Revising IICRC Standards

Revising IICRC Standards

Every 3 years the IICRC revises it’s Standards. These Standards are “living, breathing documents”. Yet, no sooner than they are finished, new information is gathered in an ongoing effort to improve the next revision.

This information is gathered from various sources over that period of time. Chemists, cleaners, installers, instructors, and many others from industry related fields are involved. The “melding of the minds” creates a depth of insight that just isn’t achieved by one’s own personal agenda. I am proud to say that I represented the LMCCA at the most recent S-001 Revision. When it finally is released, it will be called S-100.

I believe that if you are to change things in our industry you must be involved. I had a wise person tell me once that “if you would spend twice as much time fixing what’s wrong as you do complaining about it, you would really get something accomplished!” In the same vain, “if you aren’t involved you really have no right to complain!” This would be like, not voting for anyone for President and then complaining about the job performance of the election’s winner.

We at the LMCCA have chosen to press forward on all fronts to make a difference in the perception of how carpets are cleaned. You may ask, “Does the IICRC care about what we think?” I say, Yes. ( After all, they sought out and invited us.) I have found all the of volunteers who work on these IICRC Standards Revision projects to be “high caliber folks” with a serious concern for our industry. Do we always agree? Does anyone? I have presented our concerns with the wording of the “Dryfoam” section as well as the need to make sure that everyone who takes an IICRC certified class is given the corresponding updated Standard. I am also working on several different subcommittees that have an effect on future certifications.

Who foots the bill when all the people involved are volunteers?

The associations do. Various companies do. And, so do individuals who wish to see our industry unite and see the “walls come down” that have separated us. Individuals who always press forward in advancing our industry. Individuals like YOU!

Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve you and our industry in this and other areas.

Lonnie McDonald
LMCCA Director
President/CEO of LeatherPro
Integrity Carpet Cleaning Inc.

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Multi-Dimentional Marketing (MDM)

How do defining moments in American history (such as: Pearl Harbor, The Great Depression, and Sept. 11th) and marketing relate to each other? Tapping into the latent feelings and values of various generations is an extremely effective way to sell your services.

This can be done by marketing yourself “Multi-Dimentionally”. MDM provides a way to look at clients as “multi-dimentional beings”, driven by a complex set of emotions, demographics, and physiology. The “key” mechanism in MDM is “Generational Group Analysis”. GGA consists of 5 factors that influence the buying behavior of each generational group (GG). These 5 factors are:

#1) Values: This is largely determined by the historical experiences that the members within each generational group share.

#2) Lifestage: This refers to the roles that members of each group take on over a lifetime (such as spouse,parent, divorcee, retiree, etc.).

#3) Physiographics: These are the changes in bodily appearance and function as members of each generational group age.

#4) Emotional – Affinity Effects: Age affects each member’s attitudes about a wide range of issues. (For example: Teens tend to worry about their appearance, while parents tend to put their child’s needs above their own.)

#5) Socioeconomics: This is the financial, educational, career, marital, as well as other social and economic states.

The following is a brief description of each of the seven American Generational Groups and one example of a marketing tip designed to be especially attractive to that GG.

Great Depression GG (Born from 1912-1921; Came of age* during The Great Depression; Aged 81-90 in 2002):

This group’s coming-of-age experience consisted of economic strife. Financial security rules their thinking. This group hates to “waste” anything. Ironically, they are less likely to want a Senior Citizen Discount than the GG directly following them! Marketing yourself as someone they can “trust” in their home who offers “quality over quantity” service is very attractive this GG.

World War 2 GG (Born from 1922-1927; Came of age during WW2; Aged 75-80 in 2002):
“Sacrifice for the common good” is an ideal widely accepted by members of this group.
They are more “team oriented” than those of other GGs. This group is inclined to be
impressed with how long your company has been in business than the other groups. If
you have been in business 10 years or more, advertise this fact to them.

Post War GG (Born from 1928-1945; Came of age after WW2; Aged 57-74 in 2002):
This group experienced a time of economic growth, social tranquility, McCarthyism, and
moving to the suburbs. They took part in the “rise of the middle class” and expected prosperous times to continue indefinitely. This GG represents, by and large, today’s
grandparents. Many of them are healthy, active, and sitting on large “nest eggs”. This GG responds well to being marketed to as “Caring Grandparents”. Marketing your service in terms of say… “Keeping that grandbaby crawling on clean carpet” is attractive to this GG.

Baby Boomer GG (Born from 1946-1954; Came of age during the turmoil of the 1960s; Aged 48-56 in 2002): This group vividly remembers the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLKjr. They came of age during the Vietnam War era. Members of this GG are dichotomous: they
championed causes (Green Peace, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights), yet were simultaneously hedonistic and self-indulgent (pot, “free love”, sensuality). Emphasizing the health benefits of your cleaning will score big with this GG. Mailing out a newsletter featuring the information is a good idea.

