Get to know Clean Interiors a little more. The full article can be found here:
How did you land in this industry? That’s a bit of a long story. I’ve been in the cleaning industry since I could walk. I am third generation in the industry. My grandfather was an upholsterer and a small distributor selling VCT chemicals and ceiling cleaning products. My family did mostly commercial VCT work, and I continued in these and other types of commercial jobs until 2010. That was the year our life was turned upside down. Our sole account at the time was behind well over $20,000 in payments to us and we had to seek legal counsel. However, two months previously we spent some time with Jeff Cross in Mexico (another long and interesting story how that happened). He asked, “Have you ever thought of getting into residential carpet cleaning?” I dismissed it at the time, because the commercial world and contracts were all I knew. Needless to say, we gave Jeff a call. He gave us some direction, and put us in touch with Jim Pemberton, who was teaching IICRC courses at the time. This business change was the best decision we could have made. We will always be extremely grateful to the guidance and support of Jeff Cross, Jim Pemberton and Rick Gelinas.
How are you involved with the IICRC? We value the training certification programs that the IICRC offers, and feel that the education we received when first starting out helped us to grow into a successful business. We encourage anyone we know who is thinking about getting into the carpet cleaning business to invest in IICRC training.
What do you do to market your business? We are from the online generation, so things like the yellow pages, coupon flyers, radio ads, etc., are not part of the way we look for service providers for ourselves – we Google it. Because of that, those types of opportunities are not something we’ve pursued. We focused on building a good website and maintaining an online presence. We also reach out to existing clients through postcards, brochures, sample spotters and email. We keep our company information current on directories like Yelp and Google Business. We also use Facebook advertising and Google AdWords to give more exposure to our business.
What’s one unique thing about cleaning and restoration in your area? Any specific challenges you face due to your location? Pittsburgh is different than most cities in the US. Nothing is laid out on a grid and everything is on a hill, so our biggest challenge is dealing with the snow and ice during winter months. To remedy that, last year we took the winter off and traveled the world.
Your firm specializes in wool carpet cleaning. How did you end up in this particular area of the industry? Many of our clients have wall-to-wall wool carpet. We’ve heard many stories of inexperienced cleaners ruining these expensive carpets, and have seen the damage that moths can cause to them. We found it to be beneficial for our clients to receive extra training to increase our knowledge in order to better educate our clients, as well as to effectively clean and maintain these carpets.
Is there a cleaning job that you are particularly proud of? This one may seem like a “non-example,” but it’s something recent: A woman had set up an appointment to have the carpets in her daughter’s new house cleaned. Upon arriving, we determined that the carpets were not only ruined by the previous owner’s animals, but the carpet pad was as well. We explained they should have it removed and declined the job. A few weeks later, the mother sent us a letter expressing appreciation for our honesty and gave us a check to help reimburse us for our time.
What is the most rewarding thing about owning a cleaning business? We help keep people’s homes beautiful. When I was doing commercial work, it was discouraging because there was little satisfaction in it. Most store managers did not care if you did a good job, they just wanted you to finish fast so they could go home. Even when you gave them amazing results, there was little or no appreciation. In residential carpet cleaning, your work makes a difference to every single client. Having happy customers is a reward in itself. Don’t get me wrong- we still do commercial jobs and have many appreciative clients, but our work has been elevated, and seeing this change has been amazing.
Can you talk about a cleaning or restoration “horror” story or anything funny you have encountered during your career? Early on after switching to residential work, we received an inquiry about upholstery cleaning. The client asked if we could come immediately, insisting it needed to be done that day. Because I was new, the red lights and warning signs didn’t go off. I didn’t ask the all-important question, “Why does it need to be done TODAY?” We squeezed him into the schedule, and on arrival found out his buddy had gotten so drunk during the Steelers game, that he urinated on the sofa. Why I didn’t walk away I don’t know, but we had gloves and we did the job. It turned out well, but that will never happen again.