Starting a business can be a big endeavor, and carpet cleaning is no exception. There are a lot of variables, and sometimes it can be overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.
There are actually thousands of important things one should consider prior to actually starting a carpet cleaning business, but I have identified 6 that are the most effective at helping you streamline your thinking and get started. These should eventually all be addressed more thoroughly in your carpet cleaning business plan, but you will find it valuable to start focusing on the answers to each of them right now.
The following considerations showcase the most important starting points for newbies to gain some perspective and valuable insight before (or shortly after) the ball is rolling:
- Part Time or Full Time?
- Franchise? Buy an existing business? Start new?
- Brand and Marketing
- Services Offered
- How will you get your first customers?
1) Part time? Full time?
If you’re at a point in your life financially whereas you can devote all of your time, energy and effort into the “full-time” work of carpet cleaning you are an exception. You are most fortunate, and have set yourself up for success. Most carpet cleaners that own their own business limp into it slowly while continuing another job or business.
Many who start a carpet cleaning business keep cleaning as their “side hustle” indefinitely. The benefits of having your new business be your primary or only source of income for you (at least eventually) are fairly evident. Any time you can devote yourself entirely to one outlet – the results are often times exponential because of your unbroken focus. Regardless of how you start or why, the most important thing is to take some time to carefully design goals and create a plan for the future. Take time to evaluate what it is you truly want to gain from your carpet cleaning business and why. If you’re starting out part time out of necessity, when specifically will you focus on the new business, and what is your plan to balance your life or eventually transition to full-time carpet cleaning?
2) Carpet cleaning franchise? Buy an existing business or start fresh?
There are several amazing franchise options to consider, as buying into a carpet cleaning franchise immediately arms you with untold resources; you will have immediate access to systems and support that streamline your success. A franchise usually comes with great brand recognition as well. Of course, a franchise has a large up-front cost, to pay for that brand, systems, and support. A franchise usually requires an upfront lump sum investment as well as an ongoing percentage of earnings thereafter.
Buying an existing company is another option that proves to be worthy of consideration. There are a lot of folks looking to sell their current businesses and well kept equipment at bargain prices. Buying an existing carpet cleaning company can oftentimes come with a lot of “on the job training” as well, as the seller wants you to succeed. If you are considering buying an existing business it is important to spend plenty of time evaluating the value of that specific business, and don’t forget that prices are negotiable. Consider what is included in your purchase – a strong brand? Equipment? A book of existing business? A non-compete agreement with the current owner? Is it a turn-key transaction, or will you need to invest more money into the business after the sale?
Starting out brand new can be fun, exciting, and allows you freedom of creativity in designing a business that is truly unique to your vision. Obviously, when starting out new there are a lot of decisions to make and it is a bigger hurdle to start marketing and generating business.
Weighing all three options will hopefully lead you to some obvious conclusions – for example, it is often cheaper to start a new business vs. a franchise or buying an existing operation, but the numbers and considerations may be different for you depending on your current options and values.
3) What type of brand do you wish to create? What type of marketing most appeals to you? What will work best in your geographic area?
Your “brand” is what people think and say about your company when you’re not around. What type of reputation do you want to create? There are many amazing resources and materials available to help assist you in creating an amazing brand experience for all your future customers. Whether or not you realize it, you already have a reputation or a “brand” just in being yourself. As an owner operator, hopefully people already know you, like you, and trust you. You already have a circle of influence.
There is an absolute abundance of information concerning marketing and what methods work best – spend some time getting familiar with them and sketching out a rough plan. A combination of direct and online advertising seems to appeal to most folks just starting out. Door to door leave-behinds (door-hangers) or post cards work really well, as does internet marketing (when done right). There are several companies you can purchase leads from directly as well, but most cleaners admit to having better luck with an altogether different approach.
Including a website and an online “presence” as a part of your brand and marketing can be of paramount importance in our new digital world of convenience. Talking to people and learning how to really listen in order to sell is also very important – networking will need to become second nature for you to become truly successful.
Spend a few minutes putting together a vision for your brand, and you will be better set up for success down the road.
4. What cleaning services will you offer right away? Will you offer fiber protection? Spot/stain removal?
Does upholstery cleaning, tile & grout cleaning, hardwood cleaning and polishing or carpet repair work sound fun?
There is often a LOT of money left on the table by those folks who aren’t interested in expanding the services they offer. It is important to be versatile and learn how to create the most value for each customer you gain. By offering a multitude of services to your clients you build trust, earn more, and create a better experience for your customers. Consider which services you can have fun offering, which you can afford to offer at the beginning (vs. start offering after some success), which will align with your brand, and which will best serve your ideal client.
For example, for many carpet cleaners water-damage and extraction work proves to be an exciting and very lucrative addition to their business. Just be sure to invest enough money into the proper equipment and education before responding to emergency water loss jobs; and learn how to price all of your services properly.
5) What type of equipment will you buy? Do you already own a portable? Should you start saving up for a large truckmount? Are you familiar with the world of “low-moisture” cleaning or encapsulation cleaning?
There is an abundance of information available about the different types of machines and equipment that work the “best” for varying scenarios and cleaning environments. The truth is that all of them are perfect for fulfilling the purpose they were created and designed for, and as a new business owner you can remain flexible and offer services to customers with almost any equipment.
Some machines and equipment clean different types of carpet differently. Sometimes it’s more appropriate to use a portable to clean than a truck mounted unit. Educating yourself about the differences is powerful and the sooner you can learn about all of it, the better. The mistake many folks make is thinking that the one they know is the only one that works – I suggest learning about all of it and planning out the equipment you’ll use now, and what you hope to graduate to and add on as you find more business success.
6) How will you get your first customers?
I have already inadvertently described the answer to this question above. But, let me reiterate – you might already have your first customers! Everyone has a circle of influence – people that know, like, and trust you. These folks can and should be your first customers. The people that you have influence with already are much more likely to refer and recommend you. You should immediately tell every single person that knows you about your new cleaning business – what you offer, and why you’re starting a business.
Tell them in person and online, social media is responsible for creating a ton of work for carpet cleaners right now. The excitement of supporting a friend in their new business is alluring and people love to help out. People love to be fans – especially for someone they personally know. Most people fantasize about starting their own business and helping you in the beginning can be very appealing for them. The people you know will spend more money with you than with any other company. Carpet cleaning (especially residential) is very intimate, so using the relationships you’ve already cultivated can be extremely powerful.
Outside of your personal relationships you can start brainstorming tactics and ideas that will bring in your second, third, and fourth wave of business – putting together a rudimentary plan for your marketing now will set you up for long-term success.
An entire book could be written for any ONE of these considerations, but this information will at least get your mental “wheels” turning and open your mind up in a new way. Don’t let any question or consideration stunt your forward momentum – take some action today to move forward with whatever your business goals are. Use the information above to fuel your fire and make a bold move toward entrepreneurship right now!