From Unemployment to Entrepreneurship: Our Initial Days
At the end of 2019 our lives took a a bit of a nosedive when a project we had been working on came to an abrupt end. All of a sudden we found ourselves without jobs, money or anywhere to live come March 2020.
Naturally we panicked and lost our minds a little bit. We started working part time in care which as it happens was quite important as we went into Covid.
Just before Covid happened one of us (Kim - who always has all the good ideas) had been speaking to a good friend who suggested we look into carpet cleaning as a new trade that we could work on together.
How hard can it be right?
The answer?… VERY!
Kim pootled off to Milton Keynes (before lockdown) to go and buy a second hand carpet cleaning machine. It was a lower end industrial carpet cleaner but better than the popular domestic machines whose names we won’t mention. We then practiced a lot on our own carpets and those of friends and family, lots of trial and errors! Happy days, we were thinking it could bring in a bit of extra cash to start with whilst fitting in around our other jobs.
This job is oddly satisfying and addictive, the feeling when you get a perfect clean and it really makes that huge difference is incredible, it’s also quite therapeutic following the cleaning process and seeing the results.
Then… disaster. COVID hit and that was it in terms of practicing or even charging for work. We were locked down and our new business was not even off the ground. So we did what we probably should have done before jumping in with both feet, we started to research the carpet cleaning industry. To say we were gobsmacked is an understatement, this industry is huge and very complex when you do it right!
Investing in Learning: Our Path to Becoming Industry Experts
Firstly the machine was ok but no where near the power we really wanted. So we looked at machines for what felt like forever and decided on an Airflex Storm 800psi massive vacuum top of the range portable machine. This was our first proper financial investment in our new carpet cleaning business and we also invested in training with the company that supplies the machinery. We sat for hours every day learning about chemicals, ph scales, carpet types, upholstery types and all sorts of other complicated scientific things. Turns out you don’t just turn up and plug your machine in and go for it! There’s a huge amount of knowledge and training required to do this job properly.
Our brand spanking new carpet cleaning machine arrived 6 weeks later and we were over the moon with our fully loaded package. It was at this point we realised that we needed a proper brand name and having just watched Aladdin we decided that we wanted a fun and magical brand - Cotswold Magic Carpets was born.
How much equipment does a carpet cleaner really need?
The answer is EVERYTHING, all of the equipment in the world according to my sheds, garage, cupboards, van and anywhere else it’s being stored. You can guarantee the minute you think you don’t need something the very next job you do will be where you need it. Even if that’s the one and only time you ever use it! That tiny little rubber thing that goes on the end of that tube… yep need that today because I left it at home.
By the end of our “first year”, I say that in inverted commas because it was over a year but due to COVID we don’t count some of it, we had gathered enough equipment to fill our van 3 times and spent 10’s of thousands. Not the easy and cheap start up that we thought it would be at all!
We had acquired a van before we decided to start this business so that was a tick off the list. Next came someone to guide us on marketing and websites. Several thousand £’s later we had a website and some marketing materials, they were alright to start with but neither of us was happy with the outcome. Word of warning for anyone starting out in any sort of business, be careful who you employ for marketing and advertising as there are some very unscrupulous people out there who will happily take advantage of new business start ups.
Once we had done our initial training we practiced a lot/did a lot of carpet and floor cleaning jobs at discounted rates while we were learning. We started to look at the chemicals available within the industry and tried out everything to see what we got on with. We eventually decided on a premium range which has been developed using next generation chemistry. We have never been let down with this range and find the chemicals to be the very best on the market. We pay a lot of money for our chemicals to give our customers the best possible cleans every time which is why we are not the cheapest carpet cleaners in our area.
Insurance!!! Thank god for insurance is all I can say. As we now offer many more cleaning services (coming to that) than we originally did our insurance is a lot more expensive now than when we started up. Accidents happen and we’ve had 2 claims in the course of running this company so far, that’s what it’s there for though. We carry liability insurance including treatment risk and indemnity insurance for hard floor cleaning. Rest assured that if the worst happens we have it covered.
Customers - massive learning curve. 99% of our customers have been wonderful, happy with the job and easy to deal with. Unfortunately there is always the 1% who are not lovely to deal with! Up to now I think we can safely say we are over 800 customers so it’s inevitable that we have come across a handful of bad apples. Here’s the gossip-
Top 9 problems we have:
Scammers - these are the ones who have a problem with their carpet or upholstery already but try to claim we caused it (we learnt very quickly to take before and after pictures of everything)
The “it only needs freshening up” when you walk in the carpet is black and covered in urine.
Unrealistic high expectations - I know our name is Cotswold magic carpets but we actually aren’t magicians.
Deciding what the job is worth and only paying that without discussing first.
Adding on extras once we are there and expecting the same price quote for double the work.
The micro managers, the ones who know how to do our job better than we do despite all the training we’ve done.
If any of those ring a bell with you then you’re probably already black listed!
Expanding Services: Our Evolution Beyond Carpet Cleaning
We thought it would just be carpet cleaning that we offered and we were happy with that until we found out about all the other things we could do with our kit!
We have moved from bog standard carpet cleaning to offering restoration carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, curtain cleaning in situ, mattresses, low moisture cleaning, hard floor cleaning, hard floor polishing, hard floor restoration, sparkle cleaning, end of tenancy cleaning and commercial floor-care. Our latest offering is colour repair for carpets and upholstery.
The learning really never stops in this industry, there is always something to learn, buy or try. We always want to do the best job we possibly can so we continually improve our offerings and refine our processes until we are happy with them.
Moving Forward: Join Us in Our Journey.
As we look back on our journey, we are filled with gratitude. We've faced unexpected twists and turns, but each challenge has only served to strengthen our commitment to providing top-tier cleaning services. We're excited for what the future holds and we're eager to continue expanding and improving our offerings.
We'd like to extend a sincere thank you to our community around the North Cotswolds, our customers, and everyone who has supported Cotswold Magic Carpets along the way. We couldn't have done it without you!
If you're struggling with stubborn stains, looking for a thorough clean, or simply need some assistance to keep your property looking its best, remember - Cotswold Magic Carpets is here to help. From carpet and upholstery cleaning to hard floor restoration and end-of-tenancy cleaning, we've got you covered. Get in touch with us today and let's sprinkle a bit of magic onto your carpets and floors!
Kim & Chris Golding