When I first thought about writing the guidelines for starting a carpet cleaning business, I had to ask myself, “Do people still buy carpet?” Within minutes of starting my research, I learned the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Although I see tons of commercials and DIY television shows in which the designers are choosing laminate flooring, carpet is still a very big deal. This is especially true in the commercial carpet business. Think about all the offices, apartment buildings and yes, homes, in your community. Many of them have carpet that needs to be cleaned.
This is great news for those of you wanting to start a carpet cleaning business, which I learned generates 5 billion dollars in revenue each year. There are close to 40,000 cleaning businesses, with the majority being operated by sole proprietors.
That’s amazing! There are truly some hard-working Americans out there creating jobs and providing services to their communities.
You may want to do the same thing. If so, a carpet cleaning business is a great option.
Because over 40 million tons of dust falls over the United States each year, and because 2,000 dust mites can live in just one ounce of dust, your help is needed!
Before you start buying carpet cleaning supplies and posting ads, I want to provide you with some information to help you start a carpet cleaning business. These are steps that must be taken before you get to provide services to your customers and collect a payment, steps important to your success.
Let’s get started.
Document Your Carpet Cleaning Business Plan
The first step is to write down your plan of action, your business plan, from start to finish. This will help you organize your thoughts and actions and will help reduce potential mistakes in the beginning.
Your business plan helps you define your goals for starting the business.
- What do you want to happen? Do you want to clean carpets full-time? Do you want your business to be a side hustle that provides extra income?
- Do you need to be certified or acquire training?
- What services do you want to provide? Do you want to be generic and clean any type of carpet in any type of environment? Or do you want to have a special carpet cleaning niche, like cleaning crime scene carpets once investigations are complete?
- What equipment do you need? How will you purchase this equipment? How will you transport the equipment?
- How will you market your business?
- What are the fees per service?
- What invoice form will you use?
- What is your business name? Logo?
- If you plan to hire staff, what is your process?
- Are you buying a franchise or starting from scratch?
Franchising vs. Starting from Scratch
There are many carpet cleaning business franchises you can choose to join.
Franchises can range from little cost to extremely pricey. They can offer you independence as a business owner, but also give you the support of a corporation. You become a partner with many other owners who can be a great resource to you.
Franchises have already built a brand, so you don’t have to spend extra money and time trying to get your name out there. It has been done for you. You are simply building on that brand. They have also worked out most issues through trial and error.
When you buy the franchise, you are buying it at a time that it is a proven model of success.
Buying a franchise also means you are connected to that company, even if they experience bad times.
You must be careful when choosing a franchise. Make sure your values and beliefs line up with the companies. Even if the company is very profitable, if those don’t line up, eventually you may have doubts about your decision.
Starting your business from scratch can be scary and super exciting at the same time. You will be responsible for building your brand, creating your own rules and processes, and implementing them. The money you would have spent on a franchise can be spent growing your company.
Starting from scratch can be more difficult, but the reward for all your hard work can feel much greater in the long run.
Whether you choose to buy a franchise or start from scratch, you will need to be trained.
Get Proper Carpet Cleaning Training
You may already be an expert at cleaning carpets. You may have been cleaning carpets since before cleaning carpets was cool. Even so, you may still need a little training.
If you plan to franchise a cleaning business, the company will require you to be trained to perform services that are consistent with all their franchisees.
Stanley Steamer is an example of a carpet cleaning business you can franchise. You will be expected to follow their rules, use the contracts they have created, and charge fees based on their schedules of services.
If you are starting your business from scratch, there are certifications you can obtain that will help you stand out among your competitors.
The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification provides opportunities for business owners to gain training in not only carpet cleaning, but many other areas within the industry.
Or, you may want to join an association that can provide you with training and a whole lot more. The fees are not expensive to join, and you have access to many beneficial resources like mentors, insurance plans, training, and more.
Take, for example, the International Janitorial Cleaning Services Association (IJCSA). Their membership benefits list is huge. They help you with advertising, branding, referrals, online marketing, legal forms and creating a proper service agreement.
The IJCSA helps you run background checks on potential staff members, discounts on supplies and insurance, and bidding on jobs.
But if you only want certification, for $88 you can focus only on that.
Whether you choose to join an association or not, your next step is to make your business legal.
Make Your Carpet Cleaning Business Legal
Becoming a legal business simply means choosing what type of business structure you need. Sole proprietorship, LLC, and Incorporated are a few examples.
With a carpet cleaning business, forming an LLC may be ideal. This protects you from personally being sued if your business gets sued. The larger you grow; you may choose to become incorporated.
