I was really getting sick and tired of all the constant travelling (covering 10 states and the Virgin Islands) involved with my job in the “Corporate World”. I had finally decided that it was time to start my own business.
So, just how does one go into business for themselves, with no customers and limited capital?
Well, I was certainly no stranger to the carpet cleaning industry, as I had the responsibility of keeping approximately 22 million square feet of it (in 296 buildings) clean as a part of my former job description. My official title was “Maintenance and Energy Manager”. I had toured several Carpet Manufacturing Plants and attended several schools on carpet cleaning, hosted by various cleaning equipment manufacturers, so I felt fairly knowledgeable about the subject of carpet care.
Here’s what I decided to do:
I put together a slide presentation (which also utilized some drawings and a few props) on how carpeting is made and the various cleaning techniques involved in maintaining it. I was targeting this presentation for the commercial end of the market, because I assumed that “cold-calling” area businesses in order to generate enough work would be too slow to be an effective method of marketing for a new business start-up.
I drafted a letter to send to Facilities Managers, Housekeeping and Maintenance Managers, and anyone else who was responsible for the care of the carpeting in their business. The letter invited them to come to a free 3 1/2 hour Seminar at the most expensive hotel in town. In the letter, I described 4 main topics of discussion:
Topic #1. How carpeting is made.
Topic #2. How soil enters your building.
Topic #3. The many different ways to remove the soil.
Topic #4. How to set up a preventative Maintenance Program for your building(s)
I sent out about 90 invitations and to my surprise, 61 showed up. I did not know it at the time, but Topic #4 is what made them come. At the time, my only guess was: “Hey! I must really be thinking outside-the-box or something!” :o) From that one slide presentation, I ended up with more work than I could ever possibly do by myself. Actually, I had to use delaying tactics until I could hire enough employees to handle all the work!
One Manager who attended my seminar invited me to come to his office the next day, whereupon he immediately contracted me to clean and maintain all the carpet and upholstery in his facility. He also contracted me to clean windows and do pressure washing. Another account I ended up getting as a direct result of this seminar with was from the Marriott Hotel. They contracted me to clean and maintain all 280,000 square feet of carpeting in a conference center that they managed. I held this particular account for the next 9 years!
Remember, my focus was on selling “clean-carpet”, not “carpet-cleaning”. In a future article, I will tell you how I structured all that.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a group, I recommend you join the ToastMasters Group. Did you know that here are many groups just looking for someone to come and speak to them for 15 or 30 minutes. Real Estate Groups, Women’s Garden Groups, Leads Groups, but to name just a few. In order to “sell your services”, you must get a chance to
“tell your story”. If it is an interesting story (and it must be YOUR story), they will buy
what you are selling.
Be honest. Be sincere. Be helpful. Offer the local Nursing Home $1000 in free cleaning.
That will get your name in the local newspaper and give you a little jump-start in putting your “story” together.
I had loads of marketing ideas (all ready to implement) when I first started out in this business. However, because of the success of that one slide presentation (14 years ago), I have never had the need to implement even one of them!
I have since sold off 70% of my Carpet Cleaning business, and now run one truck and currently have over 800 customers, mainly residential. We also own a Window Treatment business (we manufacture blinds) that grew from our Carpet Cleaning business.
I will “ramble on” about these various subjects in future articles.
If you would like more information, please feel free to e-mail me.
Ray “Rambo” Moody