Viability of starting with a buisness loan. | TruckMount Forums #1 Carpet Cleaning Forums

Viability of starting with a buisness loan.

Renaden

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Hi there, new member here -

My brother and I have been searching around for buisnesses to start, and we've discovered that there aren't that many carpet cleaners that service our area, so I've been entertaining the idea of starting a buisness, while I don't know a -ton- on the subject, I know the basics (like 100 hours of youtube videos haha) and I've enrolled in an IICRC class coming up in March, plus I plan on going on a couple of local ride alongs if possible.

We don't have a ton of cash between us but my Brother is an army veteran and we were toeing around the possibility of getting a VA loan for the majority of start up expenses and at least a year of operating expenses.

Has anyone started a carpet cleaning business this way and did it take off for you?

We're shooting around the 100k mark for a van, truckmount and expenses, but we've also considered a lower cost option of an ETM (namely the Escape) with a portable unit as backup.

Thanks, and glad to be here, been lurking for the last couple of months so it's nice to finally say hello!
 

MikeGaure

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It’s just very dangerous to start a partnership of that magnitude with someone especially when you both haven’t cleaned before or ran a business.

Personally I wouldn’t do it and that’s a large loan for having zero experience.

I’ve been at it over 10yrs and started with very little. Demographics also is a big factor, there may be a good reason why there’s not many cleaners in your area.

Getting business fever is fun and contagious we all are similar. Thankfully I have people I go to outside forums with zero skin in my game but are straight shooters that will give me good advice and aren’t afraid to hurt my feelings.


Find some business people you can establish a relationship with and get some direction
 

OxiFreshGuy

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Welcome - if you have zero experience with the industry you might consider starting with a used truck mount setup.


You can find many here with a good set up for $30,000 or less.

The biggest questions to ask yourself is this:

1. What kind of cleaner do I want to be? By that I mean - highly professional, run of the mill, or beer and cigarettes guy? This will help you find your target audience. There are cleaners who are successful by doing 100's of GroupOn jobs a month, and others who are highly successful doing a small number of high value clients a month.

2. What kind of marketing skills do I have? The biggest thing about this work is referral, referral, referrals. Don't listen to all the marketing gurus out there with something to sell. Get jobs, do a great job, be clean, neat, presentable, and keep a clean truck. Be professional and kind, own your mistakes, be courteous to 100% of customers and ASK for referrals.

3. Be willing to do what the established cleaners in your area aren't willing to do. IICRC is ok, but it won't honestly do much to prepare you for the work you will face in the field.

4. When you buy your truck mount, please take the time to read and study the manual. Take the covers off and get to learn how your machine operates. Understand what tubes go to what and what their functions are. Understand how your heat exchanger works and why it is important to keep components clean everyday.

5. USE A QUALITY PRE-SPRAY - Do not go cheap on your chemicals or you will end up with inferior results period. There are a TON of chemicals out there. Since you're on TMF I'd suggest trying Rob Allens sample pack, it will get you through a few jobs and you can decide if you want to buy more.
 
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Renaden

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@MikeGaure - Thanks for that, I know it's risky - we're both buisness minded individuals and we'll get a lot of outside information and speak with our dad who has been very successful in starting small businesses before we sign anything or make a final decision.

I know it's hard but we're both pretty tired of working for other people and want to do something where the amount of work we put in actually matters to our customers and ultimately to our bank balance.

As far as the demographics go, there are a bunch of cleaners 20m north and 20m east of where we are, we're kind of in the middle of a bubble of cleaners, but the local forums (nextdoor) have been buzzing with people trying to find decent carpet cleaners that are closer by and work with their schedules.

We've considered a smaller loan as well with a decent quality used van and a couple of high quality portables or an ETM as well!

@OxiFreshGuy

Thanks! Yeah we're definitely considering used units as well :)

To address your points - 1: Our goal is to be highly professional, clean truck, clean workspace, clean appearance, and to really push that even if we're not the best carpet cleaners in the world, we're easy to deal with and won't park an 80's rattletrap in your driveway like a few of the local companies.

2: Thanks for the tip, and that's our plan! As far as marketing, we have a few options - we have a highly active local forum page on Nextdoor that is basically begging for this kind of company in our area, and if we go through with it, we want to get a vinyl wrap for our van as well as advertise our services to our big friends and family pool.

3: We'll definitely have to look into what services aren't offered here!

4: Will do! I'm a machinist with a background in mechanical engineering, so I love to see what makes things tick!

5: Every video I've watched has made that point -very- clearly, chems are pricey but I get that they're needed and I've always believed that you get what you pay for!

