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What do you think is the key to transforming a common company into an extraordinary one? For my business, the answer was certified training. As I gained new skills and knowledge, I also gained confidence and a marketing edge.
I had been in business nearly eight years before experiencing my first certification class. Until then, I learned from other cleaners and from industry training manuals I purchased through the mail. I faked my confidence and learned a lot from trial and error experience.
My first encounter with formal training was a carpet repair class. Wow! Someone was explaining to me how carpets were made and how to fix problems that few other cleaners could tackle. My immediate question to the instructor was, “Are there more classes like this available?” It wasn’t long before I had every certification offered by the IICRC, including the Senior Carpet Inspector certification (bear in mind that there were far fewer certifications back then).
The information I learned gave me the confidence to take on the high-end homes in my area. I found there were few situations my training had not prepared me for. If something unusual did arise, I had a list of instructors and top cleaners I had met in the classes I could call on for support.
Along with the training, I now had internationally recognized credentials to support that I was no longer your average cleaner. I was a certified Master Cleaning Technician and a Master Restoration Technician. While my competitors boasted that they were the best cleaners, I had actual documentation to back up my claims.
Where I live, there were plenty of consumers who wanted the best service providers and were willing to pay top dollar for them. This training helped pave the way to raising my prices and attracting a dream clientele.
Maximize the power of training and certifications
Let consumers know about your certifications. Even if you only have one certification, be sure to let everyone know you have it. State your accomplishment on your business cards, website, invoice and every marketing opportunity you have. Just one certification puts you ahead of many of your competitors.
Become a Certified Firm (CF). You can qualify for it with only one certification. This allows you to use the IICRC and The Clean Trust logos. Do not be concerned if the IICRC and its associated logo are not recognized by all of your clients. Consumers value and understand that logos like these represent your active participation in the larger industry. This gives you an advantage over the companies that cannot make the same claim. Put the Clean Trust logo on all of your marketing, and include a decal on your vehicle.
Continue expanding your training and certifications. Work towards earning Journeyman and Master Cleaner status. Each of these certification categories moves you ahead of other cleaners. I found it useful during sales presentations to describe to consumers that I was internationally certified as a Master Cleaner. I always felt the “international” conveyed the image I wanted.
Valuable tips and procedures
Most cleaners will find that the value of taking classes lies in the tips and procedures taught. Instructors have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. This information can help you avoid costly mistakes, speed up your process, improve your abilities and discover products and tools to make your life easier and help you look more professional.
Our industry is constantly changing. There are new carpets, fabrics and flooring surfaces consumers will expect you to be able to clean. There are new cleaning solutions and techniques which students learn about during classes. In every course I have taken, I have always found at least one particular bit of information that, by itself, was worth the cost of the entire class.
There are now a huge range of courses available. Be sure to take classes that are relevant to what you want to accomplish with your company. It is wise to stay focused on topics that you know will help improve the service you offer.
Apply the knowledge
Part of what made my training so valuable was that I took the time to study the course materials long after I had passed the certification exams. There is way too much information crammed into a two-day class for people to thoroughly absorb. I think many assume that if they do well on the certification exam, they already understand the material, and there is no need for further study.
Remember this secret: Review the material in the workbook and your notes until it becomes part of your working knowledge. Only a limited amount of carpet cleaning information must be learned in order to become a true expert. Once you have absorbed the training from the class and course manual, you will not need anything more.
Learn to identify the fibers you clean, know the different types of soil you must remove and be familiar with each of your cleaning solutions and why they work. There is a reason all of that material is taught during certification.
If you can understand and apply all of the information taught during a class, you will be an expert. Your confidence and enjoyment in your work will continue to grow as you do. You will become a true professional.
Is it worth it?
Only you can determine the value of getting educated. It is up to you to decide how much of the available knowledge and credentials you want to gain and use. I speak for myself and for everyone who has milked training opportunities for all they’re worth: It can change your career and life.
Steve Marsh is the creator of the Be Competition Free Marketing Program. He is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. Marsh is a marketing and business consultant who helps owners build their companies to attract higher quality customers. For more information, visit www.BeCompetitionFree.com.