Employees and Economics
By Amanda Hosey
We’ve served up another helping of industry data in our 2021 Carpet Cleaning Benchmarking Survey Report. We reached out to carpet cleaners for info on their businesses to develop a comprehensive view so our audience can see how their peers are running things and use that knowledge to make changes (or not) in their own businesses, as well as commiserate over shared challenges. This year’s survey saw much more commonality in reported struggles than usual, with almost everyone reporting the same “two biggest challenges”: employees and economics.
1 | Employees
Employees issues are almost always the most reported problem, and it’s no surprise many named the current labor shortage as the biggest industry challenge. For years, carpet cleaning companies have struggled to draw employees—especially with experience, a good work ethic, and customer service skills. Not to mention many report fewer interested younger people. Add to this the current decline in job seekers, and we have an issue that’s crippling businesses.
Difficulties keeping employees has also been bemoaned for years. This has been exacerbated by the “Great Resignation,” as employees are quitting their jobs in droves. In September, Microsoft found more than 40% of employees were considering quitting. In August, 2.9% of the American workforce quit their jobs, a record (that followed a record in July). Many in the industry are trying to find ways to retain employees but struggle to meet rising expectations of higher wages, more benefits, and more flexibility.
Owners, who made up 93% of respondents, are working more. Those putting in more than 40 hours a week grew by 4% over 2020, with 73% actively cleaning, also up 4%.
2 | The economy
The U.S. economy is in a strange place, and carpet cleaners are feeling it. The economy looks strong; despite the dive it took in 2020, it is now bigger than before the pandemic, with faster growth than in years. However, the Fed lowered growth forecasts in September as supply chain disruptions and elevated inflation continue.
The supply chain and inflation issues directly affect industry companies. Many pointed to difficulties getting products they need and, more commonly, the rising costs of those products, as well as fuel, rent, and insurance premiums. The cost of doing business weighes heavily right now, with cashflow and capital high on many people’s lists of problems.
Customers, too, are feeling the effects of inflation, pushing more to turn to price shopping for services, another common struggle for industry companies. Meanwhile, many survey respondents pointed to an influx of low-ball competitors who undercut their prices and flood the market, making acquiring and keeping customers increasingly difficult. Respondents also reported trouble adjusting prices to reflect the odd economic climate.
Despite the troubles industry companies faced this year, most saw growth, with over 60% claiming at least 5% growth over 2020. We found 79% of companies saw sales increase this year, and 59% expect gross sales revenue to pass $200,000.
The industry is filled with people who put in the hard work and hustle to get things done. I wish you all great success next year, filled with ample, qualified employees, bigger bank accounts, and even more success.
Amanda Hosey is the managing editor of Cleanfax. She has worked as an editor and writer for more than six years, including four years with Cleanfax. Reach her at [email protected].