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Wisith

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Whoa, so you have some type of furniture business, a carpet cleaning business, and an e-commerce store?
And something in stock too. Ryan be diversifying them eggs for sure.


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IceCreamKid

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Do you have a criteria that you follow with getting into your projects/ventures? Is it better to focus on the ONE thing, or cast the net wide as possible?
My only initial criteria is the following:
1. Can I get a good handle on the creative side of the biz? Branding, the message, colors, the overall feel etc. For example, look at the Apple stores vs. the Microsoft stores. The Apple stores have an amazing feel when you enter whereas Microsoft stores are BLEH.

2. Can I get a good handle on the strategic side of the biz? How will I acquire customers? Partnerships? Driving traffic to a landing page? Snail mail? What is the big picture strategy?

You absolutely need both the creative side and the strategic side on lock. Focus on only one side and you're in for a world of hurt. I had to learn this the hard way over the course of many years.

As for focusing on ONE thing or casting a wide net...I think it just depends on your personality bro. There are many ways to undress your mistress. MJ did it with one limo biz while biophase did it with a handful of businesses ranging from e-commerce, real estate, and travel guide tours.

I really like throwing multiple irons in the fire and seeing which one shakes out some promise. When I finally land one that shows good promise, I drill really deep on that specific one.

Most importantly, I need to have fun with the project. I don't believe in doing things that you don't enjoy doing. How can you expect to be the best in your niche if you're not having fun???
 

IceCreamKid

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1. Short or long copy worked better for you?
2. What are the main objections you found to be importnant to adress?
Hands down, short copy worked way better.

Main objections to address:
1. Are you going to upsell me like crazy? Is your quote set in stone or are you going to BS me with shit like, "Oh Mrs. Jones you have specialty wine/pet/blood stains so that will be an extra $100".

2. The last cleaner left my carpets wet for 72 hours. Will you do the same?

3. Is your stuff safe for my pets and kids? Is it toxic?

4. Why should I trust you? I hate to admit this, but even though I'm in a diverse place like the Bay Area my clients would rather trust a white guy coming into their house than a black/Asian/Mexican employee. I plaster pics of happy white people all over my ads. I've spent a ton of money testing different ethnicities and happy white people has an insanely better conversion rate.
 

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@IceCreamKid

Perception -> Carpet cleaning is highly oversaturated and you'll make no money
Reality -> 90% of your competition has poor marketing, poor customer service, poor branding, poor technological automation

This has been running in the back of my mind lately.

For instance.

I was looking for a couple contractors in Chicago to help me renovate my condo.

What I found was; horrible marketing, horrible web presence, and business systems that were of the old school nature.

What I saw was opportunity.

Have not executed yet. But none-the-less, opportunity.

Since creating my blog, I learned how to build a website and generate traffic to it.

These days, a lot of customers are found through search engine traffic.

What is curious to me is why these old school businesses do not spend more time on their site?...

They rank #1 or #2 but their site looks like a wet noodle.

Either way, I now can take the knowledge of building a site/ ranking in google and apply it to an old school business for customer generation.

Obviously this would not be the whole model, just one tool in the war chest. A good way to beat a competitor.
 
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Wisith

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This has been running in the back of my mind lately.

For instance.

I was looking for a couple contractors in Chicago to help me renovate my condo.

What I found was; horrible marketing, horrible web presence, and business systems that were of the old school nature.

What I saw was opportunity.

Have not executed yet. But none-the-less, opportunity.

Since creating my blog, I learned how to build a website and generate traffic to it.

These days, a lot of customers are found through search engine traffic.

What is curious to me is why these old school businesses do not spend more time on their site?...

They rank #1 or #2 but their site looks like a wet noodle.

Either way, I now can take the knowledge of building a site/ ranking in google and apply it to an old school business for customer generation.

Obviously this would not be the whole model, just one tool in the war chest. A good way to beat a competitor.
Yes, I agree.

A lot of the websites for businesses owned by older folks usually look poorly done. It runs across all industries from what I've seen....from pest control to nail saloons to etc. They are definitely not learned in marketing.

My expertise lies in risk management/safety regulations. With that said, my biggest concern/interest in executing this is the cost of workers comp insurance.

