Growing pains. How you went from owner op to multiple vans? | TruckMount Forums #1 Carpet Cleaning Forums

Growing pains. How you went from owner op to multiple vans?

andrek60

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May 4, 2011
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So its no secret that going from one van where you're the owner operator to having multiple vans with employees is a headache. I would like to hear from those of you who did it and how hard was it? Any advice ? Im at the point where if I push and start getting any more business I may need to expand in some way. I do now between 18 and 22 jobs a week on my own. But i also realise that to have another van I would need to do at least 10 more jobs a week and I just don't know how long that would take to grow
 

awratchford

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Jun 9, 2014
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Well looking at it from a different angle. Perhaps instead of picking up jobs, increase your ticket. Then less jobs make the same money.

Adding a second can add lots of expenses.

Example:

Truckmount. $500 a month
Tech: $@1500 month
Gas $ 400
Vehicle insurance $150
Chemicals $100
Approximately $2600 in expenses just to add another van, which means @ the first $3k that van makes every month is just to break even.
 

groutguy

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I'm in the process of doing this now, but taking it slow. I'm lucky that I have my son who has worked with me since highschool, he is now 24. He just got married 2 weeks ago also. We have been mostly running 1 van but just bought another last week. We have been slammed with business from referrals, google and repeats to the point where we were we were always booked out 2 weeks+ even through this very mild winter we had, so needless to say we lost a lot of people looking for quick service. I had to do something because I felt horrible having to turn away long term customers and property managers.

So my plan now is to catch up the schedule so we can start adding same day or next day appointments by splitting up. We will still work together on days that we're not needing both trucks. I have had my home advisor leads off for almost 2-3 years as I have not needed them, but I will likely turn them back on. I am also considering utilizing angies list more and maybe even responding to the 10-20 thumbtack requests we get every week. Although I have not had much success with thumbtack.

Once I have the two trucks operating smoothly and making bank then I will think about hiring entry level help to make our jobs a little easier. One thing I learned this month is that it is much quicker and efficient having a helper. My son took a month long honeymoon and I have been really struggling to get all the jobs done and I feel like I have been hit by a train. He returns to work Monday the 22nd of May, and then it is on like donkey kong.

I will let you know how the growth plan is going later in the year.

I also think housecall has been a major contributor to our growth and ability to retain our customers for life. Until we started that I was a horrible at record keeping and marketing to my existing customers. The housecall postcard and email thank you's we send out after every job has also netted us 56 5 star google reviews this year, keeping us on the top.
 
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groutguy

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pristinepete.com
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Well looking at it from a different angle. Perhaps instead of picking up jobs, increase your ticket. Then less jobs make the same money.
A very good point I forgot to add! For a long time I have struggled with the idea of raising prices in fear of loosing customers, however I raised my prices by only $5 per room/area about 2 weeks ago and nobody has said a thing about it. $5 doesn't seem like much but each ticket has gone up an average of $25-$30 times 4-5 jobs a day time 5 days a week brings in over 2k more per month! Like I said, lost no customers thus far.
 

andrek60

Member
May 4, 2011
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I'm in the process of doing this now, but taking it slow. I'm lucky that I have my son who has worked with me since highschool, he is now 24. He just got married 2 weeks ago also. We have been mostly running 1 van but just bought another last week. We have been slammed with business from referrals, google and repeats to the point where we were we were always booked out 2 weeks+ even through this very mild winter we had, so needless to say we lost a lot of people looking for quick service. I had to do something because I felt horrible having to turn away long term customers and property managers.

So my plan now is to catch up the schedule so we can start adding same day or next day appointments by splitting up. We will still work together on days that we're not needing both trucks. I have had my home advisor leads off for almost 2-3 years as I have not needed them, but I will likely turn them back on. I am also considering utilizing angies list more and maybe even responding to the 10-20 thumbtack requests we get every week. Although I have not had much success with thumbtack.

Once I have the two trucks operating smoothly and making bank then I will think about hiring entry level help to make our jobs a little easier. One thing I learned this month is that it is much quicker and efficient having a helper. My son took a month long honeymoon and I have been really struggling to get all the jobs done and I feel like I have been hit by a train. He returns to work Monday the 22nd of May, and then it is on like donkey kong.

I will let you know how the growth plan is going later in the year.

I also think housecall has been a major contributor to our growth and ability to retain our customers for life. Until we started that I was a horrible at record keeping and marketing to my existing customers. The housecall postcard and email thank you's we send out after every job has also netted us 56 5 star google reviews this year, keeping us on the top.

