Carpet Cleaning business equipment/questions

Page 1 of 2  
I am seriously considering starting a small carpet cleaning business and I am in the middle of doing research about it. Basically, I wouldn't be doing the actual carpet cleaning myself. Instead, I would be funding and setting up the business and I would own it, but I would be using a friend of mine to do the actual work of taking the calls and doing the carpet cleaning. Once it is set up, I only expect that he would be doing the carpet cleaning jobs part time, maybe 1 job every couple of weeks in the beginning, and then building up to possibly 1 or 2 jobs a week. Also, this would ONLY be a carpet cleaning business -- not a cleaning business in general, and not a fire restoration business etc. -- just a guy with carpet cleaning equipment who cleans carpets.
One place I have gotten some ideas about how to get started is at http://carpetcleaningentrepreneur.com/ and http://familyunlimitedopp.com/90-day-action-plan . I don't know who this website person, but he does seem to provide a lot of information. I also get the feeling that he sells something ("How To" DVD's or website services or something), but I don't see anything on any of his web pages that says what he sells or how to buy it. So, maybe he is just providing free information about how to start a carpet cleaning business.
I have a lot of questions, but one is from the videos that I saw. Is it true that a good quality portable professional steam extraction carpet cleaning machine is sufficient for a small carpet cleaning business and it will do just as good (or almost as good) of a job as a truck mounted machine?
Also, any other thoughts, suggestions, questions, or ideas about the carpet cleaning business would be appreciated.
Thank you
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'd steer clear of anyone/thing claiming "steam". No one uses real steam to clean a carpet. Even Stanley Steemer, a pioneer in the business changed their misleading name from the original Steamer. Wool carpeting would shrink and I suspect some synthetics would melt. It's actaully hot water, usually tap hot. I've used a commercial machine with constant flow hose from the hot water tap and constant flow hose to a drain.

Some cleaning companies use a rotary scrubber approach instead of water injection/extraction. The machine looked like a big commercial rotary floor buffer, but used a soft shag brush to scrub the carpet. I don't know if these are still viable. This was decades ago. Seemed to work, at the time.
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
notbob wrote:

Thanks. I'll look into the question of "steam" versus hot water in more detail to find out what the story is on that. I think I picked up the term "steam extraction unit" somewhere, but I also see "hot water extraction unit" and "portable extraction unit" in some of my searches. I realize, of course, that I have a lot more searching and research to do, and part of that was to post my initial questions here.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This has the smell of spam all over it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ashton Crusher wrote:

It is definitely not spam. I am the OP and I have no interest in posting spam or submitting any troll posts.
With regard to the links that I posted, I don't know who that person is, and even though I get the "feeling" that he must be selling something, I can't find where he has anything for sale anywhere. I watched all of the videos and I looked at the whole website and I don't see where there is anything to buy or anyone for me to send money to. I also submitted my anonymous and fake-name email to the website and I haven't gotten anything back asking me to buy anything. If you see anything for sale there, please clue me in because I haven't found it.
The main reason why I posted those links are because: a) I don't see anything actually for sale there; and, b) because he keeps saying how people who start a carpet cleaning business do not need a truck mounted unit and only need to buy a good quality portable carpet cleaning machine. So, I wanted to ask about that last part -- that a portable unit is fine for someone starting out and allegedly works just as well (or almost just as well) as a truck mounted unit.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Had a steamer come in once. Maybe Lukewarm at best. I thought steaming could damage carpeting, foam, and wood.
Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If you truly get interested in buying a portable, I have an older model Castex. Has floor wand, stair tool, & upholstery tool. See similar machines on eBay, but they look like junk, no tools included.
Tried the business some moons ago. I got started cleaning motorhomes & campers. Unfortunately I bought a new machine at the time, which I thought was expensive. Believe I had almost $3k in the machine & tools, plus bought a used van to haul it.
Trying a shotgun approach through advertising can be a big waste of $, especially when you're competing against the big boyz. I did have Sears contact me, & wanted me to do subcontracting on a 50/50 split. Tried it a couple times, but they have customers who want you to work miracles, basically fix torn carpet with a cleaning machine! Absolutely unreal. Anyways, customers don't pay Sears, Sears won't pay you.
If you can get into cleaning campers or motorhomes through a dealer, is a pretty good gig. Might want to try the airport for airplane seats, and even movie theatres.
I'd suggest testing the waters, b/4 jumping in with both feet and making the investment.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks for the information and feedback. I am still looking into types of portable machines to get, how much they cost, etc. But, so far, the consensus seems to be that a portable extraction machine is the way to go.
I agree that the cost of advertising and dealing with a lot of competition could be an issue. In my case, I wouldn't need to build up the business enough to support a full time income for anyone. It would mostly be a situation where the person that I have in mind would be doing the jobs on a part-time as-needed basis only. And, I am not planning on spending much if anything on advertising. The reason is that I have a couple of almost-free local sources of getting carpet cleaning jobs. One is that a friend of mine owns a dry cleaning business in a somewhat upscale neighborhood with a lot of customers. He would let me set up a little display for free about my carpet cleaning business where his customers would see it, and I would give him some money from each job that we got that way. Also, I belong to a large real estate investor group that has an email exchange list among the members. I could let fellow members know that I have a carpet cleaning business that they could use for cleaning carpets when getting their rentals ready for their next tenants.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The very best research you could do is to get a job working for somebody else's business, starting on the ground-floor doing grunt-work of actually cleaning the carpets and getting customers.
That way you learn the ins-and-outs, what can go wrong, where the money is made and where it's not, who the best suppliers are, who the best customers are, what the best and cheapest equipment and products are, what shortcuts exist and where, how to not get ripped off by the client, how to sell yourself to clients who have their doors beaten down by everybody who wants to clean their carpets, etc, etc, etc.
Plus, by starting with somebody else, you get to piggyback on the other company's customer list. You then provide substantially better service to those customers than anybody else who works for that company. Then, when you go on your own, you just wait a while, then spread the word. Customers will follow.
You must remember that in most jurisdictions no license is required to clean carpets, so there are no barriers to entry, and competition is fierce. People are used to being rooked. When they find somebody who does not rook them, they are astonished, and will usually be loyal to the non- rooker, to the end.
Being an entrepreneur is NOT something you buy from somebody selling entrepreneur-type stuff. It's dirty work, involving endless dull daily details and endless learning and slogging. It's hard work, keeping the customer happy even when having to say the word "yes" almost makes you want to vomit. It's an endless and critical round of watching your costs and your cash-flow (especially your cash-flow!), and knowing how to price things.
That guy whose site you saw is making money from people like you who don't see through his scheme. I'd save my money, if it were me.
--
Tegger

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tegger wrote:

I agree, and I have been thinking about that as a possible option.

I agree with that too. One problem is that no one would want to hire my person to work for them and learn how to do carpet cleaning from them and then have him leave after a few weeks or less only to start my business in the same area. And, I wouldn't want to scam them by not telling them what the true story is. However, I may be able to make a deal with someone with a carpet cleaning business that is further away and with whom we wouldn't end up being in competition.

That could actually be a problem since there are some legal issues involved. It basically has to do with employees having a legal "duty of loyalty" to their employer which includes not stealing their customer list. If the company did figure that out, they could file legal action against the individual and my company. It's probably not worth getting into all of that here, but I do know how that works legally from my past business experiences and from caselaw that involved other people's businesses in the same State.

I agree with that too.

I don't think that's true since I still don't see anywhere that he asks for any money from me or anyone else. I have checked out other websites and people do sell DVD's and "programs" on how to start your own carpet cleaning business, how to clean carpets, etc. I haven't sent any of them any money, and I doubt that I will. But, if I do see some really cheap (probably used) carpet cleaning training DVD's on eBay, I may check them out. So far, I don't see anything like that out there.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Stormin Mormon wrote:

I have actually been thinking about that as a possibility. I have a "friend of a friend" who has a full-time "fire restoration, carpet cleaning, etc." type of business in an adjacent State with trucks, full-time employees, etc. One option may be to work something out with him where my person could work as a helper/ride-along person for a week or two for free, basically just to get first-hand experience in cleaning carpets for customers on a day-to-day basis. The way that I would probably work it is that I would pay my person for the time he put in there while learning the skills and a little about how the business works with real customers, and I would pay the "friend of a friend" some reasonable amount for allowing my person to ride along and get some on-the-job training and experience as a rookie. And, since it would be clear to the friend of a friend that I have no plans on doing any business even in their State, let alone in their area, there wouldn't be an issue of me or my person competing with them now or at any time in the future.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Whoa there Dude...you have the cart way before the horse. You first mistake is having a friend as an employee, never works, never will. Your next error is taking on anything without a well developed business plan. You will need financing, plus all the ancillary services that businesses must use, like legal, accounting, etc.
Take a deep breath, check out some college level courses on business development and learn how to form and present your plans to people who will make the vital decisions with respect to your proposed operation. From where you are now, the business sounds about as promising as selling vacuum cleaners or encyclopedias door to door. Above all, remember that carpets are being replaced almost everywhere these days by hardwood (fake or real) flooring. Good luck.
Joe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Nov 26, 9:26am, "Stormin Mormon"