Thanks for the responses!
 
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gborris

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I would start with a portable which has auto fill auto dump. I love my LX motors, but I can not recommend them due to potential to trip breakers which is very embarrassing. I will only use my LX in the van on a generator or in an empty.

I would suggest the Nautilus 8.4 (carpet only) or 3-stage (carpet and tile) simply to be able to plug into customers house without tripping breakers.
 

MikeGaure

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Wish you the best.

Last guy I told just failed with his second partner. Look it up 70%of business partnerships fail I’m sure they thought they’d be the outliers. It’s not impossible to make it work but you need to treat it with proper documents and boundaries in place. Mixing all that with family just doesn’t work with everyone some yes but I haven’t met many



@MikeGaure - Thanks for that, I know it's risky - we're both buisness minded individuals and we'll get a lot of outside information and speak with our dad who has been very successful in starting small businesses before we sign anything or make a final decision.

I know it's hard but we're both pretty tired of working for other people and want to do something where the amount of work we put in actually matters to our customers and ultimately to our bank balance.

As far as the demographics go, there are a bunch of cleaners 20m north and 20m east of where we are, we're kind of in the middle of a bubble of cleaners, but the local forums (nextdoor) have been buzzing with people trying to find decent carpet cleaners that are closer by and work with their schedules.

We've considered a smaller loan as well with a decent quality used van and a couple of high quality portables or an ETM as well!

@OxiFreshGuy

Thanks! Yeah we're definitely considering used units as well :)

To address your points - 1: Our goal is to be highly professional, clean truck, clean workspace, clean appearance, and to really push that even if we're not the best carpet cleaners in the world, we're easy to deal with and won't park an 80's rattletrap in your driveway like a few of the local companies.

2: Thanks for the tip, and that's our plan! As far as marketing, we have a few options - we have a highly active local forum page on Nextdoor that is basically begging for this kind of company in our area, and if we go through with it, we want to get a vinyl wrap for our van as well as advertise our services to our big friends and family pool.

3: We'll definitely have to look into what services aren't offered here!

4: Will do! I'm a machinist with a background in mechanical engineering, so I love to see what makes things tick!

5: Every video I've watched has made that point -very- clearly, chems are pricey but I get that they're needed and I've always believed that you get what you pay for!

Thanks for the responses!
 

Luky

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@MikeGaure - Thanks for that, I know it's risky - we're both buisness minded individuals and we'll get a lot of outside information and speak with our dad who has been very successful in starting small businesses before we sign anything or make a final decision.

I know it's hard but we're both pretty tired of working for other people and want to do something where the amount of work we put in actually matters to our customers and ultimately to our bank balance.

As far as the demographics go, there are a bunch of cleaners 20m north and 20m east of where we are, we're kind of in the middle of a bubble of cleaners, but the local forums (nextdoor) have been buzzing with people trying to find decent carpet cleaners that are closer by and work with their schedules.

We've considered a smaller loan as well with a decent quality used van and a couple of high quality portables or an ETM as well!

@OxiFreshGuy

Thanks! Yeah we're definitely considering used units as well :)

To address your points - 1: Our goal is to be highly professional, clean truck, clean workspace, clean appearance, and to really push that even if we're not the best carpet cleaners in the world, we're easy to deal with and won't park an 80's rattletrap in your driveway like a few of the local companies.

2: Thanks for the tip, and that's our plan! As far as marketing, we have a few options - we have a highly active local forum page on Nextdoor that is basically begging for this kind of company in our area, and if we go through with it, we want to get a vinyl wrap for our van as well as advertise our services to our big friends and family pool.

3: We'll definitely have to look into what services aren't offered here!

4: Will do! I'm a machinist with a background in mechanical engineering, so I love to see what makes things tick!

5: Every video I've watched has made that point -very- clearly, chems are pricey but I get that they're needed and I've always believed that you get what you pay for!

Thanks for the responses!
@MikeGaure - Thanks for that, I know it's risky - we're both buisness minded individuals and we'll get a lot of outside information and speak with our dad who has been very successful in starting small businesses before we sign anything or make a final decision.

I know it's hard but we're both pretty tired of working for other people and want to do something where the amount of work we put in actually matters to our customers and ultimately to our bank balance.

As far as the demographics go, there are a bunch of cleaners 20m north and 20m east of where we are, we're kind of in the middle of a bubble of cleaners, but the local forums (nextdoor) have been buzzing with people trying to find decent carpet cleaners that are closer by and work with their schedules.

We've considered a smaller loan as well with a decent quality used van and a couple of high quality portables or an ETM as well!