Generation Jones GG (Born from 1955-1965; Came of age during the first sustained economic downturn since The Great Depression, Aged 37-47 in 2002): This group witnessed the fall of Vietnam, Watergate, and Nixon’s resignation. Raging inflation led members of this GG to be less optimistic about their financial future than the Baby Boomers. More and more of this group’s members are finding ways to work from home. Internet and cable TV advertising would be an effective way of reaching this GG with your sales message.

Generation X GG (Born from 1965-1976; Came of age during a time of instability and
uncertainty, Aged 26-36 in 2002): These are the “latchkey” children of divorce and they themselves have delayed marriage and having children (they do not take these commitments lightly). This group’s members put quality of “personal” life ahead of “work” life. They tend to be”free agents” rather than “team players”. This group is saturated with and quickly dismiss out-of-hand oversoldsales pitches full of hype. They need to be spoken to directly in your marketing materials in a way that says to them, “You are different. We respect that.” The best way to reach this group with your sales message is to do it in a way that drops all pretense and talks directly to them in a non-threatening way.

N Generation GG (Born from 1977-?; Came of age during the “Information Revolution”; Aged 25 and under in 2002): This group is called the N-Generation or N-Gen because the advent of the Internet is the defining event for them, and because they will be the “engine” of economic growth over the next two decades. They are very idealistic and social cause oriented. They are more likely to be team players, without the cynical, “What’s in it for me?” free agent mindset of many

Generation Xers. This GG is the most diverse of all. Fully one third of it comes from a minority group. In marketing to this group, it is wise to reflect greater “cultural diversity” in your ads.

By now, you should be able to see that MDM offers a whole new way to sell your cleaning services to the customers most likely to need and want them. MDM goes far beyond the 20th Century approaches that focused only on demographics and over-broad characterizations.

These approaches may have worked for you in the past, but chances are they won’t work for you in the future. Our clients demand personal attention and service that suits their lifestyle. They do not want to be encumbered with incorrectly targeted or misguided promotions.

Using a MDM marketing approach can provide a sense of familiarity and personal appeal to them, as well as providing you with the groundwork for building long-term relationships. …..and that’s the name of the game, my friends! Mark Stanley * A “Coming of age” experience is defined as the period between the ages of 17 and 23 in which, by that time, an individual’s unchanging “core values” have usually been set.

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Marketing Dry (VLM) Carpet Cleaning

[Editor’s note – The following information is especially helpful for anyone considering starting a business as a VLM (very low moisture) carpet cleaner.]

A “dry” (VLM) carpet cleaning service offers powerful brand differentiation that will distinguish your business from the competition. What’s more, a VLM carpet cleaning service offers attractive and convenient features that customers want, and in some cases are beginning to demand.

The Contradiction (Good News)

If you were to ask a “wet carpet cleaning professional” what system or equipment they recommend they will almost always recommend hot water extraction, more commonly referred to as steam cleaning. However, it is significant to point out that, if you ask a homeowner what system they want in their home or business they will usually tell you “dry carpet cleaning”. I suggest that you consider asking your friends, family and neighbors – and see what responses you get.

Public Opinion and Unprecedented Approval Ratings

In my opinion, radio commercials should feature real people (consumer based testimonial ads), especially when it comes to controversial and confusing services. I feel that whatever the public has to say about “steam-cleaning” in contrast to the VLM carpet cleaning, experience is of more value than anything I would say. VLM carpet cleaning is effective, deep cleaning and convenient.

No One Around For Miles

Think about it this way… Your company is fishing in a pond almost all by itself. Your competition, on the other hand, is fishing in a pond with thousands of other companies. Do not misunderstand … there are customers in both “ponds” and non-VLM carpet cleaning systems can achieve excellent results, provided that these systems are performed by trained and experienced operators. I just wanted you to visualize being on a big lake all by yourself. It is an accurate analogy for VLM cleaners verses HWE cleaners.

Market Forecast – The VLM Carpet Cleaning Category

As the public continues to become educated about environmental issues and IAQ (indoor air quality) I expect that “The Category” (VLM carpet cleaning) will flourish. For that reason, I feel that this category is ripe to be of interest to the news media.

Of course this seems logical to us but the media is in the business of reporting “the news” and it very rarely predicts [or promotes] new trends. Nevertheless, the effectiveness and safety of VLM carpet cleaning does present well-defined and newsworthy distinctions.

Greg Cantrell
1-800-Dry-Carpet
http://www.drycarpet.com

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Defending Your Process

In the realms of the Carpet Cleaning Industry, one of the hottest topics to discuss is of the various methods of removing soil from carpet. There have been many emotional debates among carpet cleaners both in the real world and in online discussion forums. This could be because there are so many companies producing and marketing a wide variety of cleaning machines and chemicals. On the other hand, it could be a matter of tradition for many. Perhaps one may just feel that his system of cleaning is better than another system or even all the other systems.

