Starting out on the cheap

#1
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The age old advice of getting a portable or low moisture gadget to get by with until you can afford a truckmount is horrible advice if you ask me.

It's the equivalent to telling a guy who wants to open a restaurant to just sell microwave'd burritos from the truck of his car until he can afford to rent a building and equipment.

In your first few years it's beyond critical to blow the doors off of each precious customer that you'll more than likely be paying a fortune for. Guess what, you wont be blowing anything but the chance to make them a repeat with your portable and undeveloped skills....

GO BIG or save up longer.


and be smart, work for others for a couple years if you can, get some skills on someone else's dime.




How did you all start up with equipment and what would you do differently now?
 
#3
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started with big hospital accounts which were portable only anyways... sucked. Then started doing residential for prop managers and that also sucked.

Then went ETM for some years and that also sucked.

agree with above it was all not really worth it but you have to start somewhere I guess
 
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The rage then was "dry foam shampoo", Blue Lustre rental machines, or Johnson's Rugbee for "professionals".

After less than a year in our newly built house with harvest gold nylon carpet I was frustrated with the hallway and dumped a 5 gallon bucket of hot water on it and vacuumed it with the Hild.

Despite the 3 day dry time that was an AHA! moment.
 
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Worked for many other companies both large and small. First attempt at my own business was in Calgary Alberta. Bought a dustbane 175, tank and shampoo brush and dustbane wet/dry vac. Leading technology at the time. Went out of business in 6 months as my partner was my brother in-law, now ex brother in-law. Next attempt, bought a G.H. Wood 60 psi portable with a Hydro brush. Stole tons of business from truck mounts with that hydro brush. Then bought my first high performance portable, a clean master 450 h. 2-7.2 inch 3-stage vacuums and hypro 500 psi pump. (Usually could only get 300 psi before blowing breakers). Autofill/dump. Unfortunately, if fell off the back of my truck one day and shattered. Bought my first truckmount. A JEM made by Jim Miller in the back of a Mazda pickup with a diesel motor. Pto unit with a propane heater. Unusual looking but hot and powerful. From there I have had a wide variety of TMS and portables. If I was going to start from scratch somewhere, I would look at the market first. Are you doing houses and light commercial? Are you doing commercial glue down? Are you doing lots of condos? Right now I do a little of everything because I just don't know any better. Going forward, I would specialize more and refer out work that I don't want to do. Good example, take a Jim Pemberton class and become an upholstery specialist. Just need a little mini van and a portable with heat. Very inexpensive and profitable.
 
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I worked for someone for 2 weeks in 1979...bait and switch pos and when I figured that out I quit and went on my own.
I think you could make an argument that the portables weren't any worse than the truck mounts in 79. Peoples expectations were also lower...even the wealthy in Montecito.
I had the commercial Vibra Vac Portables that put out a fair amount of cleaning detergent...rinse... and a heavy duty oscillating brush agitated and finally the 60 pound drag head extracted. Still think that is the best portable ever made. Both the head and the main unit that carried the clean water and dirty water were set up like dolly... so easy to get up stairs and maneuver. Was young, so that also helped. 2 vans and portables until I hurt myself moving a cast iron hide a bed...thought it was a regular couch when I grabbed it...oops. Truck mounts from that point on...no more lifting 5 gallon buckets.
Have started a few other times since but this time I went full on Saigerized Butler and Mikey Board CRB etc. In a position that I can be selective and that has begun to work out pretty well...recently. I have been back at this a year now but I subtract out 2 months for hurricane Irma so 10 months actually working the business. Getting repeats and lots of referrals and new accounts.
 
#9
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Although I agree portys slow you down, the guys who learn properly on a porty will smoke a guy who thinks he knows how to clean who started on a TM..

And you will still need a porty for difficult access or after hrs secure sites, or nice upholstery...
 
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I worked for someone for 2 weeks in 1979...bait and switch pos and when I figured that out I quit and went on my own.
I think you could make an argument that the portables weren't any worse than the truck mounts in 79. Peoples expectations were also lower...even the wealthy in Montecito.
I had the commercial Vibra Vac Portables that put out a fair amount of cleaning detergent...rinse... and a heavy duty oscillating brush agitated and finally the 60 pound drag head extracted. Still think that is the best portable ever made. Both the head and the main unit that carried the clean water and dirty water were set up like dolly... so easy to get up stairs and maneuver. Was young, so that also helped. 2 vans and portables until I hurt myself moving a cast iron hide a bed...thought it was a regular couch when I grabbed it...oops. Truck mounts from that point on...no more lifting 5 gallon buckets.
Have started a few other times since but this time I went full on Saigerized Butler and Mikey Board CRB etc. In a position that I can be selective and that has begun to work out pretty well...recently. I have been back at this a year now but I subtract out 2 months for hurricane Irma so 10 months actually working the business. Getting repeats and lots of referrals and new accounts.
They still make and sell those vibra vac units in Asia. More modern units with 2-3-stage vacs and 2 inch plumbing. Combined with their 16 inch swing brush wand it's hard to beat. There is a guy in Seattle selling them. I am really tempted to buy one
 
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Although I agree portys slow you down, the guys who learn properly on a porty will smoke a guy who thinks he knows how to clean who started on a TM..