A lot of our clients are in the heavy duty fields...be it construction, landscape, etc. A lot of them are paying out the butts for workers comp insurance, which is required (at least in my state of California)...laws vary state by state.

To explain a bit (at least for CA):

When you start a business, you are liable to provide treatment for your employees if/when they get hurt. This is why workers comp insurance is required in the state. The rate varies on your field and number of your employees and payroll. The more your employees get hurt, the higher your rate is, like car insurance. And if you have employees working above 7-10 feet? That alone will propel the rate even higher even if your record is clean. Some insurance companies won't even take the risk at all.

For physical demanding fields, the rates are very high. Even the small mom and pop type businesses in this field I consult with are paying 1.5-3% times the average rate. One client usually hires former inmates, since those guys aren't marketable to most other fields. Others rely on those who can't speak English well. Some of the clients are/were forced to shrink in size because of the high workers comp rate alone. The law in CA is really towards the employee, and it doesn't help that the low scumbag lawyers run ads all day long to promote that.

If you're making $10/hour and hear an ad that says "Did you get hurt on the job? Call us, we will get the most money for your!"...it sounds pretty good. And once word gets out that Jon Smith is litigated and not working at all, while still getting paid by the states, other employees who are also making $10/hour follow suit.
 

welshmin

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Yes, I agree.

A lot of the websites for businesses owned by older folks usually look poorly done. It runs across all industries from what I've seen....from pest control to nail saloons to etc. They are definitely not learned in marketing.

My expertise lies in risk management/safety regulations. With that said, my biggest concern/interest in executing this is the cost of workers comp insurance.

A lot of our clients are in the heavy duty fields...be it construction, landscape, etc. A lot of them are paying out the butts for workers comp insurance, which is required (at least in my state of California)...laws vary state by state.

To explain a bit (at least for CA):

When you start a business, you are liable to provide treatment for your employees if/when they get hurt. This is why workers comp insurance is required in the state. The rate varies on your field and number of your employees and payroll. The more your employees get hurt, the higher your rate is, like car insurance. And if you have employees working above 7-10 feet? That alone will propel the rate even higher even if your record is clean. Some insurance companies won't even take the risk at all.

For physical demanding fields, the rates are very high. Even the small mom and pop type businesses in this field I consult with are paying 1.5-3% times the average rate. One client usually hires former inmates, since those guys aren't marketable to most other fields. Others rely on those who can't speak English well. Some of the clients are/were forced to shrink in size because of the high workers comp rate alone. The law in CA is really towards the employee, and it doesn't help that the low scumbag lawyers run ads all day long to promote that.

If you're making $10/hour and hear an ad that says "Did you get hurt on the job? Call us, we will get the most money for your!"...it sounds pretty good. And once word gets out that Jon Smith is litigated and not working at all, while still getting paid by the states, other employees who are also making $10/hour follow suit.

Could you sub-contract the jobs to individuals / businesses? Or would that not give you enough control over the quality of the service? I suppose you could vet them first though and hold them accountable to a degree - i.e., don't perform don't get more jobs from me.
 

Wisith

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Could you sub-contract the jobs to individuals / businesses? Or would that not give you enough control over the quality of the service? I suppose you could vet them first though and hold them accountable to a degree - i.e., don't perform don't get more jobs from me.
For a common job, you wouldn't sub-contract, especially if you're bootstrapping. If you do, your costs will sky rocket like crazy.

I've used agencies to find something specific, ie licensed phlebotomists experienced in drawing the elderly where their blood may stop flowing during draws.

There are certain tasks that I still recommend for contractors for, ie if you're doing high hazard jobs like confined space where deaths can results and do. (If curious, confined space is any job performed that does not allow the employee to stand up normally. Concerns include: potential oxygen deficiency, environment caving in, etc.)


I was talking more of a bootstrapping route. You're just starting out with a couple trucks and you're posting job ads on Craigslist or the likes. How the hell do you afford to pay $20k for workers comp insurance? $20k is the lowest I've ever seen for any size company so I used it here.

I have thought about this thousands of times because it's really interesting to me. One of the things I'm really big on is treating your employees ethically. We all agree that we can outmarket the current players. But from different aspects lie the challenge and fun.