Good info there. I find that I get the jobs done faster when working alone. Maybe it's just a case of having someone trained enough where a helper actually speeds things up. I find it that when I had helpers, they're much slower then I am and also knowing I have someone helping, tends to relax me a bit and I slow down my self. When It's just me, I pump through it and go faster...How have you been doing with housecall pro emails? I send people thank you emails and urge them to leave me a review, but it seams to be working on maybe 1 out of 100 customers. What do you put in your email if you don't mind me asking? Oh, and Thumbtack has been a total waste of money for me. At least here in the Pacific Northwest. Too much competition that if I land with one job per 5 bids, it ends up costing me like 40 bucks sometimes more for that one job.
 

andrek60

Member
May 4, 2011
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Oh, and I raised my special advertising 3 rooms by $10 and so far same thing. Still getting almost as many calls. For a while there I noticed all the competition around me started lowering their prices to match mine and I saw the trend going in the wrong direction lol. A year later it seams the carpet cleaners are charging less. Then I saw one raise their price in their advertising, so that was my cue. I raised mine as well. Hopefully others will follow. But anyway, the point is it hasn't slowed my calls.
 

Pinosan

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Well looking at it from a different angle. Perhaps instead of picking up jobs, increase your ticket. Then less jobs make the same money.

Adding a second can add lots of expenses.

Example:

Truckmount. $500 a month
Tech: $@1500 month
Gas $ 400
Vehicle insurance $150
Chemicals $100
Approximately $2600 in expenses just to add another van, which means @ the first $3k that van makes every month is just to break even.
good math but just remember, the second truck will only need to sell $300 20 days of the month to double the expenses and guarantee you a good 30% to 40% profit.

very doable. one medium size job to or two small ones a day.
















5 to 40
 

awratchford

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Jun 9, 2014
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good math but just remember, the second truck will only need to sell $300 20 days of the month to double the expenses and guarantee you a good 30% to 40% profit.

very doable. one medium size job to or two small ones a day.
















5 to 40
Good point
 

andrek60

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May 4, 2011
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yeah, the tough part is to constantly have enough work to keep your second van on the road. And at what point do you get off the road and sit in the office taking and booking calls and dispatching your guys. Seams like you can't really make the same money as a one man show until you have at least 3 trucks on the road. Am I missing something?
 

Pinosan

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yeah, the tough part is to constantly have enough work to keep your second van on the road. And at what point do you get off the road and sit in the office taking and booking calls and dispatching your guys. Seams like you can't really make the same money as a one man show until you have at least 3 trucks on the road. Am I missing something?
yes, not something you and I are missing a lot. I'm studying this whole thing and I came to learn that being in the office all day booking jobs and setting evaluations would give me more money than working all day.
I will hire a couple of youngsters easy to motivate and cheap at the start
and an experienced guy with not so bad habits.

my investment to keep them busy will be huge at the beginning but if things go right, the ROI will be huge and for the life of their employment with me.
sometimes I wonder what have I been so fool all this time.
 
Jan 31, 2015
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Stephen jones
I'm in the same boat with you guys. I bought another van and truckmount, because my business has really taken off, but I just haven't been able to find another person to train and run another truck for me. I don't have an illusions that I'll be sitting back doing no work, but I just wanted to have my second truck out there doing jobs but it's already May and it hasn't happened yet. So it's definitely frustrated. I have a helper, but he's a college kid and I don't think he could be a solo tech. So I'm frustrated all around.
 

jtsunbrite

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Im just trying to get to the point where I'm consistently booking 2 weeks in advance. There have been several weeks in the past year where I was only booked 3 to 4 days out.
I found that when I was being booked up two weeks in advance I did not have the ability to do the on the spot jobs,, So I bought a van, bought everything I needed along the way, and Hired a guy to train.. after about 3 weeks I let him go out on his own, Having two trucks running we dropped down to about 4 days out in advance for a while, then it started picking back up to where we were getting two weeks out again. At that point I was completely ready for the hire and I hired the third truck and it went the same for the 4th truck. This is where we have been at for 3 straight years and finally we are approaching solid 2 weeks booked in advance.. I am ready and looking for a guy... I like the young guys with a family the best ,, because they really need the job...

during this time we were stuck at 4 trucks,, I have been working on teaching them everything else they didn't know and stressing quality, I have tried damn near every product made in America to see which is the best chems so I can help myself and my guys to make the most they can make. So this last year our legend in the Houston area is growing and people are calling!! so this summer im sure number 5 will be on the road.
 

crash1big

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So its no secret that going from one van where you're the owner operator to having multiple vans with employees is a headache. I would like to hear from those of you who did it and how hard was it? Any advice ? Im at the point where if I push and start getting any more business I may need to expand in some way. I do now between 18 and 22 jobs a week on my own. But i also realise that to have another van I would need to do at least 10 more jobs a week and I just don't know how long that would take to grow
I've said this before. Some of the responsibilities need to be delegated. Advertising, sales, office, the work itself, etc. If you are going to grow; all the different aspects of the business need to be addressed. You can do it all and stay smaller or you can grow and assign work to someone else.

