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Cleanershuddle.jpg Fred Geyen

So much of our business seems to be out of our control — from bounced checks (or no checks) to customers from the abyss. Sometimes, we will swear our employees are working against us, as opposed to with us, at times just up and quitting, leaving us when we need them the most. Or there is the occasional spot or carpet problem that we just cannot solve.

But we get hope when attending a trade show or seeing an ad in a magazine that features a new piece of equipment that, from all angles, holds the chance of making our lives better if we own it. In fact, we cleaners get "over-the-top" happy as we shop for equipment. Not because we are about to spend some money. No, it's because we are about to get a new "toy" that will make our lives easier and better.

Equipment manufacturers are to be commended as they provide us with useful, hopefully easy-to-use and maintain thoughtful carpet cleaning equipment. The word “thoughtful” applies especially to commercial carpet cleaners as our job faces many different situations each day, and having the right piece of equipment at that right time is the difference between making money or not.

This month, you will note a picture collage of equipment placed within this article. You have likely seen these pieces of equipment before, or perhaps some you have not. Commercial carpet cleaning equipment, if used at the right time and in the right situation, is a great friend to your business.

The equipment pictured is interrelated, not unlike, (yes, it’s time for a sports analogy) a football team. If we looked at the members of a football team in street clothes, it might not be apparent that they each play football. From the D-backs to the offensive lineman, there is an obvious difference in physical appearances. Many skills make up each individual on the team.

Now, when we get all these players together on the field, each one will have different assignments for each play. The real art of football, aside from the individual ability of each player, is calling the right play for each situation facing the team. The coaching staff is largely responsible for designing plays that the players can execute on the field at the right time. Coaches tell us that every play is designed to go for a touchdown.

Equipment manufacturers, if asked, might say that each piece of equipment is also designed to take each of us to the goal post — if used properly.

The collage pictured in this article is a carpet cleaner’s team, although obviously there are other pieces that we could add. If you use the right piece of equipment at the right time you will get to your goal. It will take a lineman more time to run 100 yards than a wide receiver, and so it is with each piece of equipment being implemented at the right time. Cleaning can be more productive, with high quality and more profits, if we use the right equipment.

Let’s consider a matrix that will help you choose the best equipment in specific situations. This is just a possible way to view equipment choices, as it actually will show what most of us do when we are looking at carpet when providing a cleaning quote. We price based on the equipment we will use and the speed at which it will clean the carpet.

WARRANTY

SITUATION

SOIL LEVEL

AREA TO CLEAN

PROGRAMMED

EQUIPMENT

Yes/No

Warehouse front office area

High

All

Yes/No

Dual (2x)/tri (2x)-cylindrical brush machine; truckmount (TM); rotary floor machine (RFM)

Yes/No

Retail street level

High

All

Yes/No

RFM; rotary extraction head (REM) TM; Osculating pad machine (OP)

Yes/No

Retail mall store

High

All

Yes/No

REM; OP; RFM; Portable with wand (P&W)

Yes/No

Mall common areas

Medium

All

Yes/No

TM; REM; 2x; 3x

Yes/No

Corporate office

Low

Hallways (H); Private offices (PO); Cubicles (Cu); Gathering areas (G)

Yes/No

2x; 3x; REM; Walk behind or sit-on low moisture machine (WB); Pile lifter*; Dry compound

Yes/No

Common hall in office tower

Low

All

Yes/No

2x; 3x; REM; WB; Pile; Dry compound

Yes/No

Apartments

High

All

Yes/No

TM; REM; RFM; OP

Yes/No

Tenant spaces in office tower

Low

H; PO; Cu; G

Yes/No

2x; 3x; P&W; Pile lifter; Dry compound;

 
*Note: This is always a cylindrical style brush machine.

Do you need a matrix like this? Maybe, as it can give you a systematic approach to how your company handles each situation. Let’s examine this matrix, as it needs a bit of explanation.

Most people looking at the first column will ask about the “warranty,” commenting that they never run across the issue. Carpet manufacturers will state in their warranties something like “The use of bonnet cleaning will void the warranty” or something similar. If the carpet is new, you will want to address this issue.

The other item to note on carpet mill warranties is that just about all of them are voided within the first year because the vast majority of customers rarely follow the prescribed intervals of cleaning. This is a very touchy issue between customers of large facilities and the mills.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid using a rotary style machine on lightly soiled carpet. When heavy soil is present on the majority of the carpet, the warranty is most likely voided, and using rotary style machines or oscillating machines provide a good option for scrubbing this harder-to-clean carpet, with or without extraction.

The “soil level” column is always a good thing to quantify. When bidding, doing work orders or just talking between people in your own business, having a common understanding of what the crew will face when arriving at a job is important for developing a plan of attack.

Certainly, the “areas to clean” column, along with the soil level column, offers much insight into the equipment you will choose. If you are cleaning a corporate office carpet that has a warranty, and you are offering a program-planned approach, there will be times when you will be doing just hallways. If the job is large enough, the use of a walk-behind or even ride-on machine could be your play call. These larger machines can either do encapsulation, low-moisture cleaning or deeper extraction, saving your back and adding better profit.

Almost all carpet mills will specify that pile-lifting is part of keeping a carpet properly maintained. These machines can be dual or triple cylindrical equipment that is best used with some sort of pick-up attachment. Pile-lifting dry soil out of carpet without chemicals or water is an often overlooked play call for carpet cleaning, but it is extremely effective in the right situation.

Our carpet cleaning shops are filled with equipment, and many companies will have every piece of equipment mentioned in this article. Others will choose their equipment to fit their play style. Really, we become the coach and quarterback when picking exactly which play call or piece of equipment we should use when we look at the job.

Thanks to all the manufacturers who allowed us to use pictures of their equipment. As cleaners, we respect your hard work in bringing us equipment that we can enter into the game.

 

Fred Geyen is president of the Geyen Group (www.GeyenGroup.com). His background includes commercial product sales and program development for residential, commercial and disaster restoration with ServiceMaster. He has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) designation and is on the board of directors with the LMCCA. Geyen can be contacted at (612) 799-5111.