Friday, January 31, 2014

The 5 Minute Guide to DIY Carpet Spot Cleaning

Your heart sinks and you let out an awful shriek as Spot, the family dog, leaves his own spot on your freshly cleaned carpets. We've all been there, whether it is a pet stain, a spilled glass of Pepsi, or some muddy shoes; seeing that first spot on the carpets you just had cleaned is never a good feeling. Here, we'll go over a few things you can do to keep your carpets looking their best between cleanings. 

1. Store-bought carpet cleaning sprays often do more harm than good. 
If not used properly, these may react with the spot and set it permanently as a stain, or even permanently discolor the carpet.

2. Get to know your spot.
All spots are not created equally. Be knowledgeable of what caused the spot and what product gives you the best chance of removing the spot without damaging the carpet.

3. Use the least aggressive method.
Common household cleaners such as laundry detergent and dish soap are highly effective at removing spots. They are also very mild and stand less of a chance of harming your carpet. For greasy spots, use a small amount of dish soap on a damp cloth. For protein spots (milk, blood, pet spots, etc.) use a detergent with enzymes. Tide original is a good example.

It may not be $25,000.00 Alpaca, but take a hint from Denzel in American Gangster and blot that! Blotting offers a better way to allow the spot to transfer from your carpet to the cleaning cloth. Rubbing a spot will only aid in grinding the spot deep in to the carpet's fibers. 

5. Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!
Thoroughly rinse the cleaning agent from the carpet. You can do this by blotting the area with a damp cloth, continually turning it to a clean section. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Put on Your Game Face!

It’s a phrase we’ve heard over and over again from parents, coaches, and peers: “Put on your game face!”, but what does it have to do with networking? To be a great connector and an awesome networker, you have to train and prepare much like you would for sports. Somewhere along the way most of us have trained for something whether it be a 5k, a golf league, a chess tournament, or even little league baseball. We went to the practices and learned the sport. We honed our technique to be better than we were the day before. The same needs to be done when it comes to building your social framework and networking with other professionals. 

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it is no different when it comes to networking. We need to train ourselves in networking much like an athlete would train for sport. Through training we can work on building up our weaknesses as well as capitalizing on our strengths. Jackie Pizzuto, a great networker and Client Service Specialist for a financial planning firm, says: “You do have to train yourself to succeed in networking. You have to know yourself and know your have to learn how you network best and what works for you so that it's not a constant pain.” 

Another master networker is Justin Casey, Sales Executive for the Charles P. Leach Agency. For him it is more about training the mind. His first thought at a networking event is always “Why am I better than any other person in my field, and how can I highlight that to beat out my competitors?”. He calls it his “Competitive Advantage.”  

As you can see, networking is not something that just anyone can do and be great at, but just like any sport or art, the best always make it look effortless. So keep training your mind and body to be the best networker you can be, and as famed weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev once said: “Never be satisfied. Never.” Always keep pushing, never become sedentary, and abandon your comfort zones. Put on your game face and I hope to see you at an upcoming mixer!

Kurtis Bell
ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ditch the Small Talk...It’s Time for Big Talk

So why put all this time and effort in to building relationships? Why should you not only attend business functions, but actively engage others at these events? You do these things to help construct your social framework. Your social framework, or network, can be an immensely valuable tool that can be used in numerous situations that you encounter on a daily basis. You can call on a friend in your network to help solve a problem that has you stumped, to collaborate on a project, or even to help a friend.

These all sound like great ways to get things done, but if you have not done the legwork to develop relationships to construct your social framework, you may be stranded in a time of need. Often times we neglect the relationships and our networks never develop, or begin to crumble if they have been established. If you don’t maintain your relationships, you might as well have never developed them in the first place. 

Some of us struggle with figuring out who we need to develop relationships with for our business. Here’s a simple exercise that Casey McVay and I developed. Casey is a master networker who works as the Assistant Coordinator of Admissions and Financial Aid at Venango College of Clarion University. This is the Big-Talk Top 10 Challenge. Construct a list of the 10 people you would like to contact if you found out right now that you have lost your job. These can be people you know, people you see on tv or read about in magazines, or major names that you have just heard being tossed around. Once you have constructed your list, make it a point to take the steps necessary to make contact with these people. You will probably meet a few others along the way in your quest to fulfill your Big-Talk Top 10 Challenge. Remember these people too, even if they are little people, because little people have big friends!

