Small Town Carpet Cleaner

OxiFreshGuy

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Nov 12, 2016
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Matthew Frein
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Wife and I are are thinking of buying a 1893 built Victorian style home and renovating it back to its former glory.

We are getting it offered at a steal - $55,000 but it's 1 hour away from the major city of St. Louis.

Long story short - if I decided I didn't want to make the drive into St. Louis every day, the population of Sullivan is about 8,000 people and all the neighboring territories in a 25 mile radius is about 50,000 people total.

I feel like that's enough to start a small-town cleaning business and do reasonably well.

Anyone else have experience like this in a smaller/rural environment?

For comparison the St. Louis market has easily a million+ clientelle.
 

SRD

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I know two cleaners that did really well where i grew up, pop 6000. If people in my home town wanted any kind of cleaning or restoration services they used one or the other. Both of them seemed to do really well.
Plus it would be yours
 

AZHome&Carpet

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Michael Stevens
We live in a tiny area. Keep your expenses down, live simple and you can do it! I love it, and wouldn’t trade it for a big city market for anything.
 
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Todd the Cleaner

Todd Cottino
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Todd Cottino
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I live in a town of 40,000 an hour away from Las Vegas. I was born and raised in Vegas so a lot of my contacts are there.

We moved to Pahrump 15 years ago and for the first 7 years I continued to drive to Vegas 6 days a week for work. I finally started my own business out here in 2011. It was hard at first. My first year I averaged $500-700 gross a week and most of that was in Vegas. For the first 4 years as my business grew the majority of my work was still in Vegas so I was doing a lot of driving. I was working on growing my business in Pahrump as well but it was slow to grow.

I’m now 8 years in business and I’ve finally made a name for myself here. I am known in town as one of the best cleaners. A couple years ago I finally reached the point that I was working more in Pahrump than I was in Vegas. I’m about 70% Pahrump and 30% Vegas as of right now. I’ve cut my Vegas days down to 2 days a week and I book all my Vegas jobs for those days.

One thing that really helped was getting my van lettered. I don’t think the lettering is as big of deal in Vegas since there are literally thousands of cleaners there but out here in the small town it’s made a huge difference. I drive my van everywhere and I get calls daily from people seeing me. Every time I go to the gas station I have people talking to me. There are several other cleaners in town but only two of us have lettered vans and the two of us pretty much rule the town as far as cleaning goes. My first 3 years in business I just had a plain white van, quite honestly the day I lettered my van was the day my business started to grow in Pahrump.

The other thing people love in small communities is “supporting small business”. I’ve heavily focused on the fact that I’m a small family owned business. I have my families pucture on my website, business cards, and any mailers I send out. People love it. I’m constantly getting comments on how people love seeing my family. It’s really worked to my advantage. I’ll put a picture of my business card below.

The last thing that is great about small communities is the fact there is little competition to rank your website on google. Get your website ASAP and within a short time you should come up on the first page of google. Make sure you register on google maps too.

82788
 

Scott W

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Wife and I are are thinking of buying a 1893 built Victorian style home and renovating it back to its former glory.

We are getting it offered at a steal - $55,000 but it's 1 hour away from the major city of St. Louis.

Long story short - if I decided I didn't want to make the drive into St. Louis every day, the population of Sullivan is about 8,000 people and all the neighboring territories in a 25 mile radius is about 50,000 people total.

I feel like that's enough to start a small-town cleaning business and do reasonably well.

Anyone else have experience like this in a smaller/rural environment?

For comparison the St. Louis market has easily a million+ clientelle.
The town I started my cleaning business in had a population of about 7,000 at the time I started. (It has grown to over 10,00 over 40+ years.) Our entire county was 32,000. Adding in portions of nearby counties, I had a population of about 45,000 in my service area.

We did OK. I did make sure we had some commercial accounts on a quarterly and monthly basis to even out the roller coaster and slow residential work in the winter. After several years, we also added water damage restoration which was busier in the winter.
 

Scott W

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Todd made many good points that parallel what I found.

  • Vans kept very clean and prominently lettered helped the business grow.
  • I was active in the Chamber of Commerce, the local real estate association and various school programs, especially one called Partners in Education and the Parent & Teacher fund-raiser programs.
  • At least from the late 1970s - early 2000s, local radio and newspaper advertising were important. People prefer to deal with someone they knew was local rather than calling someone to come in from the big cities round about. The Internet probably has altered that now.
 

OxiFreshGuy

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Matthew Frein
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Todd made many good points that parallel what I found.

  • Vans kept very clean and prominently lettered helped the business grow.
  • I was active in the Chamber of Commerce, the local real estate association and various school programs, especially one called Partners in Education and the Parent & Teacher fund-raiser programs.
  • At least from the late 1970s - early 2000s, local radio and newspaper advertising were important. People prefer to deal with someone they knew was local rather than calling someone to come in from the big cities round about. The Internet probably has altered that now.
You'd be surprised, even in St. Louis many people prefer the smaller local companies vs the big franchises.
 