@OxiFreshGuy

Thanks! Yeah we're definitely considering used units as well :)

To address your points - 1: Our goal is to be highly professional, clean truck, clean workspace, clean appearance, and to really push that even if we're not the best carpet cleaners in the world, we're easy to deal with and won't park an 80's rattletrap in your driveway like a few of the local companies.

2: Thanks for the tip, and that's our plan! As far as marketing, we have a few options - we have a highly active local forum page on Nextdoor that is basically begging for this kind of company in our area, and if we go through with it, we want to get a vinyl wrap for our van as well as advertise our services to our big friends and family pool.

3: We'll definitely have to look into what services aren't offered here!

4: Will do! I'm a machinist with a background in mechanical engineering, so I love to see what makes things tick!

5: Every video I've watched has made that point -very- clearly, chems are pricey but I get that they're needed and I've always believed that you get what you pay for!

Thanks for the responses!
Hello there @Renaden
Hi there, new member here -

My brother and I have been searching around for buisnesses to start, and we've discovered that there aren't that many carpet cleaners that service our area, so I've been entertaining the idea of starting a buisness, while I don't know a -ton- on the subject, I know the basics (like 100 hours of youtube videos haha) and I've enrolled in an IICRC class coming up in March, plus I plan on going on a couple of local ride alongs if possible.

We don't have a ton of cash between us but my Brother is an army veteran and we were toeing around the possibility of getting a VA loan for the majority of start up expenses and at least a year of operating expenses.

Has anyone started a carpet cleaning business this way and did it take off for you?

We're shooting around the 100k mark for a van, truckmount and expenses, but we've also considered a lower cost option of an ETM (namely the Escape) with a portable unit as backup.

Thanks, and glad to be here, been lurking for the last couple of months so it's nice to finally say hello!
Hello there @Renaden. You haven't been lurking, you did your homework before you started asking questions. Nowadays, I find it rather unusual ( to do the homework) and I see you and your brother are going in right direction. First off, army veterans are most welcome on this forum ( that's been always my understanding) and such status may be very beneficial from business perspective ( marketing, advertising and tax relief)
With your experience , you can easily learn technical aspect of the business. It's hard to voice an opinion on forming of new business because there are so many variables and even the best advice might be not applicable in your case. It's relatively easy to start business, get all the wheels moving
( financing, purchasing
"right" equipment,have a business plan in place, advertising and marketing campaign, setting financial reserves for 3-6 months)etc., but to sustain existing business, that's going to take a great effort. True character of the person will come on the surface in situations no one can predict. Have you worked with your brother side by side on some projects, are you compatible, who's the alpha , can you stand each other reasoning on different matters ? I'm making a valid point, because carpet cleaning is just about that. You would have to learn how to coexist in different scenarios and still perform like one well greased machine .
I highly recommend that you turn for advice from @Jim Davisson, who's successfully working in tandem with his brother, he's innovative, mechanically sound and overall great guy with a lot of common sense.
And that's coming from a guy who went trough 10 diferent portables, 4 Escapes, and 3 fuel fired TM's ...
 

Renaden

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@gborris - Thanks - we were eyeballing the Nautilus machines as well, but our plan (if we go electric) is to try and at least have heat, so we were thinking Escape + Generator in the truck with 3 Hot Turbos (one for every 50 foot segment of solution line) and a flood hog as a vaccuum booster at the end. If we decide to simplify the setup though to get rid of potential headaches, a couple of Nautilus machines sounds great. :)

@MikeGaure - Thanks! I really do appreciate the advice, we really do get along very well and our finances are already intertwined, we've worked on some smaller projects before (for our parents) and while we have had issues (far) in the past, we've been roommates for the last 8 years and have a pretty established working relationship.

@Luky Thanks! I hate to ever sound uneducated on topics I seriously discuss, so I put a lot of time in to at least learn the basics beforehand! As far my brother goes, we're pretty compatible, we've been roomates for a long time and we've worked together before, and we get along very well (Similar hobbies, interests, work ethic, etc), I'm a bit more "customer service" focused while he's more of a hard working but shy guy. We're both VERY willing to give this business our all, because we're frankly sick and tired of working for other people. I'll be sure to turn any questions I have on the "Brothers working together" thing (and probably lots of other things), with Jim - thanks for pointing me in the right direction!
 
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Window Cleaning Dublin
Bad idea man

You want to buy a cheaper carpet cleaning machine & a cheap van. You need to try it out to see if you like it. I know a man that has spent 30k to start a carpet cleaning business only to end up having very bad back pains and he gave up 6 months later.

