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Female business owners/techs

MidestCarpet

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Oct 9, 2019
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Ashley Holzwarth
Hello! I am a female business owner who employs females! Nothing against males, but none have applied to date. I started running my business full time early this year, after working part time at it for over 2 years.

This is obviously a male-dominated industry. I am looking for input from females as far as tips for avoiding muscle strains, sales techniques ... anything really. What have you learned from cleaning carpet that you may find to be of value particularly to another female? I have found that with residential carpet cleaning, my point of contact is more often female than male, and they often feel more at ease having a female in their home. I also think that overall, women have great attention to detail and this has served me well in this industry.

I am 5 ft 4 and in good shape but I wonder if this industry will take a big toll on my body over the years. At the same time, I worked a desk job for 10 years and that had opposite reasons for causing strains on my body --- such as poor posture, lack of activity, sitting at day, etc.....
 
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Mama Fen

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Hello! I am a female business owner who employs females! Nothing against males, but none have applied to date. I started running my business full time early this year, after working part time at it for over 2 years.

This is obviously a male-dominated industry. I am looking for input from females as far as tips for avoiding muscle strains, sales techniques ... anything really. What have you learned from cleaning carpet that you may find to be of value particularly to another female? I have found that with residential carpet cleaning, my point of contact is more often female than male, and they often feel more at ease having a female in their home. I also think that overall, women have great attention to detail and this has served me well in this industry.

I am 5 ft 4 and in good shape but I wonder if this industry will take a big toll on my body over the years. At the same time, I worked a desk job for 10 years and that had opposite reasons for causing strains on my body --- such as poor posture, lack of activity, sitting at day, etc.....
As a woman, and a five-foot one at that, may I congratulate you on choosing to step into what has classically been thought of as a man's industry! I run a small distributorship in the southeast, but I also spend a great deal of time in the field as a tech for both cleaning and restoration companies and have done quite a bit of work in both sides.

The women I see in this area tend to be more on the restoration side than the cleaning side (especially contents restoration), where our ability to "dial down" into details really shines. In cleaning, it can kind of trip us up because we get so focused on getting that one darn spot out - it's driving us CRAZY! - and we lose sight of the whole picture. On the other hand, we tend to be excellent at establishing rapport, upselling, and developing a lasting business relationship with the customer. Most of my women owners are specialized rather than generalized - in other words, they focus on things like area rugs, high-end upholstery, auto detailing, and other elements where their attention to detail becomes crucial.

You'll find that this is an industry where working smarter really does beat working harder. Economy of movement - setting everything up and doing it in a logical order to maximize productivity while minimizing effort - can make or break any cleaner in the first few months.

Wear and tear on the body can be lessened by doing things like:

- setting your tool handle at an appropriate height (your shoulder should not drop when you're on the outstroke, and many of my guys around here have it set way too low);

- switching "wanding" arms on alternating days and doing stretches both before and after every job;

- watching stroke length (yes, six-foot-strokes are sexy, but they kill your back; be content with four if you have to);

- using glides and keeping your psi low enough that your vacuum system can handle the removal without you having to scrub heck out of the carpet with your wand;

- even using powered tools that do the work for you rather than manual ones that require repetitive motions (they can be expensive, but the expense of PT, surgery, or chronic shoulder impingement is much greater).

Remember, when you bend down to pick up a newspaper and your back goes out, don't blame the newspaper. Blame the bad habits you fostered over the five years previous that wore out your discs.

Start out with good habits, protect your body and especially your joints, wear PPE when you're handling chemical concentrates, and there's NO reason a woman cannot achieve the same results (if not, dare I say, even better) as a man with the same tools.

Stay hydrated by carrying a cooler full of water in the truck. Avoid energy drinks at all costs. Graze on small things throughout the day rather than depending on a heavy meal or two to replenish your energy; make sure you carry high-protein snacks rather than carb-heavy ones. And sleep. Sleep plenty and recharge those batteries.
 

Spazznout

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Hi @MidestCarpet

Welcome to the Forum........

Sorry I am Not a woman.

However

Those aches and pains...we boys get em too.
Lots of stretching and work towards having enough employees that you do NOT have to push the wand every day. Working the wand everyday is truly a young person's game for MOST people. There are exceptions. But for most it will wear your body out eventually. I guess there is the inevitability that we start to get older too....Im 42.... so yeah....:cool:

@Mama Fen Is as usual Spot On in her post above this one....

Mrs. Fen is a very, very smart lady and someone to keep in your blackbook for a go to if you need answers.

Again...welcome...

PS

What city in the midwest do you operate?. I am in Columbus Ohio.
 

MidestCarpet

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Oct 9, 2019
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Ashley Holzwarth
[QUOTE
First, than you for taking the time to reply. You offered great input. I have spent a couple of years working in the cleaning industry as a housekeeper, and strongly agree that hydration is important as well as eating throughout the day to provide continue fuel for our bodies.

