What equipment should I buy with $8,000.00 for a carpet cleaning start-up?


Dear Steve,

I’m contacting you today for a little advice.  I am not a SFS graduate but any thoughts on my situation would be greatly appreciated. However, depending on how things go, I’m already looking into January’s SFS seminar in Tampa and depending on how operations are going I’d love to sign-up. (Especially if I end up spending a large portion of my start-up with Jon Don!)  I’ll make this as quick as possible to not waste your gift of time.

I’m right outside the Denver, Colorado area and I’ve had aspirations of running my own cleaning business for years now. These dreams began to come to fruition at the beginning of 2009 when I saddled up with a local cleaning company that had seen better days. At the time it was operated by one technician while the owner “oversaw” operations while working a full-time job somewhere else.

The first thing I did was get rid of the loser tech and I took over the manual side of the business while I exponentially expanded our client base. All this while trying to implement everything from business cards on up! (The company was dragging along with NOTHING marketing wise.)

After landing some big accounts (janitorial company referrals mainly) and adding two techs while I got off the truck, I began to have some doubts about my future working for this company. So after many monetary and labor disputes with the struggling owner, the two employees I had hired and myself all quit last winter.

The only thing this company had before I took over was a $50,000 truck mount/van set-up, including some other supplies and equipment. The owner had absolutely no marketing collateral, and even invoicing and service agreements were unavailable. I did the best I could with the rather limited funds and turned out some wonderful profits after joining a BNI group and doing some other simple things.

I won’t have to do this all from the ground-up again with my new venture since I had great success before in marketing. This isn’t where my main concerns lay.  I went over all that just so you know I do have a small background in the industry, and that I intend to get back in.  Here’s where my real problem/question comes up:

I’ve got an extremely limited budget. (Around $8k). I’ve played with different ideas between buying a high-end portable, or a cheap truckmount w/ a van or trailer. My most recent idea is to acquire a Cimex for commercial encapsulation routes.

In these situations I’d obviously approach potential clients differently based on what I start with. For example, with a portable or Cimex I’d only target those commercial clients I could add to an extensive route. Doing this I could use this first profit center to expand into new areas. Maybe this situation would work best if I started with a Cimex and a decent portable.  Otherwise, starting with a cheap truck mount and trying to afford all the goodies I’d like to have for my residential customers, even down to doormats and Spot-Out spotter bottles could become major issues quickly.

Basically, I’d love your take on my current situation, and even more so on my immediate future options. In review my basic question is:

As a start-up with a limited budget (just over 8k), what do you think would be my best option for getting my cleaning business off the ground?

Thanks for any advice you might think I could use and thanks so much for SFS and the free materials available online. Sadly I was totally ignorant of these resources before separating from my last company. I know what Jon-Don provides with the SFS site will make a huge difference on my already successful business operations and procedures.

Excited in Denver

PS Additional financing is not currently available, I’m 21 with no-good credit and I do not have any personal contacts to tap.

Well, Excited, first you have my congratulations on both finding a great industry to enter and at such a young age.  Oh to be 21 again and know what I know now!  Plus you express yourself very well and you have found a great resource with Jon-Don and this SFS website.

I think you are spot-on correct with your thoughts on entering the commercial market first and especially doing so with encapsulation technology.  I think it revolves on how fast do you need to generate funds for your living expenses?  (One big advantage of residential jobs is they provide immediate cash flow which is probably why most carpet cleaners get detoured into this low-priced sector.  The problem is most carpet cleaners never leave and the competition is fierce!)

So hopefully you can keep working your regular job for six months or so while you are building your “encapsulation route“.  If you can go part time then it will leave you time for making your sales calls- which are essential and yet may very well be the hardest thing you have ever done. BUT it will be “worth the pain”!

The hidden benefit here is most commercial work occurs on the weekends and at night after regular working hours.  Sure, you will be putting in some long days but what the heck- you are 21!  And meanwhile you will be building a base for your business of long term contracts that will provide regular cash flow.

So if you haven’t done so already why not download our new Special Report called: Setting Up an Encapsulation Commercial Carpet Route.

You will also need to download our Commercial Carpet Analysis form which will help you “structure” your initial visit with the property manager or owner.

I think your plan to start with a Cimex and a decent portable is a great idea.  The Cimex is by far the most revolutionary piece of equipment to hit the commercial market in decades and will give you a huge advantage when bidding jobs over your HWE competition.

Plus if you buy your Cimex from Jon-Don along with an extractor you will get awesome support in Tampa. 

Let me know what you decide and how I can help.


P.S:  At this entry point you are at in your business, Excited, attending SFS could have a HUGE impact on your future.  The SFS seminar is widely hailed as providing the very best “overview” of the cleaning and restoration industry and will cut many years off of your learning curve.  

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