Carpets are a ubiquitous part of commercial and residential locations across the land and the need for top-notch cleaning services to keep these carpets in perfect conditions and lasting their full-service life is important. Clean well-maintained carpets are essential to an inviting environment and good presentation.
If you have been considering opening a profession to cater to this need, you have the entrepreneurial itch and could soon be taking home your slice of a $5 Billion pie that is only growing in size and value.
So how to get started in the carpet cleaning industry? Actually, it is a lot like getting started in any industry. Assemble your business strategy, secure financing, register your business and make sure all the foundational steps are completed first.
Then, you will have to move on to some steps that are exclusive to the carpet cleaning industry. For example, collecting the necessary equipment, obtaining certification or accreditation with regulatory boards, taking out the right type of insurance policy that will protect you from claims that only strike in this niche.
It can seem a bit tricky from a distance, but you will find that with an enlightened perspective, getting off on the right foot is relatively straightforward but all necessary in order to get your carpet cleaning company off to a great start.
Here are eight steps to understanding the terrain of the carpet cleaning frontier and how you can lay claim to your personal gold mine.
1. Write a Business Plan.
The first thing to do for any entrepreneur, will be to begin with a solid plan for business. This crucial component of your business campaign provides direction and rhythm to your efforts. You will outliner your business goals and how you plan to reach them within any given time frame. You will also consider the resources at your disposal and how far they will take you.
Your plans can be broad or extremely specific, formal or whimsical whatever you feel comfortable with. You will then find that as your business changes to meet its goals, the business plan, with a mind and intelligence of its own, begins to adapt to suit your progress and direction.
To begin with the most astute business plan possible, you should aim to include the following components in your plan.
- What will you be providing to whom?
- What is your hiring plan?
- What is your marketing plan?
- What are your Financial Goals?
- What do you plan to charge for this service?
- What tools and equipment will you need to begin?
Once more we will emphasize the point that this business plan you will be creating at this moment is not an unwavering constitution to your business. It is more like an initial organizational plan that gives you some scope on your current location in comparison to your goals, which will all change as you begin making progress.
The next important step in forming a business plan will be planning how to effectively allocate your expenses called a budget. Consider how much cash you have on hand in relation to the various expenses you will need to get your business off the ground. It could be that you will need additional financing to make you first move.
So, make sure you count all the costs. You will want to consider costs for starting up a business, obtaining certifications and business licenses as well as all of the conceivable day-to-day expenses associated with carpet cleaning. To do this effectively, you will need to use a business financial plan. The good news is that there are many such options available online.
2. Get Yourself Trained and Certified.
Before you can begin taking your business to your clients you should do what you can earn their trust. Having a good deal of experience under your belt is an important way to begin. But even more importantly will be to get yourself trained and your work licensed with the regulatory board in your region.
A certification from the IICR or Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration is an especially good option. The IICRC offers specific training as a technician in rug cleaning, carpet cleaning and commercial carpet cleaning and maintenance. There are in person training programs available and you may also find an online training module if that is your preference.
There are also certifications available for programs at TMF academy and several equipment suppliers will also offer this service. Rotovac and Jon-Don are two such commercial equipment suppliers that offer these training programs to potential carpet cleaning companies. Then, after you have gotten certification and training, make sure any new employees you hire also have this training.
But no matter what you choose or how you get the certification needed, there is no alternative for on-the-job experience. One of the best options will be to contact a local carpet cleaning company and ask if your employees could shadow their seasoned cleaning teams while they are on the job. It seems like a long shot, but it is worth the effort. You can even ask if the carpet cleaning company owner will allow you to pick their brains on a few important points.
If you meet such an amicable person, prepare some good questions about start-up costs, recommended tools and equipment, how to form good customer relations, tips about hiring staff and managing them effectively.
3. License and Register Your Business.
If you have reached this point you have scoured the land well and portioned off your corner of the market. Now, it is time to let everyone know what you are doing. But first, you need to let the government and the state officials know first. This means you need to take out the licenses and registrations required for your company.
