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

Viability of starting with a buisness loan.

ACP

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Its hard work man.. hope you have at least cleaned some carpet before.

I would agree with others here until you have actually cleaned some carpet youll never know if you even like it
 

Renaden

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@ACP Oh I'm sorry - I do 100% intend to hunt down a local cleaner or two that wouldn't mind me riding along and learning on the weekends over the next couple of months - if it's paid, great, if I have to do it for free, I'm willing to do that as well.

As far as cleaning carpet, I've done a lot of my friends places (as well as keeping my own carpets in decent condition with a professional once a year to touch up) with my bissel big green when they move out, I know it's not a professional unit but I do use a prespray (power force mixed with oxy force, citrus force and some rid'z'odor spiced green tea deodorizer)and and fill the rinse tank with a water-vinegar mix to flush out the chemicals.

Even if it takes a long time I love turning icky carpets clean.
 

Spazznout

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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.
If you can not afford to go work for someone for a few months, how do you plan on running a bizz. If you think you are going to replace yours and your brothers income on CC in year 1, you are very delusional..................

You need to slow, way down. YOu are fast walking yourself into a 100K dollar burn.

It will take 3 years or more to get to the point that you and your brother are both taking home decent paychecks. IF you ever get there.

My suspicions about marketing are also spot on. You really don't know.

I encourage you to get into this industry. Just do it right or your dream of being self employed is going to leave you unemployed with a debt still hanging around your neck. And no, selling your equipment will NOT satisfy the debt if stuff does not work., The equipment you purchase will be worth half or less of what you buy it for.

Step back. First learn how to market small businesses. The techniques are the same or similar no matter the bizz or industry. So this is the first skill you are going to need to acquire before becoming an entrepreneur. Otherwise you will always just be owning a job and not a business. If your phone is ringing or the door swinging the cash register will keep ringing.

Next you need to learn the bizz and skills required to be successful at the business.

Now that you have some skills the equipment part is easy as you already know exactly what tools you need to perform. You will be surprised how few of tools you actually use.

Now you take your 3 areas of discipline, form a business plan and execute.

What you are doing is trying to go backwards. It does not usually work out well for people who try to run backwards.
 
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Dantsull

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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.
You certainly sound excited, and it is an exciting thought to not work for someone else but, I often laugh at the fact that I am the toughest boss I have ever had (and the most lenient)!

You will have two bosses, you and your brother. That can be tough and it is a perspective that you might have to experience to fully grasp.

The contrast in the above quote is familiar and real, that is, you mention that you will possibly work for free yet for a small outfit but, can't afford working for pay for Stanley Steamer.

You can do this alone!

Why have a partner? It seems that his access to a VA loan is necessary for this to move forward. If so, you may consider letting him invest in you for profit but with a definite payoff.

You have a relatively good salary but, not much cash. Save up to show yourself you can. At least $15K you will thank yourself that you did!!
Bless you
 

lehighcounty

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Just make sure to take all the classes first to see if this is for you! I started with a portable that was a mistake and a waste of money, then I bought a low end truckmount and that was a mistake! Misled by those I trusted in this business. Now have a better truckmount but not really what I should have bought. You are young enough with strength and good credit just go for top of the line models like a Titan, a good van and most important a garage!
 

OneBlueSummer

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Seriously just buy a 175 and pads , business cards and shirts and start from there. Cost you maybe 1500$ to start you will find out quick how many jobs you need to make some money and how hard the sales part actually is. Don't put your brother in that much jeopardy you could ruin his life and relationships with that pointless loan. You'd be surprised how good u can get carpet with that method. Hell I know more millionaire carpet cleaners that run only 175s than I do truckmounts
 

Renaden

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@Spazznout I understand your points but I also feel you aren't reading my posts, my intent with this post was to see if a 100k loan was viable and it's very evident that it is not, so I will certainly be taking a smaller loan. I've said I plan on working for someone (even if I have to do it for free) during fridays and weekends, but I -cannot- give up my Monday-Thursday job and our plan for rollout would have me working part time until the business is sustainable enough for me to become full time (if that happens). My brothers salary and quality of life at his job is FAR lower than mine so I would like to get him cleaning (if this pans out) sooner rather than later. I'm a workaholic and have no problem pulling 80+ hour workweeks, especially if 35 or so is devoted to growing a new business. As far as marketing, I'm sure you're right, but hopefully I'll pick up some pointers from whoever I end up working for. Thanks for your input!

@Dantsull What it boils down to is I'm willing to work for pay, but I'm not sure if anyone is willing to hire someone with no experience for friday-sunday work, I can't afford to give up my main job (Monday-Thursday) until the business is sustainable enough to support my current (and locked in at least for the next 4 years, car payment + mortgage and utilities run me over $2.5k a month) cost of living. As far as me doing it solo, the VA loan isn't my barrier to entry, I have a great credit score - but I would like to sell the "Family Business" aspect of it as well as making use of the great Veteran owned tax benefits. Plus he hates his job and isn't really in a position to find a new one (dead end career). I'm quite O.K. with my job and don't mind working extra hours to help grow a business on the weekends. I do have around $85k in savings currently, but it's invested in my Roth IRA and 401k as well as my company ESOP, it's currently growing and is rather untouchable until I'm 55+ unless I want to eat a huge chunk of taxes. I'm going to chill on maxing my 401k and cut down on expenses to try and save a chunk of cash to get this business going over the next couple of months. Thanks for your comment!

