Archive for December 2015

“What Kind of Experience Do You Have?”

Although everyone has to start somewhere, you probably don’t want to be your carpet cleaning company’s first client. You’ll want to know what they know about carpet cleaning. Be sure to ask your prospective hire this: “What Kind of Experience Do You Have?”

A number of situations that arise in professional cleaning require experience to get the best cleaning and avoid problems.

First, the cleaner must understand what type of carpet they are working on. The type of soiling and how the carpet is used are important factors. Are pets and/or children present? What kind of traffic does it get? What about cooking oils and other environmental soils?

Second, experience is a factor in knowing how to handle other situations that aren’t even related to cleaning, but have to do with customer service. Do the carpet cleaners know how to treat me and others they may come in contact with during the service experience? More about this later.

Training is a good start towards understanding these factors, but nothing replaces the right kind of experience. And I do stress the right kind of experience. Practicing something the wrong way for years just means that doing it wrong becomes a habit.

One thing you want to ask is, “How long have you been in business?” If they have been in business for a while and the references check out, then you are most likely on your way towards a good fit.

Is it Time to Clean Your Upholstery?

Is it Time to Clean Your Upholstery?

What’s better than a late afternoon nap on your favorite sofa?  What’s more enjoyable than reading a great book while snuggled in an overstuffed  chair? Whether you are spending some quiet time alone or   watching the big game with the whole gang, soft, comfortable upholstered furniture is usually the seating of choice.

Look under the cushions of a typical piece of upholstered furniture and you will usually find one or more tags.  You probably don’t give them much thought, but understanding one of them may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

There is one tag that tells you the contents of the furniture. This tag is required by law. You may see “spun polyester” or “polyurethane foam” on that tag. It is important to note that the contents tag only tells you what is inside the furniture, not the fabric covering it.

As with everything else in your home, upholstered furniture requires  proper care and cleaning. Pollution, allergens, dander, sweat and body oils stick to fabric and spots and spills do happen.  It’s best to clean these fabrics before the soil builds up and spots become permanent stains.

Fortunately, most upholstered furniture will have a tag containing cleaning recommendations. As part of this tag you will find a cleaning code. Please note that these tags and codes are a guide to assist you in spot cleaning only. Overall cleaning should be left to the professionals at Hansen Steam Way.  According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and  Restoration Certification (IICRC), professional cleaning should be done every 12-24 months.

Many types of fabric are used to upholster furniture. Rarely will you find a tag that reveals the fiber content of the fabric covering the piece. This can create problems for consumers who want to know how best to care for the fabrics.

Fabrics are made from a variety of fibers including cotton, polyester, silk,
rayon, nylon, polypropylene, acetate, acrylic, wool and blends thereof.  Each fiber is different and has its own unique characteristics, including how they can be safely cleaned. There are unlimited combinations of dye  methods, colors and patterns as well.

A cleaning agent that works great on one fabric may produce disastrous damage to another. Shrinkage, browning, dye bleed, color loss and even fiber deterioration can occur if improper cleaning agents or methods are used. This kind of damage is usually not correctable.

The cleaning recommendations tag is designed to help choose the right  cleaning and spotting methods to avoid bleeding, color loss, shrinkage and browning.  Regardless of what the cleaning label states, test all cleaners in  an inconspicuous area first.

Here are the cleaning codes and their meanings:

W – Spot clean only with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner. Do not over wet. Do not use solvents.

S – Spot clean only with a water-free dry cleaning solvent. Pretest a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding. Do not saturate. DO NOT USE WATER.

WS or SW – Spot clean with upholstery shampoo, foam from a mild  detergent, or dry cleaning solvent.

X – Clean only by vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, bristle  brush. DO NOT USE ANY WATER- OR SOLVENT-BASED CLEANER.

When cleaning a spill, blot immediately to remove spilled material. Apply spotters sparingly so as not to over wet the spot. When cleaning spots or stains, work from the outside edge of the spot toward the middle. This  helps prevent spreading the spot.

When your upholstered furniture requires a full cleaning, call Hansen  Steam Way. We will take the time to identify the safest and most effective  method to clean your furnishings without risk of changing the color,  texture or finish. As a final step, we also recommend that we refresh the fabric protector to help maintain the beauty of your upholstery for many years.

Here’s one last carpet cleaning nightmare

Here’s one last carpet cleaning nightmare. Just know that Hansen Steam Way is nothing like these nightmare companies!

The third company was better than the first two but was found to be very lacking for a company considered a “top” company. Booking the job was about as average as the other two. Incorrect information and ignorance ran throughout this experience. This company gave a two-hour window for arrival. They called the day before to confirm—which was good. The morning of the appointment, they called to confirm the arrival time. Good.

When the technician arrived, he was very nice. But due to his inexperience, that was not enough to get them more than a “C average.” He didn’t know anything about the carpet, although he claimed to have been around carpet for a long time. He was baffled, and it was a basic nylon carpet! This technician pre-vacuumed the carpet, pre-sprayed the traffic area, and rinsed. Upon completion, he requested a signature beside several cleaning steps that were not provided. When pressed, we got the tired, old “well, I didn’t have it on the truck.” Duh!

Both companies that actually made it to the job site had cleaning steps on their work order that they were unwilling to do. One step was grooming the carpet. In both cases, that step was on the ticket (put there by their operational system to make sure they do it). Both blew it off as unimportant.

Obviously, any company has their bad days or days when employees just don’t want to perform. The scary part about these three companies is that they are very visible companies in the market they serve. The inadequacies and poor attitudes were obviously routine.

