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Starting and Building a Business

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Zz_005_zZ View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zz_005_zZ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31/December/2007 at 10:42am
alright.... this is a great thread. very long, but great. I would like to make some quotes from one of the leaders in carpet cleaning (CHEM-PRO)
This was a subject they wrote about and one of the best articles I have ever read.... some details were left out of course which I disagree with.
 
There are two fairly new, and very important conditions existing in the world today that have not only made the carpet cleaning industry a "billion dollar business," but also practically guarantee your success as an entrepreneur.

First, almost all homes and office buildings built since 1960 have wall-to-wall carpeting. Secondly, the replacement costs and the cyclical faltering of the national economy have caused people to want to make what they already own last longer, especially in the case of carpeting, which is a sizeable investment.

Most of the businesses employ janitors or janitorial services to vacuum their carpets after hours daily, and then "master" carpet cleaners to deep-clean their carpets perhaps several times a week, and then hope to deep-clean every spring or fall, depending on the kind of household traffic, and on their budgets.

It's true that people everywhere try to save money by handling these jobs themselves. However, empathy with the people, and and understanding of this trend, should be neither cause for alarm nor a deterrent to your success in this business.

Most people are just too busy to handle all their do-it-yourself projects. They continually put off until later any chore that requires special equipment. This is especially true with carpet cleaning, because deep down, they're fearful of botching the job. Thus, they're more than willing to pay an expert or a specialist to do this kind of work for them.

The important part of this business---or any other business---is the owner-operator's "sense of marketing" and salesmanship. Make no mistake about it, all businesses succeed through marketing strategies and salesmanship. You won't be selling a product with this business; you'll be selling a service. And the selling of services is often more difficult than product sales.

Your success in this business will be predicated upon the sales effort you put forth. Getting it off the ground will require a great deal of selling expertise on your part. You'll have to sell yourself AND your services.

Therefore, it will be to your benefit to learn all you can about selling. Then, you should continue to add to your knowledge through an on going program of learning. keeping up to date and being aware of successful selling ideas and methods will add to the total success of any business person.

Even before the acquisition of equipment, you need customers. Your prospects are all the businesses and homes with carpets in your area. Your problem is going to be in reaching these prospects, impressing upon then the benefits of your service, and getting them set up with an appointment for you to do the work.

We have found that the latest expensive and most productive method of reaching these people is by way of neighbor hood "hand-out" flyers or announcements, delivered door-to-door by Brownies or Cub Scouts, or members of other youth organizations. These flyers are advertisements or announcements of a "Carpet Cleaning Special," printed on 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 sheets of paper that invite the recipients to call you for an appointment.

Study the carpet cleaning service ads in your local newspapers, the yellow pages of your telephone directories, and any similar flyers you may have received or seen. Make a pencil sketch of your own flyer, emphasizing customer benefits and your capabilities of doing the job and take your ideas to the advertising class at a local college. Explain your project and ask for volunteer help. In most cases, you'll be favorably impresses with the work, and will only have to pay with a copy of the finished flyer for the student's portfolio, and a recommendation or testimonial about his work for you. Even if there should be a charge for the work you have done at the college, it will be a reasonable one.

Contracting with an advertising agency will probably take longer and will cost a significant amount of money. However, you might be able to contact a staff member who does freelance work on the side. But you should set a specific date for completion of the project, and agree to pay no more than half the total estimated cost until the job is finished, and meets with your approval.

The next step is to take this original of your flyer to a printer, and have printed whatever number of copies you want to start. Most quick print shops will be able to print up to 20,000 copies, and deliver in a reasonable time, with nominal costs. If you decide to start with more than 20,000 copies, you will do better by going to a regular commercial printer. Larger quantities that would take a quick print shop all day can be handled by a commercial print shop in a few hours.

While your flyers are being printed, you should be lining up your delivery people--local Brownie or Cub Scout Troops. No big problem here. Either look up their local headquarters office in your phone book or call a friend or two with children about the right age for the name and phone number of troop leaders. Arrange to pay these scout troops $10 for each thousand circulars they hand out door-to-door.

One other thing before you start handing out your flyers---be sure that you have someone available to answer the phone and set up appointments for you. It's usually best to have a woman do this; it makes the caller think of your service as an established business. You can pay an answering service to handle these calls for you, but if your wife or a friend is available that would be even better. It is, however, imperative that a "live voice" answer your phone. People have some strange ideas about answering machines, and most businesses find they do much better not using them.