Thanks again for reading,

Kurtis Bell
ServiceMaster by Bell

Thursday, March 28, 2013

And You Are?: What Your Business Card Says of You and Your Company.

We all have them, carry them, and pass them around to be the reminder of who we are and what we do. Business cards are an integral part of business and networking. They can say a lot about who you are and what you are all about. Does your card say “I’m unorganized.”, “I’m the one you need to know.”, “My company is cheap.”, “My company is the industry leader.”? When looking at your card, does someone see the same in you and your company as what you are trying to convey? 

Some of us (myself included) are bound by corporate identity policies that limit and monitor what we have on our cards. Companies put these in place so that your card represents the company in a way that they see fitting. For those of you who have some freedom with cards, this article is for you!

Let’s begin with appearance. You have a lot of information to get out there, and a business card may seem like a great way to show the world what it is you are all about. Please, resist this urge as no one likes to sift through a cluttered business card to find an email address or phone number. Also, keep in mind the background or border you have chosen for your card does not make reading the information on the card difficult.

What does your title say about you? Are you the “Executive Assistant”, or might you be the company’s “Chief Conversation Officer”? Think about it. If you are an executive assistant you probably talk to more people daily than anyone else in the company, so why not carry a title that conveys that? A creative title can be a very effective way to make your card as well as yourself, stand out in a crowd. Have some fun with this, but remember to keep it professional. 

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”, but a picture on your business card will put your name and face at a contact’s fingertips. This could be the difference between a contact remembering you or forgetting you. With all aspects of your card, you want to maintain professionalism with your photo. Your Facebook profile picture of you at the beach may not be appropriate here, unless you are in swimwear sales or another related field. 

By making a few small changes such as cleaning up your template, sprucing up that title of yours, and adding a great headshot of yourself; you can take your card from sub-par to superstar. This overhaul may not suit everyone, but those that are bold and daring are sure to be rewarded with a great, professional looking card that will stick out in the sea of cookie-cutter business cards.

Thanks for reading!

Kurtis Bell
ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.
877-214-1664   814-764-3232

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You Sold My Dead Bird to a Blind Kid?

Now that I have your attention, I would like to apologize for the time I've spent away from the blog. February has been full of floods and fires that have kept us very busy. But let's get down to it here and try to figure out why on earth, I would title a business article "You Sold My Dead Bird to a Blind Kid? ". There are a few reasons I went with this twisted title: 1. I love the movie Dumb and Dumber;  2. Have you ever felt as though someone was interested in talking to you, only to try to make a sale or close a deal?

All jokes aside, there is a valuable business lesson to be learned from Harry and Lloyd. Any of us who are in business, are typically networking. Networking happens whether you realize it or not. You may get tossed in to a networking situation at a mixer or other function and feel like you have to make a sale, close a deal, or sign on new customers. Going in to a networking function with that feeling of having to make sales or close deals can put a tremendous amount of pressure on you. You may find yourself on edge, scanning the room to find anything with ears and a pulse so you can drop your sales pitch on them. Forget that, they don't even need ears or a pulse. Before you know it, you're pitching your business to the magazine rack in the corner. You are so desperate to make that sale, that you wouldn't hesitate to sell a dead bird to a blind kid. STOP IT!!!! That is no way to network. That is no way to sculpt a positive image of yourself. That is surely not a way to grow your business. Sure, you may get a couple sales out of it, but chances are they wont be good sales. You will not have created a relationship that creates a lifelong customer.

Now, lets take a look at another type of networking. We'll look in to how we can take the pressure off networking situations, and make them fun! Allow me to introduce you to Positive Networking ®. Positive Networking ® is a term coined by the great crew over at It is an approach to networking that takes the pressure off of you. Instead of focusing on your needs, you focus on the needs of others. Ask yourself, “What can I do for others?”.

