This week we are featuring an "Ed Sez" editorial published in the March/April 1982 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location carpet cleaners”. The focus of this piece is differentiating between promoting carpet cleaning and promoting clean carpets. Keep in mind that this piece was published 36 years ago, so not all of the sentiments presented are necessarily accurate for today's industry. However, the general theme is still very relevant to today.
After some twelve years of working with the on-site cleaner, I believe I have found the answer to why we are second class citizens to the business community and the rest of the carpet industry. Before I expound on my conclusions, let me clear up one point. What we have been doing since the beginning of on-site cleaning is wrong. The bankers look upon us as next to the bottom of their list for credit. The suppliers treat us like children. The retail outlets won't even admit that they know us. Our peers think we are monsters. Our customers forget us, and society won't even accept us. With all of our past efforts, dirty carpets are socially acceptable. In fact, dirty fibers and fabrics are a way of life. Over eighty percent of all carpet owners have never had their carpets cleaned. Our neighbors live on dirty carpets and most of us live on dirty carpets. Our problem is simply, that in the past, we have promoted carpet cleaning rather than CLEAN CARPETS.
There will be those who will immediately defend their present position and try to justify their past efforts. It can't be done, even if some have been successful and make a better than average living. Just imagine what they could have accomplished, if clean carpets, not dirty carpets, were the only accepted condition. The sooner everyone connected with the cleaning industry accepts the fact that we have been wrong in the past, the sooner we can start on the road to real success.
For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of working with the on-site cleaners in Japan. They have enlightened me greatly. Their philosophy is that dirt is unsightly and embarrassing to the home, or commercial building owner. Their concern is to keep their homes and offices from getting dirty. They understand this can't be done on a once-every-two-or-three-year basis, but is a continuing process. It is their custom to prevent dirt from entering their home. Outside shoes are left outside the home. Since this is impractical in business, the entry areas receive special care. This may be weekly, monthly, or daily. The Japanese do what is necessary to keep their carpets looking attractive at all times.
We must accept the same philosophy. We must stop asking our customers to give us a call when their carpets get so bad they are an embarrassment. We must initiate a service which will keep the customer's carpets from becoming soiled. Carpets should be a possession of pride to their owners. They can be, if we will only change our emphasis. It is easier to promote clean carpets than carpet cleaning. If we can't clear our thinking as to carpet cleaning, let's try it on something else. For example, which would you rather pay your doctor $50 for? Clearing up a cold you have, or providing a service which prevented you from getting a cold? You can do the same thing with dirty carpets. When a person has just spent $20,000 for a unit to clean carpet, it may seem foolish to purchase $500 worth of equipment to prevent a carpet from getting dirty.
How do you begin? First, draw a line down the center of several pages. Title each one, equipment, personnel, emphasis, and capital investment. Place production on one side and procurement on the other. List your firm's ability and capabilities on each page. A successful company will have true balance in each of these areas.
While we must always be dedicated to technical advances, we must realize our efforts to include a full sales department. Our sales staff must be trained to do their job, and not to help deliver furniture or answer the phone. We have a story to tell and a service that the homeowner and business person alike will buy, if we allow them to. It won't work, unless we accept the fact that what we have been doing isn't working and re-adjust our work habits and business philosophy. We must become sales orientated. We must stop selling carpet cleaning and start selling clean carpets.
~ Ed York (1982)