New S100 Standard Going to Press

{xtypo_dropcaps}I{/xtypo_dropcaps}n February (2011) the IICRC “S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning” was mentioned. The good news is the 2011 Edition is about to go to press with the title “Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Cleaning of Textile Floor Coverings.” 

2011-04-06-1In February we launched a new series titled Rug Cleaning 101. In that article the IICRC “S100 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Cleaning” was mentioned. The good news is the 2011 Edition is about to go to press with the title “Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Cleaning of Textile Floor Coverings.” 

IICRCS100I was privileged to chair the rug cleaning portion and want to thank the members of the committee who worked long and hard to complete the new Standard and Reference Chapter on area rugs. Especially a big hats-off to my former neighbor Doug Bradford who was chairman of the S100 process, which took almost 5 years. 

We have come a long was from the First Edition in 1991, the “IICUC Standard S001 – Standard Reference Guide For Professional On-Location Cleaning of Installed Textile Floor Covering Materials.” 

The Fifth Edition of the S100 reflects the change in floor covering trends over the past 20 years, with cleaning not just focused on installed textiles. The documents with all supporting appendices will be over 300 pages – a real accomplishment for the industry. 

The other big news is the document has been approved by ANSI (American National Standard Institute). This means the S100 has recognition as the standard of care for soft floor coverings. Those of you doing restoration work are familiar with ANSI, as both the “S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration” and “S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation” have been approved under this process. 

The S100 does not attempt to teach comprehensive cleaning procedures; rather, it provides the foundation for basic principles of proper cleaning practices. It is not intended to replace training, seminars, books, or workshops. 

2011-04-06-2So what does it mean to the cleaning industry to have an ANSI-approved standard of care for rugs? Certainly the professional should always use common sense and good judgment, but now there is a minimum level of care for these textiles that your customer and peers can use to measure your practices. 

One of the principles established in the Fourth Edition was that rugs should be cleaned in a plant environment, not on-location. It is not possible to properly clean the customer’s rug in-home (dusting, fringe correction, urine decontamination, etc.) or correct potential problems that might appear after the rug is dry (dye bleed, quality control results, etc.). 

When the homeowner wants you to clean her rug on-location, tell her, “Our industry standard recommends cleaning take place in a plant or shop environment.” If you do not yet have a shop in which to clean your rugs work with an established rug plant that can provide a wholesale price-point. 

Once the new S100 comes off the press, I highly recommend you get a copy to have as a reference and guide; you will want to review all the topics it covers, from chemistry to commercial carpet cleaning.

Mattress Cleaning: An Overlooked Service

Many vendors are offering mattress-cleaning business opportunities. Why is this service getting so much attention? Mattress cleaning and allergen removal really started in Europe about 15 years ago. It is a multi-million dollar business, with approximately 4,500 companies now offering the service.

Why clean mattresses? There is a growing amount of scientific data that reveals better environmental hygiene improves health. The Environmental Protection Agency has consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health, and according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “50 percent of all illnesses are caused by or aggravated by polluted indoor air.”

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Determining the Value of an Oriental Rug

  • Value 1
  • Value 2
  • Value 3

By educating yourself on how a rug’s value is determined, you can decrease your liability and increase your professionalism.

I am often asked how a rug specialist assesses the value of an Oriental rug about to be cleaned. The following will center on the key points to look for in establishing a rug’s approximate value. In an upcoming ICS issue, I will discuss the necessary steps to becoming a qualified appraiser.

Prior to commencing any work, record the rug’s approximate value on your work authorization and inspection form (with a copy to the customer). If you are transporting or storing a particularly valuable rug, you may need to have a temporary increase of your insurance coverage. Be certain you have Bailee Coverage to insure against theft or damage during transport, in addition to your commercial liability insurance. Workmanship coverage insurance (work in progress) is now available from a select number of companies. 

Determining Value

Asking the customer to establish the rug value seems the obvious thing to do, but you cannot always rely on their accuracy. They may have misinformation or no idea of the real value.

Your first step is to determine if the rug is machine made or hand made(previously discussed in the October 1997 issue of ICS, “Construction Techniques and Cleaning Pitfalls”). Look at the back of the rug for the thin white warp yarns that run the length of the rug (see Illustration 1) . This is the giveaway for a machine made product. Also, look for labels on the back, as machine made rugs will often have them.

