Monday, December 30, 2013

Clene Times change

For more than 40 years we used the Cleaning Digest, Clene Times and brochures to advertise Bane-Clene Systems and our other products via direct mail. The upward price spiral of paper, ink and postage along with constantly changing postal regulations has made the current format of the Clene Times impractical to use.

For the last five years we have published an electronic version of Clene Times on our web site on the internet. All reader comments have been positive so far and have encouraged us to use the web site. The next issue will be printed and mailed as usual but future issues will only be available on our web site.

Note: The EDD (Every Door Direct) mail service offered by the post office is suggested to Bane-Clene Operators in the USA as the best and least expensive way to target specific residential and commercial markets for cleaning prospects.

Friday, December 27, 2013

New boss at Federal Reserve Board

The big meeting of the Fed last Week formally introduced Janet Yellin as their new boss. Her well-known position on Quantative Easing promises pumping Billions more into the QE pit. Wall Streeters are ecstatic because their bloated incomes will continue to rise.

Banks are happy because they get virtually free money to lend. The carrot on that stick is that when banks submit to buying their share of government bonds they get on a "good guys" list of being "too big to fail" in case of another banking industry collapse.

Yellin's appointment also means continued stalling on a program to audit the Fed. They simply don't want strangers rummaging through their secrets which date back a hundred years. Can you imagine the "deals" that are buried in those files?

Normal politics calls for acceptance or resistance to her appointment across party lines until there is an agreement to give in to an audit. Don't hold your breath. Establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle are in the Fed's pocket and she'll probably fly right through.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

May you and yours have a happy and blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The "closer"

Mariano Rivera retired recently from the New York Yankees. He has an impeccable personal character that is unmatched in this age of sometimes criminal sports figure behavior. At 44 years of age and after 19 major league seasons his ERA was a sterling 2.21 and he was showered with more accolades from competitors than any sports personality I can remember.

When Mariano arrived at the mound in the 9th inning announcers introduced him as a "closer." This made me think of the sales end of our business. How often have we been told about the importance of "closing" the sale? Writers and teachers usually infer that once a sale has been "closed" all is well. But in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

In Mariano's case he had to face at least three major league hitters. "Closing" a sale is no easier. We still have to do the job. Everything to this point has been promises. The "closing" of a cleaning job is, in fact, just the "opening" or the "beginning" of what should be a satisfied customer and a long business relationship. Our careers demand it!

When we "close" the sale, we feel good about getting the job, but customers may actually feel a degree of anxiety or have a touch of "buyer's remorse" since they have yet to see our finished products or services. Now is the time to step up to the plate and deliver a memorable, long lasting performance. Our customers deserve it!

Friday, December 20, 2013

More paper than taper

Wall Streeters and investment bankers have been waiting for the meeting of the Fed Chieftains to decide if they will continue to be blessed with $85 Billion every month, or begin the awful "tapering" process. The general public has been waiting to see if the fleecing of our savings accounts would continue. Wednesday afternoon Bernanke finally made the difficult decision to lower the fleecing to only $75 Billion a month beginning in January.

The stock market went wild in celebration with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing that afternoon on the upside at $292.71, even though $10 Billion is hardly a blip on the economic radar scope. The way I figure it, that might take care of broker's commissions and holiday bonuses for December. Meanwhile easy credit for Government Motors and the rest of the auto industry will continue, but small business will continue to suffer.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We need the Judge

The Fed pumps $85 Billion into the banking system and Wall Street every month. Our savings, which are the heart of the middle class, are being decimated by inflation that the government says does not exist. Every day congressional representatives appear with stories of corruption, crony capitalism, malfeasance and lying. When administration people are asked about a mistake their answer is, "We're going to fix it."

There are charges of unconstitutionally circumventing laws passed by congress. When asked what can be done about it the answer is much the same. "We'll have to be more careful the next time to write something into the law to take care of that." Government is out of control and until there are term limits and the ruling class lives by the same rules as our citizens, it's going to get worse.

