Words Do Matter (Part II)

I’ve stressed before that stressed out residential clients will freak out when you (or your employees) send a disconcerting image with bad word choices.  (For example, never say “spray down” when you can use “good words” like “treat” or “apply”.)

Here’s some other phrases to avoid along with the better replacement word:

Bad Word Good Word
tear out disengage carpet from the tackless strip
wet carpet damp carpet
clean up the soot smoke residue removal
cut out the carpet let’s do a “bonded insert”
rags cleaning towels
dump my tank discharge the extracted cleaning solution
scrub pre-agitate
estimate pre-inspection
fans air movers
chemicals cleaning agents

I also asked our site readers to chime in with their favorite “bad words/good words”.  Here are a few selected submissions with my thanks to all who contributed:

We have replaced “Chemical” with “Cleaning Solution.” In today’s green conscious society nobody wants you to come in and “Spray Chemicals” on their living surfaces. Rich Stoutenborough, The Spot Man, St. Louis, MO

Instead of “chemical” we use “solutions”.  This word has 2 meanings- a cleaning solution and a problem solver.  Also we never tell a client their floors are “dirty” since  no one wants to think their home is dirty.  Their floors are “soiled.” Lars Crampton, JC’S Carpet Cleaning & Restoration, Manhattan Beach, CA

We use the term “refurbish” the carpet protection engineered into your carpet at the factory/mill.  This telegraphs to my customers that we are reestablishing the textile to near new condition and NOT upselling. Michael D. Ellis, DRYEX, Olympia, WA

And for a different take on things one of our readers sent this in:

No, Steve, I didn’t change the wording! A hot high pressure “hosing” of their baseboards is included and exactly what I want to convey.  In fact, my biggest cheerleaders tell new clients, “He even hoses off the baseboards for free”! 🙂

I’m OK with this one as long as you don’t “hose the client”!

Steve Toburen

PS: Am I over blowing the importance of words? Share your ideas and/or war stories by posting in our Strategies for Success: Growing Your Business Facebook Group. ALL ARE WELCOME! (You don’t have to be a SFS graduate to join thousands of other cleaning and restoration contractors helping you in ‘Growing Your Business’!)

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2 thoughts on “Words Do Matter (Part II)”

  1. Have found out that most people do not like to say they have urine spots from the animal. Urine is not polite to talk about. So to get around this I say “I see your pet has autographed a little” and they know exactly what i mean and are more willing to talk about it. I then tell the animal good dog or cat and try to pat them on the head. It’s job security, I also suggest they buy the animal a bigger water bowl.

  2. Wonderful! Exactly the sort of ideas from “down in the trenches” we are looking for!

    Thanks, James!


    PS So what other great one-liners have you folks come up with? Remember, we are all in this together!

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