Your "secretary" should have a set pattern of answering your calls, and an appointment book. Usually, your flyer will advertise a special such as "Your living room carpet deep-cleaned for just $20. Get all the ground-in dirt and unpleasant odors out. A professional job by experienced master carpet cleaners, and we can do it all for you tomorrow. Give us a call; set up a carpet cleaning appointment with us now; and we'll have your home sparkling clean, ready for company in no time at all!" This special offer should take you no more than an hour in the customer's home, meaning that your secretary can book appointments for you at the rate of one every ninety minutes or less, depending on the travel distance between jobs, enabling you to book more appointments

You should bear in mind that carpet cleaning is a type of service business that takes you into the homes of your customers. Therefore, how you look, dress, and handle yourself---particularly in the presence of your customers---will have a direct bearing on the success of your business.

Be clean, and conduct yourself in a business like manner at all times. Dress neatly. In fact, one of the best ways to get off to a fast start is to purchase a working uniform from Sears, Ward's or Penny's. Drop by a "pennant shop" and have them make up a special oval name tag which can be sewn over the left breast pocket. At the same time, have them make up a large oval with the name of your business and your phone number to sew on the back of the uniform. When you hire people to help you with the work, outfit them similarly.

Go out of your way to be polite and friendly with your customers, but refrain from being fresh. Avoid getting involved in extended conversations--if you are to keep on schedule, you won't have time for a lot of talk.

keep your equipment clean, properly maintained, and operating smoothly. Have your supplies organized and within easy reach. Don't allow yourself to be caught in a position where you have to make excuses because the equipment won't function properly, you can't find what you need, or you suddenly find yourself out of certain supplies.

You want your customers to call again and again to clean their carpets. Being pleased with your work, they'll spread the word about your service for you, free of charge! And this, of course, will generate an almost unlimited amount of ongoing work for your new business.

The average price to the customer to have a 12 by 18 foot wall-to-wall carpet "shampoo cleaned" is about $50. Your materials to do that size job will cost about $5.

The typical job involves more than just one room, and the average period of time spent on the typical job is about two hours, with an average billing to the customer of $75. Materials for each $75 job cost you about $10, all which means that with just five appointments per day, five days per week, your gross income before expenses will be approaching $2,000 per week.

Most people who set up carpet cleaning businesses manage to gross $50,000 or more the first year. We've described to you how to get started with virtually no real investment. However, we do advise you to either purchase or lease your own carpet cleaning equipment just as soon as you can possibly afford it.

Several equipment manufactures have financing plans available. It would be well to check several of these plans before purchasing your own equipment. Even better than the financing plans offered, some of the manufactures have business start-up programs to help you along the way. They will provide you with complete carpet cleaning business plan, numerous advertising materials, a regular newsletter featuring business ideas from all the buyers of their equipment, and low cost supplies.

Before actually starting work in your carpet cleaning business, you should register you business or company name with your county clerk. .The cost for this is nominal, and you will receive a registration certificate or card, which you will need to open an bank account in your company name. You should also talk to a few business insurance agents to get complete business insurance against damage of any of your customers' carpets or accidents in their homes. Being able to state "All work fully insured," will greatly add to your business image

Definitely plan to run a quarter page ad in your local business and telephone directories. You'll really be surprised at the number of calls you get from these ads. At least in the beginning, you should run a regular ad in your newspaper. This should be a display ad, at least 2 columns wide by 4 inches deep and should appear in your Wednesday and Thursday papers. As you become established, it won't be necessary to run more than an ad every other week in your Wednesday papers and before holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, when people always want to spruce up their residences.

Radio and television advertising really doesn't pull that well for this kind of business when you compare the costs to the number of jobs you get from it. I would suggest, however, that you contact these media and try for a trade or better agreement. You clean their carpets on a regular basis, and they allow you to store up advertising credit to use in the spring and fall when people are really serious about spring cleaning, and Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations.

It's also recommended that you register as a "probationary member" of your Chamber of Commerce. This will add prestige to your business, and enable you to associate on equal terms with the various other business leaders in your community. Joining and attending civic club meetings, participating in their causes and events, will also result in long range business income for you.