We should really understand WHY we feel the way we do about our cleaning process. All of us should be able to feel good about what we do and not be afraid to express those feelings to other cleaners. Moreover, we also many times have to “defend” our carpet cleaning system to our customers and potential customers.

How many times has a customer asked you this question, “How exactly does your cleaning process work?” Personally, I get that question all the time. What kind of message would I give if Ireply, “I don’t know, but it’s better than anything else out there!” I would probably be shown the front door. Alternatively, what if the homeowner looks at your Dry Foam Extractor or Rotary Machine and says, “I just don’t understand how THAT can actually get the dirt out of my carpet.” Do you suddenly stumble around looking for an explanation that will keep Mrs. Smith somewhat satisfied while you finish the job? By having an answer that makes sense, we can show the homeowner that we really do have confidence in our own abilities and she can as well.

It is very important that we think about our answer to such questions BEFORE they come up!

Sit down with a pen and paper and write out a complete and convincing statement. This should not be that hard to do. After all, we were obviously convinced in the abilities of our chemicals and machines in the first place. That is why we choose to feel so compassionate about them. Now the trick is, conveying this feeling to our customer. Take your pen and jot down these important pieces of information.

#1) How do you remove dry particulate soil from the carpet? For most of us, this will involve pre-grooming, vacuuming, and pile lifting.

#2) How do your chemicals work? Do they suspend the soils? Do they break them apart? Is a “rinse” chemical involved? Will you leave a residue? If so, is it a beneficial residue or a detrimental one?

#3) How do you agitate your chemicals? Do you use a heated cleaning solution?

#4) How will the soil be removed or extracted from the carpet? Is it a chemical process?
Will the soil be flushed out? Are they absorbed by a pad or poultice compound?

#5) How will you treat stubborn spots? Do you have separate chemicals or spotters to
deal with them effectively?

#6) Finally, what do you do to aid in the drying process? After all, this is an important part of the cleaning process. Do you make an extra pass with a dry pad? Do you use airmovers? Do you post-groom the carpet?

These are just a few things to ask yourself in order to get your mind working. Notice that by giving an answer to any of these questions, you will not be “bashing” any other method. Rather, you will be giving a positive response based on what you know.

So, take a few minutes to write down your answers to these questions and rehearse a convincing answer to each question, in your mind. By doing so, you will reestablish your own faith in your abilities. In addition, more importantly, you will have the ability to give a real shot of confidence to the most important people in our
industry our customers!

Phillip Newell

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Vision: Without It, People And Businesses Perish

Hello all! It was great to meet all the dedicated VLM cleaners at the VLM Mini-Fest in Macon, GA. I believe all who attended, benefited from the fellowship and instruction that was given. You may thank Mark Stanley for this article; he and I were discussing “vision” and I thought this would make a great subject to write on.

The Bible says, “for the lack of vision, people perish.” I would like to take that one step further and say that for the lack of vision, people and businesses perish. Do you have a vision or mission statement that everything your business does is measured against? If not, you should develop one.

A vision or mission statement is very common in corporations. It states what the company’s business is about and what its purpose for being in business is. For example,

The LMCCA (Low Moisture Carpet Cleaner’s Association) Vision Statement is as follows:

We will act to unite all Low Moisture Systems under one “umbrella” in order to ensure uniform and consistent,

1. Cleaning Standards
2. Client Relations
3. Business Ethics
4. Education
5. Technical Support
6. Research and Development
7. Interaction between the IICRC, Carpet Mills, Industry Publications, and other Organizations.

The LMCCA will also be instrumental at “breaking down the walls” that divide and separate the Industry we love. The LMCCA shall also include Equipment and Chemical Manufacturers as well as other Industry Professionals as our “Industry Partners”. These IPs will be involved on the LMCCA Advisory Council, but will not have any voting privileges.

The above vision statement is the basis for everything the LMCCA does. Anything that would fall outside your company’s vision statement would do one of two things:

1. Invalidate the vision statement.
2. Make it necessary to update the vision statement.

It is not uncommon to have to update a vision statement, but it should only be done for a very pertinent reason.

Another very important part of any business is its “Code of Ethics”. Ethics determine
how we conduct our business. For example, The LMCCA Code Of Ethics:

We, the members of the LMCCA are proud of our chosen profession and of the
professionalism we display in the cleaning and restoration work we perform.

>> We are committed to our obligation of providing the absolute best possible service
to all our clients.

>> We pledge steadfastly to avoid any false or misleading representation of our
products or services.

>> We value our place in the community and recognize our responsibilities as local
business professionals.

>> We support the aims and objectives of the Low Moisture Carpet Cleaner’s Association and participate in efforts toward advancement of our Industry through the LMCCA’s programs and services. From these two sources, your Vision Statement and Code of Ethics, you should derive your “Goals”. Every business must have goals! Your stated goals should be both short-term and long-term. For example,

The LMCCA’s current “Statement of Short-Term Goals”:

1. Organizing all Low Moisture Methods into an Association.
2. Provide a substantial LMCCA Membership “benefits package”.
3. Foster positive business ethics by all LMCCA members.
4. Encourage LMCCA members to make an all out effort to develop “Client Cheerleaders”.

