Another specialization in the cleaning industry that you may choose to focus on are carpet and upholstery services. This business is in high demand as it provides services that the customers can not perform on their own to the same quality. With the right equipment and training, you will be able to provide customers with professional service that they need. How can you get started in this industry, though, and what can you expect from it?
What are the Necessary Qualifications?
- Business skills are a must, no matter what type of cleaning service or business you are interested in starting. Nobody starts off immediately with the perfect business skills, so it is important for everyone who wants to start a business to invest time in learning the proper skills and techniques! As mentioned, later lessons will provide you with all the tips you need to get started developing and honing in on your own business skills.
- Experience is critical before you start off in this field, so before you start offering your cleaning services to clients, take time to learn the tricks of the trade. Take training courses if you can find some in your local area, try out different quality products, and practice as much as possible. You can't promise your customers that you can remove any stain from their sofas if you aren't truly able to deliver the results. It takes thorough training to be able to use cleaning machines and perform dirt extractions properly and to the level of quality that you want for your business. The only way to uphold a reputation and watch your business thrive is to provide the top services, which you can only do with experience.
- Be sure to check what the requirements are for your local and state requirements for acquiring a business license, as with any new business venture. You may also be interested in acquiring insurance, should any work-related accidents happen and require that you pay damages. Insurance can help cover the costs that would otherwise come out of your own pocket. While you and your employees should strive to maintain quality as you work in your customers' homes and offices, accidents are unavoidable and you should be prepared to deal with the aftermath.
Who Are Your Customers?
With a carpet and upholstery business, you will find a mix of customers who require your services. Accidents and messes are sure to happen in both residential and commercial spaces, and people aren't able to get out all stains without the proper equipment. You may have a specific demographic that you choose to market to, but if you want to reach the widest range of customers then you will be prepared to work for both of the following clientele.
- Families and Homeowners - With couches, carpets, and rugs, it's hard to avoid getting a little messy every now and then. Kids will run into the house and track mud in on the carpet, somebody will spill a drink on the couch cushion, and life's daily use will leave everything just needing a little refreshing! Soap and water won't do the job, so homeowners will call a professional service as they feel the need. For some, this may be a routine occurrence, such as an annual cleaning schedule, while others may only call when something obvious and demanding needs attention. Regardless, it is safe to assume that you will have quite a few residential clients.
Since you are coming into these people's homes, they will be looking to ensure that you and your employees are trustworthy and honest. Show them upfront that you are straightforward and don't cut corners, and over time you can build a reliable reputation. It is not enough just to be honest yourself, however, as you also need to ensure the trustworthiness of the employees that you send to the customer's homes. Thorough background checks and interviews should be an integral part of you hiring process, and if you feel like someone is not trustworthy, then it's likely that the customer won't be comfortable with them also.
- Commercial Clients - Businesses and office spaces have carpets and couches, which get dirty just like a homeowner's will, and these professional workplaces need to present a clean atmosphere for their own customers and clients. In order to keep up the cleanliness of their own business, commercial clients will schedule carpet and upholstery cleanings regularly or as needed. Cleaning these spaces will typically be a different experience from cleaning a residence, as you will be working in the space after hours. You will still need to prove your trustworthiness, however, as you will be working in an office space with valuable belongings and the client wants to know that you don't have ulterior motives while being there.
Apart from office spaces, apartment and rental property owners will become regular clients as their customers move in and out of the residence. With every resident who moves out, the furniture or carpet that remains in the residence will require thorough cleaning to be leased to a new customer. In order to market their apartments or property as desirable and clean, the owners will usually turn to professional services to ensure the highest quality of care for how they make their living.
Another regular client you can specifically market to are real estate agents, who may be trying to sell properties that could use a good carpet cleaning. These agents know that if a carpet appears worn or dirty, it could turn away a potential buyer, so they consider a cleaning a wise investment. You can prepare the home for a new buyer by making the carpet look refreshed and clean.Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Starting Your Own Cleaning Business course?
What is the Necessary Equipment?
In order to get out the difficult stains, your service will require some heavy duty equipment. The cost and maintenance of high quality gear will be something you need to budget for in advance, but these financial costs are necessary to provide satisfactory service. It will take training and practice to learn the proper ways to work with the equipment and supplies, so always make sure that both you and your employees are familiar and experienced with the following equipment and supplies.
- Rotary Machine - This contributes greatly to a thorough carpet cleaning process. Don't waste your money buying cheap machines just to save a little cash. You'll only end up paying more when the machine breaks down and you have to replace it. Your customers will also be able to tell the difference by the low quality work that cheap machines provide. Invest some money into one of the higher quality machines on the market, and look into a warranty as well in case something malfunctions. The extra cost will pay off when you are able to prove the quality of your work to your customers.
These machines work to clean floors with a heavy-duty scrubbing mechanism that would be unable to achieve by other methods. One benefit to purchasing a rotary machine is that it can be used on both regular floors and carpets. This is a two-in-one if you ever choose to expand your business to a floor cleaning service, since you will be able to use the rotary machine for multiple clients.