100k invested with your brother? You need to re-consider the plan. If things don`t go as you plan, you will end up fighting with your brother as well.

Start small lads. Do it for 1 year and see how is it working out for you. If you still like it after 12 months, go for it. 100k loan will put you under a lot of pressure. Even if you get it for 5 years, you will pay out close to 2k per month. Adding insurance, fuel, products, etc, it will suffocate you

Window Cleaning Dublin
 
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OxiFreshGuy

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I agree with Dublin - add in the fact that truck mounts have terrible resale value
 

Renaden

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@windowcleaningdublin Fair point - the 100k figure was on the high end and even if we took a loan that large, we were only planning on spending about 60% and keeping the other 40% for expenses and repayment while things got up to speed.

Would a better option be to take out a loan around 30k and purchase a used Transit Connect/smaller van w/ a couple portable systems? My only concern with that is that we live outside a smaller city and there aren't that many high rises/skyscraper condos that would really need that, it's mostly suburban. Do the portable systems work well enough to justify it? Will we be able to compete with the established companies that have truckmounts?

I've heard good things about the Mytee Flood Hog + Water Hog system (or the Escape) with a couple Mytee hot turbos, but it feels like a lot to run off the customers electric as @gborris mentioned above.

As far as the back pains go, we're both fairly young (I'm 28, older brother is 31), my younger brother (21) and his significant other (18) have been looking to move out my way for college, I was thinking of putting them up in our guest bedroom and having them help out as repayment when they can. They're alright with the idea as well!

@OxiFreshGuy Yeah I've noticed that, my only concern thus far with buying a used unit is I have absolutely no idea what to look for, I know low hours are a thing and to try and find a unit that's decent quality, but it's a bit rough to shop around for used units especially as there are not that many local and people are not the greatest at taking photos.
 

MikeGaure

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Bad idea man

You want to buy a cheaper carpet cleaning machine & a cheap van. You need to try it out to see if you like it. I know a man that has spent 30k to start a carpet cleaning business only to end up having very bad back pains and he gave up 6 months later.

100k invested with your brother? You need to re-consider the plan. If things don`t go as you plan, you will end up fighting with your brother as well.

Start small lads. Do it for 1 year and see how is it working out for you. If you still like it after 12 months, go for it. 100k loan will put you under a lot of pressure. Even if you get it for 5 years, you will pay out close to 2k per month. Adding insurance, fuel, products, etc, it will suffocate you

Window Cleaning Dublin

Well put

I purchased a commercial side of a business and knew the man that bought the residential side. Wasn’t able to physically handle all the physical work.

Second owner got sick it’s now on its third owner and definitely not doing as well.

That’s cool you and your brother can be around each other that long lol
 

MikeGaure

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Because of the size of the investment you both need to go find someone that will allow you to work for them. I’d work for them for free if I had too. You may not like the work. My model has changed several times simply because just cleaning alone got boring for me. Also my family needs/wants also causes me to change up our business model and services.

Really is a lot of moving parts. Even a cleaner in another town and I’d do the work aside from your brother you want zero peer pressure when making these kinds of choices.

@windowcleaningdublin Fair point - the 100k figure was on the high end and even if we took a loan that large, we were only planning on spending about 60% and keeping the other 40% for expenses and repayment while things got up to speed.

Would a better option be to take out a loan around 30k and purchase a used Transit Connect/smaller van w/ a couple portable systems? My only concern with that is that we live outside a smaller city and there aren't that many high rises/skyscraper condos that would really need that, it's mostly suburban. Do the portable systems work well enough to justify it? Will we be able to compete with the established companies that have truckmounts?

I've heard good things about the Mytee Flood Hog + Water Hog system (or the Escape) with a couple Mytee hot turbos, but it feels like a lot to run off the customers electric as @gborris mentioned above.

As far as the back pains go, we're both fairly young (I'm 28, older brother is 31), my younger brother (21) and his significant other (18) have been looking to move out my way for college, I was thinking of putting them up in our guest bedroom and having them help out as repayment when they can. They're alright with the idea as well!

@OxiFreshGuy Yeah I've noticed that, my only concern thus far with buying a used unit is I have absolutely no idea what to look for, I know low hours are a thing and to try and find a unit that's decent quality, but it's a bit rough to shop around for used units especially as there are not that many local and people are not the greatest at taking photos.
 