Something else to keep in mind: Get the word about your being in business out to the people in your area. Get the Chamber of Commerce to mention you in their newsletter; send "blurbs" about your business and service to all your area newspaper, TV and radio stations; arrange to put on an all-day demonstration of your work on the carpeting in the covered mall areas in your city's shopping centers, and hand out brochures at all home building, remodeling, and home improvement shows. Do the same thing at your county fair, and hold seminars on the care of fine carpets. The ideas for free publicity and promotion are limitless, so use your imagination and "push" to get your name in the paper and on radio and TV as often as possible.

There's always going to be competition. Some of it will be good for you, and some of it will be bad for you. Accept it as part of life. Just keep in mind that you're in business because you feel you can do a better job; you can do it more efficiently; and you can do it with greater satisfaction to your customers than anyone else. Be aware of the competition, but don't worry about it. Just stick to your own business plan, and you'll be okay.

Depending on the population of your area, you should be planning for additional carpet cleaning machines and the hiring of people to do the work for within three to six months---that is, unless your original motive for a business of your own was to see how fast you could work yourself to death. Assuming that all goes well with you, within a couple of years you should have "hired help" running the business while you enjoy the fruits of all the hard work you put in at the outset.

I personally don't see the need for you to even consider buying a franchised operation. There's just too much real help available for the "independent" to go to the considerable expense and obligation of a franchise. starting from scratch, and as an independent, this is most assuredly a low-investment, low-overhead type business---the kind we recommend for anyone and everyone who's determined to make it on his own.

A carpet cleaning business of your own is one of the easiest of all small businesses to start. You'll find the initial start-up costs well within your reach, and the margin of profit most astounding! It's an easy business to operate, and yet one that can be called necessary to today's standard of living. It carries a very high rating on all business evaluation stability charts, and it's a business that will grow rapidly to bring you the monetary rewards you desire.



Edited by Zz_005_zZ - 31/December/2007 at 10:44am
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Zz_005_zZ View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zz_005_zZ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31/December/2007 at 11:23am
onto the subject that was talked more less where the subject of discussiion was the actual meaning of this thread. Starting a company is hard sometimes. Getting the $$ you need to fulfill the demand of the area u reside in.Can u start out with a portable, or is the market flooded with TM's? Personally I would like to show my portrait on what the basics needed for starting a small business in the carpet cleaning industry with a medium sized town, some large companies, and maybe 10 regular companies... (mom and pop) This as a basic structure for what you might need to have a professional looking, running, and hopefully successfull start.
 

Carpet Cleaning Van - $9,000.00

Pro-Chem carpet cleaning machine - $14,000.00

Installation of machine - $500.00

Chemicals - $1,000.00

Carpet Wand - $450.00

Tile Wand - $600.00

Furniture Wand - $249.00

Hose Reel - $352.00

Solution Reel - $277.00

Solution Line - $240.00

Vacuum Hose - $320.00

Lead Line - $28.00

Hose Connectors - $32.00

Couplers (steamline) - $78.00

Lettering for Van - $400.00

Fax Machine - $100.00

Phone - $40.00

Computer - $400.00

Program for company - $100.00

Paperwork - $800.00

Advertisement - $1400.00

License - $500.00

Incorporation - $2,000.00

Filing Cabinets - $200.00

B&G's X 3 - $800.00

Tax - $1,700.00

(TOTAL = $36,106.00)

 None of these prices are set in stone, but give the basic premise of professionalism. I personally would throw out someone who came into my residental home with a portable... depending on the person representing the machine. Thats not a great start. You need to have everything looking immaculate. You are a cleaning company for gods sakes...

Hit the road, knock on doors, leave doorhangers, send mailers, place an ad in the YP.... at least a 1/4 page ad...(save up for this) it only comes once a year) also depending on your area, if it is an effective tool or not!!!!! in my case it is a very effective tool.
Advertising to get the company started is essential, however the main goal that small companies can do which larger companies cannot do is almost stop the advertising whatsoever when the clientel base is large enough to support the business you are providing. Whether it be one, the three, four or more trucks... whatever the number is that holds the business steady while not stressing you... that is key!
 
I personally worked for Stanley Steemer for 1.5 years.
Now while I will never boast about this company.... it did give me ONE thing that everybody desperately needs. Training on how to push a wand.
This is the ONLY thing that this company has taught me. They also sent me to sales school which I learned what an enzyme, and dry soil protector actually does, and how it works.
My good friend has owned and operated a carpet cleaning company for 30 years, and HE is the one who taught me everything I know about carpet cleaning. tile, furniture ETC. How to get all and every corner, not leave debrees, what chemicals do what, and proper ways of spraying. Vacuuming forst, you guys know... all the basics. What every carpet cleaner should know.
 
