Business Overview

Just about everybody with carpeting can require deep-cleaning services at one time or another. This includes private homes as well as commercial and public spaces. The same equipment used to clean carpets can also be used on upholstery and in cars, boats and anywhere else carpeted or fabric surfaces can be found. As the business owner, you’ll either make contact with customers directly or through a bevy of contractors who’ll bring you customers: caterers, restaurateurs, hotel culinary contacts, wedding planners and party and event planners.

Who is this business right for?

Organization, sales ability and customer dedication are key. You must be able to promote your business and sell your services, supervise your people in the field and handle complaints. You should also have patience, since employee turnover can be high. That means you’ll need to regularly train new workers and supervise them in the field to make sure the job gets done right every time.

What happens during a typical day at a carpet and upholstery cleaning business?

Your typical business day might include the following activities:

  • Networking on the phone, online or in person to find customers and encourage additional business from them
  • Training and supervising your work crew, which often means accompanying them on-site to inspect their work and help them overcome obstacles
  • Handling the cleaning operation yourself if you have few or no employees, you overbook or workers fail to show up as scheduled
  • Ordering cleaning supplies
  • Handling the day-to-day business of operating your own company: paying bills, invoicing customers and staying current on taxes, insurance and other issues

What is the target market?

Anyone who owns carpeting, rugs or upholstered furniture and wants to keep them clean is a potential customer. That’s virtually every household in America—or, more realistically, in your marketing area.

While residential cleaning is where the customer volume is, commercial customers are likelier to use your services more frequently. That’s because they have more foot traffic, so their carpets and upholstery get dirtier faster. And since their facilities are in the public eye, the decision makers are more motivated to maintain appearances. They’re also likelier to have more square footage of need, so one stop can generate more income than an average-size private home. These public spaces include office buildings, apartment buildings, shopping centers, auto showrooms, churches and other places of worship.

How does a carpet and upholstery cleaning business make money?

The business charges home residents, business owners, property managers and other customer types for cleaning services. The going rate is about 30 cents a square foot and business owners in this category try to average at least $100 an hour per visit. (The actual rate tends to range from about $75-$150 an hour.)

What is the growth potential for a carpet and upholstery cleaning business?

According to business research firm IBIS World, the industry’s annual growth rate was projected at 1.9 percent between 2011 and 2016. The firm also pointed out that rising per-capita income is likely to increase business and that customers use such services every year or two, on average. (Many commercial users are much more frequent customers.)