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Luky

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Like I said, 10 people, 10 different opinions. Guys, don't disregard following : You won't know until you try it. It applies to most situations in our lives. Remember girls? After second day going out , you've learned it won't work. That fast!
I aplaud young men for taking steps and moving from a workforce to a ownership level. Although it might sound easy in theory , results may vary, but similar rules apply to an established business. You have to be at it all the time to sustain it. Perpetum mobile doesn't exist.
Did anyone mentioned that you can have sound business and spend limited amount of money? Scenarios are countless. My personal experience was to start with a new equipment, lightly used tools ( I had to inspect them first to be deemed reliable) since functionality and appearance is close to a new condition, but savings are rather significant. I'll try to prove it on examples later on.
Initial market recon should determine in which direction new company will be heading
There is a chance that within bustling, industrial area , both portable and truckmounted units will be good option from beginning. If there is willingness to spend funds to get educated in carpet cleaning, upholstery, tile& grout, hardwood floors and so on, supported by ample time in field( ride alongs or working for someonefor limited time), I think we have a winner. I believe that the knowledge should come before practice. I did not go that route since I was trying to squeeze more than one industry in same time frame and I regret it.
So, in summary, 10-15K new equipment, 10-15K lightly used ride, eg. Chevy, Ford ( so many guys didn't recomend it) GMC or perhaps Dodge Promaster ( many were complementing on smooth ride and fuel mileage) and 5- 10 K for the tools.
So many details are involved. If you're burly guys, you want to go with a heavier wands, around 9 lbs. In your tool arsenal can be 6 jets, 4 jets and 2 jets wand , nothing wrong with variety for different carpet cleaning situations. If you're tall, you have to start with a 62-64" or even custom made wands . Do you think you'd like swivel wands ( one for hard to get to spaces like under the beds and one for stairs (19", 29" 41") many shapes, different weights and various number of jets. So, in order to become familiar with a different tools, start visiting nearby suppliers ( jon don, Interlink , Magic Wand ) or better yet, local ones with coffee being served, like @MamaFen.
I do apologize for an
" essay ", but it's hard to compress all the info in one sentence.
Below are samples of almost brand new stuff with a 40-50 % discount
These are few of the many. I'm pretty sure that if you look hard enough, you'll find what you need...
 

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ACP

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Dont dive in head first with 100k loan.

Huge mistake, carpet cleaning business is a low barrier to enter take advantage of that.

Its a business that takes time to build a reputation. If there is little to no competition in your area there may be a reason.
 
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ACP

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For 100k you can find a passive income business,

as opposed to a very labor intensive business that for at least the first 5 yrs will actually just be a labor job (with huge risk if u loan 100k)
 

OxiFreshGuy

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You get out what you put in, dont expect a realistic profit for the first three years though.
 

Spazznout

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@Renaden

You and your brother need to go work for a big company like stanley steemer for a few months before making this jump.

This industry takes a very specific kind of person to be really successful.

I would not invest one penny until you figure out if you are that kind of person.

From where I sit..........

You are waaaaay too fascinated with the tools.............

Tools do not make you money.

I can make the same money with a 20 year old machine as I can with a brand new one.

You are not ready for this yet.

If you were your questions would be focused primarily on one thing.........

How do I make my phone ring with new customers?????

When your phone is ringing, everything else, like equipment, takes care of itself.
 

Renaden

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@Luky - All points well received - I'm going to get in contact with the local carpet cleaners and see if any of them wouldn't mind a spare set of hands for a couple months - even if I have to take it unpaid. Those figures your listed look solid and we'll definitely keep our eyes out for good condition used equipment, and I'm going to tour the local cleaner suppliers next weekend - we've got a few, Interlink, Clean Pro Supply, Aramsco, as well as a couple smaller suppliers.

@ACP - Understood, our goal wasn't to spend all, or even most of the 100k, but I'll do some math and come up with a better deal, ideally half that or less. There's a fair bit of competition as we have a small city 20m north and a smaller city 20m east which both have a few, but people in our direct area seem to want one that's a little more local.

@Spazznout - That's one option, unfortunately I'm not sure it would be possible, I pull a pretty decent salary right now as does my brother, and I'm not sure we'd be able keep our heads above water if we dropped down to making minimum wage. We're not so much fascinated with the tools (they are cool) as we are with the prospect of not having to work for someone elses bottom line anymore. As far as making the phone ring, well, I've read a lot on the subject here on the forums and elsewhere and it essentially boils down to "Build up a customer base, treat them right" - and for building those initial customers, I'm fairly familiar with web design and website promotion online and we have a pretty big friends and family group to help get the initial word out.
 

Renaden

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@OxiFreshGuy That was pretty much our timeline, 1-1.5 years to build a decent customer base and 1.5-3 years to move from part-time to full time and possibly get a 2nd truck running if it's doing well and we're confident enough to run solo at that point.