Carpet Cleaning Business Management / Web Exclusive Features

Ask Steve: What Was the Dumbest Thing You Ever Did?

Soap sudsHi Steve,

In the recent Strategies for Success seminar I attended you said much of SFS has been based on your “bone-headed blunders” and your desperate attempts to recover from them. My partner and I had a good laugh over this!

Anyway we got to thinking maybe you could share your worst mistake with us so we could feel better about some of the stupid tricks we’ve pulled! So come on, Steve, spill the beans on the dumbest thing you ever did!

-Inquisitive in Iowa


Wow, Inquisitive, where do I start! I think we need to differentiate between the big “strategic blunders” I made (which were many) and just stupid, thoughtless mistakes. And I made even more of these!

Let’s focus on the big strategic blunders in a different “Ask Steve” column. So let me tell you about one of my first dumb stunts. Almost 40 years ago my partner and I found our first decent janitorial account in Florida. It was a Florida Power and Light branch office and the manager, a Mr. Rowlett, (who was a really nice guy) took a big chance hiring a couple of rookie kids just barely in their twenties.

Chris and I worked all night stripping and refinishing their floors and at about 5 a.m. everything looked beautiful. Then Chris got this idea (I'm absolutely positive it was Chris!) to put our nasty black stripping pads in their break room dishwasher to clean ‘em up. Hmmm... so we jammed them in and put it on the "pots and pans" cycle. Chris even threw in some extra detergent to clean them up real good.

We started loading our equipment into the truck of our car (we couldn't afford a van) and tidying up the offices just as dawn was coming. About 30 minutes later we walked in to get our nice clean pads out of the dishwasher and go home to some well-deserved sleep. But no…

Instead, we walked into soap suds 2 feet high 30 feet down the hallway even before we opened the door of the break room! Then as we timidly cracked the break room door, we waded waist deep into soap suds!

That’s right - all the mop strings and junk in the pads had stopped up the dishwasher, the stripper in the pads and the extra detergent Chris threw in had foamed up incredibly and the water had just kept on coming!

We turned around to run and there was Mr. Rowlett grimly staring at us! (He had come in early to get a head start on some paperwork.) He looked at the huge mess, never said a word, turned on his heel and went to his office. We started desperately cleaning up!

Later that day I dressed up, went in to see Mr. Rowlett and profusely apologized. He just gave me a level glance with his steely blue eyes and said, "Never let it happen again"! But hey, he didn't fire us! And I never did make that particular “bone-headed blunder” again!

NOTE: I wasn’t a TOTAL idiot in business ALL the time. So I’ve made a checklist called “12 Secret to Success in Carpet Cleaning.” Download it for free HERE or just write me at and I’ll e-mail it to you!

So do you feel better now, Inquisitive? Thanks for letting me take you on a trip down my personal memory lane!

P.S. The moral of this story? Don't do anything your partner suggests at 5 a.m. after a sleep-starved night! And episodes like this are the reason why my official title at Jon-Don really should be “How to Avoid Screw-ups Based on My Idiotic Mistakes!”

 Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will debut in the ICS eNews every Thursday. Register to receive it by clicking here

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to i Cleaning Specialist Magazine.

Recent Articles by Steve Toburen

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

The 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition

A look in photos at the 2014 Experience Conference and Exhibition, which was held from April 24-26 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center and Spa in Frisco, Texas.


Have a limited marketing budget but realize the importance of neighborhood marketing? Try doorknob hangers, a low-cost, yet highly effective way to drum up more business. In this episode, John Braun discusses the value of this tactic as well as what you should include on the materials you're hanging.
More Podcasts

ICS Cleaning Specialist Magazine


2014 September

The September issue of ICS features stories on moisture detection, disinfectant services, neighborhood marketing, then we discuss the last level of being phenomenal, and cool products.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Social Media

Social media is a good way to regularly keep in touch and interact with current clients and reach potential ones. What social mediums do you use in your cleaning/restoration business?
View Results Poll Archive


Get Paid! book cover
Get Paid! (ebook)
Over 30 authors – over 40 articles…from attorneys, contractors, consultants, instructors and others, both inside and outside the restoration industry. R & R, C & R and Cleanfax, opened their archives and gave us the best they had, other chapters were created just for the “Get Paid!” book and its readers. And every one of them has ideas for how to get paid what you are owed.

More Products


Director_Buyer.jpgThe premier resource and reference guide for the cleaning and restoration industries.

Click here to view


Truckmount.jpgEquipment listings and specifications from the leading industry manufacturers.

Click here to view


facebook_40.png twitter_40px.png youtube_40px.pngcrc logo