I started by making lists for every aspect of my business like the ones I mentioned. Then I grouped the tasks as if I might assign some of those tasks to someone. I could assign some to me, and some to someone else.

You could assign the jobs to a good tech while you manage other aspects of the business; or you could hire an office person to do the office tasks, while you do the work.

The reality of this is that you will deal with employees that have a life and an opinion. Their opinion should only count if you say so, and they need to adjust their life around your schedule.
One of the best ways to address these issues is with an employee handbook. In it you let them know what to expect and what is expected. A good detailed outline on things from when to be at work to how to apply for time off to how to handle the customer, proper attire and so on. Starting pay to advancement to you name it. (literally).

Try to remember what most employees want. Big pay, short hours, lots of vacation and early retirement. :)
 
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Harry Mullett

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What gets to be the challenge with growth is when you get to a point that you are paying support staff employees like office workers/managers that don't actually bring in an income for the company. I think it would take about 5 vans to be able to make more money then an owner operator and support the owner as a manager.

Most people that find success with employees hire family members or friends. If you hire a complete stranger good luck.

Finding a sweet spot for yourself as a business person is the challenge.
 

rccva

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I am taking a different approach, I am starting to branch out into other areas. I am realizing that if I know someone with different interest and abilities, I can start a business under my cleaning umbrella, with them being the primary labor and primary owner. I help them start, buy equipment and help grow it using my current customer base and take a small percentage each month. As it continues to grow they are happy doing what they enjoy, being a business owner and seeing that business grow. it's a win/win. If the business falls apart for some reason I sell the equipment and close that part of the business down, or find someone else who wants to do it.

I already have something in the works for 2018, I have a person ready to go, just need to work out the details and start picking up the needed equipment to get started. I'm thinking if I can get 4 or 5 different businesses running I will be good for awhile. Definitely fun.
 

Mama Fen

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I'm in the same boat with you guys. I bought another van and truckmount, because my business has really taken off, but I just haven't been able to find another person to train and run another truck for me. I don't have an illusions that I'll be sitting back doing no work, but I just wanted to have my second truck out there doing jobs but it's already May and it hasn't happened yet. So it's definitely frustrated. I have a helper, but he's a college kid and I don't think he could be a solo tech. So I'm frustrated all around.

Hi Stephen! Good to see you! :LOL:


The guys here have a terrible time finding "good help" - their fresh young bucks off the street are finding that carpet cleaning is too much like hard labor and they wander off the job after a few weeks. Or they get arrested. Or they destroy a rug and shrug it off.

If I had a dollar for every time the phone rang and it was a guy looking for "good help", I wouldn't be driving this desk any more, lol...

The only stopgap I can give them is to network with other cleaners in their area and start sharing the love - there's more than enough carpet to go around, and sometimes working jobs together with someone you trust as a 'competitor' who won't stab you in the back afterward beats not answering the phone when it rings.
 

ACP

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The nice thing about not being completely owner operator but somewhere in between is when other business related tasks need to get done you have help.

Things like washing the trucks, keeping them clean inside and out.. Oil changes, if there happens to be a call back, stop somewhere for a quick estimate on their way back.

My mind set is if I am not the one digging the dirt then I can line more dirt up to be dug.

It only works if your hungry and out making it happen while they bang out the jobs. If your sitting in the office playing with TMF forum then good luck lol
 
Jan 31, 2015
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I understand exactly what you mean. What I want is solid help that is dependable. I know I'm still gonna be on the truck and I'm fine with that. I just need someone to run another van so I'm not so swamped and worn out. I do apartments and residential. My days can get pretty crazy sometimes and I want to spread out the work.
 

Harry Mullett

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I understand exactly what you mean. What I want is solid help that is dependable. I know I'm still gonna be on the truck and I'm fine with that. I just need someone to run another van so I'm not so swamped and worn out. I do apartments and residential. My days can get pretty crazy sometimes and I want to spread out the work.
Do you have an assistant working with you? Try having someone work with you and develop systems to increase production and train the person. If you have a machine that is able to dual wand you could have two workers helping bang out the jobs with you building customer relations, cleaning a little, supervising and answering the phones. Then when you need another van the assistant can become the lead tec. and you hire another assistant for you and the tec.