Entrepreneurs: Cleaning service thrives in recession

April 26, 2009 12:00 am  • 

There hasn’t been much good to say about the recession, although people seem to be taking care of their stuff better.

At least that’s been Nicholas Lambert’s experience. He runs Faithful Cleaning, a company that specializes in cleaning carpets, fine rugs and upholstery.

“It seems like some people are not buying new carpet and furniture. Instead, they’re paying to have it cleaned, hoping to make it last until the economy eases up and they feel OK about replacing it,” Lambert said.

He has also noticed that people have been comparing prices more assertively.

“We get a lot more price shoppers than we used to,” he said. “They seem like they’re not so much interested in quality as in price.”

That has forced him to do a better job of explaining his service and emphasizing his experience.

“Some people can do it cheaper than we can,” he said. “But, I think people understand, on some level, that you get what you pay for, and we’ve had to work a little harder making sure people understand the level of what we’re offering.”

Faithful Cleaning can be reached at 672-3200. Here’s what else Lambert had to say about starting and running his own business.

Nature of the business?

We provide professional textile cleaning throughout your home. We clean carpet, upholstery, tile and grout and fine rugs. We also do water damage and other restoration.

Why start this business?

I am a clean freak. I try to keep things neat and tidy. I thought that because I enjoy cleaning so much, why not do it for a living? I started out cleaning houses and offices, and eventually got into textile cleaning. I wanted to be more than just a cleaning company to my clients. I wanted to be the type of owner that builds a relationship with people. I like to talk to my clients, and get to know them and their families. Most of my clients know me and trust me. It has been a great part of our success. Most of our work comes through referrals from my clients that I have built a friendship with.

Where did startup funding come from?

Personal savings.

How long have you been in business?

Almost four years.

Biggest challenges in running the business?

Finding the right marketing niche that will make our company successful.

What was done to overcome those challenges?

We were at the Spring Home Improvement Show this past March. We plan to be at the Fall Home Improvement Show as well. We have a great referral program that rewards our clients for telling their friends about us. We started a Web site and also are advertising in the phone books.

Your best business decisions?

Not being a company that “does it all.” I have only been in business four years, but I have seen many companies start up and quickly go out of business. Too many companies rush out and buy every piece of equipment they need, just so they are able to offer a larger selection of services to their clients. They have too high of an overhead and never make it. I decided early on to stick with a few services that I am really good at and leave the more difficult stuff to other experts. I am not the type of person who pretends to know it all. If I don’t feel comfortable performing a service for a client, I refer another company here in town that can get it done and do it right.

Your worst business mistake?

Every time I have done something wrong, or something that sets me back, I chalk it up to experience. I have learned so much from making mistakes. You just push on and hope to God you don’t make the same mistake twice.

What is being done to expand the business?

We are getting ready to start an aggressive marketing plan that will get our company’s name out in front of people. Also by continuing our education through the IICRC, we will be able to offer more services to our clients.

What advice do you have for someone running a business?

Always be honest with your clients and yourself. Set realistic goals and work hard to achieve them. Always have faith that things will work out, even when they seem impossible.

Number of workers?

I have none right now, although I am very thankful for my wife and all the hard work she does helping me with promoting our business.

What’s your five-year plan for the business?

We would like to add a couple of employees and continue to offer the highest quality of service possible. We want Faithful Cleaning Co. to become a local household name.

A question you would ask other entrepreneurs?

Do you really love what you do? If your heart isn’t in it, you won’t go far.

If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would be your dream job?

I have always wanted to be a musician or the general manager of a professional football team.

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