So why does Stanley Steemer do what they do? example: Spotters, mats, tile and grout neutral cleaning kits, red wine removers, odor out kits.... and other sales items? Simple.... they need the $$ for advertising costs.
every time the phone rings, it basicalls costs them 20$...to put it simply, large companies have more to put out, especially franchises. crew to pay, gas, fixing and repairs. chemicals, etc.
 
A franchise has to pay a percentage of the revenue earned for a franchise percentage. The Stanley Steemer that I worked for is charged 7% of the total revenue earned.
 
For those of you thinking of starting your own business, because of the money you see, and know you can get... think of these simple things first...
you have to pay 33% directly to the government, just because they love you so much, then gas for the day, chemicals, half of medicare and social security, and maintainance, plus advertising..... so with that lets say u went out and did a miraculous 1,000.00 day just because u need an even number to make it easier to describe. 33% of that is immediately gone.
So now you have 666.00 left over, now take out the 50.00 in gas, and u are left with 615.00.... Chemicals, lets play it a round number and say 35.00.......now u are left with 580.00........now SS and medicare..... well I don't know the exact numbers... but lets say 15.00...... this leaves you with 565.00 out of 1,000.00
Ok so now u do a week (5 days) and you hate working weekends, so no saturdays. you srart off with 5,000.00 and end up with 2,825.00.....
this is what you have left for paying off debt, paying payroll, and advertising costs.so lets say your payroll is 1,500.00 you are left with 1325.00..... all is well, and seems great but hopefully you realise that while this is alot of $$...... not alot of people come home with 1,000.00 a day. So things always change.
 
This is not to discourage people of anything... but I just wanted everyone to realise what you are up against, and to be better prepared for the initial shoch of what moneys you actually don't have...... 70% of businesses Fail because of not having a business plan... go to your local SBA and have an advisor help you make one, and give you great ideas on how to start a business, which banks to go to. what you will need, as far as a co-signer, percentage down, and help you make a business plan to present to your bank. Because the government runs the SBA, he will do all of this for you for free.
 
Sorry for the extended wording here.... but that is what the thread was made for. Thanks again: Brian from Florida
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jon K Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/October/2009 at 7:15pm
 I am a real newbie here and in the carpet business. I have been running a "green" carpet and upholstery business for about five weeks. In that time I have landed only 9 jobs. The lowest earning job was $130 for a carpet and some tile. The highest earning job was $505 dollars for about an acre of wall-to-wall for a customer who was about to move into a new home. All have been either thrilled or satisfied with the exception of one customer who seemed dissappointed, but it was hard to tell.
 
Right now the advertising and job aquiring process is looking very scary. I have put out about 1100  four-color door hangers in mostly upscale neighborhoods, with a job rate of only about 1 for every 500 flyers. Also I am very visible on Google, but it is costing a lot. Some say they are going to refer me to everyone they know - but then silence. My newspaper classified ad run of four weeks flopped with a result of zero.
 
I would like to know if this is above or below normal. My flyers are a lot like my website which is here: www.greenhomescarpetcleaning.com. The printer thought my door hangers were pretty good (and he hired me).  Can you old pros see anything wrong in what I am doing?    -Thanks, JK
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Soil Lint Green Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/October/2009 at 10:42pm
My suggestion is forget the newspapers.  The world changed, the internet replaced those dinosaurs.

Do your flyers represent a call to action?  If I do not call you right now and book this low price (which I assume you have some kind of special you are running) what do I stand to lose by my inaction?

Without knowing the facts about your community, that is the best I can do for now. 

And if you aren't at least recouping your costs on Google then ask yourself why.  Are you generating traffic but no business?  Check your stats, look for length of stay.

Check back with your few customers.  Ask them what made them pick you, what do they think of the job you did, have they recommended you to anyone, do they have names and numbers for you.  Go door to door and talk face to face with prospective customers.  Here are the important questions:
Do you have your carpets professionally cleaned?
How often do you have your carpets cleaned?
When was the last time you had them cleaned?
What did you like about the job they did?
What did you not like about the experience?
If you could change one thing about the next time you have your carpets cleaned what would it be?
If I could show you how you could get (what they are looking to change) while not giving up on (positives from last cleaning) would that be of interest to you?
In less than 30 minutes I believe I can show you what you are looking for in a total solution.  Would now be a good time for an in-home carpet and upholstery health audit or would tomorrow be better?
Do you prefer mornings or are afternoons generally better for you?