- Premium Cleaning Products - Shampoos, sprays, stain removers, and stain guards are all just a part of the process. Test out your products before you begin using them in a customer's home or business, so that you are familiar with how they work. Don't use a product in a customer's home if you yourself are not satisfied with the quality of the results. The types of cleaning products you use will depend on the method of carpet cleaning your business focuses on. Alternatively, if you choose to offer a variety, it could differ from customer to customer. The different methods of cleaning and products will be explained more in depth below.
- Industrial Vacuum - Not only do you need a high quality, durable vacuum, but you also need to get extra attachments for stairs and small spaces. As with the rotary machine, don't throw away money on cheap products that won't last you long or provide good results. Your job is to provide the best carpet cleaning service around, and you can only do that with commercial-grade equipment.
- Tools - You will need a variety of tools, from carpet brushes to spray bottles for chemicals. The requirements for each different client will be different, so it is best to accumulate what you might possibly need and figure out specifics when you assess the situation and provide the customer with a quote.
The Basics of Carpet Cleaning
It is important that you put what you learn about carpet cleaning to the test, because you will get better only with actual experience and practice. You won't know where to begin, however, without a look into the carpet cleaning basics. Reading about how it works won't teach you everything you need to know to get up and start cleaning carpets, but it is a great starting place for giving you an idea of what to expect or what direction to shape your business.
There are a few different methods of extracting the dirt and dust, and those will be examined below, but there a few steps you need to take before trying one of these methods. First, you should thoroughly vacuum prior to a chemical extraction, and give attention to edges and areas of high foot traffic. Secondly, you should remove all the furniture from the area you will be cleaning and keep it blocked so as to avoid staining. Lastly, you may choose to precondition before performing the cleaning.
The three following methods of professional carpet cleaning are the most common you will find offered by cleaning services and learning about each type can help you determine what your business will offer.
- Shampoo -The shampooing products for carpets are just a little different from what you might shampoo your hair with, as they typically contain strong chemicals and hot water to thoroughly clean the carpet. For intense stains, the process may require repeat shampoos. It then involves a drying process, which can lead to a lengthy time requirement. There are alternatives to shampooing the carpet, such as foam, which is a chemical that is applied to the carpet, left to dry, and then vacuumed up afterwards.
- Steam - Another common alternative to shampoo is the steam method, in which a machine sprays detergent onto your carpet, along with hot water. The hot water is what produces the steam, but it is important to distinguish that the steam itself is not what is cleaning the carpet. This is not a chemical-free process, and you may need to express that to customers who are mistaken about what steam cleaning actually means. The process is completed by a wet-vac sucking up most of the water, along with the dirt and dust in the carpet.
- Dry - Some customers may prefer this option because it does not have the lengthy drying time that the other methods do, and it doesn't typically contain the strong chemicals. Instead, a biodegradable cleaning compound is released onto the carpet and then scrubbed in. This compound attracts dirt and dust, which can then be vacuumed out of the carpet. This allows for immediate cleanliness and no waiting around during a drying period to see if the stains are gone.
After a thorough, professional cleaning, remind your customers to keep off of the carpet until the drying process is complete, as this will give it the best appearance. You can encourage your customers to maintain the quality of their newly cleaned carpet by routine vacuuming and care. Frequent vacuuming will prolong the longevity of your carpet by preventing build-up of particles that may damage the carpet fibers.
What are Standard Operations for This Business?
If you decide to invest your time and money into a carpet and upholstery business, you most likely will want to know how things will run once you get the ball rolling.
- Cleaning - The actual cleaning process will typically require that you assemble a team of at least two employees for each cleaning. A minimum of two is good basis for many reasons, since it will make the furniture-moving process easier and more efficient, it will help the customer feel more comfortable, and it will provide two sets of hands for operating the machinery.
Before sending any of your employees to assist with a cleaning, make sure that they are entirely qualified and can work the equipment efficiently. Train them in the most efficient ways to complete the process, so that it can be quick for the customer's convenience but also completely satisfactory.
- Scheduling - In this industry, you won't have clients with a regular scheduling every week as you would with other types of basic cleaning. Since carpet and upholstery cleaning is such a thorough, deep-cleansing process, it is often only carried out about once or twice a year. Because of this infrequent scheduling, you will need a higher amount of customers to fill up your work schedule. You will also need to develop an organized system to keep up with customers' appointments, since you will be scheduling appointments up to six months or a year in advance.
- Customer Records - Your organizational system for this type of business may be a little different from just keeping up with contact information. It could be beneficial to organize by date of last appointment, so that you know how long it has been since a customer's last cleaning. With this information, you can contact them as it nears six months or a year since their last cleaning, and ask if they are interested in another cleaning. You can accomplish this by setting up a reminder system on your PC or by ordering the physical copies by date.
Before starting your carpet and upholstery business, first look into the equipment and training that is necessary to providing this surface. Once you have the proper funds and accessibility to the required materials, you are ready to enter this industry that is constantly in high demand!