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Business Planning / Carpet Care / Sales & Marketing
January 2014

The 2014 Carpet Cleaning Industry Leaders Review

January 03, 2014
KEYWORDS business / cleaning
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Healthy Home Services

The owner of Healthy Home Services chose his name wisely. He doesn’t just “clean” things. He provides healthy living conditions for those in his marketplace.

Lloyd Hausam is the owner and operator of Healthy Home Services, serving the greater Spokane, WA, area since 1994. True to his mission, he will travel greater distances for larger duct cleaning projects.

Easy decision

Like virtually all now solidly ensconced in the industry, Hausam didn’t plan on a career cleaning carpet. In fact, it was when he was about to retire from the Army <photocredit>Healthy Home Services</photocredit>he began to think about his next move and what would be best for his family.

Without a clue what to do next in regards to a career, his home suffered from a flood. After receiving a water damage bill close to $13,000, Hausam said, “I knew right then what my new career was going to be.”

While doing some restoration, it was creating healthy homes, especially with carpet cleaning and duct work, that really gave him fulfillment.

The best training

With 23 years in the military and retired from the Army as a Master Sergeant, Hausam had learned a few things.

“Your word in the military is your most important asset to your leaders. If you say it’s done. It better be done!” That became his personal ethical belief in business as well.

Every customer gets their carpet or air ducts cleaned to the best of his abilities. As Hausam believes, his customers don’t pay for “better” or “improvement.” They pay for the very best with a lasting effect.

“They trust me with how their home will be viewed by themselves and their guests. They deserve my best.”

Size matters

Hausam did what many owner-operators experience in business. He “tried the employee thing” for a while, but found the drawbacks outweighed the rewards.

So he downsized to one van for carpet cleaning and restoration that pulls his specially outfitted duct cleaning trailer as well.

But he doesn’t do it all alone. He contracts out much of his administrative duties, mainly because “I’m such a slow typist it would take me forever to manage the database and get out ‘Thank You’ cards quickly.” He finds it money well spent.

Tough times

With air duct cleaning a major part of his business, Hausam found that the downturn in the economy was painful.

“People either don’t know about air duct cleaning, or put it off for years,” Hausam said. “When the economy suffered, discretionary income ceased. It was wait-and-see. People put off air duct cleaning for years at a time and figure another year won’t hurt.”

His business was like a light switch. One day he was busy, and the next day he wasn’t. How did he survive? During the good times, he prepared. He had no debt and sufficient business savings. His discretionary spending went down as well.

Now, Healthy Home Services is once again a thriving, profitable enterprise.

The best part

Being in business is about making money, but it isn’t the only benefit.

Hausam enjoys meeting new people, and getting to know his customers. It makes each day a new adventure he welcomes.

“It is very rewarding walking out the door having a new friend and then knowing I had made positive impact on their lives with their carpet looking like new again or that their indoor air quality dramatically improved,” he said.

The wish list

Hausam learned like most, either on the job or at a seminar or workshop. He was an avid student of learning, and quickly picked up on the technical aspects of his work. He spent plenty of time attending management and marketing classes as well.

But he does wish for one thing, that there had been an Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) approved class for air duct cleaning. “I wasted so much money on poor or ineffective equipment. It was a real struggle to give a quality air duct cleaning in the beginning.”

Hausam doesn’t plan on expanding his company, as the size of it now and the profits are where he wants them to be. But he does plan to sell his company one day.

“I am approaching retirement and I plan on selling the business. My focus will be on making the business as profitable as possible, by creating more value out of what I have to offer.”

Parting words

“There will always be someone trying to steal business from you by undercutting your prices. I did it myself,” Hausam admitted. “Try to convey to your potential customers that you are going to give them a better job than your competition. Ask for fair and proper compensation. Then deliver the best customer service as possible. Live with honor.”

Those last three words must be his military experience sticking with him.

Peacock Rug Care

“Do you clean carpet?”

That question, posed often to Murray Peacock as he serviced his regular janitorial clients, eventually motivated him to venture forth in a new direction for his thriving business.

Peacock, along with his wife Carole, own Peacock Rug Care in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Janitorial services is a thing of the past.

This small family business, with three additional employees besides Peacock and his wife, provides carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning and area rug cleaning services. The company has two truckmounts and a small, fully equipped rug plant.

Its specialty is with rug cleaning, and of interest is how much Peacock and his team is able to do in such a small space. “We have been cleaning rugs for many<photocredit>Peacock Rug Care</photocredit> years, but as a perfectionist, never really happy with the result. In 2009, we invested in rug washing equipment,” Peacock said.

He purchased a small 1,000 square foot building and property and set up a very organized and efficient workspace. They have been doubling their rug washing sales each year since. With tremendously hard work and long hours, they are now getting results that they never thought possible.

Open for improvement

Peacock and his team have seen a lot of changes in the industry.

Years ago, Peacock remembers, an instructor of one of his first Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)-approved courses had the reputation of being a problem solver, the “go-to-guy” when there was a problem with carpet and rugs.

“I wanted to be that guy in my area,” Peacock said. “I remember, before that time, listening to Ed York telling me half the things I was doing were ‘sub-standard.’ That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But thinking it over, he was right in many points.”

That was the time Peacock decided that everything he did when it comes to cleaning was “open for improvement.”

Becoming an IICRC-certified Master Textile Cleaner and a certified Senior Carpet Inspector deepened his knowledge and insight into the industry.

Payback

Besides a profitable business, Peacock and his team believe in another type of “pay.”

