Thursday, February 25, 2010

Platinum Property Care Testimonial for CRI SOA

Kevin Wilke, Platinum Property Care

Spreading the Good News about Carpet Care and Maintenance


CRI Receives Unsolicited Testimonials from SOA Service Providers


Recently, I received two welcome emails, forwarded to me by Seal of Approval Program Manager Pat Jennings. Both contained unsolicited praise for the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Testing and certification program for carpet cleaning equipment, solutions, and cleaning professionals. The first came from Allen Shipley, President of CarpetCare Craftsman in Colorado Springs. (Click here CarpetCare Craftsman testimonial post.)

The second came from Kevin Wilke, who owns Platinum Property Care, LLC, in Cape Coral, Florida. Kevin sent CRI a link to the press release he’d posted on the business news website PRWeb using the press release template he found in his SOA Marketing Toolkit! (For more on the toolkit, click here.)

Kevin has been in business for himself for about three years. I asked him about his decision to put his Service Provider Marketing Toolkit to work for him:

Platinum Property Care“I got the Marketing Toolkit in an email from CRI – I knew right away the Press Release template was a great idea and it could really drive traffic to my website. Then one day I got a coupon for one free press release posting on PRWeb and it just kind of hit me that I had a really good opportunity to generate interest and gain visibility for my company with very little investment on my part.”

“Whoever thought of this [toolkit] is a genius. The press release template is easy to use – just fill in the blanks. It’s well-prepared and makes a really professional press release. Loading it on PRWeb is easy, too – just cut and paste, really.”

Kevin says he has “definitely seen a response” to his press release in the form of several calls from area homeowners wanting their carpets cleaned. Through the tracking tools on the PRWeb site, Kevin can see that his press release has been opened 1,531 times since it was first posted on January 20, 2010 and has appeared on various websites over 50 thousand times. PRWeb also offers a Google Map showing where his readers are located, and Kevin notes with amusement that it’s been read in Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, and China.

PS: Here’s a link to the coupon for a free PRWeb posting. Kevin says it’s still good, and he forwarded it “in case other Service Providers out there want to do the same thing I did.”

Good luck, Kevin – and thanks for all you do for the Seal of Approval Program!


~Bethany

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CarpetCare Craftsman Testimonial for CRI SOA

CarpetCare Crafstman

Spreading the Good News about Carpet Care and Maintenance


CRI Receives Unsolicited Testimonials from SOA Service Providers: CarpetCare Craftsman


Recently, I received two welcome emails, both forwarded to me by Seal of Approval Program Manager Pat Jennings. Both contained unsolicited praise for the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Testing and certification program for carpet cleaning equipment, solutions, and cleaning professionals. The first came from Allen Shipley, President of Carpet Care Craftsman in Colorado Springs. It read:

Pat,

I just wanted to send a note to you and all the individuals in the CRI organization: THANK YOU!!! For the commitment you have made to improve the stature of the carpet industry. It is because of organizations like CRI, the IICRC, and Regional trade associations that we as an industry can hold our heads up and be proud of not only the level of service we can now provide for the consumer but also the quality of employment we can offer to prospective employees. Continue the battle and we on the front lines will continue to follow your lead.

Allen ShipleyAllen Shipley, President
Carpet Care Craftsman, Inc.

Allen’s email brightened a lot of folks’ days here at CRI, so I called him up to tell him so. I also took the opportunity to get his perspective on being a Seal of Approval Service Provider.

BR: Allen, How do you use SOA in your business?

AS: I use it all the time in presentations to commercial and residential prospects and I can say with confidence that being a Seal of Approval Service Provider improves my ability to sell. I don’t sell price as the bottom line, so we make it clear that there is a right way to do things, and that we do them that way. SOA really helps me reinforce my company’s quality message.

I see too many “shade tree mechanic-type” carpet cleaners who don’t care if they go back to the same house twice. In my business I am constantly developing relationships with individuals and organizations, and they know I will stand behind my work today and in the future – SOA is a big part of that promise.

