A Newbie Getting Started

soundguy7440

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May 23, 2020
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Michigan
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SoundGuy
Hey everyone! I just discovered Mikey's Board from the youtube channel, and I have to say, I love it here! I am here looking for some feedback about whether or not I can/should start my own carpet cleaning company.

I am 18yrs old, and have been fascinated by carpet cleaning since I was a little kid; everything from designing my own inline sprayer at 12, to dressing as a Stanley Steemer tech for Halloween (even younger), to cleaning the carpets in my families house at every opportunity that I could get. over the past few months (including before quarantine) I haven't been able to get the idea of starting my own carpet cleaning company out of my head. I would prefer to start part-time, as I really like my current job. I know right now isn't ideal for starting a company, due to the economy being garbage, but I think I could be able to get a great deal on equipment as a result which leads to my first question:

Am I better off buying a package like this and running from the back of my Trailblazer or getting a used truckmount?
That package is around 5500 and I'm sure I will need more than is included in the package. On the other hand, I can get a used truckmount for between 4k for a pretty used slide-in, to 6k for a really beat up but working butler, to 11k for a reasonably nice-looking butler (I can provide links if anyone wants to see the butlers). In my area, it is pretty uncommon to see a cleaner bring a porty inside, but I'm sure that it wouldn't make that much of a difference in appearance.

Another consideration is that I live in Michigan and do not have a garage to park a van in. Is it possible to have a van and park it outside in the winter without it freezing? if so does anyone have any suggestions to prevent freezing, and if not, does anyone have any suggestions for where to look for a warm place to park it?

I know I will need General Liability Insurance, as well as car insurance on the van, and inland marine insurance on the equipment in the van, but is there anything else I'm missing when it comes to insurance?

As far as experience I have cleaned several homes for friends and family and had a very part-time job cleaning carpets for a church. I also plan to offer to do some free work for friends and family, as well as some local thrift stores. Is there anything else you guys would recommend that I do to get more experience/knowledge

I'm sure I'm not even close to covering everything I would need to do this, but it seems like a reasonable starting place. I'd love to hear any other thoughts, suggestions, ideas, or concerns that you guys have!

Thanks in advance!
 

FredC

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I am 18yrs old, and have been fascinated by carpet cleaning since I was a little kid; everything from designing my own inline sprayer at 12, to dressing as a Stanley Steemer tech for Halloween (even younger), to cleaning the carpets in my families house at every opportunity that I could get. over the past few months (including before quarantine)


You chew on the baseboards as a kid?
 
Joined
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Location
Benton KY USA
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Lee Stockwell
I was born and raised in Coldwater MI, and spent a lot of time in your area of western Michigan. Several regulars here are relatively close but out of your likely service area and may give you a ride along.

Your timing stinks, but that's life now.

I wouldn't operate in Michigan without a garage, it will be brutal keeping your van from freezing. 99% safe equals 100% chance of breaking something every winter.
 
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soundguy7440

Member
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
70
Location
Michigan
Name
SoundGuy
What excites you about carpet cleaning?
Several things come to mind:
being my own boss
the science and chemistry behind it
I really enjoy the work, it's hard work but its enjoyable to me
the potential for growth
being able to point to something and say look at what I have accomplished, whether its something like cleaning a nasty job, or the business as a whole

I'm sure there's more, but that's what comes to mind off the top of my head
 

soundguy7440

Member
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
70
Location
Michigan
Name
SoundGuy
I was born and raised in Coldwater MI, and spent a lot of time in your area of western Michigan. Several regulars here are relatively close but out of your likely service area and may give you a ride along.

Your timing stinks, but that's life now.

I wouldn't operate in Michigan without a garage, it will be brutal keeping your van from freezing. 99% safe equals 100% chance of breaking something every winter.
Yeah, my timing is definitely rough...

A ride-along would be a great experience as well, I hadn't thought of that!

as far as a garage, I'm not entirely sure where I would even go to find one... any thoughts?
 
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rider0992

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Red State
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Kenny Hayes
I hope your are at least going to a community college while considering your future business. After all this is the 21st century, and basic education past high school is helpful. I know college is not for everyone and it’s a racket, but I believe it will help you grow. You could certainly start a biz on the side.
 
