Facility service providers are always looking to increase revenue, especially in these trying economic times.
Add-on services are no secret in the building service contractor (BSC) market, but what you might be overlooking is carpet care, beyond basic vacuuming.
Who knows a facility''s needs better than you? You are there every day and/or night cleaning and maintaining floors.
You are the first to realize when traffic lanes are becoming soiled or when Bob from accounting spilled his morning coffee (again).
Facility owners have already entrusted you with keeping their facilities clean and healthy, so why not increase your company''s value in your customers'' eyes by incorporating carpet care into your service offerings.
Training Is Essential
As with any aspect in life — disregarding the notion of innate instincts — we, as humans, only know what we are taught.
Following this model, a comprehensive training program on the essentials of carpet cleaning is necessary before one attempts to perform any procedures foreign to their acquaintance.
According to Mike Sawchuk, vice president and general manager of Enviro-Solutions Ltd., fundamental procedures every carpet cleaner must be trained on include: Not over-wetting; drying carpets as quickly as possible; using proper cleaning products and dilutions; rinsing properly; and fiber identification.
"The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) has excellent training courses," states Sawchuk. "A lot of quality distributors sponsor the IICRC Training programs or offer hands-on training based on the IICRC programs."
Knowledge about the different types of fibers used in carpet and its backing — both organic and synthetic — is very important, and according to Brent Crawford, president of Core Products Company Inc., not all cleaning methods or chemicals are compatible with every type or carpet, so pile construction must be known and manufacturer''s recommendations need to be followed.
After you have decided to offer more in-depth carpet care than the vacuuming you currently provide, the decision must be made as to what exactly you will make available to your customers.
An inexpensive add-on — one that will likely lead to further business — is carpet allergen testing.
This service consists of a "dust sock test" that is nothing more than placing a dust sock on the vacuum discharge outlet in place of a bag.
The dust sock collects dust mites, soil, pollen, skin cells and other contaminants that are sent to a laboratory for analysis and returned with a detailed report.
"This lends a scientific air to the simplest of projects and enables a contractor to stand out from the crowd," affirms Stephan Joseph, product manager for Building Health Check. "It also creates tremendous customer confidence as it''s possible to do a before and after testing to show the efficacy of whatever cleaning was done on a microscopic level."
The training for interpreting the report is provided by the lab and according to Joseph, the entire process costs less than $100.
According to Crawford, odor control is another very affordable and viable procedure that janitorial service providers can offer.
Little training is required and few to no equipment purchases are necessary.
"Some procedures may be more involved and costly," proclaims Crawford. "But carrying a line of products that control odor [and] can be used on fabrics and/or carpet and hard surfaces is a simple, yet effective way to add value to your service."
Interim Carpet Cleaning
Another possible add-on is restorative carpet cleaning.
Low-moisture, hot-water extraction and deep cleaning with a bonnet or scrub pad machine is generally an annual procedure, but depending on the amount of traffic and the level of soil a carpet receives, it can be done more frequently.
This type of service is more involved, so under no circumstances should you attempt to tackle a carpet restoration project without extensive knowledge that comes with proper training.
If carpet restoration is something you are interested in, and you are willing to make the investment for equipment, it can be very lucrative.
"You must be aware of the current condition of the carpet and what the customer''s expectations are versus what realistic results may be," notes Crawford.
He adds that some carpets should not be over-wetted because the backing can shrink and some dyes will bleed through when the chemical solution is applied.
Therefore, choosing the right cleaning method and the right products for each job is important.
Carpet spotting should only be performed after extensive cleaning — like that of restorative cleaning — has been performed.
The success of carpet spotting greatly depends on the condition of the carpet and its level of cleanliness.
Carpet spotting is a procedure that can be performed daily to reduce unsightly spots in carpet between restorative cleanings.
Green Carpet Cleaning
Environmentally conscious cleaning contractors are differentiating themselves from their competitors by using green carpet cleaning products that emit minimal or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and help reduce indoor air pollution.
Some of the newer carpet cleaning products are made with plant-based ingredients, such as sage, bergamot and other citrus sources.
"Because the formulations of plant-based products are low foaming," asserts Luke Bobek, director of industrial and institutional sales for Earth Friendly Products, "they eliminate the need for defoaming agents, thus decreasing overall cleaning costs."
According to Bobek, these environmentally friendly products are also less taxing on equipment and the carpet itself, eliminating corrosion issues with machinery and reducing premature carpet wear.
"Green cleaning is the integration of various components — products, procedures, equipment and custodial hardware," notes Sawchuk. "Having a green carpet care program is important and another step in the journey of going green."
What Do You Have To Lose?
It makes good business sense to be diversified and be able to service any type of floor.
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), carpet makes up 70 percent of the floor coverings in the U.S., so if you have not already incorporated carpet care into your service offerings, you are leaving 70 percent of the facility''s flooring up for grabs.
The more quality services you offer, the more value you provide, and the more difficult it will be to replace you.