The world of steady, profitable commercial work is really tempting me!

Dear Steve,


I am starting to think my time would be best spent concentrating on getting steady commercial cleaning accounts as opposed to residential carpet cleaning. There are moments when I wish all I did was commercial cleaning (With the exception of some really “sweet old lady” residential accounts.) I typically charge less for maintenance commercial customers but I know who I’m dealing with and I’ve been there enough times so things are done more efficiently, etc. Thus, I am considering going the commercial route more fully and bumping up my residential rates.

Good call?

Dreaming of Commercial in Charleston

Thanks for writing in, Dreaming.

Your visions of success in commercial cleaning may likely come true. As I have said so many times before, in my humble opinion, the typical low-ball, price-oriented residential carpet cleaning so common in our industry is the hardest money to be made in the cleaning business. Constant price pressures, one time jobs, transient customers, picky people, scheduling problems AND you are re-inventing the wheel on every single job.

Once you move into making Cheerleaders through Value Added Service and then when the loyal repeat cleaning jobs come in it gets so much better … but residential is never easy.

But commercial … aaaah regular contract commercial accounts. Such sweet sounding words to my ears!

  1. Regular, almost guaranteed cash flow.
  2. A job you (and even better your technicians)  “know” like the back of your hand. (And people that know you too.)
  3. Much, much faster production.
  4. Keys to the business that let you do the job at your convenience instead of their schedule. (Within reason.)
  5. Much easier planning and scheduling.
  6. If you have a crew out there at night you have much more flexibility on responding quickly to emergency water losses.
  7. A steadily increasing pile of long term contracts will make your business infinitely more valuable and more attractive when it comes time to sell it!

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the residential market. After all, the bulk of our Strategies for Success seminar focuses on teaching your techs how to build a relationship with the homeowner. BUT I gotta tell ya, Dreaming- the “easier money” is in commercial.

Sure, many complain that the hours are bad. That’s why there is something called “employees”. 🙂  You didn’t mention if you are going solo or have others working with you. In any case there are good people out there who actually like working at night.  And talk about “double-dipping” with your equipment. Many a day one of our trucks would pull in from a full day out doing residential jobs, get re-stocked by the night crew waiting to receive it and roar away 15 minutes later for an 800.00 to 1,000.00 night of regular, contract commercial work.

So Dreaming, the question to me is not so much which is better. Rather I would ask, “Do you have the fire in the belly to get out there and get the jobs”? My Special Report on Selling Commercial Maintenance Accounts can give you a jump start on this but at the end of the day it has to be you.


P.S. If you really don’t like night work and you really don’t like having employees (I disliked them both!) then lot’s of restaurants and bars that don’t open till lunch can be cleaned and dried early in the morning. We often would bring our employees in at 6 AM to do a 200.00 to 300.00 restaurant and then start on residential work by 8:30 or 9:00. Gives the day a nice kick in the old profit pants!

NOTE:  If you are struggling when you get face to face with a commercial prospect you really should download my Commercial Carpet Analysis form.  The download is free.

2 thoughts on “The world of steady, profitable commercial work is really tempting me!”

  1. STEVE, I need your expert advice. I am really needing to get more work and get past this one van operation. It seems once residential gets busy BAM!! It slow right down. I NEED more contract work. My question is that when I am going to office buildings or calling other properties who should I ask for? I have no problem with the sales portion and i am really working hard on the “Sta-Clean” programs we have ( thanks to you). I have not been too successful when going out cold and hitting these doors. I am in Kansas City and here we have a booming commercial market. If i could tap into a reasonable amount of commercial I could really get past this roller coaster of a business that weve got. Thanks

    -Brad Page

  2. Thanks for writing, Brad. By coincidence I know KC pretty well being born and raised there. I think it is a great market. I’ll put my thoughts in order and morph your question into my Bleeding Hearts Club column. Stay tuned.


    PS Do you have a Cimex or other high speed encapsulation machine?

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