Sole proprietorships are for one person owners who want to keep things simple. However, you are not provided the protection like you are with an LLC or Corporation.
Once you determine your structure, you must register your business with the government.
Register Your Business
Oh yes, the state and federal governments will expect you to register and pay.
Your first step is to file for an Employee Identification Number.
To help you stay organized financially, don’t use your personal checking account for transactions associated with your carpet cleaning business. Instead, open a business account with your bank.
Separating your personal and business finances further protects your personal assets.
Early on, establish good accounting services. Or, work with a reputable accountant in your community.
Finally, check with your state’s requirements regarding whether you need licenses or permits, as well as if you need to collect sales tax.
Protect Your Business
Contracts in the cleaning business are called service agreements. They define what you will be doing, how the customer will be billed, and clarify expectations of the job. This document protects you and your client.
It still may not be enough if you have a client that makes claims against you. While rare, it does happen and it is better to be protected and not need it, than to be unprotected and need it.
What is “it”? It is liability insurance for your business. Get a policy for at least $1 million. The more the better. And because liability insurance is inexpensive, go ahead and get a large amount of protection, especially if you plan to grow your business.
If you hire staff, both insurance and worker’s compensation will likely be required.
Ease into Client Building
Create a social media business page. You don’t need a website in the beginning. Most social media platforms have all the tools you need to make appointments, receive messages, post your services and fees, and build a following.
The best way to start any business is to ease into it. Go slow. It’s with the first few customers that you will learn a lot about the carpet cleaning business. You may need to make changes to your contracts, services or fees. You can’t do this if you are overwhelmed with jobs.
Adding a client, a week or every few weeks will help you grow the right way. Word of mouth is a great way to get new clients. You can offer current clients a referral discount just for helping.
Make sure your top priority of customer satisfaction always remains a top priority.
Once you become more established and have more money, you can start building your web presence with a business website.
Grow Your Carpet Cleaning Business
Once you have a few satisfied clients who are willing to give you quality references, and now that you have fixed the small things to improve services, you can start growing your business.
You can amp up your marketing by creating a website and linking that website to all your social media platforms. Social media is tricky. If you are not posting every day, you can get lost in the shuffle. Even if you simply share a post about carpet cleaning, make sure potential customers read or view a quote or picture from your business page each day.
You can also run social media ads for little money, targeting potential customers in your area. You can offer discounts, freebies, and referral incentives.
You can also join or start an online group where you share tips and tricks for carpet maintenance or issues or the “best dirty carpet picture” award. You can join already existing groups established by your franchise company or by other small business owners.
You can gain new customers, as well as professionals who can mentor you, through networking online.
You are probably thinking there can’t be that many carpet cleaning groups online. But check out these I picked from the hundreds of options on Facebook.
When it comes to growth, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you find creative ways to hustle, you will win.
Think Outside the Box
If it has a rug on it, you can clean it. Boats, yachts, mini-golf courses, arcades, restaurants, homes, salons, automobiles, hotels, apartments, townhomes, condominiums, retail stores, and nursing homes.
Swimming pool dressing rooms, playrooms, university dorm rooms, stairways, government buildings, treatment facilities, and airports are more places you can work your magic.
Let people know you can even clean The Red Carpet if needed.
If you want to prove you are the right expert for the job, make sure you understand your industry in-depth.
Know Your Stuff
Your customers want to hire an expert. They want someone who knows everything about cleaning. They don’t want someone who only knows how to operate the equipment. You don’t have to go to school to learn about the different types of carpet.
Just Google it.
Learn the difference between cleaning nylon, olefin, polyester, acrylic, wool, loop pile, cut pile, Saxony pile, plush pile, structured, or sculptured carpets.
Customers will ask your opinion on carpets, from what looks good to which is the most durable. Being able to answer your customer’s questions will let them know you are the right person to hire.
Know the chemicals in the cleaning products you use. There will be a customer who is allergic to something and prefers eco-friendly products. Make sure you know the difference between the two and that you can work with both.
You can even learn interesting facts about carpets, like:
- The difference between a rug and a carpet is its size. A rug is anything under 40 square feet. Carpet is anything above 40 square feet.
- Vacuums back in the day, like in the early 20th century, were huge. They were powered by coal and three people were needed to operate it.
- The word “carpet” comes from the Latin word carpere, the same word that inspired the phrase “Carpe Diem”. It means to seize or pluck (fabrics in this case).
It’s your turn to carpe diem in the carpet world. You know what to do, you have the motivation to do it, and you can succeed.