The cleaning industry is never a bad business for entrepreneurs. It seems as if there’s always a demand for cleaning services—especially carpet cleaning. Think about it: at this very moment, dust and dirt are accumulating on the carpets of every single home and office in the world. Standard vacuuming won’t get it all. Eventually, all those carpets will need a professional cleaning.
Carpet cleaning is a $4 billion industry, and now is as good a time as ever to take your slice of it. But, before you open your carpet cleaning business, there are a few things you should know about starting up a successful cleaning service.
Both successful and failed business owners in this industry wish they had known these 6 things before they got started.
1. Get certification from IICRC
The IICRC is the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. IICRC offers various certifications in home cleaning, including carpet cleaning. If your business employs 1 or more IICRC technicians (yes, you can count yourself), then you’ll be an IICRC Certified Firm. IICRC Certification will prove your legitimacy to many clients. Potential clients will know that you’ve been trained and approved by the highest home cleaning certifier in the land.
2. Be thrifty, but don’t be cheap
When you first start off, don’t immediately buy the most expensive equipment on the market. Even if you’re able to secure a large amount of financing, you’ll never know how long it’ll take to turn a profit. Better to keep extra money in reserve rather than spending it all on high-end equipment. Does that mean you should rent your equipment from the Home Depot? No. The problem with rental equipment is that it might not always be available on the day you need it.
It’s best to take the middle-ground when selecting the first equipment for your company. You should absolutely buy high-quality cleaning products that are yours to keep. Consider investing in top-of-the-line portable units, and try and keep a versatile selection of supplies so you can tackle a wide array of different jobs. You don’t want to turn down a job because you don’t have the right equipment for it. You should hold off on the more expensive products—like a truck-mounted carpet cleaner—until you have a steady cash flow.
3. Target a market
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of using a “market to everyone” strategy. You shouldn’t market to “everyone” because “everyone” might not need a carpet cleaning service. It’s better to target a specific market. Find the people who really need a carpet cleaner and market to them with the proper method. Your target market might be a specific neighborhood, city, county, or even state. Identify your demographic
4. Target the residential market first
Cleaning corporate offices can be lucrative, but many large businesses use corporate janitorial companies that have the resources and manpower to handle such a job. Your best bet is to tackle the residential market. There’s more demand for house cleaning than office cleaning, and in the residential market you’ll have an easy time building a reliable client base and gaining referrals.
5. Centralize Your business’ management
An efficient company is an organized company. To save you time and money, and to improve the quality of service for your customers, you should tightly integrate all facets of your business:
- Employee scheduling
- Payment processing
- Communication with clients
If you choose to segment these parts of your business, you’ll be paying a large amount of money to hire employees to manage the different jobs, or you’ll have to manage all of them by yourself—which can be overwhelming.
Use carpet cleaning software to organize and operate the areas of your business that can be managed wirelessly. These tools are available to help you reduce operating costs and streamline your business management. Also, customers like when they’re able to hire carpet cleaners with the least amount of roundabout.
6. Calculate Costs
Many new entrepreneurs don’t properly calculate their initial startup costs. It’s understandable; when you hear that carpet cleaning is a $4 billion industry, it’s easy to start counting the potential revenue rather than the nitty-gritty costs that can eat a hole in your finances. Don’t forget that a successful carpet cleaning business—like other home cleaning services—is heavily reliant on referrals and word of mouth. It can take a few months, if not longer, to build your street cred.
When you’re calculating your initial costs, don’t only consider equipment costs and operating costs. Also consider all of the legal and governmental fees you’ll have to pay, and make sure that you keep a sufficient amount of money in the bank so your business can survive its first few months without having to break even.
Follow these 6 tips and you’ll have a much better chance at thriving in the carpet cleaning industry.