don’t despair!

Now, sit back and enjoy another great issue, brought to you courtesy of our Industry’s genuine Pros!

Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: The Living Library

Hello and welcome! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Stanley and I have been cleaning carpet and upholstery for well over nine years now (still just a Rookie, I guess!). 🙂

My business is based in Douglasville, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta). For several years, one of the really neat ways I have been keeping in-touch with others in this industry is via all the great Message Boards available on the Internet for carpet cleaners.

This platform has allowed me to share fellowship with, and experience a common bond with my fellow cleaners from coast to coast as well as in other countries. For a long time now, I have felt a strong compulsion to build an online magazine or “e-zine” for carpet cleaners who use VLM (very low moisture) systems as a regular part of their businesses. I wanted to build an e-zine that would be a kind of “living library” of all our experiences. It would hold large amounts of our “collective knowledge” which we could all then draw from and use to grow as professionals.

Professionals who love this industry and are proud to share what we know to be true.

I am greatly indebted to all those who have shared (and will share) their knowledge in the form of e-mails, feature stories, editorials, pictures, videos, and more, thereby making this e-zine possible. Thank you all! I look forward to publishing many future issues of the VLM Central online magazine and making it ever more comprehensive.

So, it is with great pride that I present to you this e-zine! Please take a moment and sign the guest book so I can keep you updated by e-mail when future issues are ready.

Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: VLM’s Future Is So Bright, I Gotta’ Wear Shades!

Hello again, VLMers! Welcome to this, the 6th issue of the VLM Central E-zine!

The e-zine that your interest and perticipation makes possible!! As I sit here and write this, it seems amazing to me, that so much has happened in the VLM community in such a short period of time. VLM carpet cleaning methods are gaining more and more popularity with professional cleaners everyday. There is a definite “buzz” in the air!

Recently, we had our first VLM Mini-Fest. This event was a real “eye opening” experience! Let’s face it. We can talk about VLM systems until we are “blue in the face”, but there is no substitute for actually getting “hands on” experience and expert guidance with each individual VLM system. Look at the photos HERE. Look at the Videos HERE.

This VLM Mini-Fest has spawned the upcoming first annual VLM Festival (2002) to be held in Atlanta, Georgia in early June of 2002. This will be a major VLM event! Stay tuned HERE for more details as they come in.

[ The best way to stay in touch with everything going on in the world of VLM is to Join The VLM Mailing List and also to frequent the VLM Cleaning Technologies Board. ]

Another fantastic development in the World of VLM is the formation of the LMCCA (Low Moisture Carpet Cleaner’s Association). None other than our very own Lonnie Mcdonald heads this organization! The LMCCA promises to do great things for all who use VLM carpet cleaning methods in their businesses.

The LMCCA has also “birthed” its first “offspring”, the School of Low Moisture Cleaning Technology (SLMCT). The SLMCT will be instrumental in teaching and providing hands-on training to carpet technicians in all aspects of VLM cleaning methodology. SLMCT classes will feature instructors from various VLM equipment manufacturers and distributors.

Who better to teach us how to correctly operate a VLM carpet cleaning machine than the President of the company that manufactures it? (This will be the case in many instances).

The benefits of membership in the LMCCA and certified training from the SLMCT are something that I will certainly be receiving in the coming year.

I hope all of you take advantage of these great new opportunities, as well. There is no better way to become a VLM Master Cleaning Technician!

Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: God Bless America!

The outrageously evil events of September 11th, 2001 have left their mark on us all!

Astonished disbelief quickly leads to sadness and despair as the death toll continues to rise. Anger soon follows as the reality of what has been done to us solidifies in our minds. The need for unity takes precedence over everything else. For once, we truly realize that, though we may all be of varied cultural, religious, and political backgrounds, etc. we belong to the same country: The United States of America. We are Americans! This is what is really important.

The massive outpouring of support (in the form of monetary donations, blood donations, and prayers) for the wounded and the families of those killed is truly a shining beacon in these dark times. It speaks volumes about who we really are!

As our President solemnly commits our Military Forces to the awesome task of bringing those responsible for these unspeakable atrosities (as well as those harboring them) to justice, I sense a growing anxiety among us. Here are but a few questions troubling our minds these days. What is going to happen next? Will more terrorist strikes happen, killing even more Americans? What about germ warfare? With the recent malicious spreading of Anthrax, will I ever again feel safe opening my mail? What will the Stock Market do in response to all this anxiety?

One thing I noticed immediately after September 11th was that the “residential side” of my business slowed down… way down! Homeowners were reassessing their financial priorities and concluding that spending money on carpet cleaning was less of an immediate necessity than it may have recently been. Some of my customers even lost their jobs, as many large corporations laid off thousands of workers. This is exactly the reason why we as carpet cleaners, who own and operate our own businesses, need to take a good hard look at our sources of income.