Remember the legend of Judge Roy Bean, "The only law west of the Pecos?" If the Judge was alive and in authority today in Washington, more than half of the population would be in jail and at least a third of those would have already been hung.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Phone hints

Speak with enthusiasm and communicate in a clear voice. Do not talk fast or as if you're reading a script, even if you are reading. During telephone conversations our voices takes on a greater significance since only a part of the message is conveyed with words. The remainder is carried by vocal qualities and it's especially important to have a note of sincerity.

Voice volume makes it easy or difficult for others to hear us. Nervousness can be reflected through lower volume and hesitation. Hold the hand set near your mouth or you won't sound loud enough but not too close to pick up the sound of breathing. Avoid a monotonous tone of voice by varying the delivery of words and sentences.

For example, emphasize our qualifications by saying confidently, "We have the experience, education and equipment to do the job right." Some callers may equate confidence with competence. Conversely, too much confidence may come across as being arrogant, egotistical or unrealistic. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, temper self-confidence with enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is a quality communicated through our voice. A good method of relaying this quality is to smile as we speak on the phone. A smile can be "felt" and adds a pleasant, friendly quality to voice patterns. Elizabeth Bane put a little heart-shaped mirror at each of our phone stations in 1978 so the operators could see their own smile as they talked.

Speed in the rate of speech can interfere with effective communication. If we talk too fast, pronunciation and enunciation will suffer. If we talk too slow the caller may lose interest. When hiring someone to answer the phone, make sure you can understand them when they speak. Three things make us successful in our phone procedures. They are "Practice!" "Practice!" "Practice!"

Friday, December 13, 2013

Poor timing

Having worked in advertising for more than 50 years, it always amazes me to see some of the oldest and dumbest mistakes repeated again and again. For example, taking advantage of the current popularity of a word or phrase in an ad is something that can be a risk and usually proves to be a poor strategy. Sure enough, the other day a television commercial actually ended with this statement: "You won't find a better value.... Period."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You can learn something anywhere

Back in the '90s, Ron VanGelderen of the CRI asked me to go to Washington to make a presentation on behalf of our cleaning method about a new labeling law*. Bureaucrats had decided that every piece of carpet needed to be labeled with cleaning instructions. The fact that the label would be on the underside of installed carpeting didn't make any difference to them.

My flight was delayed and as I arrived at the meeting facility the doorman asked if I was there for the big meeting and I said yes. He said, "It's in the main section of those meeting rooms right over there. I slipped in and took a seat in the back row so as not to cause a disturbance. There was a panel discussion in progress that drew my immediate attention.

A gentlemen on the panel said, "Take the carpet cleaning industry for example. They have the opportunity to work for a customer many times during the anticipated life of that carpet. This represents a long profit stream. That's not the case in our business. We can only do it to a customer one time." The room errupted in laughter.

That made me suspicious as did the large number of people in attendance. As I looked around the room I didn't recognize anyone and began to feel as if I were in the wrong meeting. I stepped out in the lobby to check and sure enough there was a sign I hadn't seen when I came in the other door. They were funeral directors from DC, Maryland and Virginia.

The guy on the panel was right. We are so blessed that we can work for a client many times during our careers. If we're careful and treat the customer right we can even work for their descendants. Some cleaning businesses started in the '70s are now in their third generation. That's exciting.

*The bill never made it through congress.

Monday, December 09, 2013

A friend of our industry retires

The other day Carey Mitchell sent an e-mail saying he had retired from Shaw Industries, the largest carpet maker in the world. There was an attachment with some hand-written speeches that he had given at Bane-Clene conventions and he asked if we would want them. It was very thoughtful of Carey and of course they will be put in a prominent place in our company archives.

Many famous people have been invited to speak at Bane-Clene meetings. Some were celebrities and many were hard-working people from inside and outside our industry who had an effect on our customers' businesses. Carpet industry people like Carey Mitchell, Ron VanGelderen, Bill Doan, Cy Gantt, Jim Keener, Irv Shaw, Don Mercer, Walt Lipscomb, Jon Trivers and Don Barrett, Jr. helped us build an image of credibility.

