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!