“Statement of Intermediate Goals” :
1. Organize events that promote VLM cleaning methods.

2. Develop training and technical support systems via the SLMCT (School of Low Moisture Cleaning Technology).

“Statement of Long-Term Goals” :
1. Provide our Industry Partners a “real world atmosphere” for testing of equipment and
chemicals.

2. Supply findings to Industry Partners on possible improvements necessary in equipment and chemicals tested.

3. Set the standards for VLM (very low moisture) cleaning above the IICRC’s S-100 Standards.

4. (Via direct IICRC involvement) help to “break down the walls” that separate and
divide our Industry.

As you can see, these goals compliment both the Vision Statement and the Code of Ethics. You will find that if you take the time to sit down and write out these three things (Vision Statement, Code of Ethics, List of Goals), your business will be much less likely to become another “statistic of failure”. In an Industry where 5 years from now, at least half of the cleaners in the Yellow Pages are no longer there think: Vision.

****************************************************************

As the LMCCA launches its membership nation-wide, it is important for us to have the issues we discussed in place. One of the goals the LMCCA has is to provide a real opportunity for the small business owner to receive a substantial “benefits package”. This benefits package includes: health, life, dental, liability and other forms of insurance as well as full trade scholarships,a nation-wide referal system and more! For a complete list of LMCCA membership benefits, please click HERE.

Another goal of the LMCCA is the implementation of the School of Low Moisture Cleaning Technology (SLMCT). This school is projected to be up and running initially by June 2002 (in conjunction with the upcoming VLM-Festival 2003). The SLMCT’s purpose will be to train technicians in “hands-on” application of various VLM systems in conjunction with IICRC certification in carpet cleaning. The SLMCT will additionally offer a certification in proficiency in the operation of VLM cleaning systems. The SLMCT’s goal is to have VLM Equipment and Chemical Manufacturers donate or loan equipment, chemicals, and staff to make the SLMCT a “World Class” VLM setting for learning.

We are very excited at the future we believe VLM has and appreciate all those who have and continue to make this organization possible!

Lonnie McDonald
LMCCA Director
President/CEO of LeatherPro
Integrity Carpet Cleaning Inc.

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Cleaning & Deodorizing After the Fires Are Out

Cleaning & Deodorizing After the Fires Are Out

The recent fires in southern California left 2,000 homes in smoldering ruins. However, the number of homes with damage from smoke, ash and odor numbers into the 100,000s. Restoration contractors are overwhelmed with calls from families desperate to have their homes cleaned. Trained cleaners can not meet the demand for their services.

Other home-owners are trying to solve their cleaning problems themselves, often with less than satisfactory results.

Cleaners who are not involved in fire and smoke restoration compassion for these victims, but may lack the training, experience or products necessary to help. Cleaners are aware that someone will perform these services. The last thing they want is for their clients to be forced to bring in another cleaning company to correct smoke and odor problems. Prepare by attending an IICRC Fire Restoration class or whatever hands-on training is available from your local distributor.

With wild fires, you may be faced with a large number of potential clients who all require your service at the same time.

What advice can you give your clients until your crew arrives to begin cleaning?

  • Particles of soot are considered carcinogenic. They need to protect themselves from breathing these small particles. In most cases a dust mask rated at N95 or better will do just fine. However, the very young (less than 2 years old) and anyone with impaired breathing should avoid areas where soot is still present. Dust masks are available at Interlink Supply.
  • Give first priority to surfaces that are most easily damaged by soot. These include windows and other glass, chrome, stainless steel and other polished or painted metal including plumbing fixtures and appliances. These surfaces can be wiped down with a clean terry cloth using a alkaline cleaner with no strong solvents such as HydroForce Spinergy 11, ammonia (diluted in water) or some household products for hard surface and/or window cleaning.
  • Keep doors and windows closed to prevent more soot and odor from entering the home. Use extensive matting at entry ways to prevent soot and ash from being tracked in.
  • Change HVAC filters frequently. Even with windows closed your HVAC is drawing in outside air full of particulates.
  • Stone surfaces such as marble, travertine and limestone will also be damaged by acid soot if not cleaned promptly. These floors and counters should be swept and mopped with a neutral cleaner until professional cleaning can be accomplished. Stonetech’s Stone & Tile Cleaner works great for this purpose.
  • Upholstery, drapes and other soft furnishings should not be used until they are professionally cleaned. When upholstery must be used, placed covers, bed sheets or other protection over them.
  • Home-owners should not attempt to wash painted or wood paneled walls, vacuum or otherwise clean upholstery or carpets. There is a possibility they could damage the furnishings as well as spreading soot into the air and around the home.
November 29, 2005 / by / in
Chemstractor Journal: Was it as good for you as it was for me?