Machine made rugs decrease in value similar to an automobile. If the condition of the rug is poor, the value of the rug can be approximately equal to the cost of cleaning. These rugs, when new, have a retail value of $3-$15 per square foot. Comparitively, the retail price per square foot of hand made rugs vary from $30-$200 and up. The following factors will help in determining the value of hand made rugs.

To determine if the rugs are hand knotted, look at the back again. What you won’t see are warp yarns running the length of the rug (see Illustration 2). Some hand knotted rugs from the back will show the weft yards running the width of the rug (see Illustration 3) .

Also, determine the rug’s country of origin: India, China, Iran, Turkey, Turkoman, Tibet, etc. Ask your customer she may know.

Determining the Age

The approximate age of a rug can be established, in broad terms, by placing it within one of these general time periods: pre-World War I; 2) between the wars; and 3) post-World War II.

Pre-World War I rugs, for the most part, originate from Iran (Persian) and with some Caucasian (tribal rugs with geometric designs). Rugs from this period in good condition can be consideredcollectable. Price ranges of $150-$200 and more per square foot would not be uncommon. 

Rugs from between the wars (1918-1940) will usually be decorative rugs as compared to collectable. The artistic merit of these rugs is often considered very good. The condition and artistic merit will be the primary indicators of their value. Do not be overly concerned with knot count. Certain rugs with a high knot count like a Nain are not as valuable as a Heriz that has a lower knot count.

Room size Iranian rugs (9' x 12' or larger) from this time period with good artistic merit are currently highly sought after. The rug should have a low pile height, even wear, and the overall condition should not detract from the visual aspect. A few minor, well-done repairs are also acceptable.

For the most part, collectable and decorative rugs won’t present major cleaning problems as long as they are undamaged (such as dry rot of the foundation or over-painting to hide wear). Generally, these rugs can range from $50-$150 per square foot in value.

Post-World War II rugs can originate anywhere from the 1950s to the present. This period has seen a great influx of rugs from Pakistan and India to this country. Almost all fall into the decorativecategory and will not appreciate in value. Fineness of weave and quality of wool will be primary indicators of their value, however, design will play a part. A new room-size Chinese rug that sold for $4,000 a few years ago in very good condition would be worth $1,000 today or less.

Cleaning problems run from minor to significant such as color bleeding, color fading (blues turning gray, beige and ivory becoming blotchy gold), shrinkage, shape distortion, loss of sheen and design clarity due to fuzzing of yarn tips.

Room-size Iranian post-World War II rugs are generally considered to have a low artistic merit. We have many of them in this country. If the rug’s condition is very good and has slight pile wear, then it can be worth anywhere from the $40-$50 per square foot range. However, from 1987 to March 2000, the U.S. did not allow the importation of rugs from Iran. The quality of post-embargo rugs seems to fluctuate from very good to very poor.
 

Summary

These are meant to be basic guidelines only to help you determine the approximate value of the rugs you will be cleaning.

Remember that establishing the value of a rug can limit your liability and expose a potential risk to your business. This is also an important skill, which will improve your professionalism.

Marketing Anti-Allergen Services

 

familywithpet-200In the September 2003 installment of "The Rug Cleaning Specialist," we discussed mattress cleaning as an overlooked service. Now, let's look at marketing guidelines for allergy relief services.

Your company will need to develop a unique marketing plan for allergy relief services that reflects your operation, your market and the prospective groups on which you intend to focus. The specifics of the plan are determined by the individual; however, there are some guidelines that can help you during its development.

Customer purchasing motivations are quite varied and like an iceberg: the greatest portion of why people buy lies hidden beneath the waters of the subconscious. However, it is generally accepted that the single biggest purchasing motivation is to relieve current "pain." It is also thought the second buying motivation is to prevent future "pain."

In terms of allergy relief services, it is clear that real pain exists in the present for these individuals. The potential for future pain is also real, as allergy-related illnesses can multiply and more serious ones can develop.

