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I've heard more than a few times: this business sucks.
You can't make any money in the winter. Everyone says "Call me in the spring or summer."
I have found that kind of thinking to be erroneous. Certainly there is some seasonality in carpet cleaning. But this is true of most every business and even in many professions. There are calendar or weather-related reasons why people want a product or service more at some times of the year than in others.
A couple of years ago I decided to analyze my own income patterns over a period of several years. As many of the readers of this Forum know, I live in Boston - hardly a place with hospitable weather, especially in winter. Sometimes I think I should have moved to a place like San Diego to start this business, where the season's temperatures don't vary much, and the weather is very close to ideal all year long.
When I broke down my gross income totals for this period of several years, then further broke the figures down into MONTHLY totals, what I found was that, on average, during the four months with the worst of the cold and snowy weather, I took in about half of what I earned during the four months of best (warmest) weather. The spring and fall "shoulder" seasons pretty much evenly split the rest of the year's gross income. Putting this into percentages: during May-June-July-August, I took in 45% of my annual total;
during Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb, I took in 22%; and the 2 shoulder seasons accounted for 33%.
Again, in an effort to refute those who claim there's no business when it gets colder, here is a summary of just some of my jobs during the past 30-day period:
(w/w = wall-to-wall carpeting)
$428.45 w/w, orientals, stairs
390.15 w/w, stairs, uphol, steam mattresses
243.20 w/w, stairs
1148.80 w/w, orientals,stairs, uphol,
176.10 w/w, stairs
556.80 w/w, orientals
189.30 w/w, stairs
401.80 w/w, stairs
266.50 area rugs, uphol.
654.50 w/w, orientals, stairs, uphol,
My point is posting this thread is not to deny that it takes real effort to launch and sustain a business that, like most businesses, will make more money some of the time, and less money some of the time. It's more to point out that there are seasons and cycles in every industry, and that if it's your goal to run your own show - rather than work for someone else - you just have to deal with these quirks. I admit they are not molehills, but they're not the unconquerable mountains some people make them out to be.
I agree with you 100% Mark. However, I wonder if you and I forget how hard it was to survive the slower times when we were young and just starting out in business? You know, a 20% drop in business is much harder to bear when your gross is $500 than it is when it's $10,000. Since it's the younger cleaners who are usually the most vocal, I suspect the bad rap the winter gets is from their perspective.
I remember when I first started out in this business hearing older cleaners say that they looked forward to the winter months for a break. I always thought they were just talking. My winters had me sweating the bills and such. However, now I understand what they were talking about.
Good luck to you friend.
Do you ever run into Peter Seltzer up there?
Wow! That's a good 30 days Mark. I can just imagine what a 30-day period in spring might look for you. I noticed there were no tile jobs. Is that not a service that you market?
I agree with you, the work is out there; you just have to go out and get it.I only had 5 jobs last month and it wasn't due to the weather. It was because I didn't do anything to go out and get it.
Right now my number one priority is taking care of my 4-year-old daughter. I work my carpet cleaning biz around her schedule. I take her to dance class, gymnastics, swim classes. Spending that time with her and watching her grow up is priceless.I thank god that I have enough savings that allows me to do that. She'll be starting kindergarten this year and my significant other will start working from home this June.
To Admiral: no, I don't think I know a Peter Seltzer.
To Mo: I use the term stone floor to include ceramic tile & grout.
And after posting I realized that I left out a wood floor/tung oil refinishing job. 720 s.f. @2.25/s.f.
$1.50/s.f. ($1080) to my refinishing contractor,
out of which he pays the approx. $220 cost of
4 gallons of Waterlox (tung oil/resin mix).
.75/s.f. ($540) to me in return for my approx.
1/2 hour at the property discussing options
and preparing my proposal.