And you will still need a porty for difficult access or after hrs secure sites, or nice upholstery...
First off Dan I like you. Second as good as that statement sounds...It just doesn't have much validity.

Maybe for yourself and some these elite porty cleaners on this board but not for the average Joe.

The average cleaner that only wants a paycheck but has a TM will annihilate the average porty cleaner.

You must have above average skills just to acheive mediocre results with a porty. You'll need to have superior skills to offset the inherent disadvantages of cleaning with a portable.
 
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I would buy one if they were the same. The cleaning tool part is the same but the main unit isn't. It's made for Institutional cleaning not bringing it up and down stairs and back into the van...not the dolly shape.
The one sold in Asia is still the same. Might be able to purchase it off Ali Baba. The modern one is like most portables.
 
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#15
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First off Dan I like you. Second as good as that statement sounds...It just doesn't have much validity.

Maybe for yourself and some these elite porty cleaners on this board but not for the average Joe.

The average cleaner that only wants a paycheck but has a TM will annihilate the average porty cleaner.

You must have above average skills just to acheive mediocre results with a porty. You'll need to have superior skills to offset the inherent disadvantages of cleaning with a portable.
All depends on where you live. If you are in Podunk, Kansas then a truck mount is what you need to compete to compete with all the Chavez's down there. If you are in a large metropolitan area, then a high performance portable might be more up your alley. No matter what other people say, a high performance porty will perform the same as a truck mount. The difference comes down to ease of use. For houses, the easiest thing to set up is a truck mount. For high rises, a portable will work great. The trick is not to use a porty when you should be using a truck mount and vice versa. Both great tools that have their own niche.
 
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The age old advice of getting a portable or low moisture gadget to get by with until you can afford a truckmount is horrible advice if you ask me.
.

not necessarily
if target market is res, maybe.."maybe"
and maybe for sure if spouse has secure job that can support the household for a year or five

But if starting with com and prop mngmt, TM's not near as important

only thing a TM does for an "undeveloped skill" Op is allow him to do chitty work faster.
It can help them "fck-up more efficiently" ...LOL







work for others for a couple years if you can, get some skills on someone else's dime
maybe in the rug shop at DA Burns .
But everyday synthetic carpet??

What will one learn from the myriad of mediocre outfits they can't learn on their own in a year of apts/prop mngmt and com?
With the chems available today, if one is too stupid they can't be doing average/mediocre work (like the majority of outfits) within a week or three of apts and com, they're too stupid to be on their own anyway

My Spiddy senses are tingling.....
what did you learn at Millers?
How to upsell like hell or starve?

what did you learn at Coit?
The phone numbers to call when you started on your own?

only thing you couldn't of learned on your own, was the custy list to start







It's the equivalent to telling a guy who wants to open a restaurant to just sell microwave'd burritos from the truck of his car until he can afford to rent a building and equipment.
poor analogy
let's try it like this;
The dude on the boardwalk, pier or street corner with burrito and hotdog cart very well may net more than the dude at the Swanky Inn and HooHash Diner Emporium when the bean$ in the burritos are counted.
One has a huge nut to crack every month, one not


Here's the bottom line though..
Fact is, IF they have what it takes that people like/trust them, and have ambition,
they'll grow with a good porty , scrubber and quality chems , (provided they have enough sense to know how to pour water out of boot)
WITHOUT the directions being on the bottom of the sole.

equipment can and does make one more or less efficient.
But it's really not key.
Whether they like/trust you is key to getting and keeping custys .
from there, it's largely a matter of how ambitious you are and how stupid you ain't
..L.T.A.
 
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#20
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not necessarily
if target market is res, maybe.."maybe"
and maybe for sure if spouse has secure job that can support the household for a year or five

But if starting with com and prop mngmt, TM's not near as important

only thing a TM does for an "undeveloped skill" Op is allow him to do chitty work faster.
It can help them "fck-up more efficiently" ...LOL









maybe in the rug shop at DA Burns .
But everyday synthetic carpet??

