by Ron Segura
Let’s face it: Running any business can have its share of headaches… and successes. But for many people, having their own businesses is a lifestyle decision. They want to be their own bosses, run their own shows and not have anyone looking over their shoulders.
So if that fits you, and you prefer working for yourself, then you might as well do everything possible to be a success. And this applies to any business, including the carpet cleaning business. But before I go into some specifics, there is one quality you must have in order to be a success, and that is to be proud of what you do.
This is often more of an issue for those in the cleaning business — people cleaning commercial and residential facilities — but it can and does overlap into the carpet cleaning industry. Carpet cleaning is a very honorable profession, and run properly, it can be a very lucrative one at that. So be proud of yourself and your company. With this out of the way, here are five keys to success in the carpet cleaning business.
Education and training
Yes, we’ve heard this before. But can an attorney practice law without a law degree? A doctor without a medical degree?
These people earned their positions with education of the skills of their profession through training. Venturing into the carpet cleaning industry without adequate knowledge of fibers, fabric cleaning and what you’re doing may result in you being a failure before you even walk out the door.
The more knowledge you have, the better you can start out swinging.
Become a businessperson
I know one person in the commercial cleaning industry who always considered himself a janitor until he hired workers to take over the cleaning. Now he was no longer a janitor — he was a businessman, and that’s when his business really took off.
While you probably will have to be a sole operator initially, as soon as your business picks up, phase out the fieldwork, and begin focusing on marketing, hiring and training your workers and operating your business like a business. This can be a very big step for some people because they view their business simply as a “job.” But once they view their business as a business, that’s when they have the potential for real success.
Select quality equipment
While our cleaning contractor friend was still a janitor, he invariably selected the least expensive equipment he could find. He was always purchasing second-hand vacuum cleaners, floor machines and carpet extractors. It finally dawned on him that many of these machines were spending as much time in the shop as on the job and that selecting new and quality equipment, even if it cost more to purchase, could be a cost savings over time.
Many carpet cleaning techs are in this same boat — selecting equipment based on price and not as much on quality, durability or the equipment’s potential to help improve worker productivity.
Always look for innovative machines that can speed up carpet cleaning and last. There’s an old expression, “Cheap is always dear in the end.” This means you may have saved a few bucks up front but that second-hand carpet extractor may cost you a lot more than you expect over time.
Keep tabs on your finances
Many carpet cleaning companies get themselves in a position in which they have money coming in the door but have about as much, if not more, going out it. What often happens is they get so busy marketing and running their services they are not paying attention to their finances, monitoring employee-related expenses and overhead, or ensuring they are charging enough to make a reasonable profit.
Unfortunately, some carpet cleaning owners, like other business owners, often do notwant to know these issues, and that’s where trouble begins. Watch closely from where money is coming in and from where it’s going out, and if there is not a healthy profit stream, make the necessary changes to have one.
Charge what you’re worth
Assuming you have become educated and skilled at carpet cleaning and so has your staff, why would you bring your charges down so they can compete with a person or company that has not taken these steps?
Charging what you believe is proper value for you and your services is essential if you want to be successful. When you charge too little, you may feel you are doing work for free, which can make you resentful and harm you and your business.
Successful carpet cleaning business owners need to confidently charge an amount that reflects the quality of their services. And interestingly, many customers will view this the same way. Often customers, especially residential customers, have selected carpet cleaners based on a low price only to be disappointed. They eventually come to the realization that they may have to pay more to get more, and that’s where you come in.
There is one more key to success we should also mention: Keep learning. This is especially important when it comes to marketing your services, many of the marketing techniques used five or 10 years ago simply do not work any longer. And many carpet cleaners are aware of the power of the Internet and social media but do not know how to take advantage of these mediums.
A successful business owner is always a student, always eager to learn and seeking self-improvement along with business improvement. This makes success an ongoing journey, and it also implies you can be as successful as you want as long as you keep learning and taking the steps discussed here.
Ron Segura is founder and president of Segura & Associates, an international janitorial consulting company based in the U.S. He has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the cleaning and carpet cleaning industry with 10 of those years spent overseeing the cleaning of over 4.5 million square feet for The Walt Disney Company. Segura can be contacted through his company website at SeguraAssociates.com