Don't push it as a green service.  Push it as an excellent carpet cleaning service, green is one of the features, quick drying is one of the features, thorough and deep cleaning is one of the features, fast and reliable is one of the features, free demo is a feature, discounted price if you act now is one of the features. 

One last thing and then I have to go.  See your business as that of Marketing a much needed maintenance service, not a carpet cleaning business.  How your company performs the service is not the top layer to the enterprise, no more than a retail computer store owner tells everyone he sells hard drives.  What does he really do?  He provides solutions.  Do YOU provide solutions?  YES!  Stay focused on that message.

Does that help?


Edited by Soil Lint Green - 19/October/2009 at 10:54pm
It's ORY GUN, not OR A GONE. Learn to talk.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jon K Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20/October/2009 at 9:01am
Soil Lint Green,
 
Thanks so much for the reply! Good stuff here.
 
I think some subtle modifications in my material are needed.  So, in summary, think in terms of the customer's needs, let them know how I can take care of their needs, and tell them why they would benefit by having the job done right now. My ads do that in a way, but they could be more focused on that message. Also, you are right about not emphasizing the "green" above everything else. I already found that replacing the word green with something else on my Google Heading generated significantly more clicks.            Got to go and do some rewriting now!
 
JK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Soil Lint Green Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21/October/2009 at 12:34pm
Hope the rewrites go well.
It's ORY GUN, not OR A GONE. Learn to talk.
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Going into business -- whether home-based or not -- is always inspired by our desire to be the boss, work at our own time, and of course, make more money. You start a business hoping that its profits will be greater than what you received while working for somebody else. Or maybe, you suddenly have this brilliant idea that you think could work and even become profitable. Sometimes, entrepreneurship becomes an option when you suddenly find yourself walking in the cement jungle looking for a job after your boss fires you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote les21 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13/September/2010 at 6:36pm
the "simplest" (and i use that term loosley!) is to pay for alot of advertising, test which form of advertising works and then contiue pumping advertising money in to the advertising that works! This its is the fastest way to start up atleast..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CantSeeMyToes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14/September/2010 at 10:29pm
Originally posted by les21 les21 wrote:

the "simplest" (and i use that term loosley!) is to pay for alot of advertising, test which form of advertising works and then contiue pumping advertising money in to the advertising that works! This its is the fastest way to start up atleast..


It will also be the most costly way to determine what works. Might even be cheaper to hire an experienced marketing consultant.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote duckcountry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15/September/2010 at 1:12am
Bottom lining it, ROI -- Return On Investment -- must take into account time spend because time always equates to money. 

The higher the risk the higher the rate of return not only applies to venture capitalists it also applies to every business person who puts his capital at risk within his own company.  And the more you are willing to invest, the more you are willing to risk -- the higher the return you must demand.  It is why I don't do yellow pages for example.
Are you in a high paying business or are you just a self employed low paid grunt who thinks this business provides dignity?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CantSeeMyToes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15/September/2010 at 3:46pm
Originally posted by duckcountry duckcountry wrote:

Bottom lining it, ROI -- Return On Investment -- must take into account time spend because time always equates to money.  The higher the risk the higher the rate of return not only applies to venture capitalists it also applies to every business person who puts his capital at risk within his own company.  And the more you are willing to invest, the more you are willing to risk -- the higher the return you must demand.  It is why I don't do yellow pages for example.


That seems to be a growing trend not just in carpet cleaning.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vacman2000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20/December/2010 at 5:57pm
Originally posted by Superglide Ken Superglide Ken wrote:

Starts with a copy of Howard Partrige how to manuel. He is the most successful guy in the business that tells you how he did it.

What makes him the most sucessful guy in the business?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vacman2000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20/December/2010 at 6:07pm
I have been in the carpet cleaning industry for 20 years or more.
3 Major things will make you a lot of money
1. Get the carpets as clean as possible.
2 Get them as dry as possible, prefreably with a TM.
3 Charge a resonable cost.

Whilst my business advertises like crazy, my brother does little advertising, his english is crap,but he does such a wonderful job his customers keep calling his wife who has perfect english, they rebook all the time.

He has a Diamondback and get the carpets really clean and dry, and charges a resonable amount, if I could do what he does with all my tec's I would not have to work again.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MR. STEAMER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20/December/2010 at 10:02pm
This Thread is old man...  I wonder if all the people that have posted are still in business.LOL
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