I live in Los Angeles where the majority of the hard laborers are Mexicans. I met with a client recently in the desserts couple of hours North where it was hot as hell. He had about 5 workers redoing the lawn at a job location, they changed from grass to rocks. The client is a second generation owner and is an a**hole. He was saying how lazy the workers are for not wanting to work overtime to me, and the workers were busting a$$ about 10 feet behind him.

If you or someone else were to start a new company, pay them the same wage, but treat them actually like human beings....call me crazy, but they might just go work for you.


In regards to your part of "don't perform don't get more jobs from me": there are some jobs that no one want so if you have a pulse, you have a job. The landscape (no pun intended) may be different around your area, but around these parts...if you're paying minimum wage with no growth opportunity and the job demands a lot, the picking is slim.

My first job out of the college was at a food plant. They had a bunch of gang members working the graveyard shift working in a big freezer making sandwiches. They got paid minimum wage. All the managers knew they were gang members, and came to work high. But they needed bodies to make sandwiches and no one wanted to work that 10PM-6AM shift making minimum wage.
 
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welshmin

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For a common job, you wouldn't sub-contract, especially if you're bootstrapping. If you do, your costs will sky rocket like crazy.

I've used agencies to find something specific, ie licensed phlebotomists experienced in drawing the elderly where their blood may stop flowing during draws.

There are certain tasks that I still recommend for contractors for, ie if you're doing high hazard jobs like confined space where deaths can results and do. (If curious, confined space is any job performed that does not allow the employee to stand up normally. Concerns include: potential oxygen deficiency, environment caving in, etc.)


I was talking more of a bootstrapping route. You're just starting out with a couple trucks and you're posting job ads on Craigslist or the likes. How the hell do you afford to pay $20k for workers comp insurance? $20k is the lowest I've ever seen for any size company so I used it here.

I have thought about this thousands of times because it's really interesting to me. One of the things I'm really big on is treating your employees ethically. We all agree that we can outmarket the current players. But from different aspects lie the challenge and fun.

I live in Los Angeles where the majority of the hard laborers are Mexicans. I met with a client recently in the desserts couple of hours North where it was hot as hell. He had about 5 workers redoing the lawn at a job location, they changed from grass to rocks. The client is a second generation owner and is an a**hole. He was saying how lazy the workers are for not wanting to work overtime to me, and the workers were busting a$$ about 10 feet behind him.

If you or someone else were to start a new company, pay them the same wage, but treat them actually like human beings....call me crazy, but they might just go work for you.


In regards to your part of "don't perform don't get more jobs from me": there are some jobs that no one want so if you have a pulse, you have a job. The landscape (no pun intended) may be different around your area, but around these parts...if you're paying minimum wage with no growth opportunity and the job demands a lot, the picking is slim.

My first job out of the college was at a food plant. They had a bunch of gang members working the graveyard shift working in a big freezer making sandwiches. They got paid minimum wage. All the managers knew they were gang members, and came to work high. But they needed bodies to make sandwiches and no one wanted to work that 10PM-6AM shift making minimum wage.

I was thinking of it more from a Lead Gen / Joint Venture point of view. Still early stages fleshing out this idea. But you have given me a lot to think about, thank you for taking the time to reply.

I'm not really sure where all that came from to be honest. I have a lot of respect for blue collar workers and have been there myself, as a cleaner and in retail. I was more leaning towards partnering with companies to get them more jobs for a split of the revenue. Win-win situations where I bring them a job they would not have had before using my marketing skills.

The "don't perform don't get more jobs from me" means only partnering with high-quality companies / sub-contractors who maintain high levels of excellence vs joe schmo who don't give a damn about his job.
 

IceCreamKid

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I pay several thousand for workers comp, but certainly not in the area of $20k. The way I see it, workers comp is just a necessary expense in doing business. If workers comp was outrageously high then we wouldn't have carpet cleaning companies in existence since the numbers wouldn't work.

There's a carpet cleaning company in Phoenix that averages 600 jobs a month. 9 vans driving around. 9 employees. Average job size $200. They're eating up market share fast.

I would never sub-contract work unless I've known the party for a really long time and have deemed them trustworthy. I got sued a while back because one of my employees decided to steal a Rolex from one of the clients. I was never able to prove that he stole it, but he already had a track record of lower value items disappearing from jobs. I should've fired him at the very first sign that something wasn't right.
 

billybill

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Having read all this great info, I am seriously considering starting a carpet cleaning biz....

