Can I make it in this market?

Business Launch2Dear Steve,
I’m thinking of starting a small carpet cleaning business in an area of about 80,000 people,….and about 50 carpet cleaning companies! So,starting out part-time (at about 10hours a week) is it worth the risk of my limited start-up capital? I’d like to average 25.00 per hour for a gross income of 15K in a year or so. Does this sound reasonable?

Thank you,
Timid in Tulsa

Dear Timid,

If your entire market area has 80,000 population and IF there truly are 50 functioning carpet cleaners there (not just disconnected phone numbers) you might want to choose to pick a different battle elsewhere. If you use the commonly accepted number of 2.3 people per household that gives you 34,700 homes which in turn means an average of about 690 potential customers per carpet cleaner.

Now if you go further and assume probably accurately that only 20-30% of all carpet is ever professionally cleaned that brings us to an AVERAGE customer list per carpet cleaner of slightly more than 200 customers per year. Definitely on the thin side.


P.S. Having said all that … if this is a place you want/need to live and if you really want to/dream of being a carpet cleaner- go for it!  (I would suggest you set your sights a bit higher than the 25 bucks per hour and the 15,000.00 per year gross.  But that wasn’t your question, now, was it?)

My business was in a wonderful mountain town I planned on never leaving and woke up every day delighted to be there. Our in-town population was 12,000 and our total market base was 30,000 people AND we had 12 or 13 other carpet cleaners in the yellow pages. So our demographics weren’t that much different than yours. When I sold out and retired we were grossing $750,000.00 per year. (Which in today’s dollars is well over a million bucks per year.) BUT this was only achieved after 16 years of agonizing work. Truly, Timid, if I had invested this much work and time in a larger market base with more potential our gross would have been $7,500,000.00 yearly and with less effort too!  HOWEVER,  we loved were we lived and that counts too!

So, is it possible? Absolutely. “Is it worth the risk?” Only you can answer that one, my friend. (Actually, you won’t be risking your capital so much as your “blood, sweat and tears”!)

1 thought on “Can I make it in this market?”

  1. We have a similar situation here in the Columbia River Gorge in northern Oregon. We serve a population of about 30,000 in our area, with five other competitors. We have adjusted in the market do more then just carpet & upholstery cleaning, as a matter a fact the carpet branch of our business is secondary to our janitorial, house cleaning and property management services. We also expanded into hard floor stripping and waxing, along with tile and grout cleaning/sealing. Our biggest revenue maker is in rental turnovers, both our own and other property management companies. Our biggest problem in our area is finding employees, we have no problem getting work. We are currently turning down three to five jobs a week due to staffing issues. We are currently working in that area and could easily double our revenue when our staffing issues are addressed. This month we are adding vacuum sales, repair and rentals to our business. We have found with a broader base of services we have are able to keep a steady income and are much more visible in our community. We have applied the Jon Don’s Strategies For Success principals to all aspects of our business. Thank You Steve and Jon Don for your continued training and help!

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