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How Carpet Cleaners Can Get Started With Government Contracts

Mrs.SpeedySteamer

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How Carpet Cleaners can get started with Government Contracts

Tiffany P.

Owner of Speedy Steamer Your Carpet Cleaner​


A little background first of course. I am fortunate enough to be a Federal Employee and be raised in a household with Federal Employees. My sister is a contract specialist for the Feds. For those of you that know that title you can understand how she has helped in our commercial growth over the years. A contract specialist receives an assigned project in the area they represent. Those projects have to be filled usually by a local business (this is where the Small Business Association, aka SBA, comes in). They’ll create, post, and accept bids for a contract that needs to be filled.

After a year in business my sister recommended that I register with the SBA. Items needed for registration:
  • Your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code
  • Your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS)
  • Your Federal Tax Identification Number
  • Your Product Service codes (optional)
  • Your Federal Supply Classification codes (optional)
  • (SBA. Register Government Contracts. 2013)

DUNS is a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of your business. DUNS # assignment is free for all businesses required to register with the federal government for contracts or grants. Your SIC Number for Carpet/Upholstery Cleaning is 7217. You will need this number for your DUN #.

Once you have your DUNS you will need to register your business with the federal government’s System for Awards Management (SAM) www.sam.gov/portable/public/SAM/.

Next, many state, cities and federal contracts also use the NAICS code. If you’re doing Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Services your code is 561740. Generally what falls under this code is:

  • Carpet Cleaning on customers’ premises
  • Carpet Cleaning plants
  • Carpet Cleaning Services
  • Cleaning Carpets
  • Cleaning Rugs
  • Furniture cleaning on customers’ premises

There are several other titles, but just to many to list for this article. If you wish to look up your NAICS yourself please visit, www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.

Now that you have your DUNS#, registered with SAM, and have your NAICS code you can visit government contracting pages:

(SBA. Register Government Contracts. 2013)

There are many pros and cons going with a local, state, or federal contract.

1. It is a contract that is usually two to five years long (some last as long as 15 years, but why would you sign a contract for 15 years?).

2. Their contract specialist does research to make sure that you can afford to do business with the government (therefore the lowest bid isn’t always the winner).

3. Payments are usually made on time.

Cons

1. It is the government, and sometimes government goes on furlough or sends out IOUs.

2. Punishment for any wrong doings on your business part is a ding against your business that last for up to five years.

3. Some buildings security is an issue, being diversified in equipment will help.

4. Because security can be a major factor having a clean background is required. You may think arrest and such is a no brainer. But it gets deeper than that. Having clean credit history is also considered in your background. BUT if you do get the clearance you would be able to clean carpet in buildings many carpet cleaners can't go!

Once your business is all set you can log in and start checking the local listings in your area. There are many niches to be discovered for government contracts.

One niche we discovered was "Women-Owned Small Businesses” (WOSB) contract. Small businesses that registered their NAICS code as WOSB are eligible to receive award of contract if the buying agency makes this a requirement. But this is a story for another day. For right now enjoy and explore the contracts in your area.

Good Luck!
Tiffany

p.s.
Since I wrote this article a year ago we are no longer doing any new commercial work. We have had a few contracts in the past, nothing longer than a year. Our latest one we've re-bid every year with the same price. We are no longer taking on new commercial jobs and have started referring all commercial work out. Just waiting for our DUN to expire and our name to be pulled from the list.
 

Tater

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Richard Whithers
Another con, the contracts...like 5 years, means that you may be cleaning for less profit in year 5 than in year 1. As far as WOSB , that is very true, and they are ALWAYS looking to throw cash at American Indian minorities. They will pay more money to these minority businesses as well. So if low bid was 10k, and you are a AM Indian and your bid is 15k, there is a great chance you would win the bid. Frankly, I think its BS, but it is what it is. I even knew a guy who opened some real estate in an area HUD deemed a bad area. He won a lot of bids, even though he really did not do business in that area. Thats the main reason I dont do a lot of these. Im just a hard working Caucasian American.
 

Mrs.SpeedySteamer

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That is only if you raise your prices. You have to be smart and anticipate possible changes. I wouldn't sign a government contract for cleaning for more than two years. There is always something going on with our government.

WOSB = Woman Owned Small Business

The government does look at these a little closers especially when it is advertised. My husband is white as well, but we still bid and received contracts. We worked the system about six months in changing the ownership to me 51% and him 49%. Making it a woman owned business. But it doesn't really seem to matter unless that is what they are looking for. They usually tell you in the bid who receives preference/status
  • Veteran Owned
  • Woman Owned
  • Minority Owned (although in some cases woman owned falls into this category as well).

All I have to say is doors will open and doors will be slammed in your face. You just have to keep moving forward, who cares how much someone else is putting into their pockets. What matters is what is going into yours.