Pro's Corner

The Worth of One Idea

Like most entrepreneurs I know, I have had thousands of ideas. A couple of those ideas have made me tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a 21-year-old young man, I bought a carpet cleaning franchise. In 1999, that franchise was doing $25,000 a year. By 2006 that little franchise was doing over $2 million in annual carpet cleaning sales. That growth happened due to some good ideas. I want to share with you a few of those good ideas. These ideas will be appropriate for carpet cleaners, water damage companies, or carpet cleaners looking to add water damage as an additional service. The three ideas that really moved my carpet cleaning franchise forward were same-day service, offer something free, and add additional services that you are referring out.

Offer and advertise Same Day Service. When I was thinking about buying a carpet cleaning franchise, I got some really great advice. My boss at the time said, “Gregg, make sure every single one of your ads has three words. Same Day Service.” At the time, I did not give this advice much thought, but when it came time to run my ads, I put Same Day Service on all my internet ads, all my print ads, and all my vehicles. Guess what? The phones started to ring, and I found out that a lot of carpet cleaners are booked out one week, two weeks, and even three weeks in advance. This really limited their customer pool. I was scheduling clients a week or two out, but I was also getting all the emergency calls. Kids who spilled red punch, dogs who had an accident, and people with short-notice house guests. The best thing is, not only did I get the emergency customers who could not get in with their regular carpet cleaner, more times than not, they became repeat customers. Three little words. One very profitable idea.

So, at this time we were cleaning 300-400 houses a month. We had seven to eight crews. We were cleaning a lot of furniture and area rugs. There was, however, something we were not doing. Let’s talk a little more about pets and the havoc they can have on your carpet. I was at a convention in Las Vegas in 2001. One of the presenters explained to us how we could increase revenue by offering pet urine treatment. Most pet owners are in denial that their pets urinate in the house or on the carpet. So, I bought some black lights and offered FREE pet urine inspections on every job we went on. Many of the homes our technicians visited would have pets. The technician would ask the owner if they would like pet urine treatment. The owner would say, “Oh, my pet does not go on the carpet.” Then the technician would offer the free inspection. They would plug in the black light (that’s how we did it back then), the owner would put on the glasses and be completely surprised that they had 20 spots, just in the living room. We ended up bringing in an additional $10,000 a month, just in pet urine treatments. I bought a black light for every truck. One convention. One very profitable idea.

Like I said, we were cleaning 300-400 homes a month. That was over a million dollars in carpet cleaning. Often, a customer would call us out because their carpets were wet. Well, we would get out there and see that it was a water damage issue and refer them to a mitigation company. Our current customers had a need and we could not solve it. It occurred to me one day that I was giving money away to another company. Why couldn’t I offer water mitigation services? So, I booked a flight to Tennessee and went to a hands-on drying class. This was over 10 years ago, and they had one of the first flood houses built in the country. I got the training. I went back and trained my crews, trained my office staff to mention it to clients, purchased the equipment, refitted a few of my vehicles and added some verbiage to my marketing. Our second month offering water damage services, we did over $50,000 in water damage. I saw one client need and turned it into a very profitable idea.

I have been a small business owner and entrepreneur for over 20 years. I know the struggle and the sacrifice that comes with that. I also know that most small business owners and entrepreneurs are full of ideas. I don’t want you to shy away from developing those ideas. Look for those ideas that can set you apart from others in your industry. Offering same day service. Look for opportunities to offer FREE services that turn into paid services. Offering free pet urine inspections that turn into increased revenue through pet urine treatment. Look for needs your clients have that you are not currently meeting. This creates the opportunity to add additional services and profits. All it takes is one idea.






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