“This is a ‘Thank You’ industry,” Peacock said. “If you put your heart into the cleaning, the homeowner is always appreciative and thankful.”

And working with beautiful pieces of floor art is always interesting, Peacock said. Many of the rugs his company washes aren’t necessarily valuable, but the story some of the owners relate about their collections makes him feel as if he is restoring an antique treasure.

“The phenomenal responses we get when we roll the rugs back out for them makes all the painstaking work we do on them so worthwhile.”

That “awe” factor is largely responsible for the success of Peacock Rug Care, as word-of-mouth advertising is where the company gets its very best clients.

Utilizing the internet and direct marketing the company existing client base is still quite effective as well, and the marketing plan for Peacock Rug Care uses them well.

What’s to come?

Peacock Rug Care knows it has to be smart about growth and expansion, but “We are starting to feel like a large goldfish in a small bowl,” Peacock said.

The plan is for more expansion of their small — but very efficient — building that houses the rug cleaning division. And… “We need to add one more employee,” Peacock said. This all comes sometime in the next year.

How will he make this a success? “Always think that tomorrow ‘I’ll be better.’ That way you are always alert to new ideas, tricks of the trade and criticisms,” Peacock said.

Finally, Peacock believes, “Find enjoyment in what you do, and treat your clients well, and they will treat you well in return.”

That’s a pretty good philosophy.

Martin Carpet Cleaning Company

Most carpet cleaning companies are just one generation. Some go back two. A few go back three.

And then you have the Martin Carpet Cleaning Company of Columbus, OH. This company is now entering the fourth generation of family owners.

Established in 1890, the Martin Carpet Cleaning Company has grown into a very strong firm that services the entire central Ohio area. It is co-owned by John Martin (father) and sons Chad and Brent Martin.

Company beginnings actually go back to the Gold Rush of California, because founders Mary and Frederic Martin (first generation) didn’t find gold but instead <photocredit>Martin Carpet Cleaning Company</photocredit>discovered the art of rug cleaning. They returned to Columbus to start their new family and the new family business.

The family grew and prospered. So did the business. In 1925, Paulus Martin, Mary and Frederic’s son, purchased the Martin Carpet Cleaning Company from his parents and utilized many mechanical advances that had become available for rug cleaning. From a young boy into adulthood, cleaning was in his blood.

In 1967, Paulus’ sons, Paul and John, were then graduates of Ohio State University. They decided to join the business, and like the rest of family’s history, concentrated on area rug cleaning. But times were changing with the growth of wall-to-wall carpet. So Paul and John became pioneers in Ohio to promote in-home carpet cleaning services.

But, as often happens, what was old becomes new again — and area rug cleaning was coming back. The two sons embraced that as well and sought out modern equipment available.

Enter the fourth generation, John’s sons Chad and Brent, and the family tradition of cleaning is as strong as ever.

The modern day Martins

Today, with a team of approximately 35 employees, the Martin Carpet Cleaning Company provides both residential and commercial carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, rug cleaning and repair and tile and grout floor care. It doesn’t end there.

The company is also involved in a successful facilities services division, providing floor mats, dust and wet mops, towels and aprons and restroom supplies.

Business speed bumps

With more than a century in business, not every day goes easily. But adjusting to the times has been the key to success for the Martin family.

One successful move the company has implemented is keeping up with technology. When the rug cleaning business slowed due to the popularity of wall-to-wall carpet, John and Paul looked at this challenge as an opportunity and added in-home carpet cleaning, mentioned earlier.

“This aspect of the business now accounts for more than 25 percent of annual revenue and has shown steady growth throughout the years, with many original customers and now their children using our services still today,” according to co-owner Chad Martin.

A challenge many can relate to is the seasonal drop-off of work.

“Having a 50 percent or more drop in income for three to four months each year was a problem which required a solution,” Chad said. Once again, the influence of John and Paul helped out. Enter mat cleaning and rental services, which is a big part of the company today. Add to that the cleaning and renting of other textiles, among a few other Martin divisions, and you have a viable solution to the slow season.

“The solutions to a couple of major challenges now represent more than 75 percent of company revenues,” said an enthused Chad.

Road to profits

Since 2005, when Chad and Brent joined the business, the Martin Carpet Cleaning Company has experienced double-digit growth, year-after-year. Both brothers are confident this trend will continue as they look for new opportunities through direct marketing and referrals from existing customers.     

Solving problems is one way the company has grown. “One of my favorite aspects of our business is working with our customers on a daily basis to resolve the challenges they have with their carpet, rugs, upholstery or tile and grout,” Said Brent. “Whether it us a spot we are able to remove, a repair to an heirloom rug or making their tile and grout shine again… their smile makes it all worthwhile.”

Brent realizes that times do change, but some things do not.

“The best marketing methods that we have used for our 133 years in business is the tried-and-true method of customer referrals. Modern Internet services like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google+ and the rest are wonderful, but nothing compares to a direct referral like a neighbor or friend.”

Over the horizon

The Martin Carpet Cleaning Company is a profitable business, but businesses must continue to work to grow, both Chad and Brent said.

“The growth of our company will be achieved by continuing to exceed the expectations of our customers,” according to Brent. “Our future growth will depend greatly upon our ability to further diversify our business model, allowing us to have multiple streams of income that will help fill seasonal voids, while increasing sales and profit margins.”

Both Chad and Brent agree with something their grandfather (Paulus) said many years ago.

“Just as character matters in people, it matters in our company.”