Considering Starting Carpet Cleaning

Kevin G

New Member
May 22, 2017
7
0
1
46
Real Name
Kevin Gulley
Hi. I thought I would introduce myself here and explain what I'm trying to do. I still need to work on my business plan. I originally had a lawn care business, which I always struggled with, but I did make enough progress with it to start thinking that it would really be better for me to get some kind of business going than to work in a traditional job.

I'm sure part of this thinking is just my personality. It seems like whenever I tell somebody that I want to start a business (or even after I started it) they seem to think I am crazy for trying to do that, but maybe the average person doesn't look at thing the same way. Things may have been different if I had a degree (I'm not sure about that, but it's possible). But since I don't have a degree now and I'm over 40, it doesn't seem to make that much sense for me to go back to school now.

I tried to restart my lawn service fairly recently, but I wasn't making enough money to replace my clutch when it finally went out on my truck, so I had to sell the truck. I lost all of my equipment as well, because I didn't have a space to store it and I couldn't afford the storage payments after my truck broke down.

I was offered a job at my girlfriend's company, and I wasn't real excited about it, but I had no job, so I took a job on a mobile stripping and waxing crew. Well, the job turned out to be a lot more stressful than I expected. You might be surprised that I've had a difficult time with a cleaning job if I could run my own business, but we have to go out of town and do large buildings (all the floors) on the weekends, sometimes with only 2 people. Sometimes we aren't even given the equipment that we need. I think the hours were stressing me out the most: it's not uncommon for me to work over 40 hours on the weekend (including driving time).

This led to an incident at work with me stressing out and walking off the job on a Sunday night. I just felt like I couldn't take the stress anymore. I thought I would be fired, of course, but I intended to quit anyway. Well it turns out that I wasn't fired, and they asked me what I want to do now, and I didn't tell them I want to quit, but I am thinking about my answer very carefully before I tell them.

If I can't handle that job, possibly I still need another one (maybe part time) so I can get a business started. Either way, I am not afraid to try with almost nothing. The cost of the equipment looks pretty intimidating, but the equipment for lawn service can also be really expensive, and I was able to make things work without any loans.

I was considering starting with encapsulation, possibly with an Orbiter. I know it might be a little slow, since it's only 12" but maybe it's a starting point. I'm not sure about pet urine, for example. I don't know if I would need a little hot water extractor just for stains, but then it seems like a waste to spend $700 on a little extractor; maybe I should just save that for a 12 gal. portable.

I also don't have much experience, so I'm going to have to learn the chemicals needed. I worked for a few months for a guy who had a TM, but I don't remember the chemicals he used. I've cleaned carpets for my current company, but I don't even think they do it right. The small extractor they have doesn't even heat it's own water (although I admit the carpet does look better after we use it). Sometimes we use the 175 machines, but the only solution we have to use with those is Resolve, so we have to use more water than I would like. I don't know why they don't do encapsulation. So I'm not sure how much I will learn from them on carpet, even if can continue to work for them.

Anyway, if it's possible I would like to get started with whatever I can. I was thinking I could do a demonstration (maybe $15 for a the first room?) might help get my foot in the door on my marketing. I could possibly get financing through SCORE, if I can develop a good business plan, but it may be difficult to really put the plan together at this point, without going in there and trying it out.
 

Mama Fen

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2012
3,895
4,379
113
Real Name
no name
Business Location
United States
Hi. I thought I would introduce myself here and explain what I'm trying to do. I still need to work on my business plan. I originally had a lawn care business, which I always struggled with, but I did make enough progress with it to start thinking that it would really be better for me to get some kind of business going than to work in a traditional job.

I'm sure part of this thinking is just my personality. It seems like whenever I tell somebody that I want to start a business (or even after I started it) they seem to think I am crazy for trying to do that, but maybe the average person doesn't look at thing the same way. Things may have been different if I had a degree (I'm not sure about that, but it's possible). But since I don't have a degree now and I'm over 40, it doesn't seem to make that much sense for me to go back to school now.

I tried to restart my lawn service fairly recently, but I wasn't making enough money to replace my clutch when it finally went out on my truck, so I had to sell the truck. I lost all of my equipment as well, because I didn't have a space to store it and I couldn't afford the storage payments after my truck broke down.