This new approach lets you grow relationships as well as form new relationships. Also, since you aren’t pitching a sale, trying to close a deal, or brown-nosing, you are under zero pressure. You’re simply being nice and genuinely interested in the person you have engaged in conversation. By getting to know someone in more detail, it helps us to better answer the question “What can I do for others?”.

Once again, thanks for reading! Be sure to check out for some great Positive Networking ® information. Get out and network! I’ll leave you with a quote from Maya Angelou: “People will never forget how you make them feel.” 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Are You Missing by Not Networking?

So as you may have noticed, we have been straying slightly from the cleaning topics usually covered in this blog and going in a more business oriented direction. This article as well as some future articles will be part of a series that will focus on: business networking, social media for businesses, and perhaps some marketing as part of the Venango Chamber Newsletter.

Networking is a term you may have heard being tossed around in the business world before, but have never put much thought or effort toward. Whether you realize it or not, many of us network daily in our interactions with others. Merriam-Webster defines networking as, "the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business." If you have "rubbed some elbows", as they say, with other business peoples throughout your week, you have networked. You probably didn't even know that when you talked to Joe the plumber on Monday about your business, and exchanged some information, that you were networking. 

Now here's the neat part: Joe the plumber likes you and what your business does. He then tells a buddy of his about your services and your phone starts ringing. That is a referral, and the new lead you have is a result of the power of referrals. So look at that one instance and ask yourself: "What if I do this type of thing all the time?" If you make networking a part of your day to day business operations, you will be blown away with the results. There is one catch: You have to be sold on networking to be an effective networker. This is the same as promoting your business. Very few people, if any, will buy in to a pitch from a business person who is not confident and sold on what they are promoting. 

Going back to our friend Joe the plumber, we can also return the favor of the referral and let Joe experience the power of referrals. Say your neighbor has a leaky sink and you pass on Joe the plumber's info. That, again, is networking! So now you're growing your network, and seeing the power of referrals in action. You are on your way to becoming a master of business networking. 

As you climb your way up the business networking ladder, you can become a very influential individual. When you pass a referral or network with others, people will notice. People’s perception of you will change, and your status will be elevated. This is all made possible through your efforts in networking and passing referrals. Keep your ear to the ground as we will be expanding on the idea of “perception” in the future, and how it can affect you and your business.

Thanks for reading!

Kurtis Bell
ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.
877-214-1664   814-764-3232

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is Your Carpet Covered Under Warranty?

Lately I've been fielding questions from customers about maintaing the warranty on their carpet. This is often an overlooked subject and deserves some attention. If you have priced new flooring for your home or have recently had new flooring installed, I'm sure you know that carpet is not cheap. As with any major product purchase, you can expect your carpet to come with a warranty. Just as with any other product, there are certain conditions that must be met to uphold the warranty of your new carpet. Let's take a look at some of the steps you must take to ensure you do not void the warranty on that lovely, new carpet you just had installed.

There is some preventative maintenance that must be done to uphold your carpet's warranty. Just like you have to regularly change the oil in your car, you must have regular maintenance performed to keep up the warranty on your carpet. Most carpet manufacturers require periodic professional hot water extraction or steam cleaning of the carpet to uphold the warranty. For example, Shaw Industries Group specifies that "Professional cleaning of your carpet is required at least once every 24 months if not more frequently depending on conditions and use." Note how the term "professional" is used. Professional carpet cleaning companies will use a process that may sound similar to DIY carpet cleaning machines, but the professional's process often removes much more water than retail carpet cleaning units. If too much moisture is left in the carpet, it could cause premature breakdown of the carpet backing. Also, for DIY jobs,  it can be a common mistake to mix the cleaning solution at a stronger ratio for heavier soiling. While this may seem like sound logic, it can often leave behind a residue that will attract more dirt and cause more soiling of the carpet. For the DIY-er, this can be the root of much frustration.

