Q: I am the owner of a carpet cleaning company in Minneapolis and have a few young technicians. One of them likes to listen to his iPod while working, and when I talked to him about it, he said it helps him concentrate and pay attention to what he is doing. I think he is bored. Is this a big issue, or should I just leave him alone?

                                                          — George, Minneapolis, MN

Many will agree that carpet cleaning can be, especially while working alone, a repetitious (some might call it boring) job. Pushing the scrub wand back and forth for hours on end isn’t on anyone’s list of exciting things to do.

listening to ipodOf course, holding onto a powered rotary extraction tool for dear life as it heads for the wall is quite exciting, but once you have the hang of it, repetition sets in — leading to the challenge in the paragraph above.

Your technician is simply trying to find a way to break the monotony of what he does. There’s nothing wrong with his intent.

But here is the bigger picture. You have to think about customer service, and how your customers might view this practice. Remember, your company is invited into your customer’s home and the time you are there is “their” time. They are paying for it and expect the full attention of your workers.

So imagine how they might feel, although they may never verbalize this, as they watch your capable technician cleaning but while listening to music. They may think he’s not giving his full attention, and that will hurt your opportunity for a referral and maybe even a repeat customer.

The same applies for using a cell phone on the job. One company reported to Cleanfax that they had a customer who would ask the carpet cleaning company to leave the premises if she caught any of the workers on their cell phone, even if they were outside at the truck. Is this extreme? Perhaps. But then again, we are talking about customers with a wide range of personalities. Some are mild and, as long as you do your job effectively, all is good. Others are a bit strong-willed and want things done “their way” no matter what.

So talk to your technician and, instead of just demanding he give up his music habits, reason with him on why it can hurt the company in the long term.

Q: Living pretty close to a large city, I would like to consider starting a carpet cleaning business. My research shows it is pretty easy to get started. What are the top things I should consider?

                                                          — Lauren, Murfreesboro, TN

From a quick search on Google Maps, looks like you are near Nashville. And with all those famous country music singers (or want-to-be-singers) in the area, there has to be decent opportunity for you.

Your comment about it being easy to get started as a carpet cleaning company may be troubling to some, however. The ease of entry into the carpet cleaning market is why there are low-priced cleaners, and even bait-and-switch operators that are hurting the industry.

So if you want to do this — do it right. Attend a few industry seminars and workshops, go to a trade show, talk to other cleaners, reach out to a distribution company of your choice and get some solid, practical advice on “doing it right”.

You will invest more initially, but in the long run you will be happier and you will enjoy a successful business.