So, you want to start a carpet cleaning business? Carpet & upholstery cleaning can be a lucrative and enjoyable career for the self-employed. Initial costs into the industry can be relatively low, a budget of around £4-5k will get you a basic setup with a little left over for marketing.
Fair warning though, it’s a physical job, after a long day cleaning you will still have to do your own marketing, your books and everything else needed to keep things ticking over. You’ll also get no holiday pay or paid sick days off, have we put you off yet?
Realistic Carpet Cleaning Earnings
Most single operators on average will aim for two jobs a day, if the average job value is around £100 thats around 50k gross, minus your expenses potential earnings a year. As you get better at marketing and running the business, expenses will come down somewhat. Some will never achieve those figures, some won’t want to, some will do that in the first year…all that matters is what you’re happy with!
Some cleaners are able to charge two to three times more than others, how you present and value yourself will determine what you can charge, never undervalue your service. You’re not selling a product, you’re selling a service and your expertise. Try to avoid competing on price, instead focus on your service, perceived value and the quality you bring. Customers looking for rock bottom prices are normally the ones to be avoided, very few will be become the ones you want i.e repeat lifetime customers.
Other factors to consider will be local competitors, how many and your location to a good customer base. A bit of homework before you start out can go a long way later.
Training & Initial Practical Experience
Before buying any equipment it’s best to attend some form of training course. Why? Because every business is different, seeing the tools up close and in action will help decide what’s best for you. You may also be thinking of doing commercial work, again the type of equipment and ways of carrying out this work can vary greatly. There is nothing worse than spending out thousands on equipment then realising six months later it’s not the best or completely unsuitable.
We would also recommend joining www.cleantalk.co.uk, ask on the forum to go out with a fellow carpet cleaner that’s near to you, watching someone up close will open your eyes to what the job is really about. Cleantalk is an invaluable resource for any cleaner, just don’t confuse it with real training though.
How do you Professionally Clean Carpets?
It’s not a daft question, many reading this may well be thinking of the machine they saw for hire in the local supermarket or similar. Professional setups are in a different league, both in terms of power and achievable results, the biggest factor though will always be the operator combined with his knowledge and skills.
Let’s have a quick look at some different ways to achieve clean carpets:
Low Moisture Carpet Cleaning
As the name suggests these techniques use less water to keep dry times to a minimum and are best suited for low profile carpets with limited soiling levels. After thoroughly vacuuming a powder compound is applied to absorb the soiling. Another technique would be to use pads or bonnets with a rotary or oscillating machine to absorb the soiling.
Portable Extraction Machines
By far the most common method, and for good reason, it’s cost effective on setup and produces great results. You start by vacuuming the carpet followed by spraying a cleaning solution down. Next, you’ll need to brush in the cleaning chemical, some use a manual pile brush but a better way is to use a crb machine (contra rotating brush) like the Sebo duo or TM3. Agitation ensures even distribution of the chemical and helps break the bond between the fibres and soiling. You’re now ready to use a carpet wand with the portable machine to rinse the soiling away. Brush any tool marks out of the pile and you’re done!
Running the machine from inside your van with a self contained supply of water. Advantages include not having to fill the machine on the client’s premises. Technique wise it’s no different to portables above.
Equipment & Cleaning Chemicals
- Vacuum cleaner.
- Sprayers for applying cleaning solution.
- Carpet cleaning machine.
- Agitation – manual pile brush or crb machine.
- Hoses – vacuum hoses and solution lines.
- Hand tool for cleaning stairs & a carpet wand.
- Upholstery tool for upholstery.
- A van!
- Hand brushes.
- Terry towels.
- 2 buckets – for clean and dirty water.
- Furniture blocks/sticky tabs.
- pH indicators
- Carpet pre-sprays.
- Spot & stain removers.
- Hand brushes.
- Acid rinse.
- Sanitisers & deodorisers.
Carpet Cleaning Marketing
You’ll soon realise that the actual cleaning is relatively straight forward, getting a steady stream of customers booking you in everyday on the other hand is by far the hardest part of any business. You can have all the best equipment, van, training etc, but if it’s sat at home on your driveway it’s earning you nothing. The most successful carpet cleaners are the ones that are good at marketing themselves, so where do you even start?
These days you can split it roughly into two areas, online marketing and traditional ways. Both are viable and will get you results if done correctly, what works for some may not for others, trial and error with marketing is to be expected.
- Your own website.
- Google ads.
- Letters to commercial clients.
- Local magazines/parish mags.
- Marketing to past customers.
Running a Carpet Cleaning Business
When you start earning an income from carpet cleaning you will need to start paying tax on your profits. To register as self employed and find out more have a read of the HMRC website.
Accidents can and do happen, you will need public liability insurance unless you want to deal with it yourself. Having treatment risks cover is also advisable.
Hopefully this has given you a quick insight into starting a carpet cleaning business, obviously we could go into more detail, if have any questions please leave a comment below.