BR: What’s your take on the program itself?

AS: CRI is doing all the right things – identifying the problems, finding the solutions, and marketing the program the right way – through the manufacturers’ warranties.

Thanks, Allen, sounds like you truly are a Carpet Care Craftsman!
Next time, we’ll talk to an SOA Service Provider who generated some good publicity for his business using one of CRI’s Marketing Toolkits for Service Providers.

~Bethany

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CRI SOA in ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine

ICS Cleaning Specialist magazine, February 2010

Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval (SOA) Featured In ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine



The February 2010 issue of ICS Cleaning Specialist magazine features an article entitled, “The CRI SOA Program: 5 Years Later”. The article details the origins of the one-of-a-kind Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products and equipment, and talks about the changes the program has undergone during its first five years of existence. Authored by Carpet and Rug Institute President Werner Braun, the article begins:

To my mind, nothing is more rewarding than seeing hard work pay off.”

He then lists some of the program’s accomplishments, such as its growth. As of this writing, there are 285 solutions, 67 deep cleaning systems, 157 vacuums, 83 extractors, and 984 Service Providers on the Seal of Approval lists.

The CRI SOA Program: 5 Years LaterThe article explains how the current Seal of Approval program started after CRI performed a nationwide consumer survey that revealed consumers’ number one complaint about carpet was that they did not know how to clean it properly. This survey and the subsequent field study that showed that many cleaning solutions on the market at the time did not perform very well formed the backbone of what later became the testing parameters for the solutions category of SOA testing. As Werner notes in the story,

In the end, these disappointing first results produced a positive outcome: as SOA testing identified problem products, conscientious manufacturers reformulated their solutions so that the entire industry moved ahead.”

“As pleased as I am with the growth of the SOA Program, I think it is even more important for CRI to do all it can to increase the market share for each SOA participant and Service Provider, and our efforts in that area have been impressive.”

As examples, he lists CRI’s enhanced Service Provider program, with new language emphasizing the importance of ethical business practices and good customer relations. This new SOA “code of conduct” requires certified providers to uphold a high standard of accountability, responsibility and customer-oriented service. The agreement also strongly recommends that Service Providers be certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or IICRC.

Other recent additions to SOA:

· New “toolkits” of professional marketing materials for Service Providers and SOA solutions and equipment manufacturers. These downloadable toolkits include customizable versions of a press release, brochure, Frequently Asked Questions and talking points fact sheets.

· The new CRI blog which has gained significant exposure for the Seal of Approval program through search engines and on the internet

· A collection of “Seal of Approval Success Stories” on the CRI blog

· CRI’s YouTube channel, featuring the “Jet Stream Grill” video of a SOA firm bringing some seriously dirty carpet back to life. (Watch the video at www.icsmag.com or go on YouTube and enter Jet Stream Grill in the search window to find it.)

The CRI SOA Program: 5 Years Later, cont'dWerner finishes by saying, “Since its beginning, the SOA Program has existed with the sole intention of giving all consumers – businesses and individuals – a better way to tell the carpet cleaning products and services that work from the ones that don’t. We knew from the start that there would be a certain degree of push back to the program, and CRI continues to keep an open ear to potential ways the SOA Program can be improved or expanded.”

Congratulations, Werner on a well-written article! And thanks to ICS Cleaning Specialist for helping CRI tell the Seal of Approval story.

For the complete version of the CRI SOA: 5 Years Later story in the ICS Cleaning Specialist magazine, click here; you'll find it on pages 16 and 18.