I agree with Joe and Stormin. Makes no sense to me. He wants to start a business where he's gonna hire a friend to do one cleaning job every couple weeks, working up to possibly one or two jobs a week? WTF?
If I'm starting a business it would have to be worth all the trouble and something that could yield a reasonable profit. Those troubles include:
keeping records and paying income taxes payroll taxes any necessary business license insurance dealing with customer complaints finding customers necessary business forms, eg business cards, quote forms dealing with your friend as an employee
If the friend wants to do this, why would he need the OP? He could buy some cheap eqpt himself. Or if it's gonna be more professional, with a real truck with power eqpt, how are you gonna pay for that with 1 job a week? How many people are gonna hire someone with amature eqpt when there are lots of companies with real pro eqpt? etc.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Joe wrote:

I didn't really explain this part in my original post. The person that I have in mind already does a lot of work for me (and others), and is also my friend. He is a self-employed contractor with his own tools, truck, etc. and knows how to do a lot of different construction/contracting tasks. A lot of what he does is small jobs for individual homeowners or property owners, and he is familiar with dealing with customers in that way. In fact, one of his recent jobs a week or so ago was to clean a carpet for a condo owner who was getting his condo ready for a new tenant. In that case, the condo owner just rented a carpet cleaning machine and paid my friend to do the actual carpet cleaning with that machine. It was a special circumstance where someone else who was supposed to clean the carpet didn't show up, so the condo owner asked my friend to run the machine and do the work. Both knew up front that my friend had never done that before, but they just followed the directions on the machine and got it done.
Of course, that is not the same as marketing oneself as a professional carpet cleaner. But the point is that if I set up the business, and I buy the equipment and fund the business, I am sure that my friend could do the actual work when needed. In a way, it would be one more in a list of skilled functions that he could carry out for homeowners and property owners. He would have the tools, the time, and the skill (once he learned it) to do carpet cleaning one day a week or so just like he does other one-day or half-day jobs for people.

I am not a big fan of formal business plans. I am sure they have their place in certain situations, especially situations where financing is needed and the business person needs to sell financial backers and supporters on the idea etc. But I have started and still own and run other businesses on my own and I never needed to do a written business plan beforehand or after it was up and running. I don't need any financing -- I have the money. And, I already have the bookkeeping and accounting and other resources (such as insurance, legal, licensing, entity formation, etc.) in place through my other ongoing business interests.

I don't really need to take any college level courses on business development since I already have a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, and I have a lot of prior experience in business development. And, fortunately, there is no one that I need to present my plans to who will be making any vital decisions with respect to my proposed operation.
Nevertheless, I do appreciate your feedback and suggestions. I didn't include all of the above in my original post so there would be no way for you to know that I already have a lot of what you were suggesting that I would need before going ahead with this idea.

Interestingly, a LONG time ago, I actually did do door-to-door selling -- Fuller Brush Co. and Wearever cookware, for example. I wasn't very good at either one, and neither one lasted very long. But I did grow up in a family where door-to-door sales was part of our family background -- back when door-to-door sales was actually a viable way to make a living.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

So what does your friend need you for? How do you make any money, at least enoough to justify the headaches, when he's doing one job a week, maybe work up to a couple? If it's just some simple carpet cleaning eqpt like he rented last time, he can do that himself. If it's a pro carpet cleaning settup on a truck and you pay for it, how is that going to pay for itself used once a week?
In the area of headaches, you better have liability insurance. If you employee injures someone, you could be held responsible. Bottom line, unless this amounts to more than a couple jobs a week, I don't see how it could make enough money to be worth the hassles.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