A couple of questions.

How many years have you been in the carpet business?

Is this a line of business where you have to be involved for a period of time (like a number of years) before it really takes of? If much of the business is coming from referrals, is it a case that that for the first number of months or so, you are just doing the odd job here and there?

I am considering starting off as a one man business and perhaps hiring someone to provide cleaning assistance.

Thanks.
 
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welshmin

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Having read all this great info, I am seriously considering starting a carpet cleaning biz....

A couple of questions.

How many years have you been in the carpet business?

Is this a line of business where you have to be involved for a period of time (like a number of years) before it really takes of? If much of the business is coming from referrals, is it a case that that for the first number of months or so, you are just doing the odd job here and there?

I am considering starting off as a one man business and perhaps hiring someone to provide cleaning assistance.

Thanks.

Well, I mean... That's not really the takeaway. If you truly believe you can run a great carpet cleaning business then sure. But think for a second if there is anything else you could do that might be BETTER or have less competition or more relevant to your local area?

An example might be...Okay, so there's 100 carpet cleaning companies in my local area servicing 30 thousand population. Well that's not bad, I'm certain I could very quickly hit the top 10 using modern advertising.

But you know what I never see around here? Mould remediation! Or asbestos removal! Or Power washing!

I also know I couldn't really be bothered to learn about carpet cleaning as it bores the hell out of me (tried briefly). Power washing is very satisfying though!

Point is, I got really excited about carpet cleaning too, but I also know that I could probably do something better or find a better opportunity in my market.

If you are deadset on carpet cleaning then this is how I would look at it (applicable to other local businesses).

Yes, it is best to learn a trade before starting your own. E.g. alot of carpet cleaning guys who own their biz spent time (years?) working for someone else.
It may seem easy at first, but there's all sorts of nuances to it that can have a real impact. Icecreamkid formulates his own goddamn cleaning solutions. That's pretty in-depth!

Best bet?
  1. Learn a trade
  2. Find pain points or inefficiencies or gaps in the market (can this be a USP?)
  3. Open shop and bootstrap hard
  4. Advertise Advertise Advertise. No one can buy your services if they don't know you exist.
If I was to pursue power washing, it would be:
  1. LEARN! LEARN! LEARN! Youtube, forums, books and action. Use the cycle to do, learn, do, learn. Honing the skill
  2. Bootstrap by begging, borrowing or stealing (or hiring) what I need
  3. Approach low hanging fruit at first to do the job for free (in return for referrals if a good job is done)
  4. Build cash reserves to advertise
  5. Re-invest for better equipment & more advertising
  6. Fill the pipeline hard and hire more guys/equipment
 

billybill

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^ I live in a prosperous European city with a population of about 9 million people so I assume there will not be a shortage of customers. As for competing businesses, I don't know but assume its no big deal.

I have tried at 2 business ventures (1 on-line and 1 conventional) and they both bombed. So currently I am just doing a regular job that pays slightly above average salary until I can get another venture going. I did run into someone recently who is a small business owner in carpet cleaning field (he is effectively self employed) and it seems to me by starting a carpeting cleaning, one can earn a wage.

But I am concerned about scaling and the possibility of having a number of employees and vans and taking on more jobs. Is it possible so earn an annual 6 figure profit quickly? I am not interested in having to wait like 5 years or something for the referrals etc to kick in. For sums smaller its just no point because one could just get a white collar job in the slow lane.
 
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welshmin

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^ I live in a prosperous European city with a population of about 9 million people so I assume there will not be a shortage of customers. As for competing businesses, I don't know but assume its no big deal.

I have tried at 2 business ventures (1 on-line and 1 conventional) and they both bombed. So currently I am just doing a regular job that pays slightly above average salary until I can get another venture going. I did run into someone recently who is a small business owner in carpet cleaning field (he is effectively self employed) and it seems to me by starting a carpeting cleaning, one can earn a wage.

But I am concerned about scaling and the possibility of having a number of employees and vans and taking on more jobs. Is this possible so earn an annual 6 figure profit quickly? For sums smaller its just no point because one could just get a white collar job in the slow lane.

Good place to be in carpet cleaning then, possibly. You certainly can hit that. Thing is most guys in these industries live in an old world and don't know how to advertise or see it as an expense rather than an investment.

This guy is a top notch example -
Though I imagine he earns more now selling how-to's than cleaning carpets.
 

IceCreamKid

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Is this a line of business where you have to be involved for a period of time (like a number of years) before it really takes of? If much of the business is coming from referrals, is it a case that that for the first number of months or so, you are just doing the odd job here and there?

It should take off within 12 months unless you're doing something wrong. Your #1 goal should be to optimize your marketing strategy, specifically the EDDM mailers. After you figure out how much you can make for every dollar spent, your income will only be limited primarily by how much you're willing to spend on advertising.

Don't get me wrong though, it takes time to learn how to clean carpets effectively and efficiently. That one requires quite a bit of experimenting. I spent thousands of dollars experimenting with different machines and ingredients in order to figure out the optimal combo.

Referrals come automatically IF you have a cleaning process that delivers results that make customers say WOW.
 

jazb

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Can you really bring new employees up to scratch on all the aspects carpet cleaning in a couple of days ? and then have them out doing jobs no problem?
 
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IceCreamKid

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Can you really bring new employees up to scratch on all the aspects carpet cleaning in a couple of days ? and then have them out doing jobs no problem?
The actual process of cleaning carpets is ridiculously simple and can be learned in 15 minutes.
1. Pre-vacuum
2. Spray solution on carpet
3. Let solution dwell on carpet to loosen the dirt from fibers
4. Agitate dirt with machine
5. Extract dirt with machine
6. Rake carpet to give it that freshly groomed look

There are a bunch of details within each of those steps, but you get my drift. This isn't rocket science.

Having them go out and do jobs solo takes more time. A month or so. This is because there's an art side to this business which requires you to be able to read customers and understand their expectations without directly asking them. For example, some customers expect you to move all of the furniture and put it back in its place when you're done while others don't mind if you just move the lighter things. It takes time to develop that 6th sense.

Quickly understanding and managing the customer's expectations is an art and is one of the more difficult things to teach because there's no exact science to it.

In my experience, the most difficult part of dealing with new employees is making sure that they are truly detail oriented. That means putting on booties when you enter the house, making sure your shirt is freshly ironed, cleaning into the corner edges of the room, not leaving your damn footprints on the hardwood floor.

As a biz owner, you have to understand that every little detail adds up and results in how the customer perceives your brand. This applies to any biz regardless of the fact that it is offline or online.

Look at the 2 pics below. Tell me which biz looks more credible. That's what separates the millionaire businesses from everyone else. The branding, colors, font, marketing, positioning etc. Are the million dollar business' products better? Not necessarily.

6a00d83451b81169e2017ee6931859970d-pi

KRISPY+KREME+DOUGHNUTS,+Macon+Georgia+Krispy+Kreme+Donuts+Store,+Macon+GA+Doughnut+Shop..JPG
 

CPisHere

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ICK, how long did it take you from the time you took over until you felt comfortable running/growing it?
 

Greg R

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This is probably my favorite thread in the forum, mostly because it pertains to something that I am interested in, but it also rich in valuable content. A book could be written on this subject ([HASHTAG]#idea[/HASHTAG]).

What I don't understand is why people are asking questions specific to carpet cleaning.

This thread is best served looking at these types of businesses from a bigger picture.

The specifics of @IceCreamKid 's business only are applicable when they can be applied to other business. Like EDDM, referral marketing, etc.

After all, this thread is not called "AMA About Carpet Cleaning."

Think about how you can take these business which may be considered slow lane and make it fast lane. Like franchising, info products, chaining.

@IceCreamKid has been sharing so much valuable information and I think some are taking it out of context.

There is so much opportunity right now to take old school businesses and make them fast lane. Carpet cleaning is just one of many business that @IceCreamKid's teaching can be applied to.

Think about an old school business in your area that has a problem that can be solved. Solve it. And make it fast lane.

Good luck guys.
 
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GSF

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This is probably my favorite thread in the forum, mostly because it pertains to something that I am interested in, but it also rich in valuable content. A book could be written on this subject ([HASHTAG]#idea[/HASHTAG]).

What I don't understand is why people are asking questions specific to carpet cleaning.

This thread is best served looking at these types of businesses from a bigger picture.

The specifics of @IceCreamKid 's business only are applicable when they can be applied to other business. Like EDDM, referral marketing, etc.

After all, this thread is not called "AMA About Carpet Cleaning."

Think about how you can take these business which may be considered slow lane and make it fast lane. Like franchising, info products, chaining.

@IceCreamKid has been sharing so much valuable information and I think some are taking it out of context.

There is so much opportunity right now to take old school businesses and make them fast lane. Carpet cleaning is just one of many business that @IceCreamKid's teaching can be applied to.

Think about an old school business in your area that has a problem that can be solved. Solve it. And make it fast lane.

Good luck guys.

Made me think of this company in the uk which have expanded overseas;
http://startups.co.uk/the-entrepreneur-rune-sovndahl-fantastic-services/

  • Started in 2009
  • Self funded/ bootstrapped
  • £28m revenue in 2014
  • offer multiple services but mainly cleaning
  • Franchise model
  • Make use of tech, apps, crm to increase customer satisfaction in an outdated industry not known for good customer service
 

billybill

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Jun 10, 2016
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Is this one of these industries where there is a high turn-over of staff so continually have to replace them? I am figuring the job is quite physically taxing and the pay is nothing to shout about. (I understand IceCreamKid suggests everything done at premium levels including staff wages but at the end of the day the job of a carpet cleaner itself is a dead end job and most won't want to stick around).
 

Robert Pajor

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What do you think about starting your business online, and then eventually when you're making enough money to start up your offline business, you move into franchising in that niche? It's one of the roads I could take, but I'm not sure about it
 
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Greg R

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Since your businesses are hyper local, how can you frame the logic of your business plans as being Fastlane for us readers?

Maybe the businesses are not Fastlane per se, but it sounds like the investment of your profits IS Fastlane.

OR

One business you create is not Fastlane, but creating multiple hyper local business IS Fastlane. It is kind of like intentional iteration in a way. The only difference is that instead of replicating the business, you can be replicating a couple different businesses.

Just curious what your strategy is.

Thanks again for the awesome post.
 

sravi

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Dec 1, 2012
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Thank you IceCreamKid. The secret sauce to this specific business seems to be figuring out which neighborhoods will pay $300 for carpet cleaning. It may be doable without even living in (proximity of) these neighborhoods, or even halfway across the world once you have that data and send out the mailers.

It's got me thinking of starting an air-conditioner cleaning business in the tropical town that I'm in now. The locals earn more like 300 a month though (the ones who even have air con), so I'm thinking of hitting up hotels. There are a lot of hotel rooms (more than 10,000+) in this town.
 

Nomangee

Bronze Contributor
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May 11, 2012
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I also asked myself, why no one as of yet has revolutionized the service industry with a product like Uber. They are so many companies in the niche, who already offer quite a lot of technical advances, but all have more of a closed marketplace with inhouse staff, at least from what I have found.

Should be a huge business for for the most needed services like cleaning, gardening, handyman etc. to offer an open/sharing marketplace, where all people can offer their skills and you are only the middle man.
 
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Greg R

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Hey guys,

Just wanted to share something that I found while doing research for a current project of mine.

This guy owns a million dollar painting company.

Typically a painting business is something that we associate with the slow lane.

However, this guy's business only handles the the sales and marketing aspect of the business (and sub-contracts the actually work).

He is able to make 50% off each job.

Now it looks like he teaches people how to turn your slow lane painting business into a fast lane one.

Anyway, these videos are fairly informative and give you a look into this guy's business.

Even if your business is not painting, you can apply the concepts he talks about to your business which is very similar to what this thread conveys.

Thanks.




*EDIT; Originally embedded videos wrong.
 

maniek00000

Contributor
Jul 30, 2013
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Hi guys, do you have any idea what kind business would work in the rural area? There is not so many people where I live, so I suppose it has to be something with higher profit and more work to do?
 

Greg R

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Hi guys, do you have any idea what kind business would work in the rural area? There is not so many people where I live, so I suppose it has to be something with higher profit and more work to do?
[HASHTAG]#isfarmingfastlane[/HASHTAG]?

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jazb

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Hi guys, do you have any idea what kind business would work in the rural area? There is not so many people where I live, so I suppose it has to be something with higher profit and more work to do?


You might find rural areas get a higher response from marketing campaigns because they are less likely to receive them.
 

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