2021 Industry Leaders Review: Chem-Dry of Siouxland

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Chem-Dry of Siouxland prioritizes excellent service and customer satisfaction—values that have kept the company in business for 25 years. With a background in electronic engineering and career experience ranging from retail and construction materials testing to working as an electrician and servicing IBM mainframes, Joe Stephens, owner of Chem-Dry of Siouxland and 1-800 WATER DAMAGE of Siouxland, did not intend or expect to end up in the carpet cleaning industry.

It all started when Stephens’ brother-in-law reached out for help with a Chem-Dry franchise he had purchased. Having always had an interest in being an entrepreneur, Stephens agreed to become his partner in 1995—but his brother-in-law left the business after just three months. Suddenly solely responsible for a carpet cleaning company, Stephens took the reins, learned the industry, and started making changes to grow and improve the business. “Getting into this industry was not my first choice, but it has been the best decision I have made,” he says. After 25 years in business, it’s clear that sought after or not, Stephens’ journey with his company has been a success, and he’s lucky enough to say that he wouldn’t change a thing.

Growth and diversification

Chem-Dry of Siouxland serves western Iowa, northeast Nebraska, and southeast South Dakota. The company consists of two technicians and Stephens running one-and-a-half vans, but their small staff and equipment footprint doesn’t prevent them from offering a full range of home services, including carpet cleaning; upholstery cleaning; tile, stone and grout cleaning; granite countertop renewal; wood floor cleaning; and pet urine odor and stain removal. Growing to this level of service took years of work though. Stephens points out that when he first started, he had a minimum service fee of just $35.00 and his first van was “not in the best shape.” After investing in higher-quality equipment, Stephens says, “Now we have better brand representation on the road and a minimum service fee of $150.00.”

Earlier this year, Stephens decided to branch out and added a restoration franchise to his business. Because his carpet cleaning company is part of a franchise system owned by BELFOR Franchise Group, he was given the opportunity to convert to a 1-800 WATER DAMAGE franchise, which has a large footprint. That conversion is currently in process, and 1-800 WATER DAMAGE of Siouxland operates one emergency vehicle and offers fire restoration, water restoration, mold mitigation, and reconstruction services.

Meeting challenges, setting goals

Stephens said the biggest challenge he faced in the beginning was limited capital. Stevens says without that capital, it was tough to invest in improvements like more staff and better equipment, so he worked with what he had, which was a drive to serve his customers and to do excellent work. “Getting out and marketing and doing good work can right your ship quick,” Stephens says. In fact, meeting his customers’ needs is the aspect of the industry Stephens enjoys most. “I like being able to help our customers extend the life of their flooring. Having satisfied customers is the goal.” When it comes to marketing, Stephens has been in business long enough to have tried just about everything, from door-to-door and phone book ads to radio commercials and school posters. Today though, the company relies on Facebook, Google, and good reviews from satisfied customers to drive business.

Of course this year has brought a whole new set of challenges to any business, but Chem-Dry of Siouxland has been fortunate not to have to cease operations during the pandemic. Although he says April “could have been better.” His company has done very little COVID-specific cleaning, choosing instead to stick to their typical service model where the company already shines. “With all the unknowns concerning the coronavirus,” Stephens explains, “there is a risk associated with saying you effectively solved the issue in a facility.”

As the new year gets underway, Stephens is focused on his goals for the future. Adding a technician and another full van is the next goal with Chem-Dry. Stephens says expanding the company’s in-house rug cleaning operation is also a priority.

For those new to the industry, Stephens’ advice is to “market, market, market, and take care of your customers.” He also says it’s important to talk to experts and keep learning the trade, noting that even after 25 years he’s “still learning as I go.” After all, the more you know, the better you can serve your customers. “If you do not know something, do not be too prideful to find someone that does know.”

Read other 2021 Industry Leaders Review profiles:

Quality Care Carpet Cleaners Inc.

Bluegreen Carpet and Tile Cleaning

Amy Hughes is a freelance writer who has worked with Cleanfax for more than two years and has worked as a writer and editor for more than eight. Reach out to her at [email protected].

Amy Hughes

Amy Hughes is an editorial assistant with Cleanfax. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor for more than ten years, including four years with Cleanfax. Reach out to her at [email protected].

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