One of the major reasons people develop allergic illnesses is overexposure to various allergens, especially those found in indoor air from pets and dust mites. It is now clear that allergies can, in fact, be controlled, and even prevented, by avoiding the triggers that cause them. This strategy is called environmental control.

Your marketing plan may be quite conservative or highly ambitious. In either case, an excellent place to begin is with your own customer base and those that contact your business for the services that you currently offer. Given that nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from allergic illnesses, you will have a large number of customers and new callers who will immediately identify themselves as potential purchasers of allergy relief services if you ask the simple question, "Does anyone in your household suffer from allergies or asthma?"

When you get a "yes" response to that question, you have the opportunity to ask further questions, such as:

  •   "Do you know specifically what you or your family member is allergic to?"
  •   "Have you heard of envir-onmental control?"
  •   "Are you taking any steps to reduce your exposure to indoor allergens?"
  •   "What results have you obtained?"

These questions are designed to elicit information and create the opening for a conversation about anti-allergen cleaning and treatment. You will need to put together a brief presentation you can use on the phone to explain these services once you receive permission to explain the program.

Use the brochures developed by your supplier during a face-to-face presentation to customers, which can also be used as mailings and leave-behind pieces.

When speaking with people that do not have allergy suffers in the household, there is still an opportunity to discuss allergy prevention, particularly when there are young children in the home or a baby on the way.

It will be very important that you can speak knowledgably about allergic illnesses in a general way and more specifically about environmental control. People with allergic illnesses often know a lot about them, and they are grateful for someone to talk to who can empathize with their problems and possibly offer solutions.

...nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from allergic illnesses...

One of the most significant steps in the sales process can be the use of the dust mite test kit (again, see "Mattress Cleaning: An Overlooked Service" in September 2003). This is a scientific test designed to confirm the presence of dust mite allergens in concentrations high enough to require cleaning. The test kit does not test for pet allergens. Surprisingly, many people with pet allergies don't identify their symptoms as "allergies."

Given that allergy relief services need to be provided every six months (in some cases, every three months) these customers are ideal to offer maintenance contracts. If the customer chooses not to commit to a six-month cleaning cycle, contact them after the fifth month to schedule the next cleaning.

When offering services as a preventive measure, these same procedures can be followed. Given that there may be less of a sense of urgency when there is no active allergic illness in the household, it may make sense to offer a cleaning package based on hypo-allergenic cleaning materials and allergy-preventive cleaning procedures like mattress cleaning. This will allow you to offer a very differentiated package from your competition, and address the concerns of people with questions about chemicals and toxins in their home. They may be chemically sensitive, but not allergic, to home bio-pollutants.

The key to successful marketing is to give people a reason to buy your services that differentiates you from your competition. Most importantly, this reason must be relevant to them and their needs!

Referrals will be a vital part of your allergy treatment business. You will find that there are people who will call you expressing their undying gratitude for your help with their suffering. It is critically important that you ask these people for referrals.

Publicity is also a very important part of your marketing efforts. This new way of treating indoor allergens has a lot of media value. Don't underestimate the power of a feature story in your local paper or being part of a radio interview show in your market.

Another excellent, credibility-enhancing source of referrals can be found in making presentations to schools and PTA groups, church groups, allergy-support groups (check with your local hospitals), fraternal organizations and the like.

It also makes sense to add allergy-relief services to your current advertising efforts. This can be added to advertising you currently do, or you can create separate communications specifically for these services, like a newsletter.

It is very important when marketing allergy-relief services to avoid drastic scare tactics, as this approach has proven to backfire. No one likes to be manipulated, and scare tactics often have this flavor.

The main focus should be images that reflect the removing of pain. Allergic-illness sufferers are often quite restricted in their activities. They miss school and work, go to the doctor's office far more frequently, and feel pain because their children are suffering.

You will find a good return on your investment of doing well by doing good.

Carpet Diem

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What is the current state of the rug market? It is strong as ever. In fact, U.S. machine-made rugs can stake claim to about 16 percent of all domestic soft floor coverings.

Companies like Shaw, Mohawk and Springs dominate sales. About 25 percent of the market comprises hand-made imported Oriental rugs. Total retail sales of area rugs in 2003 (the last year numbers are available) was $4.3 billion. This growth trend continued in 2004.

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