How to start a carpet cleaning business in 11 steps
Commercial carpet cleaning is essential for both residential and commercial clients. We’ll cover the foundational steps you need to begin if you’ve thought of starting a professional carpet cleaning company.
First, let’s take a look at some carpet cleaning business FAQs.
How profitable is a carpet cleaning business?
If you secure a solid roster of commercial and residential clients, you can expect to have a consistent flow of work coming your way. The exact amount of income depends on your rates, the number of clients you serve, and the services you offer, but in general, carpet cleaners charge at least $75 per hour for their services.
In addition, carpet cleaning is nearly recession-proof for commercial clients who must uphold certain cleanliness and appearance standards in their stores. This makes the carpet cleaning industry a solid choice for any interested entrepreneur.
What are the benefits of starting a carpet cleaning business?
Finding excellent service professionals in any industry is difficult, and the carpet cleaning industry is no different. Once your customers find you and love your work, they’re likely to stick with you for the long term.
With the exception of some carpet cleaning equipment and cleaning products, a work vehicle, and a few other startup costs, opening your own carpet cleaning business is relatively inexpensive. While other businesses require a brick-and-mortar, inventory, and the like, yours will not. This means you can get up and running faster and with greater ease than you could in some other industries.
Simple to grow
Carpet cleaning services are always in demand from businesses and homeowners alike. As long as you have a solid marketing strategy in place, you can achieve consistent growth year after year.
How many people does it take to start a carpet cleaning business?
Just you! Carpet cleaning is a great endeavor for entrepreneurs who want to run a successful business without partners or employees. This doesn’t mean you won’t hire employees in the future, just that you can begin your business on your own right now.
How much does it cost to rent a carpet cleaner?
You can rent a carpet cleaner for as little as $30 a day, depending on the model. You can also buy a carpet cleaner for around $200, which may be a better investment for you in the long run.
Can I start a carpet cleaning business with no experience?
You will want to offer professional service to your clients. For some, this means taking a course from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). You can achieve certification as a Carpet Cleaning Technician, Commercial Carpet Maintenance Technician, or any number of other specializations. These courses are offered in person or online.
If you do not want to go the certification route, you can work with an existing carpet cleaning business to learn the skills you need.
After you gain some experience and decide that you definitely want to open and run your own business, follow the next steps in this guide to get started on the process.
1) Business plan
A written business plan acts as a blueprint for your new business venture. It can also help you secure funding from banks or potential investors. Include at least the following sections in your carpet cleaning business plan.
- Executive Summary: Provide a high-level overview of each section of your business plan. What is your vision for the business? What is your intended business model?
- Industry Analysis: Detail your market research. What did you learn about the market in terms of size, trends, gaps, and level of opportunity?
- Competitive Analysis: Outline your competitor insights. Include their strengths and weaknesses, as well as what makes you different.
- Marketing Plan: Who are your ideal clients, and how will you reach them with your marketing? Do you have a brand identity in mind?
- Management: Will you hire employees? How will you structure your business?
- Operations: Explain your plan for day-to-day operations as a carpet cleaning business owner to show that your business will run efficiently. What sort of installation services will you offer, and how will you execute those services?
- Financial Plan: How will you maintain cash flow in your business? What are your startup costs? Share your financial goals and projections for each of your first 5 years in business.
2) Business structure
You will need to select one of the 4 main business structures for your carpet cleaning business. These are:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability Company (LLC)
Review each of these options as well as their sub-categories. Choose the best option for you based on your specific business goals.
3) Business name
Your business name will appear on all your marketing materials. It should be:
- Simple to say and spell
- Easy to remember
- Indicative of your type of business (include words like “carpet” and “cleaning”)
- In line with your brand
If you struggle to find the right name, use a business name generator to help you brainstorm. Before selecting the final name, make sure that the matching website domain and social media handles are available.
4) Ideal clients
You may serve many types of clients in your business, but it's still important to know who you'd most like to attract as a customer. To clarify your ideal client, ask yourself a few of the following questions.
- Is my ideal client residential or commercial?
- What type of carpet cleaning services do they need?
- What sort of carpets do they have in their home?
- How do they treat their carpets in their home or business?
- Do they value clean carpets, or do they clean their carpets only because they have to?
- What social media platforms do they use? Where else do they spend their time online and in the world?
- What is most important to them? What are their values?
- Are they likely to use you for many different types of projects? What sort?
Continue to allow your ideal client to take shape as you start your business and learn more about who most wants and needs your services.
5) Niche, unique value proposition, and branding
Any area you want to dominate can be considered your niche. You may choose to work with one client base, such as big-box commercial or multi-story residential, or specialize in a specific service like upholstery cleaning or stain removal. Look at your market research to determine if there are any niches your business can fill in the marketplace.
Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
Your UVP is what you lead with on all your marketing materials, such as your website and business cards, so that customers understand what they can find with you that they can’t find anywhere else. This may be your speed and efficiency, outstanding customer service, a money-back guarantee, or any other special offering that your clients will likely experience only with you. Your competitor research will help you identify potential UVPs that can help you earn more business in your area.
Branding allows you to be easily identifiable in your market. A thoughtful, cohesive brand includes:
- Specific color palette
- Consistent fonts (2-3 fonts at most for all your materials)
- Mission statement
- Ideal clients
Keep your branding consistent across all marketing materials to make yourself as memorable as possible.
Carpet cleaning services can include any combination of the following cleaning methods:
- Dry cleaning
- Foam cleaning
- Bonnet cleaning
- Steam cleaning
In terms of prices, you may choose to offer your rates by the hour or per square foot, depending on what makes the most sense for you.
Here are some basic tools and equipment you’ll need to start your carpet cleaning business. You may be able to rent some of these items if you so choose.
- Portable carpet extractors
- Stair Tools
- Rotary extractors
- Air movers
- Various detergents
- Brushes and Bonnets
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
As stated above, startup costs for a carpet cleaning business can be lower than the average. That being said, you can still expect to spend at least $7,000 to get your business off the ground. Should you need financing for your business, you can look to the following for help:
- Bank business loans
- Private investors or lenders
- Friends and family
- Personal savings
You may need certain types of insurance coverage to qualify for a bank loan. In addition, your business plan can help you secure a loan from both banks and private investors.
There are several small business insurance policies you need to cover your carpet cleaning business appropriately. Any and all of the following policies may be required as part of your comprehensive carpet cleaning business insurance coverage.
- General Liability Insurance: This insurance policy protects your business if you are sued for injury or property damage
- Business Property Insurance: This form of insurance specifically covers your flooring business's equipment
- Business Interruption: If you must suspend business for a covered reason, business interruption will supplement your lost income.
- Business Owner's Policy: A Business Owner’s Policy bundles several policies. It may include general liability, business property insurance, and business interruption coverage.
- Workers' Compensation: If you choose to have one or more employees in your business, worker’s comp will cover you if one of them gets sick or injured while on the job. It used to be an arduous process to get it, but now you can purchase workers’ comp online. If you want to know how much you’re likely to spend on workers’ comp, get a quick estimate of your premium with Huckleberry’s 60-second workers' compensation calculator.
10) Paperwork, licenses, permits, and accounts
Before you’re ready to open your carpet cleaning business, there are a few pieces of paperwork to complete.Register your business name: Head to the Small Business Association (SBA) website to register your business name.
- Get your Employer Identification Number (EIN): Your EIN acts as a Social Security Number (SSN) for your business. It grants you several benefits, so get yours right away.
- Get your business license: Check with your state for instructions to secure your business license.
- Employee paperwork: Should you choose to hire an employee or a contractor, you’ll need to know where to find the proper paperwork. Luckily, you can easily download necessary hiring forms such as a W-4 and W-9 online.
- Open a business credit card and business bank account: A business bank account and business credit card keep your personal and professional finances separate, making tax time much easier. A credit card can also provide you with additional financing should you need it.
Be sure to check with your state's government for any additional licensing requirements you must fulfill to open your business legally.
11) Marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy will help you earn and retain business. Here are a few ways you can market to your potential clients.
Your website is an essential asset in your business. It should be clean, user-friendly, quick to load, and optimized for mobile and desktop. Include at least a homepage that prominently displays your UVP, a services section, an about section, a contact form, and customer testimonials when you have them.If you are skilled with web design, go ahead and build your own website. However, as this is an important part of your marketing, you may want to invest in outside help to build and develop your website.
As you continue to grow your email list, regularly stay in touch with your contacts. Share promotions and special deals, helpful maintenance tips, and education they need to know to make informed carpet cleaning decisions. Contacting your customers with helpful information they want to know will put you top of mind when they’re ready to hire carpet cleaning services.
Social Media Marketing
Should you choose to leverage social media for your business, think about starting with one platform and building from there. Use your customer research to determine which platform your target market uses the most and start with that one. As you master your social strategy on that platform, add another if it makes sense to do so. Some main social media platforms you can use in your business include:
Google My Business helps you to get found as a local business. This means when people in your area need a carpet cleaning professional, they’re far more likely to find you if you’re on Google My Business than if you are not. However, you will need a physical address to register, so make sure you have an appropriate business address if you do not have a brick-and-mortar for your company.
Word-of-mouth and referrals
You can quickly build a customer base when happy clients share your work. Provide an incentive to recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues through a referral program. Offer a perk to both referrer and referee for a successful referral. Even a small sign of appreciation for the referral will keep your clients coming back for more.
That's it! You're ready to take the next step on your business journey. Congratulations on your new business venture, and good luck as you build your successful carpet cleaning business!
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