All it takes is a few minutes in a classroom, at an industry event or with your favorite Facebook group to see that we all speak in different ways.

When I teach an IICRC certification class, we discuss proper terminology — but no matter how many times you try to remember to use (and sometimes avoid) certain terms, it’s not easy to do.


One such term is “chemical” or “chemistry” — a word we use amongst ourselves but should avoid when with a customer or client. I found myself in the spotlight recently when doing a spot and stain removal demonstration. I would say, “Apply just enough of this chemical to…” and I would hear a throat clearing in a way that said I had messed up. So I rephrased, “Apply just enough of this product to…”

I tried to argue the point that in the classroom, it was OK to use the word “chemical,” but one guy said, “It gets you in a bad habit.”

It was a tough crowd.

Another example is in describing “dirt.” Is it dirty, or is it soiled? Then you have the descriptions of “dirt” or “soil.” We have to be careful when addressing the amount of dirt or soil in the carpet or furniture when looking at a job. We may be thinking “Wow, this is filthy!” or “How can they live like this?” but should refrain from sharing our innermost thoughts. Tread carefully. Use terms like “lightly” or “moderately,” but keep a straight face when you really want to say “heavily” but know better.

That brings us to another term. Is it client? Or is it customer? Which one is best to use when addressing the client (or customer)? Well, to figure it out, I did what everyone does who wants to know. I Googled it.

Definition of client: A person or organization using the services of a professional person or company.

Definition of customer: A person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.

They seem pretty close. Do those who hire you use your services or buy your services? I think either term works. It’s up to you which you prefer to use. You see both references in the pages of Cleanfax, depending on the author. I’m surely not going to change what they decide on using.

That’s my rant for the month. Get busy, have fun and remember that Cleanfax is always here for you.