~ Bethany

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pat Jennings, CRI Technical Services Manager

Pat Jennings, CRI Technical Services Manager

Meet Pat Jennings, the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Technical Services Manager



"Congratulations! Your (solution, vacuum cleaner, deep-cleaning system, or extractor) meets all the testing requirements for CRI Seal of Approval… "

Anyone who has ever gotten this letter from CRI is familiar with Technical Services Manager Pat Jennings. That’s because one of Pat’s main duties here at CRI is to communicate to SOA solutions and equipment manufacturers when they have passed SOA testing (as well as the less pleasant duty of telling them when they haven’t).

Pat came to CRI in 2005, after retiring early from Delta Airlines. Pat spent 25 years at the Atlanta-based airline, primarily as a buyer with the company’s purchasing department. In her last position with Delta, Pat told me she negotiated the contracts with catering vendors all over Asia, traveling to their kitchens and working out the menus “down to the last lettuce leaf and ¼ teaspoon of salt”. When I asked her if we as consumers had her to blame for the lousy airline food, she laughed and said, “Absolutely! But only if you were on a flight from, say, Bangkok or Hong Kong.”

Pat is the staff representative on the CRI’s Cleaning and Maintenance and Standards and Specifications Issues Management Teams. She’s CRI’s primary administrator for its Continuing Education program. On top of all that, she travels on behalf of CRI, representing the carpet industry at cleaning industry trade shows and government and private seminars and meetings dealing with Indoor Air Quality and related issues. She enjoys being a Diplomat for the Dalton-Whitfield County Chamber of Commerce and participates in the Chamber Leadership program.

Little known facts about Pat: she only drives cars with straight shifts. Her older son, a sergeant with the Army National Guard, is about halfway through a one-year tour in Afghanistan - Pat keeps up with him everyday on Facebook. She has two five-year-old granddaughters – one in Georgia and one in California. She likes to garden.

I asked Pat to answer a few questions for me.

BR: Pat, what do you like about your job at the Carpet and Rug Institute?

I enjoy the challenges and the people I work with both in and out of the office. I like the varied tasks associated with my job, and the diversity of each “hat” that I wear here at CRI.

BR: Do you miss traveling around the world for your job?

I do miss the different cultures, but not the long flights.

BR: Did you ever think you’d know so much about carpet cleaning and maintenance?

When I first stepped into the world of The Carpet and Rug Institute, I thought, “I’ll never catch on to this.” After all, I had spent 25 years in the airline industry – what did I know about carpet! But I stuck with it, and with the help of some very knowledgeable people I’ve worked with over the years, I’ve learned, and continue to learn about carpet cleaning and maintenance, as well as the carpet industry as a whole.

Thanks, Pat, for all you do for CRI!

~Bethany

Thursday, February 11, 2010

CRI Offers Carpet Cleaning & Maintenance Advice at Flooring Shows

The Carpet and Rug Institute booth at Surfaces 2010

Carpet and Rug Institute's James Beach shares carpet cleaning and maintenance advice with upbeat retailers at recent flooring shows.



I thought my colleague Jeff Carrier did a fabulous job of capturing the general attitude that permeated Surfaces last week. There is guarded optimism that flooring sales have turned the corner, or at least hit the bottom and have bounced. Having read that most experts feel that the recovery will start to kick into at least low gear once spring arrives (which depending on what part of the snow-covered country you are reading this from might still seem like a LONG way away!), there is a general sense of relief sighing going around in the industry.

Surfaces was actually the final of a three-week trek across the country in which I found myself face-to-face with flooring retailers. Prior to the big show in Las Vegas, I attended two Shaw Aligned Dealer Shows, one in Toronto and one in Portland, and had a pretty good lay of the land coming into the nation’s top flooring event. You can hear all you want to hear from so-called experts and even industry insiders, but if you want to know what is really going on, then retailers are where the rubber meets the road.

At all three shows, you could feel a sense of sanguinity, and that the people walking the floor with their hands in their pockets weren’t doing so as much to protect the money inside them, but rather to dig in and start to spend a little. I am personally going through a major remodel at my house in Tennessee and, quite honestly, haven’t been this excited about it since we built it originally almost 13 years ago.

