What pitfalls are there in buying a carpet cleaning business?



I know this is kind of a vague question but what are some pitfalls to buying out other CC businesses? I am a middle aged corporate manager that has dead-ended in my career.  I’m tired of all the company politics and want to do something different. Any “do’s and don’ts” that I should be aware of? What pitfalls have you seen trip up other purchasers of carpet cleaning companies?  Thank you for your help.

Excited About Changing Careers in Minneapolis

PS  I found this site by accident and it has been a huge help.  Thank you all for being so generous with your knowledge.  So far Jon-Don appears to be a great company!

The “Biggest Pitfall”, Excited? Many carpet cleaners, (Strategies for Success Training graduates excluded!) don’t have the slightest idea on:

1. How to price their services profitably.

2. How to build a “name brand” that has real value.

3. How to build systems into their company that allow it to be easily transferred.

4. How to build customer loyalty to the company by consistently creating Cheerleaders.

Numbers 1 and 4 are by far the most important. You asked, Excited, so I listed the four most common pitfalls.  By the way, these four points are exactly what we cover in our “Strategies for Success” seminar which by the way would be a superb industry overview for you BEFORE you buy any carpet cleaning business.

There ARE a few good carpet cleaning companies for sale out there that can cut years off of your learning, growth AND ‘pain’ curve.  I know.  Many years ago I sold one!  BUT speaking frankly, Excited, too many carpet cleaning companies that are for sale aren’t really “businesses”. They are a “job for the owner” and not a very good job at that! And who wants to “buy a job”?  Come to SFS Training and discover the many options you have!


P.S. Pitfall #5- Many times, you can’t really believe any of the financial numbers that are presented to you in a prospective purchase and not because carpet cleaners are dishonest. (They are no worse and maybe even better than the population as a whole.) BUT, carpet cleaners ARE notoriously bad record keepers and worse accountants. Take all of the “books” you are shown with a grain or two of salt.

By the way, Excited, while I don’t have a Special Report on how to BUY a carpet cleaning company I do have one on how to “prepare your business for a successful sale“.  You can use the points in the report as a yardstick to evaluate the companies you look at.

7 thoughts on “What pitfalls are there in buying a carpet cleaning business?”

  1. Yes, take SFS. It will pay you back hundreds of times over. I just took it in September. We’ve been in business since 1991 and I joined my husband in the company 3 years ago. Wish we had taken SFS 10 years ago. Better late then never, I guess.

    Most owner operated carpet cleaning businesses just fade away when the owner is ready to retire. I agree with Steve, most of the ones for sale are ones that are not doing well – so tread lightly. Look at it as you would any business you want to buy. Make sure they have good records, written policies and procedures in place, have an accountant review the books, find out why the current owner is getting out of the business. Read the “E-Myth” and look for an privately owned cleaning business that works like that. You may want to explore a franchise since most have the systems in place.

    One goal we have for ourselves is to sell the business when the time comes. SFS is helping us to groom our buisness and put the right systems in place to do so.

    Best of luck.


  2. Listen to Dan and Meg. (And not just because they say to attend SFS!) Probably more than almost any area it is “buyer beware” when you are going to buy a carpet cleaning business.


    PS However, once again I will say that there are some great bargains out there in businesses for sale that will save you years of hard work and put you much further ahead on the growth curve. What price can you put on that? Your number ONE question: “Do I want the customers that this company is trying to sell me?”

  3. I’m looking to start my own carpet cleaning business. I’m currently an emploree and my boss has some workers who do all the cleaning, but when it comes to cleaning the carpet they look the other way. He asked me and I went home got my little bissell and did A job on that carpet. Got to say it came out very good. But just the fact that i see it not something that people realy want to do is realy what got me motovated to look into it. Now at 35 in a couple of weeks I don’t think to know everything . A little brains and a good work habit I think a person can live the american dream. Two things I can say I have. But mabey i’m just wishfully thinking. Even though i’m not welloff with money I do live and work in a welloff neighborhood. Now granit I get the do’s and don’t down, what advice would you have for me truly motovated

  4. A great question Robert and you have come to the right place. Let me mull it over and answer your question over in my Bleeding Hearts Club advice column for carpet cleaners. (Just call me “Dear Abby”)

    Meanwhile, I’ll leave your comment up here so others can chime in if they wish.

    Steve Toburen

  5. I’ve been in CC now years. Not to over simplify but time is short so here is my 2 cents. When buying an existing CC business check every word on the contract and check for debt and furthermore add to the contract you will not be taking on any debt for equipment, law suites, real estate or any other company related debt. Also if it is a residential customer data base don’t be surprised to discover when sending out marketing calls or emails you could generate “re-do’s” by doing so. Also many folks are transient and that type of list isn’t as valuable as you may think.
    To start up a new business and be rolling under a year, simply get on Yelp and get plenty of 5 star reviews. Google results and websites are great but not needed if you get prominence on Yelp. Yelp can eliminate the need to fall in to the endless task of trying to get in every directly on the planet so save your time and take a pass.
    Good Luck.

  6. Thanks, Ken, for your cautions on buying ANY business! This points up once again the need to get legal counsel and financial advice from professionals BEFORE you make a final decision.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.