Since my last article, (The Article of Doom) the decision to cross over to the “dark side” and rinse carpets in addition to scrubbing them, the response from my father, after reading my last article, was that he still does not want “all that water splashed onto his carpets” (regardless of what I thought it needed). His response has proven to be a real eye-opener.

I fooled you because I am about to go in a direction you weren’t expecting. My eye opening experience has nothing to do with wet or dry, but everything to do with the success of our businesses and the customer (the most important part of the equation – the guy or gal who pays our bills).

So, I am the guy who comes into the home with two machines now, instead of just one. All the while, singing to you the virtues of my process and the fact that my combination of methods and superior detergents will give you, the customer, “the best darn cleaning you have ever had!”.

I clean. I collect. I go.

Was it as good for you as it was for me, Mr. Customer? You have clean carpets, but was it good? Did it feel good? Was there something you could taste and chew on? Like a great glass of wine and the perfect steak, the knife cuts through the meat and the juices flow. The mouth waters in anticipation of that first bite. The experience… the taste of that first chew as the flavor explodes in your mouth… You tell yourself, “I am going to buy that cut of meat again because it was outstanding!”. The whole experience was memorable.

So, I ask you. What kind of experience are you creating for your customers? Is it something to remember, or something to forget? Are you just a little bit different than the other guy? Are you actually sincere, caring, and kind? Or, are you just there to get done so you can collect your dough and go? Are you a one-night-stand, or are you committed to a long term love affair?

Connect with your customers! Care about your customers! Make sure they “feel you”, give yourself some texture! Be different. It’s that simple. Quit being like all of the other cleaners you compete against.

I have one simple rule that seems to work well for me: Don’t follow the competition! Create an experience worth paying for and your customers will not forget that cleaner who brings fresh donuts and wears a Kilt when he cleans! :o)

“Yeah, that’s the guy we want, the one with the Kilt! Man, he was great, and the carpets were clean too! Remember, he was the guy that called to ask how our daughter was recovering from hip replacement surgery. He also wrote that letter thanking us for the two referrals we gave him. Gee honey, let’s call him again and get the carpets cleaned!”

John Merritt Copyright 2002 John Merritt. All rights reserved. Used here by permission of John Merritt.

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Chemstractor Journal: The Magic Bullet

Much has happened since my last article on the Chemstractor. Actually… I have sold my Chemstractor! I did not sell it because it is a poor performer, but rather, I was unable to “harmonize” with this machine. I found that I never quite settled down with this piece of equipment. In hindsight, I believe that the primary problem was me trying to make the Chemstractor something it is not. My expectations were greater than this machine could deliver. Not because the Chemstractor is unable to “deliver the goods”, but because my expectations were unrealistic.

You see, I was looking for the magic bullet. The cure for the disease. The piece of equipment that could take on any situation and win. After all, aren’t we all looking for that?

A manufacturer makes a new model of anything and we clamor for it. We just have to have it because it might be the one to end all of the rest. I believe this yearning is cultural. It has been cultivated by years of exposure to marketers.

So, my Chemstractor is sold. What next? Ahh yes! I must buy another piece of equipment! I am on the prowl once more to satisfy my need for the magic bullet.

Darn it! The rear end of my wife’s car goes out! The money gained from the sale of the Chemstractor must now be used to keep my wife driving. So, in a sense, the Chemstractor gave it’s life for my wife’s car! What a machine! It went down in a blaze of glory. (Every year, we now have what we call “Chemstractor Day”. It is a remembrance of the day my Chemstractor gave everything it had for my wife……… yeah right!) :o)

Suddenly an epiphany occurs, while I am none other than doing what?…. You guessed it, cleaning carpets. What do I really need? In what area am I lacking? Who or what is the real magic bullet? Is it a piece of equipment or is it me?

You are right. It is me. It is all of us. It is knowing when to do the right thing at the right time, whether we are marketing, cleaning, or dealing with customers and employees. I am my own greatest asset.

Back to the question. What do I really need? Rinse. I want to rinse with water. Oh my! Am I crossing over to the dark side? Did I say water? Mark Stanley, Mark Stanley, help me! I think I am getting sick! I am thinking about water…..and lots of it. Please give me a VLM prescription. This thinking must go away!

Steamin Demon? No. I feel that it is not going to be versatile enough. US Products heated HP series? No. I feel they are just a little over priced. Spitfire? No. if I want a truck mount, I will just buy a Vortex, not some mini mount. After all, I just want to rinse. And I want flexibility. Cross American Recoil-3? Great service and reportedly a great product. A staple in the industry. Plus you get Ed Valentine! Yes, this feels good. All but the “water” part. Oh, what the heck! I’ll do it!

Fast forward. I have started using my new machine. It is an excellent piece of equipment, and fits my needs nicely. It actually fits some needs I did not know that I had. That power sprayer feature, has now replaced both my pump up sprayer and my battery sprayer. You can spray all day with that thing. It is a solid piece of equipment.