And shopping around for carpet with my wife was certainly a positive experience as the warm fuzzy stuff of today is leaps and bounds ahead of the choices we had when we built our domicile way back when. The colors, the stain resist properties, the styles, the sustainability aspects of today’s carpets were all important factors we figured into our purchase and, I have to tell you, it made me proud being able to share such knowledge with my wife in a purchase that ordinarily would be all hers.

I can certainly understand why retailers have reasons to be excited if for no other reason than the product they have available to sell to the consumer.

At all three of the shows I attended, the main selling point I had for retailers through CRI was the wealth of knowledge we have accumulated in the arena of cleaning and maintaining carpet. With our recently released second edition of the Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies books out now, it is a wonderful mechanism for retailers to have at their disposal because it has all the basic information in it, especially regarding the Seal of Approval program, and it directs them to our website (carpet-rug.org) for all the other info a new buyer could need. The booklet has always been popular and worthy of a good conversation starter, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that I have handed out over 1,000 of them individually in three weeks time.

What I try to stress with the retailers is that we offer these booklets to them as hand outs to give away with every new carpet purchase. It introduces the consumer to the proper way to maintain their carpets, and ultimately, that retailer will be the one benefitting from a consumer who is more satisfied with their purchase. And trust me, a happy customer is a customer who will return to your store for their next purchase when that day comes.

And the best deal about our Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies books is the price: they are free to retailers. All it costs is the time to go to our website and visit the publications section. Shipping and handling will get you a case of 300 of them.

Since we reprinted the book we have given away over 100,000 of them, so it is obviously something that has a demand. If the residential replacement and remodeling market for our industry does start to boom as so many are suggesting, well, it just makes sense to teach folks the proper way to care for their new purchase.

What do you think?

~ James

Photo credit: CRI's James Beach and Frank Hurd take a breather to compare notes at recent Surfaces 2010. Photo courtesy of C.B. Whittemore.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CRI's Jeff Carrier: Upbeat After Surfaces

Jeff Carrier

Carpet and Rug Institute's Jeff Carrier Brings Upbeat Message Home From Surfaces Show



Last week I had the opportunity to participate in one of the world’s premier flooring events- Surfaces in Las Vegas, Nevada. Having been around Dalton and the carpet industry for most of my life, I had wanted to see this spectacle for some time and I can tell you that it did not disappoint. It’s no secret that the flooring industry has been hurt as badly as any other by this prolonged financial crisis, but I detected a noticeable presence of optimism that I haven’t seen in the two years since I returned to the carpet industry.

As I walked the Surfaces trade floor and spoke with industry people, I saw orders being placed and deals being made. In fact, it was busy. Attendance was up 15% over 2009 and the increases were evident to those who’ve struggled through a couple of down years. The general sense I gathered was, “We made it. Let’s get back to work”. I was not alone in this interpretation. Many of the manufacturer members that I spoke with shared the opinion. The travails of the past two years have led to open doors for many of our industry members. Said one member, “There are a lot of open doors now. Areas that used to be locked up are now wide open”.

The optimism I detected at Surfaces was shared by the good people I spoke with from the concrete industry (who were attending “World of Concrete” in Las Vegas). The woes faced by the concrete industry have been very similar to those faced in the carpet industry. When I asked many of them if they were optimistic, most were surprised to admit that they were indeed feeling optimistic. It wasn’t something they had expected to feel or had even hoped to feel. Yet, there it was. That element of surprise was repeated many times during the Surfaces show as well. People came to the show hoping that things were improving but confidence had been so battered by the past two years that believing what they were seeing was difficult. It had been so long since expectations had been exceeded that few wanted to take the leap of faith and say that things really were looking up.