@lehighcounty Thanks! I'm definitely going to get some experience in the field and I'm heavily weighing used vs new equipment and what capabilities it should have, hopefully working at it for a couple months should help out with that!

@OneBlueSummer I'll definitely look into that as well, the loan is more for my brothers benefit than it is mine, as he would end up as a majority owner and I'm more than capable of paying it back monthly at my current job even if everything goes to crap. Thanks for your comment!
 

Jim Davisson

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You have gotten some great advice above and if I were to start over again this is exactly what I would do in a market that could support this. I would buy a good used cimex and wide area vacuum, then target large commercial and churches with face to face marketing along with a free demonstration of the work in a small area. With the right approach and very little capital you can start crushing thousands of ft² an hour. In the beginning you have more time than money and don't be afraid to use that time to talk directly face to face to the decision makers. It's common to throw money at problems, but when I have time for sales I don't mail them stuff, I just go actually talk to them and follow up until I reach the right person. Regular maintenance cleaning quarterly and semi annually are the types of customers I would target. Nothing is easy, but the above would be my path vs perusing residential with a TM which is a tough nut to crack. Take the above for what it's worth.
 

OxiFreshGuy

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Jim Davisson is a very wise man and believe me, commercial is the lowest hanging fruit by far in this industry and you'd be surprised how many commercial places are completely lost when doing carpet cleaning and need help.
 
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Mama Fen

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Jim's point is dead on - at your age, it shouldn't be about working hard. It should be about that mano-a-mano time, introducing yourself to potential customers and showing them the value you have to offer.

One of my favorite customers ever (who happens to be a member here as well, heh) was working full-time elsewhere, supporting his family, and started with a portable and a lovely smile. Today, he is not only running his own successful company, he is also helping other new guys in this area grow their businesses as well.

His secret? It wasn't tools, it wasn't money, it wasn't even knowledge.

It was his pleasure in making old carpets look awesome, his personable and positive attitude, and his desire to serve rather than please. He's a true "people person", and it's evident in EVERY customer interaction he has.

Plus, every time he comes to see me, HE HAS A QUESTION... or ten. These questions are never 'what's cheapest' or 'what's easiest'. They're about what's best for a given situation, or how something works the way it does. He wants to understand the process he's using, not only to achieve the best results but to give himself the ability to make decisions in the field when he's faced with something new.

As many old-timers here are fond of saying, carpet cleaning isn't rocket science. It's sucking dirt. Nothing hugely complex. But the proper education can prevent pitfalls that not only damage your reputation, but can cost big bucks in replacements for disgruntled customers. Area rugs and upholstery are an area that is best avoided until you've gotten some education for sure.

If you've got the personality to have good customer interaction, the self-respect to present yourself as a professional, and the 'servant's heart' that takes pleasure in making others happy, then you already have the MOST important tools in the business.

Go with your gut, and you'll do great!
 
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MikeGaure

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Jim Davisson is a very wise man and believe me, commercial is the lowest hanging fruit by far in this industry and you'd be surprised how many commercial places are completely lost when doing carpet cleaning and need help.
Good quality commercial work isn’t low hanging around here. That’s how I was able to take my little start up with $1500 to 10yrs down the road.

It gave us something sustainable and it allowed us to Taylor the residential to what we wanted to do. It also allowed us to refuse other types of commercial.

We have some excellent commercial work that is exceedingly profitable.

It also relieves pressure for sales, so when you’re with a potential new client there’s no desperate salesman. Simply because you’ve already got an established cushion every month.

What Jim said is huge what that face to face does that is pretty magical is it establishes a different level of trust and you can grow organically from it.

Some would say my client list is too small but they have no clue as too all the services we can provide that one customer.
 
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OxiFreshGuy

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Not sure I understand your post Mike, low hanging fruit means easy to get if you know what you're doing.
 

Jim Davisson

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Jim's point is dead on - at your age, it shouldn't be about working hard. It should be about that mano-a-mano time, introducing yourself to potential customers and showing them the value you have to offer.

One of my favorite customers ever (who happens to be a member here as well, heh) was working full-time elsewhere, supporting his family, and started with a portable and a lovely smile. Today, he is not only running his own successful company, he is also helping other new guys in this area grow their businesses as well.

His secret? It wasn't tools, it wasn't money, it wasn't even knowledge.

It was his pleasure in making old carpets look awesome, his personable and positive attitude, and his desire to serve rather than please. He's a true "people person", and it's evident in EVERY customer interaction he has.