In searching for ways to refine my cleaning process, I have stumbled across a few discoveries. I look at my carpet cleaning process as more of a “wash cycle” (like what my OP machine does to the carpet, for instance). The Recoil-3 has now become my “rinse cycle”.

Running my Oscillating Pad Machine after rinsing, now costs my customers more money. They pay for the wash and the rinse. However, if they like d-r-y, they will have to pay a little more for that. I want to give my customers a reason to pay more.

…Of course, all of this reasoning “flies out the window” with regards to commercial
carpet cleaning. So, now I am on yet another journey. Where will it lead me? Only time
will tell.

In closing, I would just like to say Thank You to all who have answered my questions
and assisted me during my quest. You are a great bunch!

John Merritt

November 29, 2005 / by / in
Is There Steam In Your Future?

Many cleaners have asked me if owning a portable hot water extractor would be a benefit to their businesses. This article is a result of these conversations, “tests” I have done, and just plain experience in the field by many of us using HWE in our operation. Your input is appreciated, as this is not the final word by any means.

The answer to the question, “Is having HWE (hot water extraction) available in your arsenal of cleaning tools a good investment?” is YES! (Don’t you just hate to wait till the end of the article to find out the Dolt doesn’t know!) In my own operation, I use Hot Dry-Foam Extraction, Bonnet Cleaning, and HWE. There is very much a place in my company for each one. When I sometimes use them in combination, it’s a real knock out!

If you have a water damage job, an extractor is easier to use. It simply has more capacity and suction. You can put the extractor up stairs and run hoses down. A truckmounted unit is also great for water damage.

I remember one particularly “wet” Summer, people were using “Love My Carpet” and such powders by the case. One customer had a mildew problem and dumped boxes of this powder into her carpet. A VLM (very low moisture) system would have made “paste”. This carpet needed to be thoroughly flushed. On another job, a construction crew had walked all over the newly carpeted dressing rooms at the Community Theater. The carpets were not greasy, just packed with dirt and cement dust. They needed a good flushing and got it.

Have you ever tried to clean a real tight, Olefin commercial-grade carpet with a VS-1 dry foam extractor? It can sometimes be difficult to penetrate the fiber with the brush. Have you ever dry-foam extracted a kitchen and felt that it needed something more like a rinse? I find that a “dual-process” is called for in most kitchens. I Dry-Foam Extract them first, then I HWE them using an acid side fiber rinse. Dynamite!!!

The Test Bed:
We are going to compare apples to apples here. Unless you test side by side or under near exact conditions you really cannot make good comparisons. This data is based on my experience cleaning the carpets in the town-house apartments at Greenway of Newton, Oskaloosa and Grinnell, Iowa.

These are subsidized apartments, operated by Heartland Management under HUD guidelines and purse strings. These town-houses have three bedrooms and a bathroom (upper level), a flight of stairs, and a living room, kitchen, and dining room (lower level). The bathroom, kitchen and dining room are tile, the rest is carpet. Normally all the carpet is either a light or dark brown short plush with not much of a pad. Occasionally there will be a sculptured loop in a bedroom or two that is some of the original (20 year old!) carpet. The total area to be cleaned: 480 square feet of carpet plus 13 steps.

These are “turn-overs” so there is no furniture to move. The painting and cleaning are
already finished so all that is left to do is clean the carpet. Additionally, the vacuuming is usually done before I arrive. Nice! The upstairs carpet is normally not too bad unless
there are spills. The living room is usually trashed. They are all so very similar as to be
quite boring, actually.

The Equipment:
The Dry-Foam equipment is a VS-1. Either a black or tan machine using the Braun
brush. The water is always heated to at least 190 degrees or better. I add 1/2 to 1
teaspoon of wash soda. I use carpet detergent designed for the VS-l system at 32-1
dilution (8 ounces per 2-gallon pail). Prespray gets used on spots only, if at all.

 

The hot water extractor is a basic Ninja Deluxe. It has a 100 PSI pump, 140 inches of
water-lift. No heat on-board, but I do heat the water using three buckets and three
heaters. The water is between 150 and 160 degrees when in the tank. I add 1/2
teaspoon of wash soda to each bucket and the proper amount of detergent to the batch.
There are two lengths of vacuum and solution hoses for the Ninja: the original 16′ and
the 25′. I run the 16′ hoses to the top of the stairs and then the 25′ hoses to the rooms.
The machine stays in the living room.

The Tests:
I must point out that I am not really doing a side by side test here. It is more like
saying, “What if I did the same job with…” I am going to compare the various elements
of the job.

Time:
This is the time from when the resident manager opens the door to the time you put the
van into drive.

With the VS-1, total time was 1 hour and 20 minutes consistently. With the Ninja, total
time was normally 1 hour and 50 minutes (sometimes more). Quite a difference,
especially if you have 4 jobs to do in a day.

