January 25, 2013

Werner Braun: Saving good people from bad vacuums

George of George’s Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Service in Clearwater, Fla., started his business in 1963. He joined Facebook on Feb. 29 of last year.

That Leap Year date actually might turn out to be the more memorable one of his career — that’s because he seems to be having such a fun time promoting his business via social media.

What George is doing is using creativity to promote a great product — the vacuum cleaner — in ways that traditional marketers often find to be a challenge.

After all, as much as we at the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) love our industry and its accompanying gadgets, we often talk about somewhat mundane subjects, such as carpet cleaning and installation, indoor air quality and pile height. What George understands is that communications shouldn’t be boring, even when you’re talking about boring subjects.

For example, George’s Facebook blog dispenses helpful tips about cleaning carpets and rugs, but it also provides snippets of trivia that are just plain fun.

Below is a sampling. Did you know:

• Many of the early predecessors to the vacuum cleaner were so large that they had to be operated and transported on a horse drawn carriage?

• In the mid-1800s, vacuum cleaners were sold housed in exquisite cabinetry that doubled as a coffee table, side bar or cocktail bar?

• Before electricity was discovered, an alternative to beating your carpets over a porch rail, clothesline or windowsill was to sprinkle them with tea leaves? The theory was that tea leaves brought dust to the surface so homeowners could sweep it easily.

• Melville R. Bissell invented the first push-powered carpet sweeper in 1876 for his wife to clean up sawdust after his carpentry work? Shortly after, the Bissell Carpet Sweepers company was born.

In addition to these little known facts that we might throw out during any given “trivia game night,” George also gives his customers and/or potential customers some “news they can use” when it comes to figuring out what might be the cause of their vacuum’s malfunction.

On Aug. 18 of last year, he explained that the major cause of vacuum malfunction is moisture.

“If water gets inside the vacuum, it can cause dirt and dust to cling to the side of the hose, resulting in clogs and reducing suction,” he wrote. “Moisture can also lead to mold and mildew, which cause odor issues.”

He stresses and re-stresses the importance of changing vacuum cleaner bags, making the case several times on his site for changing them when they’re between one-third and two-thirds full.

“Why is vacuuming when the bag is full such an issue?” he mused on Nov. 1. “When the bag gets full, it actually blocks the overall airflow system — the part of your vacuum that effectively cools the motor and keeps it from overheating.”

Most vacuums break down, George has found, because of “damage that results from trying to suck things up that shouldn’t be, such as larger objects or water.”

He advises consumers that if their vacuum cleaner seems harder to push as of late, they should turn it over and check its foundation. “It may simply be an issue of a dirty base. Dirt and tar can clog up the wheels, slowing down their rotation. A worn belt can also contribute to this issue.”

George also addresses such issues as how to reduce allergens in your home or business by using a High-Energy Particulate Air (HEPA) filter vacuum cleaner, how to clean oriental rugs, when to replace vacuum cleaner belts and much, much more.

But most importantly, he engages his online audience in a compelling way. That’s a gift. And it’s just one more tool he can use to live up to the company’s motto: “We save good people from bad vacuums.”

Luckily, good people should always be able to find good vacuums. Finding a great vacuum cleaner isn’t hard work, and at CRI we have designed tools to make the choice much easier.

Take our CRI Seal of Approval program, for example. If you see the blue and green CRI Seal of Approval sticker on the vacuum you’re considering, you know you’ll be purchasing a quality vacuum cleaner because the CRI label shows that that model has met our highest standards for soil removal, dust containment and carpet texture retention. Or check out the list of approved machines on the CRI website,

You can then rest assured that a good vacuum has found a good home.

Werner Braun is president of Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.

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