Some carpet warranties state that to uphold the warranty, spills must be cleaned up immediately. Time is everything when dealing with spills on your carpets. The more time that passes, the more likely a spot is to turn in to a permanent stain. When cleaning up spills, remember to blot the spot. Scrubbing, wiping, or any other technique other than blotting is not recommended as it is not as effective and may even have adverse effects on your carpet.

When spot cleaning, the choice of cleaning agents is also a very important topic. Too often, I see carpets where the customer has used a harsh chemical product in an attempt to remove a spot. The result is a discoloration where the chemical has contacted the carpet fibers. Unfortunately, the discoloration is often permanent. and serves a nice reminder of what harsh chemicals can do to your flooring. The recommended cleaning chemical for spotting carpets on your own is a mild dishwashing detergent. A light amount applied with a clean, damp cloth and worked in to the carpet will often do wonders for stains. To rinse the detergent from the spot, use another clean, wet cloth to blot the spot. Frequently turn the cloth to a clean side and continue blotting until there is no transfer from the spot to the cloth. Once thoroughly rinsed, the carpet should be back to looking fantastic.

Hopefully these tips can help you maintain your carpeted flooring and keep it looking its best for years to come. If you have questions regarding the warranty on your carpet, it would be best to contact your flooring installer, the store you purchased the carpet from, or the manufacturer. As always, if you have any questions regarding this post, please feel free to call or email me.

Here's a quick summary of some key points for you:

  • Most carpet warranties require professional cleaning at least every 24 months.
  • If cleaning your carpets yourself, be sure to mix chemicals properly and rinse the carpet thoroughly.
  • The quicker you can clean a spill on your carpet, the better chance you have of removing the spot. 
  • Blot the spot! 
  • Only use water or a mild dishwashing detergent to spot clean carpets on your own.
  • After cleaning your own carpets be sure to rinse them well to remove the detergent.

Thanks for reading!

ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.
877-214-1664   814-764-3232

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Happenings, and a Disclaimer

Bloggers, welcome to 2013! We had a great 2012 at ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc. and are looking forward to what 2013 holds for us. Just a short recap of our 2012: we survived the end of the world...twice, helped people get back on their feet after a disaster at their home, expanded our disaster restoration services and service area, and have made strides toward a more "green" approach to cleaning.

In 2013 we are excited to announce that we are now members of the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce. We are thrilled to be affiliated with such an awesome group and can't wait to see what the Chamber has to offer, as well as informing the members and others in the Oil City are what we can offer to them. 

We hope to push forward with developing our presence online. In 2012 we developed our social media outlets via Facebook and Twitter. With your help, we can continue to push forward on the web. Let us know what you want to see and interact with us online. Believe it or not, we are pretty exciting people!

Going along with our membership to the Venango Chamber, I have been given the opportunity to author a small column in their monthly newsletter. I'm thrilled to be given this chance to put some great information out for local business owners. So move to the edge of your seat, keep your eyes peeled, and burn your mouse out* clicking the refresh button on your browser while you wait patiently for the next edition of the newsletter. You can download it here!

As always, thanks for reading and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

Kurtis Bell
ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.
877-214-1664   814-764-3232

*ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc. and the author may not be held responsible for damages caused to your computer mouse, tablet screen, phone screen, or any other device which you may click feverishly. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stressed, Overworked, Feeling Down? Try This...

The Christmas season is upon us and you know what that means? Yes, we get a little time off work to celebrate the season with those close to us. This time off work also means that we will be shuffling papers, crunching numbers, and pulling our hair out trying to meet deadlines so we can have a work-free holiday. These last few days before some much needed time off can take a toll on you if you're not prepared to handle the stress that comes with the pressure of meeting deadlines. Here are some great tips from Inc. Magazine on beating stress.