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Old Coastie

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Eli, take a hard look around and pick a market. Not cheapskate apartments. Really study a bit and then target that market.
Churches, offices, medical facilities, whatever. Residential, think in terms of what economic strata will be your best target.

Take some time on this. Then develop your plan accordIngly.

You should talk to an insurance agent about your State’s requirements. Typically you need at least $1 million per event and $2 aggregate for commercial work. A commercial vehicle account should also include contents, so make sure. Shop all prices around because there are huge differences.

As you sort these issues out, ask more questions. For example if you target commercial work, which OP machine is best? If you decide to start with a portable, what do you need? If you think you should take out a loan, what TM will give you the best chance?

There are ten thousand variables, but there are a few themes with equipment and I have no doubt this group will do their utmost to tell you about every dadgum one.
 
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soundguy7440

Member
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
70
Location
Michigan
Name
SoundGuy
take a hard look around and pick a market. Not cheapskate apartments. Really study a bit and then target that market.
Churches, offices, medical facilities, whatever. Residential, think in terms of what economic strata will be your best target.

Take some time on this. Then develop your plan accordIngly.

You should talk to an insurance agent about your State’s requirements. Typically you need at least $1 million per event and $2 aggregate for commercial work. A commercial vehicle account should also include contents, so make sure. Shop all prices around because there are huge differences.

As you sort these issues out, ask more questions. For example if you target commercial work, which OP machine is best? If you decide to start with a portable, what do you need? If you think you should take out a loan, what TM will give you the best chance?

There are ten thousand variables, but there are a few themes with equipment and I have no doubt this group will do their utmost to tell you about every dadgum one.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. My plan is to be mostly residential, but I live a little ways away from a street that holds the record for the most churches on one street (although there are a lot of churches around here in general) so that also seems like a good market to be in. I've done an office for a family friend, and it sucked but I think the rug doctor he had me use had a big part of it...
 
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Cleanworks

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New Westminster,BC
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Ron Marriott
keeping your equipment from freezing is difficult without a heated garage. You can run a heater or 2 inside but if someone unplugs the extension cord, even accidentally, your equipment is toast. Or if you blow a breaker or the power goes off for some reason. The van should be insulated. A used truck mount is always better than a portable. People who have had carpets cleaned with a truck mount will not like you bringing a portable into their homes. Portables are great for where truck mounts can't reach. Apartments and office buildings, etc. Take some time and plan out what you want to clean and what equipment is best suited to it. Houses and light commercial, including churches is best suited to a truck mount. You may be able to find some one with a empty garage or shared warehouse that will let you park in the winter for a fee.
 

soundguy7440

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Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
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Location
Michigan
Name
SoundGuy
keeping your equipment from freezing is difficult without a heated garage. You can run a heater or 2 inside but if someone unplugs the extension cord, even accidentally, your equipment is toast. Or if you blow a breaker or the power goes off for some reason. The van should be insulated. A used truck mount is always better than a portable. People who have had carpets cleaned with a truck mount will not like you bringing a portable into their homes. Portables are great for where truck mounts can't reach. Apartments and office buildings, etc. Take some time and plan out what you want to clean and what equipment is best suited to it. Houses and light commercial, including churches is best suited to a truck mount. You may be able to find some one with a empty garage or shared warehouse that will let you park in the winter for a fee.
Yeah, that is my fear with a TM, although I probably could find some heated warehouse space around here. how "used" would be considered ok? I've seen a used butler for 6k, it looked pretty beat up, I'm mechanically inclined, but I don't want to spend that only to find out it needs a complete rebuild...
 

sOOper hero

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Larry Capitoni
I've seen a used butler for 6k,

don't buy any POS direct drive, Kid
Buy a slide-in TM if you're mechanical

as long as the frame is good, you can keep them running virtually forever
Direct drives are married to the van ....tranny goes out, you're screwed, engine blows, you're screwed
van gets rusted to hell, you look like azz

slide-in can be moved to another van in a day
or put in a trailer

if you don't intend to carry 100gal of fresh water, any 3/4 ton van will be fine.
if a later model Econoline Ford, 1/2 ton are good to go to, as in 2010 (I think) the GVW on them is 8400lbs


who's bank rolling you?
or how much money do you have to start up?

