So you’ve done the research and decided that you’re going to start a carpet cleaning business – congratulations! Running a carpet cleaning business isn’t necessarily hard, but it can be challenging to stay on top of all of the various components that will make your new business successful, especially when you are just getting started.
Hopefully you already have a good handle on the most obvious piece of the business: cleaning carpets professionally and thoroughly. We don’t really talk about the ins and outs of how to clean, because other organizations can teach you that better than we ever could. Today, we instead want to highlight on all of the other aspects of running a successful carpet cleaning business:
- Marketing & Sales
- Managing people
- Customer service
Between cleaning appointments, it has to be someone’s responsibility to think about and handle each of these important segments of your business if you want to find success.
Marketing and Sales
If you are planning to run your new business solo as an owner/operator, you’re going to have to handle pretty much all aspects of the day to day business, and that includes marketing and sales. You may decide to hire outside help for marketing, but when the phone rings you’re most likely the person who will be answering the call. It is important to be comfortable and confident in talking to potential customers and “selling” them your services. Put together a plan for what you’ll say when talking to new customers – will you give pricing over the phone? Will you offer free in-home estimates to be more accurate and build rapport? What do you say when challenged with lower pricing from a competitor? You may find that you can handle most questions on the fly, and your phone and sales skills should improve naturally over time, but it doesn’t hurt to war-game some of the most common questions and scenarios ahead of time. It will also be impactful to have a well defined “method” to pass along if you ever transition responsibility for phone calls and sales to someone else.
In order to generate phone calls it is important to have some kind of marketing plan for your carpet cleaning business, even if it’s rudimentary. You need to understand and plan for how are you going to reach new people and generate leads. Any marketing plan will evolve over time, but if you aren’t focusing some energy and money toward marketing efforts your business is destined to eventually stall. Planning your marketing will help you decide what you want to handle yourself, what you need outside help to accomplish, and how much money your business will be spending on marketing efforts.
If your financial house isn’t in order, your business isn’t likely to last. Understanding the flow of money through your business, taxes, and other financial aspects of your business are crucial. Again, you may hire a bookkeeper and a tax accountant to help you, but you need to understand the big financial picture. What are your start-up costs? What are your ongoing costs? How much cash flow do you need to stay in business and pay yourself? These numbers are constantly changing, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
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If you’re handling your books and taxes yourself, be aware of how much time and effort it takes to stay on top of those tasks, and consider eventually hiring professionals when it makes sense to hand off the work.
Many carpet cleaning businesses eventually hire at least a few part-time helpers or cleaning techs. It can be difficult to stay on top of everything yourself, especially if you find some success in your marketing and establish a good reputation. Taking on and managing employees will drastically change your business, so it’s best to be prepared for the “boss” role.
One of the most important important qualities you can work to improve upon is your leadership ability. There are a ridiculous number of quality books to read on leadership, “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” (affiliate link) by John C. Maxwell is one of my top favorites. Learning how to build, grow, develop and train a team is also going to be something that you get better and better at along the way. Generally speaking your team will do about 50% of all the positive things you always do; and about 100% of the negative habits you have – so take the time to develop your own character and never stop improving. Cleaning carpets is very fun and rewarding work, but the fun factor is amplified by a large margin when working with a team.
It is last in our list, but probably the most important component of a successful carpet cleaning business: amazing customer service. In any service business your reputation is your most important asset, and making customers happy (even if you sometimes disagree with them) is incredibly important. If you dedicate yourself to always delivering stellar results and making your customers happy, you may be surprised at the success you have solely through word-of-mouth referrals. Sometimes this means re-doing a cleaning, or offering a discount or free service if you’ve made a mistake. Humility and grace both go a very long way when providing good customer service.
It is understandable that many new carpet cleaners get caught up in the details of equipment, cleaning techniques, and the act of completing jobs every day, but never forget that you won’t succeed without considering all aspects of your business. Often times it is the softer skills that you develop and train on, compounding over time that will separate you from other peers in the industry.
There is always going to be a company that is better than you at the actual cleaning, it’s your personality, charisma, charm, enthusiasm and passion – your ability to connect to your clients that will ultimately win you the results you desire. Plus, at the end of the day it’s just a lot more fun to treat people really good all day long – every day.