What will one learn from the myriad of mediocre outfits they can't learn on their own in a year of apts/prop mngmt and com?
If one is too stupid they can't be doing average/mediocre work (like the majority of outfits) within a week or three of apts and com, they're too stupid to be on their own anyway

My Spiddy senses are tingling.....
what did you learn at Millers?
How to upsell like hell or starve?

what did you learn at Coit?
The phone numbers to call when you started on your own?

only thing you couldn't of learned on your own, was the custy list to start









poor analogy
let's try it like this;
The dude on the boardwalk, pier or street corner with burrito and hotdog cart very well may net more than the dude at the Swanky Inn and HooHash Diner Emporium when the bean$ in the burritos are counted.
One has a huge nut to crack every month, one not


Here's the bottom line though..
Fact is, IF they have what it takes that people like/trust them, and have ambition,
they'll grow with a good porty , scrubber and quality chems , (provided they have enough sense to know how to pour water out of boot)
WITHOUT the directions being on the bottom of the sole.

equipment can and does make one more or less efficient.
But it's really not key.
Whether they like/trust you is key to getting and keeping custys .
from there, it's largely a matter of how ambitious you are and how stupid you ain't
..L.T.A.
A good part of is productivity. Using a portable to do houses, while possible, is like banging your head against the wall. A good used truck mount will make your life a lot easier and will let you achieve better results with a lot less effort.
 
#22
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A good part of is productivity. Using a portable to do houses,

res market is more about "perception" ...TM is more important there
Productivity doesn't mean much to a start up who's only doing 8-10 jobs a week though
or 8-10 jobs a MONTH in winter
For $7-$10K investment, the start up will have more money for marketing every month compared to the dude that starts with a $1000 month lease.
In the first year or two, it's quite likely they'll have more time than work
The ROI in efficiency is nullified if the carpet isn't there



99% of cleaners getting started today are vacuum hose lickers.

today ?
I'm not so sure it was any different 50 years ago
I'm sure it wasn't 30 years ago when I first slung a wand

..L.T.A.
 
#24
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Happy clients should be able to do MUCH better than that, if you just ax them too.
well duh....
My point is...
if they don't like/trust you, won't matter whether you pull up in Roartex or your Miller's porty

and if you ain't got what it takes, at least you won't be stuck holding a $50K bag of gear debt


..L.T.A.
 
#25
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Yeah-- I agree with want Larry said---:rockon:
but Ill bore you with how I did it.

I started with a $50 investment in window washing equipment.
made enough money to buy a 175 and bonnet-- process made me ill and shameful.
bought a hoover type carpet cleaner and felt like a clown.
finally took an IICRC class and learned the science of carpet cleaning.
bought a Ninja and Dyson.

Intermission Here-- so Marty can take a nap :biggrin:

With better knowledge and equipment I added the determination to make every customer a cheerleader/salesman. wealth or profit would come latter.
I know with this one believe, I did a better job then others-- but it just took me longer.
Bought my 1st used TM-- I was so intimidated by its size, it took me a month before I even started the thing. :lol:

I'm on a roll now with a TM and business is growing nicely.
Bought a better TM, and things are growing faster.
I discover the book "Cleaning for Health" by Michael Barry. changed my name, chems and business model. I was the 1st to be Green in my area.
Leased a Vortex, had a SF newspaper article written about my Green process.
This Is when I should have increased my prices and been like Mikey and Saiger :hopeless:

I took the slow route.
There is lot of slightly used equipment for sale by people thought carpet cleaning would be a great business.

Its like the race between the Turtle and the Hare.
In the story the Turtle wins.
In business, the Hare often wins. In our trade, the trail is littered with dead Hares-- but some do make it to the finish line.

This Hare is living the Dream--
ok I admit it, I'm envious of some of the properties you guys have. (Saiger N Sierra clean's new place)
but I have an impressive Passport instead.
 
#27
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There is no need to start $50,ooo in the hole. There are tons of used truck mounts out there in decent enough condition to last a newbie a couple of years. $10,000 will get you a decent van and unit. Yes you will have to do repairs and maintenance but you should be able to make enough to see if you want keep on doing it. Upgrade your equipment when you are making enough money. Don't do it at all if you haven't done your research. People going out of business all the time because they thought it would be an easy business. No business is easy unless your name is Jimmy. Then it's monkey business.
 
#28
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$10,000 will get you a decent van and unit. Yes you will have to do repairs and maintenance but you should be able to make enough to see if you want keep on doing it.

$10K for TM and van gets a worn out POS that will be a money pit
They BETTER know how to spin a wrench AND have a porty back-up...cause they'll need it

.L.T.A.
 
#29
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$10K for TM and van gets a worn out POS that will be a money pit
They BETTER know how to spin a wrench AND have a porty back-up...cause they'll need it

.L.T.A.
I just bought a 2000 chevy astro van with a hydramaster cds in it. Yes it's a little beat up but looks okay and with just a little work, the unit is working great. I just put another $1500 in tires and brakes and idler arms and its safe to drive and have made over $30,000 in the 3 weeks or so that I have had it. I bought it because my main unit is in the shop, still waiting for a computer. This board is full of second units that guys have bought for cheap and are making good money with. Only a fool will buy a used unit, thinking it's as good as brand new. You know you will have to put some work in to it but it's a lot cheaper than buying brand new and can also provide you with a back up unit if and when you decide to go brand new.
 
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