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  Vacuum Cleaner Hospital
Chapel Hill, NC

VDTA•SDTA is pleased to announce that the Independent Dealer of the Month for September has been awarded to Vacuum Cleaner Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. The store, located at 300-A. S. Elliott Road in Chapel Hill, NC, is owned by Tom Proctor.

Vacuum Cleaner Hospital exterior photo
Vacuum Cleaner Hospital exterior photo

On March 10, 1986, Tom opened Vacuum Cleaner Hospital's doors. Long hours, "sick" vacuum cleaners, consistent sales and bookkeeping demanded much of his time, but with some help from his fiancée, Ruth (now Mrs. Proctor), his modest store began to grow. Vacuum Cleaner Hospital offered the popular vacuum brands customers wanted, and within a year, Tom was able to hire a part-time employee to help with customer traffic sales and repair.

In 1990, Tom moved Vacuum Cleaner Hospital to its current location on Elliott Road in Chapel Hill, and by the end of the year, he was able to employ a full-time repair technician, David Vandergriff, who is with the company today and has played a vital part in the store's continued growth, success, and quality repair reputation.

In 1992, Jody Witt joined Vacuum Cleaner Hospital to help with sales and bookkeeping. Now general manager, Jody strives to offer the store's customers the best possible solutions to their cleaning needs.

By 1995, Vacuum Cleaner Hospital installed central vacuum systems on a regular basis, so Tom created a new business division called Central Vacuum Experts. CVE is a regular exhibitor at four home shows in Raleigh each year. Tom added, "Central vacuums continue to be our best potential for revenue growth in the future."

In 1999, the Vacuum Cleaner Hospital showroom underwent a complete renovation. Tom added new flooring, lighting and all new displays to create a truly modern retail space. Since then, Vacuum Cleaner Hospital has added a fully functioning central vacuum system and vac pan display.

Today, customers who enter the store can choose from product lines by Dyson, Sebo, Miele, Sirena, Lindhaus, Riccar, Eureka, Sanitaire, IQAir and more.

"I'm a big fan of a well-lit and neatly laid out store," Tom shared. "Even though my store was professionally designed by Jim Rasmus years ago, we continue to rearrange the store displays to keep things fresh."

Tom recommends to his fellow dealers to invest in plenty of signs and quality lighting to highlight your products. He has also found it beneficial to carry adjunct products that relate to cleaning, such as Casabella, E-cloth microfiber, Moso bags, Wool Shop dusters and Bona hardwood floor cleaner.

He added, "Even though Lowe's and Wal-Mart carry Bona now, we still move a good amount of the professional line because we do what they don't – talk intelligently about the features and benefits of using it."

A great place to learn about the features and benefits of all new products on the market is the annual VDTA•SDTA Trade Show each year. Tom attends the convention every year and also is a long-time member of the VDTA•SDTA Advisory Board. He said he enjoys attending the conventions because he can network with his peers and the exhibitors. He also gains a lot of information, business ideas and demo tips during the many seminars offered at the show.

"I have attended every winter VDTA Show since 1991 and have discovered a wealth and new products and brands over the years. This has, in turn, helped us stay competitive in the changing retail environment. Where else would you have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the upper management of multi-million dollar floor care and sewing machine manufacturers? I have found these connections invaluable when an issue arises during the year."

In January 2011, the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce named Vacuum Cleaner Hospital its 2010 Small Business of the Year. Tom and his team are grateful to their customers and the Chamber for recognizing the company's dedication to keeping up with current trends in the cleaning industry. For the last four years, Vacuum Cleaner Hospital has also won the Angie's List Super Service award and the store is an accredited A+ rated business with the Better Business Bureau.

To support his community, Tom graciously contributes donations to various charities for silent auctions and raffles. Earlier this year, he donated a Miele canister worth $650 for the Public School Foundation which supports their local teachers and students with various initiatives.

As Vacuum Cleaner Hospital's registered trademark states, the Essentials for Clean Living® goal is to provide customers with higher quality products and the best customer service possible...

Tom said, "More than anything, our excellent customer service reputation is well known in our community. We continually impress customers with our quick repair turnaround time. Our central vacuum installers/service techs draw rave reviews with their friendly and informative approach when they are in the customer's home."

You can visit Vacuum Cleaner Hospital online at www.vacuumhospital.com.

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, and SQE Professional, September 2015