I was offered a job at my girlfriend's company, and I wasn't real excited about it, but I had no job, so I took a job on a mobile stripping and waxing crew. Well, the job turned out to be a lot more stressful than I expected. You might be surprised that I've had a difficult time with a cleaning job if I could run my own business, but we have to go out of town and do large buildings (all the floors) on the weekends, sometimes with only 2 people. Sometimes we aren't even given the equipment that we need. I think the hours were stressing me out the most: it's not uncommon for me to work over 40 hours on the weekend (including driving time).

This led to an incident at work with me stressing out and walking off the job on a Sunday night. I just felt like I couldn't take the stress anymore. I thought I would be fired, of course, but I intended to quit anyway. Well it turns out that I wasn't fired, and they asked me what I want to do now, and I didn't tell them I want to quit, but I am thinking about my answer very carefully before I tell them.

If I can't handle that job, possibly I still need another one (maybe part time) so I can get a business started. Either way, I am not afraid to try with almost nothing. The cost of the equipment looks pretty intimidating, but the equipment for lawn service can also be really expensive, and I was able to make things work without any loans.

I was considering starting with encapsulation, possibly with an Orbiter. I know it might be a little slow, since it's only 12" but maybe it's a starting point. I'm not sure about pet urine, for example. I don't know if I would need a little hot water extractor just for stains, but then it seems like a waste to spend $700 on a little extractor; maybe I should just save that for a 12 gal. portable.

I also don't have much experience, so I'm going to have to learn the chemicals needed. I worked for a few months for a guy who had a TM, but I don't remember the chemicals he used. I've cleaned carpets for my current company, but I don't even think they do it right. The small extractor they have doesn't even heat it's own water (although I admit the carpet does look better after we use it). Sometimes we use the 175 machines, but the only solution we have to use with those is Resolve, so we have to use more water than I would like. I don't know why they don't do encapsulation. So I'm not sure how much I will learn from them on carpet, even if can continue to work for them.

Anyway, if it's possible I would like to get started with whatever I can. I was thinking I could do a demonstration (maybe $15 for a the first room?) might help get my foot in the door on my marketing. I could possibly get financing through SCORE, if I can develop a good business plan, but it may be difficult to really put the plan together at this point, without going in there and trying it out.


My first concern here is, you've mentioned stress and working too many hours as being the reasons you don't like what you do. This industry seems to thrive on stress, lol, and don't expect to work 40-hour weeks in it either. To do this stuff and do it well, you need to be prepared for hard labor, difficult (or "challenging", "high-maintenance", pick your euphemism) customers, and the crazy sleep habits and worries most commonly associated with bringing home a brand-new baby.

I think the idea of VLM is a great start - low cost compared to HWE startup, and while it may limit your ability to deal with deep soil deposits and such, you can easily use that $700 spotter to tackle those (by the way, it's also great for doing upholstery and auto detailing). Also, when you have a multi-truck company and a good customer calls in a panic because her dog just made a whoopsie on her area rug, you can whisk to her rescue with the spotter in your passenger seat without calling a truck off the job to come rescue her.

Invest in an education before you buy a single piece of equipment, however. Whether it's IICRC, Rob's TMF school, or any other industry-specific training, get to understand the intrinsic concepts of why we clean carpet the way we do before you make a decision on creating the business. You just might save yourself a lot of money doing so!
 

Kevin G

New Member
May 22, 2017
7
0
1
46
Real Name
Kevin Gulley
I understand that I will probably have a good deal of stress being self-employed. But at least I can hope to be paid better for it. Typically on the stripping an waxing mobile crew I only get hours on the weekend. So I may work 3 double shifts in a row and I get no overtime, and then no work for the rest of the week. Sure, I don't really get overtime if I own the business, but at least I should make more money, if I'm going to be stressed out anyway! lol Perhaps some education would be helpful.
 

Qwikdry

Well-Known Member
Dec 2, 2012
1,812
770
113
Real Name
Russell
Business Location
United States
I would skip the Vlm and buy a full size portable like you said. At least 300 Psi pressure or 500 Psi. I would go with a clean storm or mytee portable extractor with dual 3 stage vacuum motors.
 