1. Bring a photo of your significant other or close friend.
A minute or two spent looking at the photo before you are "on" can reset your nervous system. You'll then feel more relaxed and confident because you'll feel more grounded and at home, even in an uncomfortable or unusual setting.
2. Play with a squeeze ball.
The process of squeezing and tensing muscles and then letting go--even if just using fine motor movements--drops your heart rate and makes you less nervous. You can also play with beads or roll stones in your hand; that's why playing with a pen helps many people focus.
The effect is based on proprioperception, the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation (and a word really hard to say three times quickly.) "You can eliminate fear by 'knowing where you are,'" Dolan says.
Playing with a squeeze ball is perfect for phone calls or webinars. In person, make sure whatever you use to ground yourself isn't distracting to others.
3. Sit on a very large yoga ball and bounce away.
While any amount of bouncing is good, Dolan recommends 15 minutes. "It's really fun, it makes you laugh, and it causes changes to the chemicals in your brain," she says. "You can't release cortisol and adrenaline when you're having fun. You release endorphins instead. That eliminates the fight or flight response and makes you feel more relaxed and confident. The effect can often last for a couple hours."
Sound crazy? Here's some of the underlying science:
  • Bouncing promotes vestibuluar integration. The vestibular system provides the body with information about space, balance, movement, and triggers balance receptors. Vestibular input acts to "prime" your nervous system to function effectively.
  • Bouncing stimulates proprioperception, increasing alertness and decreasing anxiety and making you feel more safe and secure.
  • Bouncing stimulates the speech and language centers of your brain, making you speak more easily and fluently when you're done.
  • Bouncing stimulates the reticular activating system, a neural mechanism that produces alertness and focused attention.
Told you it works.
4. Visualize.
Mental rehearsal is a tool used by successful athletes, performers, astronauts--pretty much everyone.
"Before you walk in the room, visualize a time when you did something and really nailed it, even if what you did doesn't apply to the current situation," Dolan says. "That will cause your brain to secrete serotonin and oxytocin, two chemicals that boost confidence, enthusiasm, and motivation."
You'll be thinking about what you're about to do anyway, so why not visualize exactly how you want it to go and how you'll feel afterward?
Worrying about failure won't help, but visualizing success can.
5. Breathe deep.
Deep abdominal breathing cuts adrenaline and is the scientific basis for the old saw, "Take a deep breath." Adrenaline can trigger fight or flight and also shuts down your frontal cortex, which causes you to be less rational and reasonable.
Two minutes of deep breathing--picture expanding your chest and your stomach, or what Dolan calls belly button deep breathing--will make you a lot less nervous.
Try one. Try two. If what you're about to do is incredibly important--and you're incredibly nervous--try them all.
The impact on your performance will be worth it.

Who would have thought that bouncing on an exercise ball could keep you from pulling your hair out? Now that you've been filled in on the secrets for beating stress, get back to knocking out your work so you can relax this year and enjoy your time off work over Christmas and New Years. You know you deserve it. 

Once again, thanks for reading! I'll be taking the next few weeks off the blog to enjoy my holiday festivities. I apologize in advance to those of you clinging to your seat for the weekly update. Perhaps I can squeak out a small post from my phone if I can figure it out. 

Have a great Christmas and a tremendous New Year!

ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.
814-764-3232   877-214-1664

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Change of Pace

So for my dedicated blog followers, you may have noticed this blog has been primarily focused on cleaning issues. Today, I will take a slight step off the beaten trail.

I was recently asked to join a referral networking group. My first thought was "Wow, I have to be in Oil City at what time every Monday?!" While an 8AM meeting almost an hour away from home may seem a daunting task to begin your week with, it has proven to be a great resource and a vehicle to meet new, exciting people. The group consists of a variety of business owners. There is a photographer, a chef, a chiropractor, and a salon owner just to name a few. You might ask yourself, "What can these various business owners possibly have in common?" The answer is simple. They all want to make their business thrive, not just grow, but shatter expectations.

Each week we cover various topics and learn more and more about each other. Bonds begin forming and growing amongst the members, and it was not long before the referrals began to flow. Aside from referrals we also share business tips. Week after week these tips have provided a vehicle to get new ideas flowing and spark the creative genius in all of us. We have passed on tips and tricks from our own minds as well as the minds over at Forbes and other influential business publications and writers.

While I was skeptical at first, I am very excited about the group and encourage other business people to get out and find a similar group, or even join us if you are in the Oil City area. If you have any questions please feel free to send them my way.

As always, thanks for reading!

ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.