A better route for a carpet cleaning company to take?
I was very encouraged last March-April-May. As expected, June-July-August slowed down quite a bit. Normally, September-October pick up a bit. Not for me this year. Then came Sandy. I am not insured in NJ or NYC, but still found some water damage work.
Sandy wasn't bad for me, but not great. Equipment limitations and insurance limitations hurt, but late October and early November were right on target.
Now it is post Sandy. Mid November to mid December are supposed to be like Passover. 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not for me. Not this year. I am slower now than the dog days of summer. I'm spending more on advertising than I am doing in gross sales. I am dumbfounded. After 3 weeks of heavy advertising in the paper, on the radio and online, I cancelled everything. I can't put out this kind of money and get no results at all.
I'm thinking there are several problems. First the local economy is not so good. Fuel prices are too high. Heating oil has never been higher. People don't have money because of fuel prices.
Another problem, households think they can save a lot of money doing the work themselves. They buy a $100-150 Hoover cleaner and are convinced they will do as good of a job as I will with the $1,800 electric machine that I started with or the $8,000 machine that has to stay on my trailer and is powered by a 26 hp 2 cylinder tractor motor. I know that is not true.
I can't convince Sally House Wife otherwise. Eventually she makes her carpet moldy and buys new carpet or switches to "hardwood" floors. She calls them hardwood, because they look like hardwood, but they cost less per square foot than any carpet or vinyl flooring because they are laminate junk from China. But Sally House Wife and her "hardwood" floor is a dead end.
Nope a lot of consumers have "all the angles" and see no value in what I do. They only call when they are screwed up and need a pro.
On the other hand, a diner who just got in trouble with the health department probably understands that greasy mess in his dining room is not going to come clean with a $150 Hoover, he may have tried. It isn't going to come clean with a small "pro machine" perhaps a smidgen better than the Rug Doctor. He knows he needs me. He knows if he wants to get the Health Department off his back, he has to pay me.
Same with the office building manager. He has 50,000 square feet of carpet to clean. He uses a low bidder janitorial service to clean his property. These people lack the skill and equipment to do a good job with daily vacuuming, let alone more intensive carpet cleaning. He may or may not know it, but eventually he figures it out.
So insurance work and commercial work are not too bad, but not always easy to get. Residential work used to be OK, but right now I have no idea what is going wrong. I think I will give up all residential work except for that of my Jewish friends. Is this a mistake? Walking away from a big part of my market and concentrate on something harder to get but more rewarding?
Thanks for reading this super long post and your comments.