Ken Wainwright on life after carpet cleaning
FOR many of us carpet cleaners, we are blessed with having the best job in the world! We are invited into peoples’ homes and their workplaces and are asked to transform their soiled and grey floorcovering into something bright and clean. The praise and satisfaction we receive for performing this act of ‘magic’
We are also fortunate to be able to meet so many amazing people from all walks of life; the rich and famous, celebrities, the old and frail, maybe some folks or families who are the less fortunate in life and those who are starting out on the ‘happy ever after’ journey.
They all have a tale to tell, a memory to recall and tea to share. Yes, we get to meet some amazing people, plus we are being paid for the privilege!
Sadly, one day this must all come to an end. Some of us will retire and hang up our wands. Others will move on and seek new oppor tunities.
When this day arrives, it is natural to want to maximise the return you have invested in our great industry. You have knowledge, equipment, vehicle(s), customers and goodwill, maybe premises too. So what do you do? The first option is to sell all your capital equipment. Over the years, you may well have spent tens of thousands of pounds on machinery, accessories and vehicles. Sadly, second hand equipment rarely commands the value you might have imagined. As for customers and goodwill, that’s difficult to value, so is often not considered as an option.
The only other viable option is to sell the business as an entity. OK, the return will still not be great and it may be difficult to value and sell, but without tr ying you will never know. An entire business will cer tainly command greater wor th than a second hand van full of well used machinery.
So what is your greatest business asset? It is, of course, your customers. Do you know who they are and how to contact them quickly? In an age of information technology it is essential to have a database of customers, residential and commercial.
Do you have a database?
Computing at all levels is terrifying to some of us, but it needn’t be. I bought an industr y specific
database software package a few years ago and it has revolutionised the way I do business.
All of my customers are available at the click of a mouse. Not only their names and contact details, but room sizes and when their carpets/upholstery were previously cleaned, how much they have spent with me, plus much more.
At the end of the working day, it takes me perhaps ten minutes to enter all the new information from that day’s work. This recorded information would be extremely attractive to any prospective buyer of my business. The sooner you start your own, the more customers you will have to sell-on at a later date.
Another essential is your brand.
‘Joe Bloggs Carpet Cleaning’ is only of value to someone called Joe Bloggs. So you will require a business name or brand that can be used by anyone. But it is not that simple.
You want it to match with your website. You don’t have a website? That doesn’t stop you having a web address, all you need to do is register it and pay the annual fee to retain the name and it’s yours. It costs just a few pounds a year. Simple is often the best way to go, especially if you want people to see the web address on your van and remember it.
You also need to consider your telephone number. A regular geographic landline number may not be transferable to someone buying your business from the other side of your town/city/ county. Call diversion is typically a short term arrangement, so you may want to consider one of the many non-geographic specific options. It needs to be operational well before selling the business.
The above is just a small glimpse into what you need to do to prepare for the day you retire or sell-on. Do not put it off.
All the systems and procedures you use must be fully prepared and working efficiently long before the day you decide to sell. Think of the future and start to prepare for it. Don’t be tempted to leave it all until the last minute.
Ken Wainwright is a member of the National Carpet Cleaners Association which provides a extensive series of training courses.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.