It’s no secret that cost-cutting measures are pervading every industry, and many building service contractors are feeling the squeeze. As customers slash budgets, cleaning programs are often the first to take a hit. In some instances, BSCs are seeing carpet maintenance being cut as much as 20 percent to 30 percent from cleaning programs.

In an effort to cut expenses, some customers are reducing the frequency of their carpet maintenance programs, while others are shying away from more expensive specialty services. By partnering with their customers and educating them, BSCs can help them realize the value of routine carpet maintenance and determine the level of service that best suits their budget.

Prolonging Carpet
LIFE One of the least expensive ways for customers to lengthen the time between more expensive deep cleanings and extend the life of their carpets is to increase the frequency of vacuuming.

“As far as maintaining your carpet, vacuuming is absolutely the most important step,” says Bob Cummings, carpet care manager of Aetna Building Maintenance in Columbus, Ohio. “About 78 percent of all the soiling in carpet is non-soluble, and the only way to remove it is by vacuuming.”

To maximize results, BSCs should ensure that their vacuum cleaners are properly maintained and have a good filtration system.

In addition to consistent, daily vacuuming, customers can prolong the time between extractions by installing walk-off mats to control the amount of soil entering the building, says Ken Law, key account manager for Professional Facilities Management, Montgomery, Ala.

Vacuuming and matting, however, are not enough preventative maintenance to justify reducing the number of deep cleanings a year. BSCs also recommend spot cleaning on an as-needed basis. Typically, this service is not a replacement for deep cleanings, but sometimes a customer may choose spot cleaning to save money. Dennis Richards, president of Puritan Cleaning Professionals, Missoula, Mont., recalls one occasion when the company was scheduled to do a complete carpet cleaning at a client’s office.

“They said they just wanted the traffic areas done and the rest spotted, which was half the price of what we normally charge,” he explains.

A daily carpet-spotting program using a small spotter extraction unit should work for most areas, says Law. Also, customers should notify BSCs of spills as soon as possible.

“The biggest enemies of keeping carpet clean are time and properly treating spots before they become stains,” says Law.


Less is More?
Some customers still prefer routine, less-intense carpet cleanings even though they’ve cut back on the number of deep cleanings.

If customers want fewer deep cleanings, Richards suggests more frequent routine cleanings with a bonnet system throughout the year. The bonnet system has a faster dry time and is more economical than a full extraction, he says.

“Instead of five hours to clean, we’re cleaning in one and half hours because the carpet isn’t as soiled, and we’re able to get in and out quickly.”

Another method that boasts faster dry times is encapsulation.

“You cover a lot more square footage per hour with encapsulation versus a full extraction,” says Cummings, “and it’s a lot more cost effective both for the client and the supplier.”

For businesses operating 24/7, fewer deep cleanings may save money in the short term, but the more embedded the dirt becomes, the more difficult it is to extract, says Alan Berkowitz, sales manager for Scrub Professional Building Services in Chicago.

Sometimes reducing the number of scheduled cleanings can cost the customer more money in the long run. A routine carpet maintenance program can help to prolong the life of the carpet and avoid the expense of replacing it.

“Almost all synthetic fibers are oil-based products, and that’s impacting the cost of the carpet itself,” says Cummings. “That’s one thing I try to emphasize with customers: The cost of the carpet is not going to go down.”

For a customer with 100,000 square feet of carpet to clean, hot water extraction can be a huge expense, but replacing the carpet is an even greater expense.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says Cummings. “You’re trying to advocate cleaning more often, yet the customer’s trying to save money any way they can.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.