LT.A.
 

Cleanworks

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New Westminster,BC
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Ron Marriott
Yeah, that is my fear with a TM, although I probably could find some heated warehouse space around here. how "used" would be considered ok? I've seen a used butler for 6k, it looked pretty beat up, I'm mechanically inclined, but I don't want to spend that only to find out it needs a complete rebuild...
You want the van to look reasonable. No large dents or scratches or paint peels. Doesn't have to look new but presentable. The equipment also has to look well maintained. You probably want to have some one with experience come with you to run the equipment and make sure it is in good shape. I am currently looking at a 2000 GMC van with a Cleanco. Van has 194,000 miles and unit has 5200 hours. The guy wants $11,000 Canadian for it. Includes a Ninja Warrior portable. In my opinion, his price is way too high. After a brief inspection, his pressure hoses are toast. Full or black death from chemical sitting in them for a year unused. Will cost me $500 for 250 feet of new hose. Van hasn't had any maintenance for a year. May need brakes and at least a tune up. Used vans always need some work. The wand is a pmf 802 without a glide. Worse than useless. The van itself is nice and clean and so is the unit. I would offer $7000 max for the van and maybe an extra $1000 for the portable. With this kind of mileage, you have to think that the van really is on its last legs. How much money do you really want to put into it? Compared (if you are serious) putting $10,000 down on a new Butler or taking on a leased Butler at $900 per month aprox. The advantage is no repairs and little maintenance for at least the first year. Good warranty on most major components for the next few years. For myself, I don't mind wrenching of things but I'm not too smart. You may want to work smarter.
 

soundguy7440

Member
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
70
Location
Michigan
Name
SoundGuy
don't buy any POS direct drive, Kid
Buy a slide-in TM if you're mechanical

as long as the frame is good, you can keep them running virtually forever
Direct drives are married to the van ....tranny goes out, you're screwed, engine blows, you're screwed
van gets rusted to hell, you look like azz

slide-in can be moved to another van in a day
or put in a trailer

if you don't intend to carry 100gal of fresh water, any 3/4 ton van will be fine.
if a later model Econoline Ford, 1/2 ton are good to go to, as in 2010 (I think) the GVW on them is 8400lbs


who's bank rolling you?
or how much money do you have to start up?

LT.A.
That make a lot of sense about the direct drive, I've also seen slide-ins that go for 3-6k, which should be around the same price with an older van. I've never used a TM before, but I would imagine, for residential work I shouldn't need to carry 100gal of fresh. would I be better off looking for a trailer to put a slide-in into and pulling it with my trailblazer?

I still live at home, so my living expenses are non-existent... but with the unemployment due to Covid, I'll be getting 20k (possibly before taxes... my employer isn't sure whether or not the government is taking taxes out...) but I definitely have 12-15k to use here. I can also put away as much as possible once I start working again if it isn't enough. I don't want to be hacky, but I also don't want to drop all of it on the van because I have a feeling insurance is going to be a bitch for me...
 

soundguy7440

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Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
70
Location
Michigan
Name
SoundGuy
Also, do you guys know of anyone around the west Michigan area who would be willing to help look things over? I kind of know what to look for, but with some of the things Cleanworks listed, I wouldn't know where to begin with offers...
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Benton KY USA
Name
Lee Stockwell
That make a lot of sense about the direct drive, I've also seen slide-ins that go for 3-6k, which should be around the same price with an older van. I've never used a TM before, but I would imagine, for residential work I shouldn't need to carry 100gal of fresh. would I be better off looking for a trailer to put a slide-in into and pulling it with my trailblazer?

I still live at home, so my living expenses are non-existent... but with the unemployment due to Covid, I'll be getting 20k (possibly before taxes... my employer isn't sure whether or not the government is taking taxes out...) but I definitely have 12-15k to use here. I can also put away as much as possible once I start working again if it isn't enough. I don't want to be hacky, but I also don't want to drop all of it on the van because I have a feeling insurance is going to be a bitch for me...
Get a quote now, so you have time to shop for it, and find which vehicle will be best fit.
 

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