In the end, Surfaces provided so many tangible and valuable benefits. Perhaps none of these are more important than the evidence and reassurance that the long-awaited recovery is finally underway. Having so much of the carpet industry together provided a great view of the state of the industry. The remarkable leadership of our carpet industry members has enabled us to emerge from this dark time ready to resume growth and prosperity. Yes, I dared to say it. Prosperity. It’s not so far away as it once sounded.

Finally, we can get back to the work our growing our businesses and industry.

~ Jeff

Jeff Carrier
CRI Sustainability and IAQ Program Manager

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sears Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners: SOA Participant

Sears Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners now SOA participants

Sears Carpet and Upholstery Care Group Joins Seal of Approval Program



The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products, equipment, and service professionals received some good news recently - a participation agreement from the Sears Carpet and Upholstery franchise group that clears the way for all 145 Sears franchised companies to become Seal of Approval Service Providers.

Carpet cleaning professionals who use Seal of Approval solutions in conjunction with Seal of Approval equipment are eligible to be recognized as Seal of Approval service providers. At CRI, we work hard to raise consumers’ awareness of the benefits of using a Seal of Approval Service Provider, for example, by publishing a complete list of the nearly one thousand “SPs” as we call them on the CRI website – listed by zip code, so individuals and businesses looking for a carpet cleaning professional can find someone quickly and easily.

Hiring Seal of Approval Service Providers is the best way to ensure that carpet is being cleaned with quality products. Not all carpet cleaning products clean equally well and some may even damage carpet fibers. Using Seal of Approval service providers is also the best way to make sure residential or commercial carpet warranties are being met since many major carpet manufacturers are now tying their warranties to the use of Seal of Approval products.

Wes Dvorak, Director of Research and Development for Sears Franchise Businesses, explained to me that Sears has always supported the CRI Seal of Approval Program as “a good idea to help support the industry and support quality carpet cleaning.” As for Sears’ decision to enroll their service professionals in the program, Dvorak said that, at Sears, “We do things the right way and we’re not afraid to tell people.” (For a related blog post on one consumer’s experience with a Sears Cleaning Professional, click here.)

Here’s an interesting detail - according to Seal of Approval Manager Pat Jennings, Sears was the first company to submit their deep cleaning system for SOA testing back in 2006. They were subsequently awarded Gold Level Certification.

CRI is gratified to have Sears cleaning professionals join the ranks of Seal of Approval Service Providers,” said CRI President Werner Braun. “The Seal of Approval program raises the bar for the carpet cleaning industry, and CRI will continue to do all it can to increase market share for our Seal of Approval participants.”

I’m excited! Congratulations to Pat Jennings and the Seal of Approval Service Providers program.

~Bethany

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

CRI Seal of Approval on ISSA TV

Bethany Richmond, CRI, on ISSA TV

CRI's Bethany Richmond Talks Seal of Approval on ISSA TV



One of the things I do as Communications Manager for the Carpet and Rug Institute is travel to trade shows to talk about CRI programs and research about carpet. Last October, I attended the ISSA InterClean trade show in Chicago. ISSA is the worldwide cleaning industry association and InterClean, the premier meeting for the commercial cleaning industry.

While I was there, I had an opportunity to participate in an ISSA TV video explaining the benefits of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Program.

The 3-minute video is introduced with this paragraph:

“A thoughtfully designed and implemented maintenance program performed by properly equipped and trained personnel is essential for optimal long-term performance of a facility’s carpet. The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval Program identifies effective carpet cleaning solutions, equipment, and professionals that clean carpet right the first time and protect a facility’s carpet investment. Not all products clean well enough to earn the Seal of Approval, so look for the blue and green CRI Seal of Approval as proof that you are using quality products.”

The video is posted on the ISSA website under the ISSA TV link for “product demos”. It’s also posted on the CRI’s YouTube channel, carpetchannel1.



I would be happy to provide a download link to any CRI Seal of Approval participant who would like to use it. Just email me at brichmond(at)carpet-rug.org or post a comment to this blog at the link below.

~Bethany
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