Carey was presented with our "Jimmie Award" for having a profound affect on our company and our customers. Shaw maintained a state-of-the-art laboratory to test and study the effects of cleaning on their products and over the years he sent members of his technical staff to Bane-Clene Institute. This commitment by Shaw Industries to work with cleaners demonstrated an understanding of where the rubber meets the road.

On behalf of all of us at Bane-Clene, may we wish you a blessed, healthy and happy retirement Carey. Thank you for your many years of service to our industry.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Remember Pearl Harbor

That was the battle cry of WWII. President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Sunday, December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy..." Not many are alive who remember that fateful Sunday morning when the dastardly attack took place on our Pacific Fleet. Those who were, will never forget.

"Remember the Alamo" and "Remember the Maine" are slogans that would never be forgotten...but now they are relegated to the pages of tattered history books that are routinely ignored by many teachers. "Remember September 11" is the latest of infamous events that unfortunately will soon be just a faded memory.

Thank God for the brave troops who protect our freedom and for the first responders who protect us in this land of plenty. With all of our problems, people still want to come here legally or illegally. But remember this, too. Freedom is not free!

Friday, December 06, 2013

A new era in prudence

Twitter hit the market with a noisy IPO that started at $26 and after a short "delay" traded in the mid $40 range. I wonder who bought all the stock in the initial (delay) blip at $26? One thing is for sure. It wasn't anyone you or I know. The "back-room" boys made a killing and then they put lipstick on the pig and let the suckers in hoping the oinker can make it on its own.

An executive with Twitter was questioned about how they expected to monetize the company and become profitable. He said they intended to figure that out as they went along. That's the same mentality that prompted the famous congressional leader's remark about national healthcare when she said, "We'll just have to pass the law to find out what's in it."

That seems to be the way things are done today. Janet Yellin, the new Fed head honcho, is apparently going to continue printing money and buying junk bonds. Wall Street tycoons are inebriated by the good fortune coming their way. I was pretty young in '29 and don't remember events leading up to the great market crash, but I'll bet there was comparable confusion as it headed down the nearest sewer.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Where have all the Gurus gone?

Since 1978, Bane-Clene Institute has been conducting classes in the same building for nominal fees and in many cases there is no fee at all. Thousands have attended our "Course to Success," but it amazes me at the number in our industry who have spent vast sums of scarce capital on "get-rich-quick" or "guaranteed-to-succeed" scams conducted by so-called "Gurus."

About 15 years ago a strutting little example of such a "Guru," accompanied by two body guards, came up to my booth at the big Surfaces Show in Las Vegas. He introduced himself in an almost defiant manner as the one who could save and promote my company if we used his training and coaching programs. The names he dropped as associates and clients were like a "Who's Who."

This little braggart was only one of many making a pitch for the few educational dollars available in our industry. Fifteen years later most of the Gurus have either gone or have taken cover in their failure to keep the many wild promises they made to the struggling cleaners they fleeced. With apologies to Peter, Paul & Mary here's a parody:

Where have all the Gurus gone, long time passing?
Where have all the Gurus gone, long time ago?
Where have all the Gurus gone?
Gone too, are the exploited ones.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Monday, December 02, 2013

A lesson in longevity

The other day I got this note from Dan Willis, manager of our service company:

"In 2011, Jasper Dividal came in to have his equipment switched to a new van. I was looking at his old van when I realized that it was the one I started on in 1984. He bought it in 1985 and I just couldn't believe it was my old truck and equipment. He came in the other day for a weld repair on his old 1984 fresh water tank. That old equipment is still out there every day making money in his new truck."

When he bought our used van in 1985 it had approximately 25,000 miles on the odometer and the equipment about 2,000 hours. In those days we sold our rolling stock every year so we always had new trucks on the streets. The last few years the cost of vans has jumped so radically that we have to keep them longer now.

When Jasper switched vans in 2011, Dan's old van had 510,000 miles on the odometer and there is no telling how many hours on the old cleaning equipment because the clock was broken. The 1984 base unit had a motor replaced in 2005. The vacuum pump, winch, gear motors and all other major components are original and operational.

Many years ago we made the decision to build equipment that would have no built-in obsolescence and last a long time, but this is ridiculous.