Jack

Well-Known Member
Oct 4, 2012
778
259
63
70
Washington
www.criticalcarpetcare.com
Real Name
Jack Jones
Business Location
United States
Is there any way you can get a job with a reputable carpet cleaning company and get some experience, or do a ride along with someone in your area before you strike out on your own? It sounds like if a new business doesn't go well for you right away you're going to go belly up. No way would I go in debt to start out until you get experience/education. Do what you have to do to save a little money and go part time and it won't take you long to figure out if this industry is for you. Welcome to the forum and good luck with whatever you decide. By the way, where are you located?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kevin G

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
38,561
19,905
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
Come here to the TMF school for a week and leave with knowledge to know what your doing saving you a ton of headaches and expenses. Or go it alone and have a ton headaches and expenses. Just saying
 

rob allen

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 5, 2007
38,561
19,905
113
Va.
www.drynclean.com
Real Name
Robert Allen,Jr.
Business Location
United States
  • Like
Reactions: Common janitor

Kyle8

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2016
2,013
565
113
36
Real Name
Kyle manor
Come here to the TMF school for a week and leave with knowledge to know what your doing saving you a ton of headaches and expenses. Or go it alone and have a ton headaches and expenses. Just saying
Rob i would love to come to your school would be so cool. I need to get a big commercial job and jist give you all the money.
 
  • Like
Reactions: rob allen

jtsunbrite

Premium VIP
Sep 4, 2015
8,000
4,482
113
59
Houston, Texas
Real Name
jeff kessler
Business Location
United States
Come here to the TMF school for a week and leave with knowledge to know what your doing saving you a ton of headaches and expenses. Or go it alone and have a ton headaches and expenses. Just saying
This is the best avenue to consider if your serious because you can get the training the right way and have something solid to fall back on when you need some help because its all there...

This seriously is something you need to think about !
 

PistolPete

Well-Known Member
Sep 28, 2014
2,124
1,351
113
Real Name
Peter Dymond
Getting the equipment is one part, getting the knowledge is another and getting the customers is another.
Equipment takes money, the education takes time & effort and getting customers is the hardest part.
This is not an easy business to start up, but you can make good money.
Just wondering why you couldn't keep the landscaping biz going?
Carpet cleaning is a similar business model.
My advice is start researching / learning. Get a job with a local carpet cleaning company and learn.
Save, save, save. You will need some basic startup capital for equipment and marketing.
Good luck, there are many really great guys on here who will help & encourage you, but it's you that has to do it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kevin G

Kevin G

New Member
May 22, 2017
7
0
1
46
Real Name
Kevin Gulley
I would skip the Vlm and buy a full size portable like you said. At least 300 Psi pressure or 500 Psi. I would go with a clean storm or mytee portable extractor with dual 3 stage vacuum motors.

Well, that would make more sense if I had a larger vehicle. I was thinking maybe I could fit the smaller one in my car (the 3 gal Mytee). But I don't think it would be that great for doing carpet. Maybe I could start with upholstery. I could do spot removal with it also, but the problem with that is if I only extracted the spot the carpet around it would still be dirty.
 

Kevin G

New Member
May 22, 2017
7
0
1
46
Real Name
Kevin Gulley
Is there any way you can get a job with a reputable carpet cleaning company and get some experience, or do a ride along with someone in your area before you strike out on your own? It sounds like if a new business doesn't go well for you right away you're going to go belly up. No way would I go in debt to start out until you get experience/education. Do what you have to do to save a little money and go part time and it won't take you long to figure out if this industry is for you. Welcome to the forum and good luck with whatever you decide. By the way, where are you located?

That would be better if I could work for a carpet service or at least ride along. I know I didn't specify in my original post (it was already pretty long) but I wouldn't try to do financing until I had some money coming in. But I am concerned about my lack of experience. I don't want to show up at the customer's house and not know how to remove a stain. It's hard enough to get those customers in the first place! I live in San Antonio, TX. Maybe there are some other members here?
 

Kevin G

New Member
May 22, 2017
7
0
1
46
Real Name
Kevin Gulley
Come here to the TMF school for a week and leave with knowledge to know what your doing saving you a ton of headaches and expenses. Or go it alone and have a ton headaches and expenses. Just saying

OK, I'll consider that. Can you send me more information on the school or tell me where I can find it? I was looking for information on that, and I found a schedule for certification classes but I think that class was only one day and it wasn't going to be here until October.
 