Luky

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We live in a tiny area. Keep your expenses down, live simple and you can do it! I love it, and wouldn’t trade it for a big city market for anything.
Great advice, cave man. Not everyone likes to live of the grid... I would take it anytime and I'll flourish. Too bad that my wife won't support idea of pigs squealing, hens plucking, etc. .
See, where we live, we make minimum effort in order to do well, it's almost boring, but on the other hand, we're not part of many social groups( boring again) so we have to entertain each other and how many times a month you want to go to eat at restaurant on 96th floor and look at Navy Pier and Lake Michigan...
 

Luky

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Marian Lukacisin
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I live in a town of 40,000 an hour away from Las Vegas. I was born and raised in Vegas so a lot of my contacts are there.

We moved to Pahrump 15 years ago and for the first 7 years I continued to drive to Vegas 6 days a week for work. I finally started my own business out here in 2011. It was hard at first. My first year I averaged $500-700 gross a week and most of that was in Vegas. For the first 4 years as my business grew the majority of my work was still in Vegas so I was doing a lot of driving. I was working on growing my business in Pahrump as well but it was slow to grow.

I’m now 8 years in business and I’ve finally made a name for myself here. I am known in town as one of the best cleaners. A couple years ago I finally reached the point that I was working more in Pahrump than I was in Vegas. I’m about 70% Pahrump and 30% Vegas as of right now. I’ve cut my Vegas days down to 2 days a week and I book all my Vegas jobs for those days.

One thing that really helped was getting my van lettered. I don’t think the lettering is as big of deal in Vegas since there are literally thousands of cleaners there but out here in the small town it’s made a huge difference. I drive my van everywhere and I get calls daily from people seeing me. Every time I go to the gas station I have people talking to me. There are several other cleaners in town but only two of us have lettered vans and the two of us pretty much rule the town as far as cleaning goes. My first 3 years in business I just had a plain white van, quite honestly the day I lettered my van was the day my business started to grow in Pahrump.

The other thing people love in small communities is “supporting small business”. I’ve heavily focused on the fact that I’m a small family owned business. I have my families pucture on my website, business cards, and any mailers I send out. People love it. I’m constantly getting comments on how people love seeing my family. It’s really worked to my advantage. I’ll put a picture of my business card below.

The last thing that is great about small communities is the fact there is little competition to rank your website on google. Get your website ASAP and within a short time you should come up on the first page of google. Make sure you register on google maps too.

View attachment 82788
As I mentioned a few threads back, in 30-40 miles area there's about 200 carpet cleaners, I met about 40 of them personally. I live in city of 150 000 and surrounded cities are almost as big, not to mention , 50 miles away is Chicago..
So much for small town feel...
 

Select

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Mar 3, 2019
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John Cartegna
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Wife and I are are thinking of buying a 1893 built Victorian style home and renovating it back to its former glory.

Long story short - if I decided I didn't want to make the drive into St. Louis every day, the population of Sullivan is about 8,000 people and all the neighboring territories in a 25 mile radius is about 50,000 people total.
First, they idea of bringing history back to life certainly sounds fun and exciting!!

Regarding the business opportunity in a small town..

Having a large enough pool to get a piece of is probably my biggest FEAR as I get ready to start in my new small town as a first time cleaner.

I am using the USPS EDDM mapping tool and I am looking at # of residential households not population. In the zip code I am in there is about 8,500 residences. I haven't done the math using the tool for a 25 mile radius (good idea) but I would anticipate it might be 20-30K residences.

The back of the napkin math I am using might be like this. And, please, I welcome the thoughts and correction of those on here.

Lets assume there is 20K homes in my 25 mile radius. Lets assume 10% of them will get their carpets cleaned each year. Thats 2000 homes. Let's say there is 10 carpet cleaners. That would mean there is 200 jobs a year for each of the 10 cleaners. If the average order is $200 than that would be $40K annual Gross revenue.

Obviously, this is very rough numbers. And, $40K annual revenue is tiny. Maybe for a cleaner that only wants to work 2-3 days a week first year and has low cost of living this could be a good start.

Challenge my assumptions!
 

Scott W

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The statistics may have changed since I tracked all this during the 1980s. Of the 20K in the service area in our small community, 21.2% got carpet cleaned and did so an average of every 18 months. That works out to 2827 residential cleanings per year.

Our average ticket was $218. Surely there should be some price increase by now. We did some upholstery and some wood floors and some tile floors with over 90% carpet. Those percentages have changed for sure. But more wood, tile, stone and area rugs should help bump the average ticket. It may not happen year one, but I think you can get to $250 for an average ticket.

10 cleaners seems a lot for that small area. We had either 3 or 4 local cleaners, and 4 more that regularly came from out-of-town to work in our county. The out of town guys never had a large share except one franchise. By 5 years in, we did between 25% and 30% of the market, average 611 residential jobs per year.

611 jobs @ $250 = over $150K. Plus some commercial accounts.

In our case 611 jobs @ $218 plus commercial work brought in about $168K average year. This was after we were about 10 year in. These were not first year figures.
 

Johnny Bravo

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I'm in Los Angeles, Ca. But I own a house and 20 acres in North Eastern Washington state with a population of about 6,000 within an hour of me.
I plan to one day semi retire up there at my house cleaning carpets there.
 

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