Plus, every time he comes to see me, HE HAS A QUESTION... or ten. These questions are never 'what's cheapest' or 'what's easiest'. They're about what's best for a given situation, or how something works the way it does. He wants to understand the process he's using, not only to achieve the best results but to give himself the ability to make decisions in the field when he's faced with something new.

As many old-timers here are fond of saying, carpet cleaning isn't rocket science. It's sucking dirt. Nothing hugely complex. But the proper education can prevent pitfalls that not only damage your reputation, but can cost big bucks in replacements for disgruntled customers. Area rugs and upholstery are an area that is best avoided until you've gotten some education for sure.

If you've got the personality to have good customer interaction, the self-respect to present yourself as a professional, and the 'servant's heart' that takes pleasure in making others happy, then you already have the MOST important tools in the business.

Go with your gut, and you'll do great!
Mama, he's a easy guy to like and his attitude will always bring him success where ever he goes. Once you meet him a couple of times it's very evident that he is the real deal. I wish I could have his/my brothers demeanor... but you have to learn to play to "your" strengths.
 

Dizzle Dazzle

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Welcome to the forum, I’m hoping to offer another perspective. I’m 3 months into the exact situation you want to put yourself in. I took out a loan for my van and my equipment and have very little experience in the industry. I basically taught myself everything I know from reading forums, watching videos and doing 2 rides longs from someone I trust in the industry who is from a couple towns over so we wouldn’t directly compete. I’m happy to say that so far, even though the work has been slow if you were to ask me if I would do it again I would say yes.

My loans were about $80k in size( Canadian not USD) however I have another $100k saved and a passive income side gig bringing in about $4k/month. So I’m in no rush to make income from this business which probably alleviates a ton of pressure and allows to say no to certain jobs.

ive started a successful wedding photography business in the last that relied heavily on word of mouth so I knew how slow it can be to get started. This experience had led to be able to build my own site and start working on SEO immediately, with the goal of being ranked on top 3 search pages within 6 months.

My time so far has mainly been spent on mastering the equipment and craft. It took probably 10 jobs before I could say I’m confident with my set up and take down routine however I feel like I’m still questioning a lot of what I do when cleaning and I’m always looking for a better way which means that I work very slowly.

At this point I’m doing about 5 small jobs a week, I know many here will consider that slow but I consider it a huge success for where I’m at. Full disclosure it covers about half of my business monthly bills and leaves no money for me. I am at the mercy of my savings. I’m happy to say I have a couple of repeat customers already which is a huge vote of confidence.

The first customers I got as a result of playing around with my equipment on my street and having neighbours ask questions. I did google adds, instagramadds and Kijiji with winter special pricing. This brings in some work but it’s usually price sensitive customers who have a disaster on their carpets.

I just want to throw out there that when I got married 5 years ago I moved my to a city 250 km away from where I grew up. I say this because my whole network of close friends is still 250 Kms away and I’m turning down a ton work they all sent my way when they found out I started carpet cleaning. This is a bummer because those jobs would cover the other half of my payments at virtually no cost putting me at about even on the business. So if you have a good network of friends and family nearby it will help get you work.

I’ve done the door to door knocking on commercial business and I’ll admit it has gotten my 0 results. It’s probably a skill I’ll have to work on. However one of my repeat residential customers did give me my first commercial job this week and I’m super excited for the opportunity.

My van is fully wrapped and looks mint, this alone got me 3 jobs so the wrap, which is expensive, is slowly paying for itself. I did reach out to other profesional in my area and have 2 realtors sending me about 2 jobs/month regularly. They seem to understand the hustle well so please use that to your advantage.

I’d like to add that it’s late fall here in southwestern Ontario and that comes with the challenges of it being slow, work being harder since it’s wet, cold and muddy as well as having to pay $500/month for a heated garage which I didnt for some reason consider before I started.

Anyways, the advice from most veterans here will be that this is not a business you want to be in. The funny thing this is the answer you get for most industries when you ask people if they recommend it. Hell I used to say that about wedding photography even though I was very succeful. My sucefull friends in graphic design say that, my succeful friends in trucking and logistics say that, my succeful friends in the cannabis business day that, my succeful friends who are realtors say that.

Only you know if you’re the type of person who will succeed. Like I said before, I knew what was involved when I started 3 months ago and I’d be happy to do it again. good luck to you if decide to do it however I have a feeling you already have your mind made up.

one thing to add that will go against the grain here, hell my whole post is against the grain actually. I take personal safety very seriously and I decided early on that I will wear a respirator when cleaning carpets, Im really glad that I do because the odd time I didn’t I could feel my throat swollen up for a couple of days after breathing in my pre spray. I now wear one at every single job and I tell my customers ahead of time it’s because I’m sensitive to the cleaning agents and I’m exposed to them daily. None of them have a problem with it. Please consider it and to all the industry veterans here I wanna say that if everyone took this approach the stigma of wearing protective equipment would disappear and we would all be better of.
 
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