With the Dry-Foam System:
I fill one bucket with 2 gallons of water and put two heaters in it. Bring in the VS-1 and take it upstairs. Then I bring in my two-brush scrubber and clean the stairs. I scrub and towel them off. By then, I have boiling water and the VS-1 is running 10 minutes from the time the door opens. Edge cleaning is done by towel and each room is groomed as they are done. Machine time is 1 hour and 10 minutes. Other than maybe 5 minutes toting stuff in and out, all the time is spent cleaning.

With the portable Hot Water Extraction System:
Three buckets are filled and a heater is put in each one. The Ninja is then brought in and the hoses are ran up the stairs and everything hooked up. The water is getting close to 180 degrees by now. All three buckets of hot water go into the machine as well as one bucket hot tap water. I refill all three buckets, and place heater in each one again. Then, I go to work. I have now been in the apartment for 25 minutes and I am just starting to work! I need to refill the machine before I clean the stairs.

I drop off the 25-foot hoses, hook up the stair-tool, and clean the stairs. Then, I swap wands and clean the living room carpet. Finally, I pack up everything and head down the road. The actual “machine time” for cleaning is 1hour and 20 minutes. A lot of time is spent in extra trips to the van for hose and wand, and handling three buckets and heaters.

Water and Chemicals:
With the Ninja, I used 14 gallons of water, 6 ounces of detergent, and 5 teaspoons of wash soda. Consistently, 10 gallons are recovered. A 71% recovery rate. This seems to be normal for this machine. The poop-sheet that came with the machine recommends 2 dry passes with the floor-wand; I used only one dry pass.

The Dry-Foam System uses 4 gallons of water total, 16 ounces of detergent and 1-2 teaspoons of wash soda. It recovers one gallon in the tank and puts a bunch in the air. Hot foam steams up the windows more then the HWE System did. Probably due to the fact that the water in the recovery tank is hotter.

Drying Time:
I simply did not hang around to watch the carpet dry. My experience in other jobs has shown that the carpet, which was hot water extracted, always takes longer to dry, but not that much. Taking your time with the wand and taking a second drying.pass with it (even though, I didn’t) is important. These “soaking” stories must be from carpet cleaners who do not know what they are doing or do not care. Other Dry-Foamers with decent portable HWE equipment tell the same story.

Finished product:
Which is better? This one is hard to tell as we are not testing in a side by side manner. I would have to say the carpet cleaned with the “steaming hot” Dry-Foam is cleaner because the aggressive brush agitation of the VS-1 will get more of the grease spots and tracking out easier. Just normal cleaning with the VS-1 will take care of traffic paths, while you need to stroke a little harder with the portable HWE. The Ninja gets its share of dirt out and that is obvious when dumping the Ninja’s waste-water tank. Yuck! There is less grooming required using the portable extractor to clean these carpets. I have not had a complaint on any of the work I have yet done with either machine.

So What!
Having both systems available at all times; I prefer using the Dry-Foam system in these apartments. Other than dragging the machine upstairs, it is simpler, easier and quicker. I also feel the brush agitation makes traffic lanes and spots much easier to clean. I would like to hear from others VLMers using HWE. I know there are some differing opinions out there.

Why the Ninja?
I could have picked at least a dozen other portable extractors, with identical specs to the Ninja. Its appeal to me was in line with my “work simplification program”. The machine weights 62 pounds. Most other machines weigh at least 80 pounds. Screw “your” back
up, not mine! It has to be lifted to get it in and out of the van, up and down stairs, and into most homes.

The Ninja Deluxe has 8″ wheels on the rear and a dolly type handle. It can be rolled across a parking lot like a two-wheeled mule and with water in it. A four caster machine must be carried. Those plastic rollers will not take concrete very long. The same applies to the VS-1. At least the VS-1 is balanced so it can be carried like a big suitcase.

There are a few things I would like to see changed on the Ninja now that I am a little more familiar with it. There should be a handle at the front-bottom of the machine. It would facilitate handling at the van and in hooking up the solution hose. Wheel locks would provide peace of mind when running your hoses to a lower level. A drain ***** for the solution tank would allow the solution to be put into a container for use on the next job or to service the machine.

Emptying the machine can get a little sloppy. The dolly handle could be a bit higher. I am 6′ tall and most stuff is built for guys around 5′ 7″ tall. Stair height needs to be considered also. I have no problem with the wand, but one guy likes an aluminum scrub wand over a stainless steel drag wand.

I wish I had bought the heat option, it would be a real time saver. I wish all equipment maufacturers would look over their product lines and make their equipment usable by someone other then a retarded ape or a weight lifter! :o)

Furthermore, there is no reason in this day and age why a carpet cleaner should be required to use even one single tool to open the machine for inspection of the “guts”. This is professional equipment, not consumer junk! Field repairs should be easy. Who wants to have to quit for the day because it takes a total tear-down to simply tighten a hose clamp? With the Ninja, you just pop two snaps and it opens like a clamshell. Everything is looking at you. However, I have not tried it with the tanks full yet.