The first thing to do will be to contact your local clerk’s office and ask about the licensing required for cleaning companies operating in your region. Then, you will need to follow these directions completely.
If you own this business all alone, or with your spouse, you can choose sole proprietorship, which precludes the need to register with the state. But, if you do this, your business will not be a separate entity from your personal assets. This means that any debts of liabilities that are taken out on your company will have implications for you as well.
In such a case, it may be better to work as an LLC. Registering your company as an LLC is not a difficult thing and comes with certain protections that you won’t enjoy as a sole proprietor. For example, your personal assets will not be liable for any financial trouble you are having with your company.
4. Open a Business Bank Account.
If you haven’t already, this would be a good time to go ahead and open a second bank account for your business. It is a good idea to keep your personal expenses separate from your business finances. First of all, this will keep your finances safe from any business-related issues. But it will also make it much easier for you to handle your books. And this will also make applying for business lending a much easier option as well.
5. Obtain the Right Insurance.
Finally, there is one more vital piece of paperwork that should be taken into consideration. You will need insurance to protect you from certain potential problems. First off is standard liability insurance which protects you from claims for bodily injury or property damage. Then you will need worker’s compensation insurance, disability insurance and unemployment if you plan on hiring a staff. Finally, consider your transportation as well, take out insurance for the company vehicle just in case it gets into an accident out on the roads.
6. Gather Your Tools.
You won’t get very far in your business if you are not fully equipped for the task at hand. Remember there are many options other than buying top-of-the-line brand new equipment. What you need is the equipment that will do the job right.
You can buy used items and even rent your equipment from hardware stores when you are just beginning. But, once you are seriously heading up the ladder as a reputable carpet company, you may want to just get your own equipment according to your needs. Ergo, it may be best to do this from the start.
Some of the essentials will include a powerful industrial vacuum and a steam carpet cleaner. Then you will need all the detergents and solvents required to operate these devices. Once you get a feel for what you are doing, you will be able to expand your tools set from this point. Other things you may need are upholstery wands, deodorizers, carpet rakes, pet and stain remover as well as any other carpet cleaning tools and apparatus you feel suitable for the job.
This is one more place where getting an expert opinion from other carpet cleaning companies in the area will be a good idea.
7. Fund Your Business.
Obviously, this is all going to cost some cash investment and you may not have all the resources in your pocket to hit every start-up need, no matter how you bootstrap. There are quite a few costs that you have already acquired as you have gotten your company to this point and most start-ups begin by paying heavily out of their own pockets.
Because a small start-up lacks the financial history to take out any financial aid from a bank, owners will typically take out personal loans or even ask friends and family to chip in from the ground up.
But if you will need financing right away there are still some options available. You can pull a credit card out in your companies’ name and this can be used to pay daily expenses and small items. This only takes a matter of minutes and all businesses can acquire such a line of credit no matter their financial history.
Then you may have luck with equipment financing. As the name implies, this loan will be used to purchase the equipment your business needs to get off the ground. The equipment you buy will be the collateral for this loan and this makes the lender a bit more comfortable in extending financial aid to an unproven company.
8. Market Your Business.
It is now time to begin doing business and that requires plenty of customers. With this in mind it will be time to market your company.
Word of mouth will be your most important form of advertising, so go ahead and tell everyone you know and their brother what you are doing. Then you can begin to ask realtors, interior designers, and other domestic service companies to take your name with them and even partner up.
You should also get your website up and running as soon as you possibly can. Having a digital presence online is essential in this market and it provides an easy way for your potential clients to contact you. Then make sure you lay claim to your Yelp, Google Business, and all other local directories in the area you are servicing.
Whether your web presence is large or small, simple, or complex, make sure it is sharp, easy to understand and fully functional.
The Bottom Line.
It is only natural to feel uncertain about taking a leap and starting your own business, but with the following pointers on opening your commercial carpet cleaning company you have a better idea of what to expect. If you take the time to build yourself a solid foundation, you will soon be building a strong company that will be pulling in a profit and making way for expansion.