These are all valid thoughts and questions.
My friend knows how to do the work he does (construction, repairs, etc.) but doesn't have the skills needed to set up and run a regular business -- entity formation, accounting/bookkeeping, insurance, sales and income taxes, invoicing, marketing, etc. etc. So, in a way, I would be helping him out by setting up, owning, and operating the business and just having him do the actual work. On the other hand, if I didn't know him and have him as an available and reliable resource as the person who would do the work, I doubt that I would want to go forward and set this up.
And, yes, the amount of return on my investment of time and money would be limited. Still, I think that once I set it up it could succeed as a small ongoing venture.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That is what "no brown" is for. It's a debrowning agent. Spray it on or put in directly in the extractor, like magic, it turns the carpet back to the original color.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Depends on the machine, of course, but a good "box extractor" will easily outperform truck mounted units. A lot of suction and heat is lost between the unit and the head.
When I was cleaning carpets Steamex (now Pacific Steamex) was the best, but they no longer sell that unit, or any closely resembling it. I found one on ebay a few years ago and still regret letting it get away for $2K.
The Pacific Steamex Flash-based site suggests to me they are now to be avoided like the plague, since 1999 has come and gone and they do not seem to have noticed. http://www.pacificsteamex.com /
Their Triumph 1200 model is the closest to those I used.
Flash, especially with audio, just screams "moron" to me. That's woefully insufficient evidence, but I hate Flash sites so I rationalize that it's plenty.
"Steam" is a misnomer. It's just hot water.
The big problem/s with cleaning carpet by extraction is over-wetting (and residual soap). A little too much water and you can create mold and mildew problems and ruin perfectly good carpet and padding.
The tricks are:
1. Vacuuming the shit out of it first, and by that I mean vacuuming slowly, not the typical rush job that does not allow the vacuum to work as designed.
2. Pre-treating w/o over-wetting.
3. Wetting only the nap of the carpet, and sucking it so dry that it is dry as a bone in 2-3 hours, at most.
Lots of resources available on the web, but I'd start here. http://www.shawfloors.com/Tips-Trends/Carpet-Care -----
- gpsman
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
gpsman wrote:

Interesting. I never heard the term "box extractor" before, but I just did a Google search for that term and found a lot of good links that show what they are such as: http://www.cleanfreak.com/Qstore/c000075.htm .
I also didn't think about the possibility that a truck mounted unit could lose a lot of suction and heat between the unit and the actual cleaning head. That's just one more reason why it seems that a portable "box extractor" is the best way to go (especially for a small carpet cleaning business) instead of a truck mounted unit. But, I'll bet that truck mounted units work well for large companies because some customers may like the idea that the machine stays outside and the workers just bring in the hoses to do the actual cleaning.

Thanks. I went to their website and saw what the Triumph 1200 is. That seems to be along the lines of what I would want. It helped to be able to read some of the general specs such as tank size, pump psi pressure, and amount of vacuum lift. I assume that when it says "12 gallon solution and recovery tanks", it means 2 tanks, 12 gallons each, and not two 6-gallon tanks. I think I read somewhere that a "double vacuum", which I guess is the same as a "two-stage vacuum", is a good thing to have.

I agree. I find that those types of heavy duty Flash websites are annoying. In fact, a lot of times when I go to a website and it automatically starts playing music etc., I just click off the site and go elsewhere before I even see or hear what the website is about.

Others here have said that, and that is something new that I didn't know until I posted my idea here.

That is good to know.

All of that is also great advice.

I went to the website and it does have a lot of very good and detailed information. I just started looking at it now, and then I bookmarked it and I will go back to it and read it carefully. I particularly liked this part where it begins by saying: "Shaws choice: Hot water extraction Research indicates that the hot water extraction system provides the best capability for cleaning. This system is commonly referred to as "steam cleaning," although no steam is actually generated. The process consists of applying a cleaning agent into the carpet pile and using water in the extractor to recover the used solution and soil. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and wand brought inside or by a portable system brought into the home.
Shaw warranties require that the homeowner be able to show proof of periodic cleaning by hot water extraction (commonly called "steam" cleaning) by a professional cleaning service or do-it-yourself system, using equipment that is certified under the Carpet and Rug Institute's Seal of Approval program. We strongly recommend cleaning systems that have achieved the Gold Level Performance in the CRI Seal of Approval Program. Click here for a list of Gold Level Performers."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Robert Macy wrote:

All good advice, including the part about insurance. Thanks. I'll check out the Cobra line along with the other suggestions.

I do have a janitorial supply house right near me, and they do sell supplies and equipment. I talked with the owner about two weeks ago before I did my original post here.
I am in New Jersey (near Camden, NJ). Any chance that you or "gpsman" have a carpet cleaing business anywhere near where I am located (meaning in New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, or Northern Delaware)?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.