Can a carpet cleaner survive in a rural area?

Hi Steve,

Well I’m facing a big decision in my life.  I’m the oldest in my family and my parents are close to 80 years old.  So I see the need coming up to be closer to them for care-giving, etc.  They are located in rural Missouri and the town where they live has about 3000 people who live there. If I continue to clean carpets I’d have to service a wide area.  I’m right now in suburban Chicago with the luxury of over a million people easily accessible.  Do you feel I can survive running a rural carpet cleaning business?

Undecided in Naperville

Not to get off subject, Undecided, but what will happen to your current business/family in Chicago if you focus on this anticipated care-giving mission?  It is commendable to take care of your parents.  You will always treasure the time and care you shower on them. I know I did with my “Dad time”.

BUT does this family care and support have to include you “upending” your entire life/family/business career moving?  What about your wife/kids? Should they be yanked out of their life? I’m just saying to think “outside of the box” here.  I find that often the children of an aging couple are too eager to “pull the trigger” on care-giving when in fact a few minor adjustments may let your parents soldier on for years on their own.  (Which is probably what they want to do anyway!)

Also if you have brothers and sisters and you are facing a care giving situation it is imperative that you call a family conference and right from the git-go make clear that while as the oldest you are happy to “coordinate” the care you are NOT going to do all of it. It needs to be viewed as a shared venture from the very start. Been there- done that!

Now finally to your original question re: “surviving as a rural carpet cleaner”. A lot depends on the commercial and business base in the area. Our total population was right at 30,000 people in a very isolated area. So I have had a LOT of experience in surviving in a small market.  Of course, our county was in a major tourist/ski area.  This meant that there was more business plus it was a four season resort town.

In fact, we not only “survived”- we prospered!  By aggressively targeting both the commercial and restoration sides AND providing Value Added service to our residential clients we grossed over 1.3 million yearly with a very nice net profit!

BUT I sometimes reflect what we would have made in a large market base IF we had poured the same work and attention into it. Can you be successful in a small market? Sure. But it IS more work and with a much smaller margin for error. Or you may need to dramatically scale back your lifestyle and expectations. (Which is not a necessarily bad thing!)

Actually your question on “prospering in a small market” makes me think I should start working on a Special Report!  Stay tuned and meanwhile keep dipping into the resources we already have for you here!

Best wishes!

Steve Toburen

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