How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business: Secrets from Startup

by Brenna Major

Updated

Bill Mountain is an experienced entrepreneur who started his carpet cleaning business over 25 years ago. 

He set out to provide a full time income to support his family, and years later he now mentors startups and teaches carpet cleaning certification classes. 

He’s open to sharing his excellent tips for how to start a carpet cleaning business. So, if you’re interested in starting a carpet cleaning business of your own, read on to find out how.

How to Start a Carpet Cleaning Business With No Money

If you’re looking to start a carpet cleaning business with little to no investment, you’re in luck.

In fact, it’s an easy business to start with under 10k.

Hardly any upfront investment is required if you want to start small in this industry, and if you’re interested in trying your hand with a franchise, that’s an option too (with a larger upfront investment).

clean-carpet

Before you decide which route is right for you, it’s a good idea to consider what the perks to getting into this industry include. Bill gives us some pros and cons that he’s noticed in his years of experience.

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How profitable is a carpet cleaning business?

If you’re looking to make money cleaning carpets, you probably want to know how profitable it could be for you and if it holds up as a recession proof job

Bill recalls, “I guess what surprised me was that it was even a viable business. Up to that point I didn’t know it was. Then a couple of years later after I got into it I discovered a whole organized industry that offered training and certification.”

He encourages that it can be extremely profitable to start your own carpet cleaning business, if you start the right way with the right training. 

starting-a-carpet-cleaning-business-pros-and-cons

As mentioned before, you could either go with a preexisting company and franchise, or start out on your own.

If you are interested in starting a different type of small business, learning how to start a food truck business or how to start a candle business are some other paths to consider.

Franchise

Bill started his company out as a franchise, and he remembers that We didn’t really write any kind of business plan in the beginning. We just bought into a franchise.”

“Strapped in and went for a ride on a business life roller coaster that had many ups and downs. 

(Now) we sit down every year and write out some goals for the year, but nothing beyond that.”

Starting with a franchise allowed him to take some of the hassle out of the planning game, and get the training he needed with recommendations from a larger organization. 

Tactic for Success

Bill gives this advice to new carpet cleaners: “The first thing I have shared with a few startups is to get some training. Even before you purchase a machine. Get some training. Learn the different methods, chemicals and equipment that’s available. This will help you in determining what machine to buy.”

Go out on your own

Another option for new business owners is to start an independent company. This is the type of business that Bill owns now, and it’s preferable for a more experienced business owner. 

If you’re confident in your abilities and organization, as well as customer potential in your area to be able to sell locally, this option might be for you.

Trend on the Rise

Did you know that there is an entire world of carpet cleaning certifications? Customers are starting to care more and more about their cleaner’s qualifications. Bill recommends checking out these certifications to see if you could benefit from the knowledge and credentials.

How much does it cost to start a carpet cleaning business?

There are many variable costs for starting a carpet cleaning business, but the good news is that they can be customized to your personal budget and customer base. 

Bill encourages: “Even if you start small it helps you set goals for growth. Plus both the networking and knowledge gained are extremely helpful.” 

Whether you’re starting big or small, here are some of the costs generally involved in starting a carpet cleaning business from scratch:

Costs to start a Carpet Cleaning Business:

  • Carpet cleaning materials – First of all, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials to clean carpets. Depending on what you already own, this can cost you anywhere from $100-$5,000.
  • Marketing materials – To get customers in the first place, you’ll have to invest in marketing. A referral bonus, online ads, and even a billboard might be good routes to consider.
  • Viable transportation – Bill invested in a van to contain his materials and transport his workers to and from jobs, so make sure you have a reliable form of transportation for your business.
  • Business insurance – To protect your new business from accidents and lawsuit fees, make sure you buy insurance to cover your business and vehicle from any accidents or damage on the job.

Tactic for Success

Bill encourages carpet cleaners to start where they’re comfortable. “Your investment can be as little as a few thousand to as much as $100,000.” It’s important to make an initial investment that you can manage, and go from there. Whether you need a side hustle or a full time gig, carpet cleaning is an awesome industry to get into.

How do I get customers for my carpet cleaning business?

Getting customers for any business is a science as well as an art form. Too pushy, and people won’t be inclined to your services. 

Too aloof, and they won’t be recommending you to their friends. There are a few ways you can effectively cast your marketing net to ensure that you’ll have customers for your new carpet cleaning business.

carpet-cleaning-marketing-tools

Marketing for a Carpet Cleaning Business:

  • Word of mouth – Bill encourages new carpet cleaners to start training to network with other cleaners, and to start spreading word of your business by word of mouth.
  • Social media – Using free online platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube can be helpful to your business to draw customers and remind them of the valuable services you offer. 
  • Physical marketing materials – Billboards, pamphlets, newspaper ads and the like can be used to draw attention to your services, and reach a broader audience.

Trend on the Rise

Bill says he’s noticed a trend in the industry to more hard surface cleaning. He notes: “There is still a lot of carpeting produced and needing to be cleaned but people are changing more areas in their homes to wood, laminate or tile. There is still an opportunity for cleaners to service these floors but they need training.”

What equipment do I need to start a carpet cleaning business?

After you consider the costs of marketing and starting up your business, it’s time to crunch the numbers. 

What will you actually have to purchase when starting your business? 

Bill remembers We had to purchase a used van and two sets of portable equipment. Along with some cleaning agents that were required by the franchise. All in about $20,000 initial start up which also included buying into the franchise.”

Whether you start out as a franchise or on your own, you’ll end up purchasing, transporting, and using your own materials. 

Bill advises entrepreneurs to make sure these materials are easily transportable and maneuverable, and he even had a backup set of equipment as he started out. 

This might require purchasing a vehicle, or just investing in smaller machines. Here are several basic equipment items you’ll want to invest in when you’re getting your business started. 

Equipment to get to start a Carpet Cleaning Business:

  • Vacuum Cleaner – You’ll want to invest in a quality vacuum cleaner that can hold up to wear and tear as you clean carpet after carpet.
  • Steam Cleaner – To remove tough stains and effectively “wash” the carpet, you’ll need a steam cleaner. 
  • Carpet Rake – A carpet rake is essential for prepping carpet for cleaning and stain removing.

As your business grows and expands, reassess the equipment you have and decide if it’s worth it to upgrade or purchase more machines and materials to assist you with providing your customers with an excellent result. 

Studies show that more economically friendly carpet cleaners are also favorable among consumers, so you might consider investing in these more expensive, but more desirable materials.

You can also consider upping your prices to reflect this investment in more quality materials. 

Bill cautions that getting customers to understand that consumers in this industry struggles to understand that a cheaper cleaning fee does not equate to a quality cleaning experience. 

In the end, it’s up to you which materials you’re comfortable using and which investments are wise for the size of your startup. 

Remember to start with training and ask other experienced carpet cleaners if they have recommendations for the most preferred equipment in your area. 

Wrapping Up

According to Bill, carpet cleaning has been a godsend for his family, and it can be for yours too. Starting a carpet cleaning business could be just the right move for your career as an entrepreneur.

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About the Author

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Brenna is a finance guru who enjoys writing about entrepreneurial opportunities and personal finance tips. She graduated from Liberty University with a bachelors degree in business and now helps small businesses market their products as a digital marketing consultant.