How To Start Your Own Carpet Cleaning Business
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.
It doesn't take any special education, skill or experience to
operate a professional-type, deep-cleaning carpet cleaner. Yet,
from your first job onward, you should project the image of a
thoroughly experienced expert in your field. And, we're going to
show you how you can get started in this business, and make $300
or more per working day, with virtually no investment!
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
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.
Just as soon as you have job appointments lined up, hurry over to
your local cleaner distributor, your local rent-all store, or
even some super markets and rent a steam-clean carpet cleaner.
Most of the time, you won't have to pay until you return it, but
even if you do have to pay at the time you take it, the cost is
usually $25 or less for twenty-four hours. Read the directions
and make sure you know how to operate it. Then load it into your
car, van or pickup, and set out for your first appointment.
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
When working these advertising specials, just concentrate on
doing the job and moving on to your next customer. If the
customer questions you about the cost to do the other rooms, give
an estimate and set up a tentative appointment, which you should
later confirm with a call-back after checking your schedule.
Don't try to sell your complete carpet cleaning services on this
first call, but do be sure to leave a business card with the name
of your company and your phone number.
Your service is the "deep-down shampoo cleaning" of carpeting in
your customers' homes or places of business. Always strive to use
the best equipment that's available. Later on--- possibly in a
month or six weeks--you'll want to buy or lease your own
equipment. Your business will grow and flourish as a result of
your doing a good and complete job every time. It may take you a
few minutes longer---especially when you are learning the
equipment and establishing a procedure--but in the end this will
pay off with satisfied customers; and a group of satisfied
customers is the key to your becoming wealthy in this business.
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
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.
Think seriously about buying or leasing a van for your service
calls. A uniform with the name of your company emblazoned on the
back, plus a late model van with your company name neatly painted
on the side will do just as much to build your image and your
business as a full page advertisement in the Sunday paper.
On the subject of advertising, so long as you don't erect a sign
on your front lawn or your roof, proclaiming for all the world to
see the fact that you're operating a carpet cleaning business,
you won't have any problems operating your business from your
home. Sooner or later though, you'll have to buy a city or county
business license. So, the sooner you do this and are approved by
the licensing agency in your area, the better you're going to
feel and the more confidence you'll exude in all your business
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 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.
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