There are many of us who are simply tired of fighting our equipment on a daily basis. The company that produces equipment that can traverse stairs well and is easy to use and maintain, will survive. We are just like our customers; we vote with our checkbooks. If a company is told for years that its products have problems and denies them, it is doomed. Luckily, there are companies like Century 400 that are trying different things. (Editor’s note: also see Cross American Corp.) Reducing weight, improving performance, holding prices in line, and using real wheels and handles. The list goes on forever.

The long and short is, we are tired of hype and marketing jargon. We are starting to see innovation and it is refreshing. Keep it coming!

A fool and his money are invited places. :o)

George Hagele

Update:
1) I purchased a MyTee Hot in-line heater for the Ninja. It cut the cleaning time of those apartments down to 45-50 minutes. I used the Ninja exclusivly in the two story apartments.

2) Adding on-board heat to the VS-1 cut the time down to 55-60 minutes. (Now, HWE is somewhat faster!) 3) I have had people reject Dry Foam because of a bad experience with a factory spec. foamer and request HWE instead. One job I lost before I bought the Ninja was an $800 gig. Ouch!

Conversely, a carpet factory rep. told one of my commercial accounts to use HWE only. That job brought me $300 to $500 every two weeks. Love my Ninja!

November 29, 2005 / by / in
In The Picture

Unless you are a workaholic, (which I am not) it is not often that you can find a hobby that you find relaxing and earns you extra money from your business. One of my hobbies is computer graphics design. I design and print posters, T-shirts and as long as the quantities needed are not too huge I can also print fliers, business cards, labels and envelopes etc. Until the advent of computer graphics I was “graphically illiterate” so to speak. Even now, I can hardly draw a straight line freehanded. I had plenty of ideas in my head, but somewhere along the way from my head to my hand, something was lost. Now there are many graphics programs with which I can transform those ideas into something of use. PhotoShop is the program that is used by most professional graphic artists, so when you see a newspaper ad that has a picture that has a drop shadow under it or lettering that has the effect of being made out of solid shiny plastic or the corner of the page looks as though it is folded over, chances are, it was designed in PhotoShop.

If I sound like a salesman for Adobe, the makers of PhotoShop, believe me, I don’t get a cent from them, though it’s not a bad idea! :o)

There are many other excellent graphics programs out there and they are a lot cheaper. I have put a couple of internet addresses of freeware programs at the end of this article. The good thing about these programs in general is (though you learn something new almost every time you use them) from the start, they are of great practical use and you have the pleasure of creative achievement.

Just to give you an idea of what is possible, I have just finished designing and printing a poster for the pet-stain removal side of my carpet cleaning business. I have started distributing them to the veterinarians and pet shops in my area. I put them on their notice boards. The same can be done for almost any specialty business. After printing a number of them, I had them laminated at Office Depot. In Israel, where I live, it costs me about 75 cents a piece. The advantage of laminating is:

A. It stops them from becoming shabby over a period of time.

B. It looks more professional.

C. It makes them stand out from the crowd.

The flexibility of working this way means that you can have a leaflet setup that is written in such a way that you can insert the name of a potential client right into the text. This makes them the ultimate “personalized flier”.

If, for instance, a new housing area opens with 100 houses, you can design and print a leaflet just for that area. I think that you will get a better response from this than just a generalized flier will, because the “closer to home” the text is, the more likely the prospective client will be interested in reading it. Also, you can create very effective posters for your vehicle’s windows, with special offers, etc.

The question of quality vs. cost if you print your own, I have found to be as follows:

Assuming that you are using an inkjet printer, in part, the quality obviously depends on which model you own, but in general, you can get a print quality that is very acceptable. Since I started doing so much printing, I have been buying off-brand ink cartridges. Some of my friends are of the opinion that this could do harm to my printer.

My experience is, I have used quite a number of off-brands without any apparent damage. Secondly, today printers are so inexpensive and OEM cartridges so expensive, that you do not have to buy too many off-brands before you are ahead of the game. It is a good investment to buy good quality paper as I believe it helps to create a more professional image.

As far as cost is concerned, if you compare the unit price for the cost of printing say 5000 fliers with that of a typical print house, it is much more expensive to print it yourself. However, as I wrote above, doing your own printing gives you the advantage of being able to print small quantities & personalizing your advertising, and by doing so, maximizing the response. After all, getting a big response rate is the name of the game!

The same principle applies to T-shirts or sweatshirts with your company logo, labels for bottles of stain remover, etc., that you sell to your clients. You are only limited by your imagination as to how many different uses you can find with this system.

Here is a list of several outstanding graphics design programs, available for download:

Photo Shop
Fireworks MX
Paint Shop Pro
Photo Impact

Harvey Fish

November 29, 2005 / by / in