Eric’s Blue Collar Column

Welcome to Eric’s Blue Collar Column! This column features wisdom and insights from Eric Sprague, a carpet cleaner-turned restorer-turned passionate industry coach and educator. Readers can expect to find a mix of practical advice, leadership development tips for leaders at all levels, inspirational stories, and the latest trends cleaning and restoration.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran looking to refine your approach or a newcomer aspiring to climb the ranks, Eric’s Blue Collar Column provides valuable perspectives to help you lead with confidence and integrity.

Have a question for the author? You can reach him at

Don’t Touch the Oscar: Going Beyond Technical Training for Technicians

In  the restoration industry, we work in people’s homes and offices. Our companies are in the most intimate and private portions of people’s lives during a time when stress is very high.  What could possibly go wrong?  To add to this equation, who are we sending out to spend the most time on the jobsite? Field technicians.  Most restorers struggle with attracting and retaining technicians. The job is hard and often thankless, and it is left to those who have minimal job skills, often come from tough backgrounds, and may be lacking in areas

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How is Your Executive Function?

I have the honor of leading a weekly mastermind group of home service business owners. Our group has met every Tuesday for several years and we have a solid roster of business owners who run successful service businesses. Recently, the topic for our weekly conversation was “executive function” and how a lack of skill in this area can negatively affect a business. As I was preparing for this meeting, I was becoming increasingly uneasy. I looked at the list of executive function traits and realized I had serious problems in many areas on my

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Looking Outward: Finding New Perspectives in Other Home Service Industries

I have been very fortunate over the last few years to meet many amazing people in the home services industry. When I started the Blue Collar Nation podcast I never dreamed I would get to meet and interview so many highly intelligent and uber-successful people. I feel it is important to always be learning, so podcasting has been a labor of love for me. I have made it a practice of mine to always be on the lookout for new ideas and best practices from people with different experiences than my own. On the

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Carpet Cleaning for Restorers

Full disclosure, I am a carpet cleaner at heart. I know this magazine is heavily focused on restoration and that is great; I love the restoration industry. However, right in the title of this fine periodical is the word “cleaning”. Many of us got our start in the restoration world by being carpet cleaners. I still feel that cleaning is a great way to grow a restoration-focused business, and you can make great money along the way. I am going to reacquaint all of my fellow restorers to the virtues of using carpet cleaning

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The Lost Art of Face-to-Face Marketing

There are many ways to drive business to a restoration company in today’s market. We have TPAs, Preferred Vendor Programs, Pay Per Click, SEO, and a myriad of other avenues to get the phone to ring. I am blessed to travel around the country attending many restoration industry conferences and trade shows. One of the topics that is not really spoken about anymore is face to face referral-based marketing. It seems to become a lost art in our industry. I know it is not as sexy as many of the aforementioned ways of getting

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Let Go to Grow

I have the good fortune of doing consulting work for many cleaning and restoration companies across the nation. Some are small and some are quite large, but they all seem to have one thing in common: The owners and managers have a hard time letting go of their control to the detriment of the company. I see so many businesses being stifled by the inability of leadership to let go. This creates bottlenecks in production flow, workers who fear making mistakes, owners and managers unwilling or unable to delegate work, organizational charts that are being

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Ignoring Social Media’s Success Trap the Old Fashioned Way

We all see on the internet and social media the hype and buzz around work ethic and success. Be a savage. Work 25 hours a day, 8 days week, 53 weeks a year. Mamba mentality. You need to start everyday eating raw meat and taking an ice plunge if you want to be a true success. Blah, blah, blah. I think you get where I am going with this. I understand that these posts and videos are meant to inspire, motivate, and obviously get the person posting a lot of likes and subscribers. I

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The Magic Bullet for Restoration Success

We all want to find that magic bullet to one up our competition to dominate our market. We look for ways to separate our company from the others. Years ago, my business partner, Larry, and I were looking for ways to improve our business, so we attended a conference with several high-powered speakers. All of the speakers were great, but we were blown away by one in particular, Dr. Robert Rohm. Dr. Rohm is an expert in the DISC personality model of human behavior. He explained the four types of personalities and the positive

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The State of Your Company

I know this issue is dedicated to the state of the industry, and I think there are many amazing restoration experts much better suited than me to speak to these trends and issues. However, I do feel able to speak to taking stock of the state of your company. It’s easy to obsess about the state of the industry and what outside forces can affect your company. I understand you don’t live in a bubble and there are things going on in the industry that you need to be aware of. However, I also feel

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