I have begun to look at all of my sources of income from carpet cleaning as a type of “stock portfolio”, with each client or account representing a type of “stock”. Some stocks produce higher dividend yields than others. An example (simile) of this would be the upscale client who has his/her carpet cleaned frequently. Moreover, other stocks represent a “safer and more recession-proof” value. An example (simile) of this type would be the commercial account that you clean on a regular schedule. By classifying your income (acounts) this way, you may gain a better understanding of how and why your business makes the income that it does, when it does (in relation to our economy). This understanding may also give you the freedom to shape your company’s financial destiny the way you see fit to shape it.

Having the freedom to make informed choices is a very empowering thing. It is an American thing. And our freedom is worth fighting for… even worth dying for!

God Bless America!
Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: Future Generations

I had a thought the other day (I know….. that’s a rarity! LOL).

All of us will one day be replaced by the generations of carpet cleaners yet to come.

Just image….. all those 4-year olds out there, right now, who will someday run their own (hopefully) Million Dollar carpet cleaning businesses! In the grand scheme of things, we are so very temporary in our current positions. This is a humbling realization. I wonder how many of us truly understand the responsibility that knowing this brings.

What kind of legacy will we leave for the following generations of carpet cleaners to learn from and, dare I say….. follow. Sure, they will have newer and more advanced cleaning technologies than currently exists, but what they will be trying to remove from carpeting in the future is still very likely to be the exact same thing we try to remove each and every day. Soil will still be soil. Pet urine stains will still be pet urine stains.

In my mind, at least (if I may borrow the airplane analogy for a moment) we are still at an early stage, technologically . I would say, we are at the same stage as when single-winged aircraft began to overtake biplanes. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how carpet cleaning will have evolved in say…. the year 2500?

“Darn! Those Klingon carpets are hard to clean! Scotty?… One bucket of soil to beam up!

Energize!”

Yes, if our future generations are ever going to scale to the great heights that I expect they will, it is up to us (right here – right now) to lay a solid foundation for them to build from. We must open our minds to new ways of cleaning that go against the current “statis quo”! Doing so opens “doorways”. One or more of those doorways will lead the way into the future.

Will we be ready for it? I hope so.

I believe it is our duty to invite and nurture thinking “outside the box”. Ok. That sounds all nice and fluffy but how does it help me feed my family? Good question. Here’s the answer: Not only is it our responsibility to lay the foundation for our decedent carpet cleaners, but “it is the wise man (or woman) who puts his ear to the railroad tracks”. How does that help you prosper? It does so by giving you “an edge” over your “statis quo-minded competition” (who, in my experience, seem to greatly outnumber the rest of us!).

Every edge is an opportunity to increase your income. Reading and utilizing the knowledge in this e-zine gives you an edge. Likewise, joining the LMCCA gives you an edge. As with most of my editorials, this one ends with me asking for your continued support and participation. Staying involved and sharing your knowledge and opinions are what is important now and for future generations. If you would like to have an article in the next issue, simply e-mail it to me HERE. I highly recommend that you join the LMCCA (while membership is still FREE!). It represents our unified “voice” (as users of VLM systems) in this Industry.

Enjoy!

Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in
VLM Central: From Diversity Comes Unity

Sometimes, this business makes me feel like a passenger on a train. I may have had a “single destination” in mind when I started the trip, but soon I start wondering about all the other possible destinations.

Through the years, I have learned much about carpet and fabric cleaning. What I know about the history of it really fascinates me. But, the one thing that intrigues me the most is the never ending stream of innovation that presents itself year after year. It seems that if you blink, you will miss the debut of the “lastest and greatest” innovative machine, cleaning agent, cleaning technique, etc.

Let’s face it! Our industry is evolving rapidly. Or maybe, it would be more acurrate to say that our “exposure” to this rapidly evolving industry is expanding. Some things that seem new have actually been around a lot longer than you think. Oscillating Pad cleaning is an example of this. Only our exposure to it as a viable way to clean carpet is new.

Think about all the diversity that exists in our industry. The old saying, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” does not even begin to describe the near infinite variances in the way carpets are cleaned today. The fundamental principals of cleaning are being approached “spherically” from every possible angle and degree. The mind boggles!

Nevertheless, in the midst of this maelstrom of never-ending diversity comes unity. Not unity of system or technique. No. I am talking about “Unity of Spirit”. The spirit of friendship, the spirit of decency, the spirit of kindness and caring, and the spirit of sharing. Do you remember when someone would tell you, “That’s the spirit!”? This is what unifies and strengthens us no matter how diverse we are. Our Spirit.

That’s what it’s all about! Everytime one of us shares something, the rest of us benefit from it. This issue has some great informtion, being shared freely for the greater good of us all.

Enjoy!

The next official issue of this E-zine (#4) will be released in the Fall (October-ish). In the meantime, look for a ton of new stuff to be added in the coming weeks. Stuff like more Photo Galleries, more Streaming Videos, and lots of user submitted Marketing Materials and ideas! I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous Summer.

Remember… We may all have different tickets, but we are all on this train together

Mark Stanley

November 30, 2005 / by / in