Kevin G

New Member
May 22, 2017
7
0
1
46
Real Name
Kevin Gulley
Getting the equipment is one part, getting the knowledge is another and getting the customers is another.
Equipment takes money, the education takes time & effort and getting customers is the hardest part.
This is not an easy business to start up, but you can make good money.
Just wondering why you couldn't keep the landscaping biz going?
Carpet cleaning is a similar business model.
My advice is start researching / learning. Get a job with a local carpet cleaning company and learn.
Save, save, save. You will need some basic startup capital for equipment and marketing.
Good luck, there are many really great guys on here who will help & encourage you, but it's you that has to do it.

I think the hardest part about the landscaping business was getting the customers. I was starting to do some actual landscaping, but most of my income was generated from residential maintenance. The method that I found worked consistently (but very slowly) was passing out flyers in neighborhoods. I was starting to build up a customer base (I had around 30 regular customers) but I think the biggest problem was poor organization and accounting. I don't think I added up all my costs and I didn't save enough money. I know on some accounts I was not charging enough, so that combined with not reinvesting enough money in my business ended up losing customers, because my equipment was not reliable enough and customers aren't going to wait 2 weeks to mow the lawn because the mowers are in the shop.

So since then I've still tried to start that business up again. I think I've had a hard time finding the right customers. I tried in my neighborhood, to save money on gas and vehicle expenses, but then people didn't want to pay enough or they wanted to wait too long until they called me back to mow. So started driving out of my area, to target newer neighborhoods. I had some success with that. Then I thought I got lucky and found a realtor who was flipping houses. He was giving me some more business, but my profits weren't that great because I was driving all over town just to do $40 jobs. I think I lost him because I mowed a lawn for him one time that was too large for my equipment and he didn't like my price. And not long after that the clutch went out on my truck and I didn't have the money saved yet to fix it.
 

Kyle8

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2016
2,013
565
113
36
Real Name
Kyle manor
Buy a mytee portable for sure 300 to 500 psi and modify it for pump out or get one with a pump out.
Hydro infection sprayer and you are in business. Buy some bio break pre spray and some rinse agent. Put 6 scoops bio break in ths injection sprayer
 

longkenn

Well-Known Member
May 7, 2011
4,936
2,377
113
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
www.sunbreezeclean.com
Real Name
Kenneth Long
Business Location
United States
I think the hardest part about the landscaping business was getting the customers. I was starting to do some actual landscaping, but most of my income was generated from residential maintenance. The method that I found worked consistently (but very slowly) was passing out flyers in neighborhoods. I was starting to build up a customer base (I had around 30 regular customers) but I think the biggest problem was poor organization and accounting. I don't think I added up all my costs and I didn't save enough money. I know on some accounts I was not charging enough, so that combined with not reinvesting enough money in my business ended up losing customers, because my equipment was not reliable enough and customers aren't going to wait 2 weeks to mow the lawn because the mowers are in the shop.

So since then I've still tried to start that business up again. I think I've had a hard time finding the right customers. I tried in my neighborhood, to save money on gas and vehicle expenses, but then people didn't want to pay enough or they wanted to wait too long until they called me back to mow. So started driving out of my area, to target newer neighborhoods. I had some success with that. Then I thought I got lucky and found a realtor who was flipping houses. He was giving me some more business, but my profits weren't that great because I was driving all over town just to do $40 jobs. I think I lost him because I mowed a lawn for him one time that was too large for my equipment and he didn't like my price. And not long after that the clutch went out on my truck and I didn't have the money saved yet to fix it.
The hardest part about any business is getting the customers. You need to treat your business as a marketing company that does a great job of carpet cleaning. If you struggled getting customers for a much needed service like lawn care, you are going to struggle even more with carpet cleaning as many repeat customers will only clean their carpet once a year or less. Some better customers will get it done two times per year and once in a great while you will find one like I have that gets her carpet cleaned every month. Educate yourself on marketing and carpet cleaning and then be the best in the industry in your area at both.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kevin G and Jack