In this, the third installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Bob Parks (aka – Bobo), a real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO from the great state of Missouri.
[VLM Central E-zine]: Bobo, how long have you been a Carpet Cleaner?
[Bobo]: I have been cleaning carpets almost 7 years. I started in July of 1995.
[VLM]: I see you are located in Kansas City, Missouri. Are you a native of Missouri?
[Bobo]: I grew up just north of Kansas City, I have lived here most of my life.
[VLM]: I know from working here in Georgia, it freezes a little in the Winter. What is it like cleaning in Missouri in the Winter time?
[Bobo]: It depends… This year, it’s been like cleaning in April. Sometimes, ice stays on the ground for 3 to 4 weeks. If you don’t like the weather here in Kansas City, wait an hour or two. It will change! Most adjustments are for like anywhere else. I have a 1-ton “long” van. I plug it in (heater) religously in the winter and I park it away from the house!
[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?
[Bobo]: I was a full-time firefighter here in KC – MO. I had my paramedic licence lapse due to a paperwork error at the state level. Nothing happened to me, but it got me to thinking, “I don’t know how to do anything else!” That month, I was selling my house and I hired a friend of my Dad’s to come by and clean my carpets. He was getting out of it, so, I got in. I like being my own boss, the challenges of running a small business, and I enjoy immediate gratification when I work. Carpet cleaning falls neatly into those categories.
[VLM]: I feel exactly the same way! I’ll bet many carpet cleaners feel this way too. What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use?
[Bobo]: I use Von Schrader machines (with all the modifications). I use the: #1) LMX. #2) VS12.
#3) Plenty of HEAT.
#4) Black & Decker Buffer (with Braun brush for “problems”/ steps).
#5) Hydroforce spotter. #6) Water Claw spot lifter. When I was first starting, it was easy to call up Von Shrader and ask them a question, if something went wrong. Even if I was the only one to ever have that problem! :o) Overall, I achieve otstanding deep cleaning with very “mechanically accessible”
machines. They are easy to work on (when and if you need to).
[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?
[Bobo]: I use the V.S. 2 or I clean them by hand. In my opinion, customers like to see
fancy toys when they are paying to have things cleaned.
[VLM]: I agree. Many clients do tend to judge us (at least, initially) based on our “toys”.
What additional services does your company offer?
[Bobo]: I just got out of window cleaning. I am happy to say, I had 3 great fellows who
worked for me doing this. Currently, I offer Carpet Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaning, and minor to medium carpet repair and stretching. Also, I am dabbling a little in Ceiling Tile
Cleaning. Now there’s a tough nut to crack! (for me, anyways).
[VLM]: Wow! You are really covering quite a few bases there. Which would you say is your main market, residential or commercial?
[Bobo]: Definetly residential, with hopefully a little bit more commercial work in the
[VLM]: Why did you choose the carpet cleaning system you are currently using?
[Bobo]: It was a great way to get started! The fellow who helped me get going was a satisfied VS user. I really liked the fast drying time and the fact that not much overhead
is needed to get started.
I purchased a VS-1, then was able to work out of a pick up and add a VS-2, and so on.
[VLM]: What cleaning agents do you currently use and why?
[Bobo]: I use Premium Blend Just Rite products (especially the detergent) for it’s
cleaning abilities, and its brittle drying nature. It foams as good or better than VS when you add the heat with air agitation. But, most
of all, I like to support small business when I can. I enjoy the luxury of calling up the
Boss to order, ask questions, or just chew-the-fat. I beleive that is what helped me in my small corner of the world. Once in a while, I will go down to the local Bridgepoint
distributor and get some “goodies” to try out.
[VLM]: Ok. Here is a personal question for you. What was your most embarrassing moment on the job?
[Bobo]: On one of my very first jobs, I used almost an entire quart of VS spot remover to clean “chandelier shadows”! They didn’t come out, and I didn’t get invited back! After I finished,those were some wet shadows! (old green/gray shag, you can understand – right?)
[VLM]: LOL! I hate to admit it, but I have cleaned “shadows” myself!. Ok, what was your proudest moment on the job?
[Bobo]: Every once in a while, I still surprise myself. I was recomended to a very affluent Anesthesiologist in the area. This particular house had a light shaded carpet that was riddled with small pet stains and odors and heavy filtation lines. With my various arsenal and appropriate cleaning agents, I made the whole place lookand smell like new! It took 2 visits, but he was esctatic! I have since been in the loop of his associates, with wonderful referrals.
[VLM]: Good job! We could all use more clients like that! What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?
[Bobo]: Word of mouth. I have never considered myself a very good marketer, I just use the mail. This is definetly my weak suit. I am working on this with postcards.
[VLM]: I can empathise. Effective marketing strategies are our business’ “life breath”. What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business?
[Bobo]: Take a class, read posts and articles (Maxin, VLM Central E-Zine, etc.). These are some great hints, guidelines, and most importantly, contacts. Get out there, call people, and make contacts.
[VLM]: Any final thoughts?
[Bobo]: Carpet Cleaning has meant far more to me than just an extra job. I receive great satisfaction from my work. I have made many new friends, all the while, increasing the quality of life for my family. 1000 thanks to Bill Barnes, Rick Larson, Lonnie McDonald, and Terry Van Dyke (for getting me involved), and all of the customers who ever gave me a whirl. Without the help of these fine folks, I would still be trying to get those shadows out of that shag!
[VLM]: Thanks, Bobo!
[Bobo]: Thank you!