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From the C-Suite to Store Carpet

Retailer Embraces Green Goals

For a 1,000-store retailer, support for sustainability and excellent customer service starts at the top and extends to the CFR Pro 500 carpet extractors used to clean every location.

Account Manager CFR Corporation

Starting With a Commitment to Green

Thirty-one retailers made Newsweek magazine’s 2014 list of “America’s Greenest Companies,” which ranked 500 of the largest U.S. companies on corporate sustainability and environmental impact. Such sustainability efforts generally come from the top and incorporate multiple goals, such as achieving zero waste, reducing carbon footprint, and making environmental conservation a priority. Sustainability initiatives are also seen as beneficial to the bottom line, because they can improve a retailer’s image, both literally and figuratively.

With more than 1,000 department stores in 49 U.S. states, one retailer was facing a major turnaround: It had been on such “top companies” lists in the past, but a new CEO was being brought in to return the company to profitability. He and his senior leadership team decided to simplify operations and implement expense reduction while at the same time instilling newness, building loyalty and creating a dynamic shopping experience that would shift the perception of what the company had to offer. The company was to do that, the CEO explained, by elevating the customer experience one location at a time by renovating stores across the chain.

Remodeled locations were to receive a range of new merchandise layouts and department upgrades that included vibrant colors, modern finishes and new carpet. When complete, renovated locations would look like brand new stores and reflect the company’s 100-year-old history of environmental stewardship efforts that dated to before “green retailing” was a buzzword.

For this retailer, sustainability was built into its values from the beginning, so it was natural that environmentally sensitive thinking and “green goals” would extend into the maintenance and cleaning of its stores. In green-building terminology, this is referred to as operations and maintenance optimization. So, as part of renovations, managers examined ways to extend the lifecycle of the new carpet as well as clean to the highest possible standards to improve the customer experience. Extending carpet life means less landfill waste produced, which benefits the environment and educes costs.


Rethinking Interim Carpet Cleaning

Like many other commercial facilities, this retailer had used interim carpet cleaning methods. These surface-level treatments may remove some dirt and dust, but they often end up spreading much of it around. The rotary brush method of interim carpet cleaning even can tear or damage the fibers of the carpet, and often voids the warranty of a number of carpet mills.

Traditional carpet extraction is recommended over interim cleaning because it does the best job of deep cleaning the carpet and helps extend its life. Traditional extraction, which is sometimes also referred to as hot-water-extractor cleaning or steam cleaning, is also considered a restorative method, since it is often used to save carpet that cannot be effectively cleaned by other methods.

The Carpet & Rug Institute and almost all carpet mills recommend carpet extraction as the best method to clean carpets. But traditional extraction can require a lot of water and sometimes involve extended drying times. Emptying and refilling the tanks also can extend cleaning time, reducing overall productivity. Fortunately, innovation in green cleaning technology has impacted all areas of cleaning, from energy and water use, to waste and pollution, to promoting health and productivity. And carpet extraction has seen a major upgrade to a much more efficient process as well: continuous flow recycling, or CFR, available from CFR Corp.


New Technology Supports Green Goals

CFR is a method of hot water extraction that uses a moisture-controlled technology that limits over spray and atomizes fluid into tiny droplets. Atomized droplets can have as much as 10 times more surface area than a standard extractor droplet, allowing CFR extractors to use less water while cleaning more effectively. Using less water also enables faster drying time, which reduces the likelihood of problems with mold or mildew and contributes to an overall healthier environment for retail customers.

Head-to-head testing proved the benefits of CFR’s unique moisture-control technology to the retailer’s management team. More importantly, CFR’s patented recycling water technology aligned perfectly with the company’s values of environmental stewardship. The environmentally preferred chemicals specially formulated for CFR machines even have been recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under their Safer Choice Program. Those same chemicals have been scientifically tested for effectiveness by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). In addition, all CFR machines have been tested by CRI under their Seal of Approval Program, which tests and measures the effectiveness of carpet cleaning equipment.

The retailer chose CFR Pro 500 carpet extractors for cleaning carpets in all remodeled stores. The Pro-500 13 gallon, 500 p.s.i, upright model is top in the industry in productivity and can be used for a multitude of cleaning applications. Its unique recycling technology virtually eliminates the dump and refill downtime normally experienced with traditional extractors, and the solution lasts up to seven times longer, which means technicians can get every job done faster.


Role of Cleanliness in Improving Retail Sales

Because the CFR Pro 500 delivers more effective cleaning than interim methods, management felt the machines also furthered their goals of improving the customers’ shopping experience, reshaping the brand, and influencing additional purchases. A study performed by M/A/R/C® Research and National In-Store found that cleanliness “impacts consumers’ willingness to shop at a given retailer and also influences frequency of shopping and the length of time consumers are willing to shop. All of this has a direct impact on the amount of spending a retailer can capture.” This turns sustainability from a cost and risk-reduction measure to an opportunity for business growth.

Researchers say providing customers with a well-kept store is especially important given today’s increasingly social culture, in which negative online reviews and word-of-mouth can adversely impact business.When you practice sustainability, when your facilities are clean, you are telling your customer that you care about every aspect of their experience with your company.

This retailer supported continuous improvement in their operational footprint to save money, reflect corporate values and improve the customer experience. That helped them ultimately decide on an even bigger in investment in CFR technology soon after their initial purchases.

Reviewing the facility cleaning budget to reduce expenses, management found that some locations were contracting out their carpet cleaning operations and spending quite a lot of money doing so. So, they decided to remove all other carpet cleaning equipment and methods from their stores and clean the more than 1,000 locations with CFR Pro 500 Extractors. That helped them meet both their green goals and their business objectives.