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Life is Not Fair

September 9, 2010
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Hopefully by now you have come to realize that life can have its surprises and sometimes seem downright unfair. Being in the carpet cleaning / restoration industry, you might have already come to the conclusion that our industry has a number of elements to it that are ridiculously unfair.



Hopefully by now you have come to realize that life can have its surprises and sometimes seem downright unfair. Being in the carpet cleaning / restoration industry, you might have already come to the conclusion that our industry has a number of elements to it that are ridiculously unfair.

The fact is, you ought to be ecstatic about them because they are so unfair in our favor. Let’s take a look.

1. We can charge as much per hour as an electrician, a plumber, an HVAC tech, etc.

1. Do you know how much training it takes to be a licensed electrician, plumber, HVAC serviceman? A lot! There was a young man at our church who was part of a two-year program to be trained as a HVAC service tech. He was going to school for three hours a day for well over a year and guess what? A carpet cleaning technician can charge about the same per hour as someone in his industry, $125 per hour. We have one man trucks in our company and as a rule of thumb, we like them to earn about $125 per hour on the job site. That rate is comparable to the same per hour rate of highly skilled technicians in the service industry.

Why is it that we can charge the same amount? I am not sure and I am not asking, I am just enjoying the fact that I am in the industry I am. How long does it take to train an electrician or a plumber or HVAC guy out in the field until that tech can be on his own to face any situation? Once again, it must be a long time and it probably involves years. How long does it take to train a carpet cleaning technician to be able to be on his own? In our company it takes about a month! Quite a difference.

We have a great system for training them, too. For every service we provide, such as carpet cleaning, encapsulation cleaning, steam and dry cleaning upholstery, urine removal, etc. we have a four step process. The technician has a chart and on the chart, he must check off four different steps when he has finished them. Step one is to watch the procedure, step two is to do it, step three is to feel comfortable doing it and step four is to be tested by the operations manager and pass the test. Simple, straightforward and it takes about a month. Then he is out making the company $125 per hour. For the guys in those other industries, that is just not fair!

Next time you feel like giving up or get depressed about how things are going in your business, remember that you are blessed to be in an industry that can charge what it does, so don’t give up, get to work!

2. Our profit margins can be anywhere from 20-40%

1. Prior to being in the carpet cleaning / restoration business, I was in the restaurant and bakery business. The industry average profit margin in those businesses is about four to five per cent. Not very much and not much room for error. If you’re kinda dumb like me, it is very hard to make a great profit when your margins are so small. If I meet someone who is interested in owning their own business, one of the first questions I ask concerns the size of the profit margin in the industry they want to enter.

A high profit margin certainly makes life easier and we ought to be glad that ours has such a healthy one. For people in the restaurant, bakery and plenty of other businesses, it’s just not fair that our industry has such a big profit margin. I could write a whole article, and will in the near future, about how outrageous the profit margin is in the water damage business but I’ll leave that for another time. You talk about unfair!

As you go to the bank, those eyes full of envy might be the folks in those low profit margin businesses who are so upset at you. Oh well, tell them life’s not fair.

3. We are not a glamour industry.

1. You may ask why that is an unfair thing. It is not fair that plenty of smart, savvy business people do not enter our industry because we are not looked upon by society as, shall we say, the upper echelon. When you tell people that you are a carpet cleaner or that you dry out houses, they are not all that impressed and that is a great thing!! I remember telling people I was the owner of a restaurant and that usually was met with a great deal of respect. They had no clue that I was your typical restaurateur, slaving away, working day and night making less money than my employees.

Chances are the competition in your town is not made of Rhodes scholars or even college graduates. In our industry, you can make great money and not have to be a genius because most of the geniuses and nerds are too prestige minded to be called carpet cleaners. They are in the restaurant or other such businesses.

I, for one, love it. Once again, it’s just not fair that so many brilliant business minds stay out of our industry and let us average folks make all this money!

4. Everybody is our market

1. It’s just not fair that everyone needs our services. When was the last time you met someone who did not have any carpet, tile, upholstery, wood floors, draperies, odor issues, Oriental rugs or natural stone in their home or business? It’s just not fair that absolutely everyone is a potential customer, which makes it too easy.

When I owned my organic bakery in the 1970’s and 80’s my product was organic whole wheat bread made with apple cider. A great product but my customer base was only about five per cent of the population. Now my customer base is ninety-nine per cent of the population. My job is to figure out how to have them give my company a call. That is much easier than trying to find the five per cent that is your market and having them get in touch.

5. The recession hasn't hurt us as bad as other industries

1. Have you talked to any plumbers, builders, Realtors, carpet installers, car salesmen, architects, painters or a host of other professions that have been wiped out by the recession? We have not because people may not be buying new items but they are still getting things cleaned.

For those of us in the water damage business, we are pretty recession proof because pipes burst no matter what is going on in the economy. No, it is just not fair that so many types of businesses have been devastated by the recession but we have not. My comment to this is, Hallelujah for us, and my heart goes out to those in the affected industries.

With tongue in cheek, I am saying that we in this industry are very fortunate, indeed. We have so many good things going on that we should never be discouraged. Next time you find yourself getting down in the dumps or questioning your decision to enter this business, remember how good you have it, especially when you look at others. Maybe we are smarter than the rest of society realizes.

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