Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Jan-Feb 2016 Contents 36 INCLEAN January/February 2016
CARPET & RESTORATION
I can remember
going to an
asking the question – who is looking after
the individual or soloist cleaner? There was
a long silence and then one voice answered;
That is how the Individual Cleaners
Association of Australia and New Zealand
(ICAN) started. In our industry there are
hundreds of individual or soloist cleaners.
They do domestic cleaning; contract
cleaning; window cleaning; carpet cleaning;
and pressure cleaning. They mow lawns
and trim trees too; anything that will earn
them a dollar so they can survive and grow
That’s how I started – cleaning carpets
with a little portable machine after only half
an hour of instruction from the guy that
sold me the machine. It’s rather comical
nowadays, but that was more than 30 years
ago when there was no formal training
except for on-the-job learning as you go.
I was then invited to join a contract
cleaner and 12 months later I was running
the business for him developing it into a
nice little earner, with no slow payers.
Opportunities for the
Today the individual or soloist have the
opportunity to do some courses even before
they start out on their own, such as Asset
Maintenance II and III Cleaning and Carpet
Cleaning, IICRC specialised courses for
carpet cleaning and the WoolSafe Fibre
Care Specialist course for those who have
done IICRC courses and have been in
business for five years.
The chemicals and equipment today have
been designed to help the cleaner do their
work more professionally than ever before.
Some of the better carpet cleaning
chemicals have been independently
tested and approved by WoolSafe, so the
technician knows it is safe to use on wool
and any other carpet fibre.
There are hundreds of chemicals available
for cleaning both carpets and any other
hard surface in Australia, many being
Australian owned, so choose wisely.
If you are starting out in this fantastic
industry, start small and then gradually
build your business. Start off being a sole
trader, and when earnings are greater than
$70,000 a year buy a shelf company or have
your accountant develop one for you.
Even before you start your business talk it
through with your accountant, not only will
they give you sound business advice they
can save you many dollars.
You may have already done some cleaning
part time but if you haven’t find a local
cleaner and learn with them. If you’re a
carpet cleaner find a local professional and
go out on a few jobs with them, this way
you will find out if this is what you want to
do before you spend any money.
30 years ago I would not have
recommended this approach but today
cleaners work in helping each other,
especially in carpet cleaning. I have seen this
change take place over the years and I firmly
believe it is healthy for the Industry that we
help, and not hinder, each other.
So now you have decided which stream of
the cleaning industry to work in and you’ve
done some initial training and bought good
second-hand equipment. The next step is
marketing. Have you set up a website? Have
you done any local advertising?
Websites can vary in price and unless you
have expertise in this area seek out a web
designer. There is a forum called Flying
Solo which has some 80,000 members.
Web designers can be found there in the
directory, or just ask.
I am a great believer in using local
tradies and other business, so advertise
locally. There must be a local newspaper
and if you talk nicely to them and suggest
you pay six months in advance you can
advertise in the trades section of the local
newspaper quite inexpensively.
I would get 50 percent of my carpet
cleaning jobs from just a three line advert
in the trade section. As you start getting
local customers your business will develop
quite quickly because of word-of-mouth
Advice for the one-man-
band individual cleaner
recommendations. This beats any other
form of advertising. So don’t rush your
work, spend time making sure it is as near
perfect as can be, and don’t undercharge.
Never stop learning
Once your business is established consider
doing more training courses. The more
courses you do the more you will learn and
the better equipped you are should some
Don’t try and do all the available courses
in the one year, spread them out and do
one per year. You may find you would
like to specialise in a particular area, then
Doing all the available courses won’t make
you a better technician, on-the-job training
will help in that area – as they say ‘practise
makes perfect’. I practised by processes at
home or cleaned relatives’ houses or offices
until I was confident enough to go it alone.
Lastly, look at joining an industry
association, ICAN is one for the
*Patrick Burgess FAIM is founder of ICAN
and director WoolSafe Australia,
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