Probably the hardest step in the whole process of getting your carpets and upholstery cleaned is picking the right carpet cleaning company to do the work. This is not because there are so many companies to choose from (which there are) but rather because it means inviting (and paying) someone you probably don’t know to come into your home and perform a job most people don’t really understand.
One fact that makes choosing a carpet cleaner difficult is that carpet cleaners in general do not have a very good reputation. This is because the carpet cleaning industry is one of the few industries that is not regulated, and also has a very low barrier to entry in that anyone can call themselves a “professional” without any basis for that claim. The public is wise to be wary- the non-professionals are known to use “bait and switch” offers and hard-sell, arm-twisting once they’re in your home. And these people will use cleaning solutions and chemicals in your home that can be dangerous without the knowledge of how to use them properly, and they may not have the proper equipment to apply and then remove these solutions from your carpets. Its no wonder that many customers resort to grocery store “do-it-yourself” cleaning systems, or simply put off cleaning way too long.
The good news is that there are also carpet cleaning companies that are truly professional, with well trained, honest and considerate technicians entirely capable of giving you a safe, satisfying, and trouble-free cleaning experience. These companies will work extremely hard for you, earning your trust and confidence. The trick is how to find these companies, and I intend to give you some hints that will help you do this. First I’ll point out some common mistakes that people make when looking for a carpet cleaner. If you avoid these, you’ll be half way to finding the perfect company to satisfy your needs. Then I’ll list some questions that you should ask the company that you are considering- based on their answers you can make an informed decision that will probably be the right one.
Don’t make these common mistakes:
- Avoid choosing a cleaning company based on low pricing. Running a proper company with quality equipment and well-trained, professional cleaning technicians is expensive. You’ll only get what you pay for. The minimum charge for a competent carpet cleaner should be approximately the same as hiring a plumber, locksmith, or an electrician.
- Don’t base your decision on promises and claims you read on a company’s coupons, hear on their radio advertisements, or read on their web-sites. It’s easy to say all the right things, but it’s difficult to do all the right things and live up to your promises. If it all sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t choose a company that does not have a printed price list that you can look at. One of the most common scams in carpet cleaning is to pad the bill, make up prices, and change prices once they’re in your home.
- Don’t hire a company that only accepts cash as payment– this is a sure sign they are operating “under the table” and if something goes wrong, or your need them to return for a re-clean, you’ll probably never see them again. Being able to accept credit cards also establishes some level of creditability.
- Avoid hiring a cleaning company that does not have an established street address. If a cell phone number is the only way you have of contacting your company, you won’t have much luck finding them if there is any kind of problem.
Ask these questions once you’ve narrowed your choices down:
- Is the company registered with Worksafe B.C. (WCB)? You can confirm this on the Worksafe B.C. website. If a company does not have this required insurance, you may be held liable if an employee is injured while working at your home.
- Does the company have valid Business Liability insurance? Find out who they are insured with and confirm that they are in good standing with their insurance company.
- Is the company a member in good standing with the BBB? This also can be confirmed with the BBB on their website. You can see how many complaints they’ve had, and more importantly, how well they have handled the resolution of any complaints.
- Does the company have a Quality Control Department that you can call in case something goes wrong or gets damaged during your cleaning? A good company knows that things can and occasionally do go wrong, so they are prepared to solve any problems quickly and efficiently. Not surprisingly, companies with QC departments usually have the fewest problems….
- Are there any hidden or extra charges, such as a fuel surcharge, a waste disposal and dumping charge, a furniture moving charge, or any room size restrictions? In an attempt to seem inexpensive and get their foot in your door, some companies get creative with these “extra” charges.
In summary, by simply spending a little time and asking the right questions, you can greatly increase your chances of finding a competent and professional company to clean your carpets. Don’t be afraid to pay a fair price for the services you expect and deserve, and by all means ask your friends and neighbours for referrals. If someone you know has had a very outstanding experience, try and find out the name of the cleaning technician, and request this same person- even in a great company, the individual can make the difference between an acceptable job and a job that exceeds your expectations. By L. Bradshaw