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24 years old and rarin’ to go in commercial carpet cleaning!

dominate my commercial sectorHello Steve,

I’ve read a LOT on this SFS site about getting commercial work and maintaining a good repeat residential client list. Thank you for all the free information and for not high pressuring me to buy anything! However, I wonder if at my age (24) in a large city and with lots of government offices (we are the state capital) what do you think is a realistic goal for my first five years in business?

I’m looking to focus on cleaning in the commercial sector with eventually four Cimex’s on the go. I also noticed in my area that the commercial tile and grout market is almost untapped. (I’m more than willing to pound the pavement and get out and sell!)

So Steve, if I was to set forth a marketing budget of roughly 10K for the first 6 months where would my money/time be best spent? I want to retire young like you did. My computer repair business is doing well but I worked as a carpet tech for 2 years before I started into the IT industrym so I am well trained in all aspects of cleaning.

I don’t know for sure, but I feel I can make a million dollar business out of this with the right mentor because of the way the market is set up here. Branching out into VCT/TILE could also prove to be very lucrative. I’m just not sure how to apply my multitude of newly acquired cleaning talents.

Give me your 2 cents, please.

Regards,

Sacramento New Boy

Hi Sacramento,

Congratulations on having found a great niche … IF you do it right. (And while you still have the youthful strength and vigor to attack it too!)

There is no question that a million plus population will support four, forty or even four hundred Cimexes and the folks running them too! Your challenge will be first getting the work and then second organizing it logistically.

Given the off hours nature of the commercial sector cleaning business I suggest you look into part time employees working 12-15 hours per week. Jeff Cutshall’s free Report on “Building Encapsulation Maintenance Routes” will give you the big picture and the bidding details too.

Jeff shares where and how to market commercial. Given your commercial sector focus I would think you should be going after the government/ institutional/ large commercial market offering planned maintenance plans with a regular, amortized monthly payment.

I assume your $10,000.00 budget is only for your marketing costs, not for you to live out of too! Either way good, old-fashioned shoe leather is the way to go on this sector. Most direct mail goes immediately to the “round file” and is a waste of money.

I suggest you download this Commercial Carpet Analysis form which will help you structure the first site interview with your prospect. Your goal is to morph out of the sales role and into being a consultant. This free CCA form will help you in this.

One caution: Grow slowly. Your plans are ambitious but doable over a five year period. Don’t try to get there in one year. I have seen more businesses doomed by booming sales than flat or slow numbers. Also get your act and skills together in one area (encapsulation cleaning is a great sector to start in) before you go zooming off into another different diversification.

And let me know how you are doing.

Steve

NOTE: You really ought to look into the SFS seminar, Sacramento. We give you 1,200 pages of a ready made business infrastructure for exactly the type of company you are planning to grow. SFS will cut years and a lot of agony off of your learning curve. Just look at what past attendees say about the program. And here are the common FAQ’s about SFS.

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5 Responses to 24 years old and rarin’ to go in commercial carpet cleaning!

  1. Dusty Bell January 7, 2011 at 10:53 AM #

    This sounds a lot like me almost 10 years ago. I was 22 and started our cleaning business in the Bay Area, then moved to the Sacramento area at 23, ready to make millions!

    I think you’re right, Sacramento New Boy, that there are lots of government buildings in our area, and that there aren’t too many carpet cleaners that focus on that market. But there might be a reason for that.

    Let me explain with a little background info. I’ll try to keep this short… but I’m sure I won’t…

    Our first business was (and still is) a janitorial service. We hit the ground running and made a whopping $9,000 our first year! 🙂 By year two we made around $50K, and within five years we were making close to a Mil.

    So making millions in this area is possible. But we realized quickly that is wasn’t about gross $, it was about profit. And when working with the gov, there’s not much profit.

    So we subscribed to the idea that we could “lose a little on each account, but make up for it in VOLUME.” Yeah… that didn’t work.

    Like Steve cautioned, we grew too fast. Plus many of our accounts were low margin, and took a long time to pay. That kills.

    2008 was still a great year for us, but within the first few months of 2009 we had lost about 30% of our work due to budget cuts, vacancies, and companies going out of business.

    We had to get creative. The janitorial services were our bread and butter, but we made the most profit from floor care – carpet cleaning, tile & grout, VCT, etc. So we decided to focus on that.

    We started to really push our floor care services, and even bought a truck mount. We thought we knew a lot about carpet cleaning. But once we started networking with other carpet cleaners, and taking the classes, we realized that we had a lot to learn.

    We also realized that the prices that we were charging for carpet cleaning were dirt cheap, and that most carpet cleaners couldn’t (or wouldn’t want to) compete with that.

    And that, Sacramento, might be the reason why the commercial floor care market seems untapped in Sacramento. Most of that work is being done by janitorial services who are already in the buildings, and “add on” floor care services at prices so low that most people won’t touch it.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, we still love commercial accounts, but the gov/city buildings are not on our target list anymore. The accounts we do really well with are smaller, private offices (50K sf or smaller), warehouses, health care offices, etc.

    Not to discourage you, (In fact, I got into this business because people told me it couldn’t be done) but I just want you to know what we ran into. Your experience might be different.

    I would also agree with Steve that good, old-fashioned shoe leather (actually never heard that phrase before) is the best way to go. Save that $10K for cash flow. Use some for SFS, of course, but don’t spend too much of it on marketing. We started with $175, and made that last for at least three years, lol!

    Good luck, Sacramento! Starting a business is a lot of fun, and I’m sure you’ll do well! Feel free to contact me if I can help in any way.

    Dusty
    dbell@getdusty.com
    (916) 550-9805

  2. Steve Toburen January 8, 2011 at 7:03 AM #

    Wow, Dusty. Sounds like you have been there- done that! Please keep up the encouraging comments like this one. (I love a good “novel”!)

    Steve

    PS Any ideas on improving this site are always welcome. My frquent saying is, “We are all in this together!”

  3. Dusty Bell January 8, 2011 at 3:27 PM #

    Been there, done that, still doing it. Sooner or later I’ll be good at it! 😉

    The first idea I have is to not let me talk so much! Sounded much shorter in my head, but hopefully that lengthy comment will help some people.

    The other idea: Ever considered adding video?

    Dusty

  4. Steve Toburen January 14, 2011 at 5:19 AM #

    Yes, Dusty, we are exploring videos. But as Papa Nick Paolella always says, “If we are going to do it let’s do it right”. Too many videos out there on the Internet are amateurish and boring. But stay tuned … 🙂

    Steve

  5. DC07 March 1, 2011 at 8:41 AM #

    Thanks dusty thats useful info to keep in mind

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