I am cleaning carpet 2 days a week but I am starting to focus more on that with the goal of phasing myself out of housekeeping. I have a couple of part time employees, and one of them works helps me on most carpet jobs. I find it very helpful to have an extra body there to set get things set up and to help take turn working the wand as needed. We use a manual and do have a rotary wand that we use when necessary. I have been going to the chiropractor every couple of weeks for a deep muscle treatment on my shoulders and treat myself to a full body massage at the spa on occasion.

I have been running a portable (I just started offering carpet cleaning service early this year). It has served me well but I know I am going to need to add a TM to my operation. Right now, I am focusing on building brand recognition and continually learning about various types of carpets, stains, and how to handle them properly.

The idea of purchasing a van and a truck mount overwhelms me sometimes. Part of it is that I have never operated a TM. But I think the biggest portion of my fear comes from self-doubt. Buying bigger equipment is a large investment and means I am all in. We spend large amounts of money on equipment for our farm all of the time....but this feels different to me.

Thanks again for all of your input and support! I really appreciate it
 

MidestCarpet

New Member
Oct 9, 2019
10
4
3
Real Name
Ashley Holzwarth
Hi @MidestCarpet

Welcome to the Forum........

Sorry I am Not a woman.

However

Those aches and pains...we boys get em too.
Lots of stretching and work towards having enough employees that you do NOT have to push the wand every day. Working the wand everyday is truly a young person's game for MOST people. There are exceptions. But for most it will wear your body out eventually. I guess there is the inevitability that we start to get older too....Im 42.... so yeah....:cool:

@Mama Fen Is as usual Spot On in her post above this one....

Mrs. Fen is a very, very smart lady and someone to keep in your blackbook for a go to if you need answers.

Again...welcome...

PS

What city in the midwest do you operate?. I am in Columbus Ohio.
Thanks! Yes, the days my employee helps on carpet are the best. Things most faster but it is also nice to get a break from doing the physical labor. I try to stretch and I am good about go in to my chiropractor for a deep tissue treatment and adjustment.

I am grateful for the responses I have received. While I have a strong backbone, I have also read through plenty of terrible comments and posts from male members that are sexist. There are also plenty of men, like yourself, that have been kind and helpful. But I just want to avoid sexism and bigotry as much as possible. I joined this forum to learn more about the industry I am working to establish a career in, not in sit on on 'sports bar' conversation. :)
 

Mama Fen

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Any large expenditure is scary, especially when it comes with "new territory" to explore - but the speed and cleaning ability which is conferred by a larger and more powerful unit means better results more quickly... which means more money.

When buying a truckmount, there are several things to consider that are not as flashy as power, but are equally important if not moreso:

- Who's going to service and maintain it? A staff member? A mechanic? Many distributors offer maintenance packages with the purchase of a unit, but this only covers the basics. If your unit throws a belt or busts a line mid-job, you've got to know how to handle it without doing damage to the customer's property.

- The cost up-front is substantial, but over time so is running cost, insurance coverage, fuel, etc. Like a car, most slide-in truckmounts are gasoline-fired engines, plus the added complexity of a vacuum system, a waste discharge system, and a water-pumping (and heating!) system. These must be inspected, lubed, cleaned, and maintained at all times, plus the van in which it's mounted will experience extra wear and tear from the weight. Put aside enough to cover the expense of running the machine after you've bought it.



As for running into sexism in this industry - yes, it happens. A lot.

Before I entered this playground eons ago, I ran the electrical, receiving, and tool departments of a big chain hardware store. Not exactly the world's most feminine job. I felt I had to prove myself twice as hard as a man did, work harder, learn faster, sweat more... and here in the southeast there's still a strong sense of "barefoot 'n' preggers" in some areas that simply isn't ready to be overcome yet.

But that's not my burden to bear, nor is it my problem to fix. All I can do is be the very best at whatever I'm doing at the moment, and if a man has his mind made up that MY best isn't as good as HIS best just because I don't have as much body hair, that's a him problem and not a me problem.

Being honest, many men who come into this business don't necessarily do so with a background that includes suits and ties and a boardroom personality. Quite a few don't even have standardized education. They tend to be smart, driven, good-hearted gents for the most part who want to do a good job and be on friendly terms with their network, but they don't always have the social niceties down to a science yet. They're also used to being treated a bit like slave labor by their customers, so they can be prickly when they're in their "home territory" - after all, this is their safe place, and it's not a place they're used to finding women in.

But you strike me through your posts as a tough cookie and a savvy businesswoman, and one who isn't afraid to back up what she says. So once you suffer through a little ribbing (and getting the mickey taken out of you), these fine gents will adopt you and give you every bit of respect you demand from them; they do the same thing to new male members, too. Think of it as very light fraternity hazing.

I have seen far worse places where blatant mysogyny is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

At least here, you earn respect for what you can do with the wand you hold in your hands, not the one you zip into your pants in the morning.

The guys here have accepted me into their tribe for the most part, lol, and I adore them all. Rob even did me the tremendous honor of visiting so we could shake hands and hug like real folks. Stick around, you'll be glad you did. There is much here to learn, and good friends to be made.