By Amanda Hosey
We’ve again gathered data on the carpet cleaning industry through our annual Carpet Cleaning Benchmarking Survey Report (page 9). There was a wonderful turnout this year, with more than 750 industry professionals donating their valuable time to help us develop a realistic overview of running a business in the industry. Thank you to all of you who took part, we appreciate your input. And a special thank you to our sponsor, Legend Brands, for helping spread the word about the survey.
Now on to insights from the survey.
Carpet cleaning industry competition
Companies in the carpet cleaning industry continue to struggle to differentiate themselves from “low-ball” companies in the eyes of customers who expect the same quality of service from both. Though they will not get that quality, their business does often go to these kinds of companies. Perhaps it is time for the industry to come together—much like the restoration industry is doing—to advocate for quality companies and conceptualize ways to elevate perceptions of carpet cleaning and educate them on quality of service.
Other problems reported are struggling to stand out against a crowded field, a rise in do-it-yourselfers (with every big-box company selling/renting machines), and Google rankings.
Business building, employees
Mostly the same issues with employees continue to plague companies in the carpet cleaning industry: finding and keeping hard workers. With a low unemployment rate, it is an employee’s market, with many companies desperate for job seekers. It’s a tough time to be hiring.
Labor costs pose another problem as minimum wage requirements continue to increase. Even those in areas with lower wages are feeling the effects, with survey respondents reporting a rise in pressure from staff to raise wages and employees continually lost to nearby areas with higher minimum wage.
Rising costs of running a business are a chief complaint among those in the carpet cleaning industry—health insurance, gas prices, and insurance costs. An interesting challenge arose in this year’s survey that I don’t believe I’ve seen in past surveys (though multiple people reported it this year): traffic/traffic patterns. It’s a problem not easily solved but one which causes serious issues, delaying arrivals (and upsetting customers), throwing off schedules, and limiting job radius. Using Google Maps and scheduling software that groups jobs by location and traffic are helpful, but it is a largely unsolvable problem (until teleportation becomes reality).
Many also struggle with the requirements of running a business in the modern world, like website maintenance, online scheduling, social media upkeep, the cloud, and the minutia of online advertising. Speaking of online advertising, one respondent succinctly put it, “Google is a moving target!”
Many cited problems getting equipment repaired and needed parts quickly. This problem is exacerbated in remote areas where distributors are far away.
Things aren’t all bad. Equipment was an area of positivity from most, with glides, lighter wands, tracking software, and powerful truckmounts all reportedly making life easier. Rotary extractors and CRBs received the most praise from survey takers.
I know running a business in the carpet cleaning industry has its drawbacks. Sometimes those drawbacks seem to outweigh the benefits, but I hope next year brings you relief from what ails your companies, continued success where you’ve succeeded before, and new avenues for success you’ve never seen.
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].