clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


You've lived in that small starter house for several years, but now, because of some children and a bigger salary, you want to get into another house. Your first thoughts are how to get your house ready to be sold.

Do you do some expensive redecorating? Or can your home be spruced up with some cleaning?Both solutions probably work, according to Robert Fairbanks, general manager of Ser-viceMaster of Salt Lake, a fran-chise of a nationally recognized residential and commercial cleaning company.

"Selling a home can be time-consuming and costly process. Large amounts of time and money are spent on redecorating or refurnishing to add appeal to the home and attract buyers," said Fairbanks, 46.

He said there are several shortcuts that can help you make your house attractive to a buyer and still save some time and money. For example:

- Clean the kitchen with a degreaser-type detergent since cooking causes grease buildup. Pay attention to the ceiling, walls and cabinets, which get missed in day-to-day cleaning. Line the cabinets with fresh paper and thoroughly clean the oven and stove-top.

- Wash soiled and scuffed walls and woodwork with a mild detergent. Washing can achieve the same effect as painting at about one-10th the cost. Detail paint those small areas that get touched or scraped often, such as door frames, light switches and baseboards.

- Pressure wash the exterior of the home rather than paint. This removes soil, dirt and mildew from outside walls, walkways and drains and when used with the proper chemicals thoroughly cleans windows and window casings. The exterior should look good because it gives prospective buyers their first impression.

- Sanitize bathrooms, paying special attention to areas often missed, such as the corners behind the toilets. Remove any mildew that tends to build up in the humid bathrooms and showers by cleaning with a diluted bleach solution.

- Clean carpets with a hot-water rinse extraction and professionally clean upholstery and draperies.

- Organize closets by hanging clothes in an orderly fashion, and properly store shoes, luggage and other articles.

- Straighten storage areas in attics and basements so buyers can appreciate their full value and potential.

- Air out the home, if weather permits, to remove stale smells and then deodorize with a light fragrance. Fairbanks said many people associate odor with uncleanliness, so a spotless home can be ruined by an offensive odor.

- In the yard, trim bushes and trees, rake and remove debris and dead plants and cultivate flower beds.

Or you can call Fairbanks, one of 4,100 ServiceMaster franchisees in the United States, Canada, England, Japan and Africa, which do $4 billion in sales annually. Fair-banks has plenty of experience in house-related businesses.

A Salt Lake native, Fairbanks attended the University of Utah for one year. He was in the construction business for five years in the 1970s, pouring foundations, installing plaster board, doing finish woodwork and laying carpet.

He is a nationally mill-certified carpet and hard-surface floor inspector. He took courses through the Floor Covering Institute of Technical Services in Dalton, Ga., the area where the majority of the carpet is manufactured. He also is certified through ServiceMaster.

In 1975 Fairbanks started Fairbanks Investment Co. and operated under the name of Fairbanks Distributing, selling commercial and industrial woodworking tools. His warehouse was located at 1578 S. 300 West, and he also had a retail store at 41 N. Main, Midvale.

When money got tight and competition became fierce, Fairbanks closed both businesses and in September 1981 started with Ser-vice-Master, which started in Chicago in 1940 as a moth-proofing business. The company later evolved into carpet cleaning and in 1952 started to offer franchises.

Today, ServiceMaster consists of a variety of companies that service large commercial operations, day care for large companies, cleaning and maintenance in hospitals, lawn-care operations, residential maid service. One company supplies warranties for major appliances and home roofs.

At ServiceMaster of Salt Lake, Fairbanks and his 19 employees use their three service trucks in their "full-service cleaning organization." Fairbanks considers his company the premier cleaner of a variety of surfaces, including carpeting of all types, vinyl tile, rubber tile, asbestos tile, linoleum, wood, ceramic, glass, blinds and upholstered fabrics.

Some of their work involves restoring a house following a fire or water damage.

As a franchisee, Fairbanks is obligated to use ServiceMaster's shampoos, deodorizers, detergents and other chemicals for cleaning bricks and glass. ServiceMaster manufactures its own equipment for work on items in a customer's house or in the shop.

Portable equipment is carried in the service trucks with larger equipment used in the shop.

Some of Fairbanks' time is spent giving advice to people who want to sell their house. "You need to make a good impression to make a house look nice, and it can be done without remodeling," he said.

In addition to his Serv-iceMaster connection, Fairbanks is a partner with his brother, Steve Fairbanks, in Century 21 Coventry Real Estate.