Top 6 Challenges of 2020

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By Amanda Hosey

We heard from more than 400 dedicated carpet cleaners during this year’s Carpet Cleaning Benchmarking Survey Report, and as always, we asked survey-takers their two biggest challenges at the moment. For me, this is always the most important question because it gives me insight into what is keeping you up at night (so I can find experts to write about ways to alleviate these stressors), and it shows exactly how connected our industry is, wherever they are, because so many carpet cleaners report facing the exact same troubles, whether in Miami or Spokane.

Here’s a quick countdown of the most reported challenges this year.

6 | Flooring trends: The two big issues are the declining popularity of oriental rugs among younger generations and the rise of luxury vinyl tile (See page 16.) across all segments.

5 | Competition: Respondents continue to report more saturation in the market, especially by bait-and-switch companies. One respondent said simply, “We need more regulations to weed out the idiots.” Many also referenced the struggles of competing with major franchises with big marketing budgets and rates that don’t reflect actual cost.

4 | Marketing and customers: Many respondents bemoaned online marketing, from having to keep up with social media accounts to getting customers to leave reviews to the struggles of ranking high in Google. Still others have troubles with targeting the right customers and staying top of mind with the right ones they find. As always, cleaners reported price shopping customers as a major problem as well as the struggle to educate customers on value versus price.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased troubles with customers, as they fear letting cleaners into their homes and have increased requests for quotes by phone. Many regular customers are without the discretionary income to pay for carpet cleaning services due to job loss and the economy.

3 | Employees: You can tell it’s been an unusual year since this is usually the number one challenge by a mile! The regular culprits were all present—not enough quality applicants, difficulties keeping good employees, workers not taking care of equipment—but there also were some other 2020-specific issues. Many reported staff burnout, which has been steadily on the rise this year, and having to lay off employees.

2 | Money matters: More than a quarter pointed to financial burdens. Many reported chemical and tool costs rising, likely due to the pandemic’s supply chain issues. Connected to this were many struggling with decreased profit margins. There were also reports of struggles getting credit for upgrades and being turned down for government aid loans.

Related to numbers four and five were challenges with pricing. With many companies dealing with low-ball competitors and customer misconceptions of price and quality, businesses are having trouble raising prices.

1 | The pandemic (of course!):  No one is shocked the COVID-19 pandemic is the number one challenge right now. It is affecting every aspect of life from who we see to what we do and how we do it, evidenced by the way it is peppered into most of the top challenges. More than a third of respondents listed it as one of their top challenges, and more than half referenced it indirectly.

Those surveyed pointed to the lockdown, customer fears about techs in their homes, the economy, out-of-work customers, layoffs, and the shear uncertainty that comes with each day.

One respondent said the biggest problem was simply “staying alive,” which is something I think we can all relate to right now. So, do your best to keep your spirit alive, your body healthy, and your company thriving. Here’s hoping 2021 brings you all a safer, more stable year.


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].

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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