It was 2005 when Scott Arkon, co-owner of Zerorez Tucson, first considered carpet cleaning as a potential business opportunity. At that time, he’d been a part of the flooring industry for years — selling flooring and serving as an independent flooring inspector (performing inspections and making repairs) — before joining the floorcare side of the industry. That initial interest in carpet cleaning rose out of a conversation at a trade show.
“I was talking to a business owner of a very successful restoration company in southern California at Surfaces. I remember him talking about choosing to go into a service market that had a lot of competition but whose customer base was underserved by the current providers,” Arkon remembers. “At that time, I was thinking of opening a retail flooring store, but that conversation made me rethink which industry (within flooring) had the most potential for quick growth, a lot of repetitive purchases, easy startup, and a customer base that wasn’t particularly loyal.”
Arkon was first introduced to the Zerorez Franchising System a few years after his initial interest in the industry as part of his work as a flooring inspector. He says, “A lot of the claims I was working on at that time were soiling and performance related. That gave me a lot of opportunity to research the industry.”
He was invited to a Zerorez conference, and the rest, as they say, is history. Arkon says, “It was unlike any cleaning conference I’d attended. I was impressed with the group and the franchise’s unique technology.” He worked for a while as Zerorez’s national training manager before he decided to start his own Zerorez franchise in Tucson in 2014 because of the strong business approach he saw in Zerorez owners.
“I understood carpet and the science of cleaning, but these guys didn’t sit around talking about presprays and wands — it was business strategy,” Arkon says. “I know a lot of people come into the cleaning industry through family businesses or starting as a technician somewhere. But for me, this was a decision based on growth potential and creating financial stability for myself and my family.” Zerorez was a perfect match.
A model business
Only four years after its establishment, Zerorez of Tucson is a shining example of success in the carpet cleaning industry. With seven truckmounts and 11 technicians, it caters heavily to the residential market with carpet, tile and stone, rug, and upholstery cleaning services.
The company has witnessed near staggering growth. Its first year in business it produced $500,000 in revenue, and revenue grew to $865,000 and $1.05 million in its second and third years, respectively. And revenue in 2018 came to $1.4 million.
How does Arkon account for such financial success? First, he loves the marketing side of the business and focuses much of his attention on it: “I get to be creative when writing ads and choosing how/where/when to put my company in front of potential customers. Then turn around and be analytical by tracking the results and seeing what makes the phone ring most efficiently.”
Arkon says his marketing plan focuses on “radio and digital marketing for attracting new customers,” and “a strong email and direct calling campaign for retaining existing customers.”
Another reason for the company’s financial success is the acumen of Arkon’s two partners, Ben Hulme and Casey Ashdown. “[They] are excellent with planning, budgeting, and holding everyone accountable to staying within the budget. We were able to hit break even within 9 months due to our commitment to living the budget,” Arkon says.
The quick growth of Zerorez Tucson has been difficult to juggle at times, Arkon admits: “My biggest personal challenge has been balancing a quickly growing business and a busy family life. I’m married with four teenage boys. My wife is basically a saint. She has been amazingly supportive on this journey.”
Arkon feels confident in the decisions that have brought Zerorez Tucson to this point. “We’ve done a lot of things right. Working within a franchise system helps eliminate a lot of those early mistakes that cost you a lot of time and money,” he says, adding, “But, there were a few employees I would like to go back and unhire.”
The company will continue its profitable growth — that’s its business plan, according to Arkon. “We have a great team, and I feel I have the ability to lead the company to a certain size, but the next level will need to come from hiring people that are better and smarter than me.”
He adds, “I’ll continue to help with strategy while trying to stay out of their way.”
For those looking to join and thrive in the industry, Arkon recommends focusing on the company message. “Have a unique message or service, something that makes you really different. This industry has a lot of people saying the same thing,” he says. “Honestly, I would recommend looking at a Zerorez franchise if fast growth within your market is a top goal.”
Arkon also points to the wealth of aid that can be found in other industry members and offers his thanks to all those who have helped and guided him along the way. Arkon says in closing, “I’ve been impressed by the people within this industry and their willingness (and eagerness) to teach and share. I love the connections and relationships I’ve been able to build.”
Three very different companies. Three very different roads to success. A multitude of business-building lessons to learn. Check out the other companies featured in our 2019 Carpet Cleaning Industry Leaders Review: