Most upholstery damage claims are caused by trained, certified technicians.
We used to believe it was a result of overconfidence, especially on the part of owner/ operators. However, most employees, out of fear of losing their jobs, if nothing else, rarely get caught up in the “superman cleaner” mentality. So why do so many trained technicians damage upholstery? Poor management.
Here are the reasons management failure causes damage claims and complaints:
- Lack of follow through: Whether employees are trained in a classroom or by the employer, or even on the job, most managers do not ‘inspect what they expect’, that is, follow up with inspection, reviews and discussion to see that jobs are being performed in the way that was prescribed.
- Lack of proper cleaning agents: If a technician is trained to use special cleaning and treatment agents on delicate fabrics, but such products are not on the truck, what is a technician to do? If the products are in stock, they must be on the truck assigned for the job to be of any use. If management is unwilling to invest in the proper materials, don’t offer to service furniture that requires special care.
- Lack of proper equipment and tools: As with the cleaning agents, asking an employee to use improper or malfunctioning equipment is demoralising at best, risky at worst.
- Lack of money or time: Technicians are often told to get the work done in a time frame far too short to allow for complete testing and inspection and rarely enough time to use proper cleaning, finishing and drying techniques.
- Lack of commitment: A sad double standard exists in our industry: Cleaning services advertise for ‘trained, certified technicians’ and make other positive statements regarding quality and satisfaction guarantees. However, they all too frequently make a mockery of these claims by poor organisation, sloppy work, and no insistence that ‘everything promised’ gets delivered!
- Start at the top: Don’t complain that you can’t get good help. Make your company a good place to work, first. Then by example and by direction, insist that your people perform all work excellently. Remember, ‘inspect what you expect’.
- Give staff what they need: If you want to clean all fabrics safely and effectively, then train and equip your staff with the most up to date technology available. If you give them ineffective or improper products, and/or improper or malfunctioning equipment, the demoralising effect will spread far beyond the occasional damage claim.
- Price it right: Do not say, “If this is all they will pay, this is all we will do”. Say instead, “For what we charge, we give our customers the very best job available anywhere, at any price”. Then establish the price and maintain it.
- Commit to excellence in every aspect: Clean trucks, equipment and uniforms for employees are not just window dressing. These create an environment of pride, and reminds your people that you expect them to excel at their job. It is true, most damage claims are caused by over wetting, over agitation, or improper cleaning solutions. However, those are the easily seen causes; the real reason these claims occur is because too many owners or managers just don’t deliver what they promise their customers, because they don’t deliver what the employee needs to do their job!
Commit to excellence in management and your staff will produce excellence in cleaning.
*This article was written by Jim Pemberton and supplied by the Carpet Cleaners Association of New Zealand (CCANZ)