How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business
Advice for new start-ups, from the founders of three successful carpet cleaning businesses.
Updated July 6, 2021
One of the most popular businesses for fast and easy startup is carpet cleaning. I wanted to know exactly how to start a carpet cleaning business – including how much it might cost, how much money is needed, and how to get the customers. I spent over 60 hours talking to successful owners of carpet cleaning businesses, including some who have grown million-dollar-plus businesses.
Here is their advice to anyone who is considering starting a carpet cleaning business.
How much does it cost to start a carpet cleaning business?
The cost to start is around $7,000 to $10,000. Our experts provide more detailed answers.
With such a low startup cost, I wondered what type of income a carpet cleaning business could earn. Sometimes, a new business can take many years to get to the point where it's bringing a reliable income to its owner. So I asked my experts – could a new carpet cleaning business earn at least $70,000 in their first year?
How much profit and income does a carpet cleaning business earn?
I asked the experts if they think a new operator could expect to earn $70-80k a year in their first year. Here’s what they said:
So the startup costs are minimal (so cheap you can either use a credit card or dealer financing), and the three experts say that most people could earn a good income in the first year. So what about training, and qualifications? I wanted to know if someone could literally 'just start', or, do they need some kind of licensing or formal training? I asked my experts.
Do you need to be a carpet cleaning technician to start a carpet cleaning business?
I asked the experts if someone starting a carpet cleaning business should first be a trained technician.
With no need for formal training, and the likelihood of earning a solid income working half-days, I wanted to know what type of equipment was necessary. Do you need to spend a lot and get everything? Or can you have just enough gear to get started, and add to it as you go? I asked the successful trio their thoughts on equipment.
What equipment do you need? And can you start your carpet cleaning business with a portable extractor?
I asked the experts if someone could get started with a portable carpet cleaning machine, and what other gear is needed.
The more I talked to the guys who run successful carpet cleaning businesses, the better it sounded. It seems like an easy business to start, with plenty of work available, and not much capital outlay required for high-performance equipment. Imagining the life of a successful carpet cleaner was next. I asked my experts – what is they day like?
What is a typical day for a carpet cleaner?
I asked the experts what a typical work-day looks like for them.
I interview dozens of people every month who run successful businesses. One thing I hear from them quite often is the things they regret doing in the beginning. Often, it comes down to some kind of waste of money – they bought things or spent precious money on things that really weren't needed. I wondered what that looked like in the carpet cleaning business. I asked the trio:
What is the biggest waste of money for a new carpet cleaning business?
I asked the experts what spending mistakes can be avoided.
So… they all said to 'avoid yelp'. Whelp.
If you're avoiding yelp, how do you get customers? I see new businesses trying different things all the time, and what I've learned is that something can work very well in one industry, but do very poorly in another industry. For example – realtors tend to do very well with flyers or door hangers, whereas the handful of solar businesses I've spoken to all said that flyers and door hangers did poorly for them.
I wanted to know – what is the best way for a carpet cleaning business to get customers?
How do you get customers for a carpet cleaning business?
I asked the experts what type of marketing or advertising works well for them.
The general consensus seems to be that Google (and other online) advertising brings in the most business, and is the best bang-for-buck value you can get for a carpet cleaning business.
But what about competition? Most areas will have at least a few carpet cleaners competing for the same business – and customers might call one or two before choosing who to book with. I asked the successful founders what they do about competing against other carpet cleaning businesses.
How do you compete against other carpet cleaning businesses?
I asked the experts if they compete directly with other carpet cleaning businesses.
In the race to win jobs, the temptation can be to lower prices or offer discounts – especially when you're starting out and don't have much work on. The problem with that sometimes is that you're attracting the wrong type of customers, and you might end up with more headaches and hassles than if you kept your prices firm and waited for a full-paying customer to come along. I asked the experts what they do to avoid bad customers.
How do you avoid bad customers?
I asked the experts how they avoid bad customers in their carpet cleaning business.
The nice part about having a mobile business – like carpet cleaning – is that you don't need to wait for customers to come to you, you can go to them. You can drive to nearby areas to take on more work than might be available in your immediate area. But there has to be some sense to it – otherwise you can end up spending most of your day driving, rather than earning money. I asked the successful founders how they decided on a territory, and what you should think about when setting work areas.
What is a good service area for a carpet cleaning business?
I asked the experts how to choose a good work territory.
Often, a small business can make just as much money (sometimes more!) from add-on services as their main service. A good example is a lawn mowing business that provides garden tidy-up services, and junk removal – many times they're making at least 50% of their income from the additional service.
I asked my trio what other services they offer, and whether it makes sense to consider add-on services.
Other than carpet cleaning, what other services can you offer clients?
I asked the experts what additional services a carpet cleaning business can offer.
Some states impose licensing requirements on small businesses, and other states don't really care about most things. Did you know that in Texas you need a license to call yourself an interior decorator? Mind blowing, I know.
The best idea is for you to Google licensing requirements in your state, but, I asked my trio what requirements they had for licensing in their areas.
Do you need a license or a permit to start a carpet cleaning business?
I asked the experts if they need a license or permit to run a carpet cleaning business.
I like to round out my interviews by asking the experts for their key pieces of advice. Most of the time, they've been through enough battles to know what you should do, and what you should not do. And, most people will give you advice if you ask for it! So, I asked the experts for their most important advice for anyone starting a carpet cleaning business.
Keys To Success In Your Carpet Cleaning Business
I asked the experts for their most important advice, for anyone starting a new carpet cleaning business.
A carpet cleaning business is one of the simplest and most profitable businesses you can start, based on my interviews with hundreds of small business owners in many different industries.
I have written the worlds most comprehensive guide on How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business. Check it out here. You can buy it, or get it free when you order web hosting.
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