At our company, we are extremely passionate about raising the standard of our industry. We commit to be courteous, to do our very best to show up on time, to educate you, to inform you, and to give your carpet the absolutely most thorough cleaning we possibly can. If we ever fail you on that, we will not only express deep regret and concern but will insist on refunding your money if we can’t satisfy you.

Internet Tidbit: Mailinator

Internet Tidbit: Mailinator
There are many times when you need to use your email address to browse a website or check out a service. If you use your regular email address, you will be opening yourself up to spam. Instead, you can use an email address from Mailinator.  Mailinator is a receive-only service. You can use any email address name you can think of, and then use it when signing up at a website. The email address is in the form name@mailinator.com. The  email address stays live for a few hours, then all email at that address is  deleted. This service is free and there is no need to register for an account. The email is obviously not secure, but it helps solve the problem of  needing an anonymous or temporary email address to help reduce inbox spam.

Can We Go Home Now?

Can We Go Home Now?
Shopping Strategies with Small Children

Holiday shopping can be chaotic, tiring, and frustrating. It becomes even more so when you have a small child with you, both for you and your child. These tips will help you cope with the job of holiday shopping with a little one.
Respect Limits

Children have only a short amount of time before they become bored, hungry, tired, or overstimulated.
Limit your excursion to one or two hours. Be sure to bring some snacks and remove your child’s coat
once you are indoors to prevent overheating. If you expect to have to wait in line, bring a book or small
toy to keep him or her occupied.

Remember That Children are Curious

Children are naturally curious.  Explain to your child before enter the store that they are only to touch items with your assistance.  Engage your child in conversation and questions as you shop to make it more fun for both of you. This natural curiosity can lead a child to wander, so keeping within eyesight
all the time is your best strategy.

Have an Escape Plan

If you’ve reached the limit of your patience, take a break. Plan on leaving the store if you or your child gets too impatient, cranky, hungry, or tired. Trying to complete your purchases with this stress is counterproductive and will probably result in your disappointment in the outcome. If your child begins have a meltdown, go outside for a few minutes, visit the food court, or just leave the store with a plan to return at another time. Remember that shopping can wait. An exhausted, hungry, or overexcited child cannot.

Avoid the Crowds

Avoid shopping just before dinner, when the stores are crowded or the days right before Christmas.   If possible, visit stores in the morning or early afternoons on weekdays or later in the evening between  6:00 and 7:00 pm.  Bring Some Help Shop with another adult to help share the child care load. You can take turns browsing and spending time with the children. You will also probably enjoy the experience with a friend or family member shopping with you.

Ready for another Carpet Cleaning Nightmare story?

Ready for another Carpet Cleaning Nightmare story?

The second company sounded more promising at first. Their telephone courtesies were somewhat better but not anywhere near what they should be. This company gave us a 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. arrival window. At one o’clock the consultant called to check on the arrival time. “Toward the latter,” he was told.

At 4:10 p.m. he called again. “The crew is still at their previous job. They should be about an hour.”

At 5:10, still no crew. Another call revealed that they were still at the previous job. When pressed, the operator said “Well, their previous job went from two rooms to two houses.”

“Oh, so you took on more work on your previous job and bumped me, huh?” the consultant replied.

“Let me get the Operations Manager.”

The so-called Operations Manager said, “It’s only 5:10,” insinuating they weren’t actually late. They couldn’t give a specific arrival time, so our consultant cancelled the job. If a company doesn’t care enough to communicate with the client, turn down extra work, and offer alternate arrangements for their clients, they don’t deserve the work, no matter how good they are. If you’re not there, you can’t very well do a good job, now, can you?

Mystery Shoppers

Mystery shoppers often reveal a carpet cleaning company’s true colors, bad behavior, and dirty secrets. We’ve got a few stories to share with you about these questionable carpet cleaning service providers. Here’s the first company you’ll definitely want to avoid!

The first company that was called not only had horrible telephone manners but sent out the rudest, most unprofessional and uninformed crew you could imagine. They acted like they were being bothered the entire time they were there—which was a total of 37 minutes! This crew did not pre-vacuum the carpet, didn’t pre spot it, and didn’t groom it.

Even though the spots were not satisfactorily removed, the crew was unconcerned and unwilling to try harder. Their one-step method doesn’t even come close to meeting minimum standards of The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Because the crew just brushed over the carpet with the cleaning tool, the soils returned before the day was even over!

At the end of the job, our consultant was required to sign a lengthy document even though the company couldn’t clearly state any reasonable guarantee. And the company had stressed their guarantee to secure the job over the telephone.

To top it off, these idiots never said thank you. Not even a smile the entire time proved that a customer was just another bother in their day. How sad.

Seniors Face Financial Vulnerability

Seniors Face Financial Vulnerability

Geriatrics experts report in the Annals of Internal Medicine that treating   older patients means doing more than just treating their physical  conditions. Doctors can be a first-line defense to help senior citizens from losing their control over their finances.

Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability (AAFV) can result from health-related issues,  including  dementia, hearing or vision loss, or mental states like fear or loneliness.  There could also be some cognitive changes, impacting everyday math   skills or reasoning to help prevent senior from becoming victims of  financial scams or theft.

Of course, money matters should not be  medicalized. But experts recommend discussing these issues if they notice that their patients might need some help. It can be helpful to bring up the issues of assigning a power of attorney for anyone who is worried about  money matters. And evidence of money management problems might be  an early sign of some cognitive decline. Doctors are encouraged to include  assessment of financial vulnerability along with regular comprehensive  assessment of falls, mobility, daily living skills,isolation, and other cognitive