“So how long is it going to take?”


Question: Did I make a mistake going into the cleaning industry? And Steve, when (and how) did you become successful?

Steve’s answer: Only you can decide. But remember “success” isn’t easy in ANY business! Much of my success was based on being too stubborn to quit AND (painfully) learning from my mistakes! But with our Strategies for Success program you can avoid my boneheaded missteps! 

Hi Steve,

I’ve been pretty beat up lately by life. Honestly, I’m getting a bit worried about WHEN I can “feel like a success”.

Just how did you get started in the first place, Steve? Did you start with a portable or did you jump right in with a truck mount ? Did you get experience as a tech or start out self taught on your own? Part time or full time ?  Did you use “word of mouth” or spend big bucks on advertising? Tell me “your story”…

And a very important question:  Steve, would you recommend the cleaning profession to others?

Feeling Downtrodden Here in Tennessee

Hey, Feeling,

Careful now, you’re going to get me all nostalgic and that is a dangerous thing.  Let me see what I can remember.  (I’ve inhaled a lot of cleaning solvents over the years and popped a few “adult beverages”, neither one of which are good for memory cells!)

NOTE: I am the first to remind you that “success” should be based on MUCH more than your business/financial accomplishments! Instead, reflect on what I call the “Four F’s of Life”– your Faith, your Family, your Friends and simply having Fun every day!

However, money (and hopefully financial wealth!) is a needed tool to accomplish much of your “Four F’s” so here goes…

1970- I started a part-time janitorial service when I was 17.

1972- My best friend (and future partner) convinced me that this new-fangled “steam cleaning” was the way to go. So I bought a extremely under-powered Castex 700 portable and started seriously under charging while dramatically over-wetting carpets!

1975- Newly married, Sioux and I moved to a small mountain town (Durango, CO) with the explicit goal of cleaning carpets part time and skiing full time! (Which by the way still sounds like a great idea!) Even better, our rent was $75.00 per month so life was good! But I was still suckered into thinking people would not pay for quality carpet cleaning. (Maybe because I could not provide it!)

1978- I took on a partner who was (and is!) my best friend. (Even more surprisingly, his wife and my wife were good friends too.) Chris “bought into the business” with $400.00 cash and a old army surplus van.  Also I believe in 1978 he and I attended our first wonderful ASCR convention. (Back then known by the unfortunate acronym “AIDS”!) that’s where we heard about a machine called a “truck mount”!

1979- Very stupidly, we said, “How hard can it be to make up one of those new ‘truck mounts’? After all, they are just a motor, a pump and a vacuum.” After six months, many thousands of dollars and several design revisions (along with a trip to the emergency room for Chris when our home-made vacuum tank blew up in his face) we had a truck mount that ran … sort of.

1981- Bought our first of many professionally engineered and built truck mounts. We also ventured timidly into fire and water damage restoration.

1984- I bought my partner out. (He returned to Texas to care for his aging parents.) I continued painfully and slowly growing, with two truck mounts and three or four techs in my kitchen each day.  (Sioux was not happy!)

1986- Bought a 6,000′ office/warehouse (at 13% interest) and moved the company into it. I struggled incredibly to change from a “hip pocket type” of operation into a real business. Then completely by accident I read “The E-Myth” while on a white water raft trip on the Dolores River. Then I re-read it again and again. I also encountered a book called “Service America” focused on the crazy notion of consistently pleasing customers so incredibly they would actually go out of their way to recommend you.

1986-1991 I applied the principles in both of these books (and many others) and became, if not a management expert, at least something more than “just a rug-sucker”. With Value Added Service we grew rapidly to sixteen employees, nine vehicles (including a 26′ moving truck) and four truck mounts doing 750,000 bucks yearly with a very nice profit margin and LOTS of “owner benefits”.  (Remember that 750K a year back in 1991 translates into well over $1,300,000.00 today which for a total market base of 30,000 people is not bad!)

Early 1991- I woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to live, breathe, sleep, eat and obsess over running an intense 24-7 emergency services business anymore. So I went through a Business Sale Preparation Process and put the business up for sale.

November 22, 1991- I sold the business by following the steps in this free Special Report! (And I got 97% cash up front!)

November 23, 1991 onward- PERSONAL FREEDOM!

October 1, 1994- I moved to live in the Dominican Republic with my family. Life has been good. It’s great to be free from the demands and daily problems of employees. Finally I’m living Papa Nick Paolella’s motto, “Find a job that you love and you will never work another day in your life!”  This saying applies to me both in my volunteer work I do AND the privilege I have with Jon-Don of helping others through this site and our SFS seminar.

So Feeling, the carpet cleaning profession was very good to me. Would I do it again? Absolutely! But hopefully smarter and learning sooner from the mistakes and triumphs of others.

NOTE: I totally admit that much of our SFS seminar consists of the stupid mistakes I made and the desperate solutions I came up with to get myself out of them! So when you attend the SFS program your growth curve and eventual success will be MUCH faster! Check out these actual SFS “Member Profiles”!

Nostalgically submitted,

Steve Toburen

P.S. Education is still the best investment you will ever make, Feeling. This is not a “get-rich-quick” business.  But on the other hand I did not have the SFS seminar or this web site either! IF you take advantage of these resources you should leave me in your dust!  Happy to help!

2 thoughts on ““So how long is it going to take?””

  1. Steve,
    I have read many of your articles, and you mention how you live and volunteer in the Dominican Republic a lot. I have always wondered why if you made your fortune from the great people of this Country (USA-North America), why you choose to leave it behind and help the people that had no helping hand in your success, while people suffer here? I realize you like the location or weather (maybe tourists?), but it just seems like a pretty thoughtless move to me.

  2. That’s a good question, Terry. Simply put (and when you look at humanity’s problems on a global scale) the need was (and is) much greater in the Dominican Republic than in the US. There were also logistical questions involved such as not being too far away from Sioux’s aging parents and a fair amount of “serendipity”. (Who knows how/why we ever wind up at a certain place?)

    My point in my original reply to our fearful newby down in the trenches was that once I had the vision/tools on how to build a great business it only took me five years or so. And if a dummy like me could do it while blindly struggling forward virtually anyone can achieve success today and especially with the help of this SFS web site.

    What this industry gave me is the financial freedom to live the rest of my life as I wish- and that is huge. Most people will not choose to do volunteer work in a Third World country and I respect that. But wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that if you wish? That is what Jon-Don, SFS and I are trying to do- help hard-working entrepreneurs achieve their version of success and yep- that requires money! 🙂

    Thanks again for writing,

    PS By the way, due to some family health issues Sioux and I are mostly in the US right now and yes- we are continuing our volunteer work here. (Our son Matthew is still in our home in the Dominican Republic working as an unpaid volunteer.)

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