In this, the 5th installment of “Out In The Field With…”, we meet Barry Wycoff, another real VLM Carpet Cleaning PRO cleaning in the Northern Florida area.
[VLM Central E-zine]: Barry, How long have you been a carpet Cleaner?
[Barry]: I’ve been cleaning since 1996. I started working here in Northern Florida after I left the Military. I started with a local Dry cleaning company. I worked there for four years and realized I needed to be doing this for myself rather than making money for somebody else the rest of my life. So, I decided to buy some equipment and set out on my own. It was a little scary making the decision, but once I did, I never looked back. I went for it hard as I could!
[VLM]: Are you a native of Florida or are you from somewhere else originally?
[Barry]: I’m originally from Bossier City, Louisiana (across the river from Shreveport) which is 160 miles due east of Dallas, Texas. I was stationed here in the Military in 1992, then I went overseas. So, when I decided to get out of the Military, I preferred the Beach to Bossier City. Now, they have all the casinos in Bossier City. Sure must be a ton of carpet in those casinos to clean!
[VLM]: What is it like cleaning in Ft. Walton Beach Florida?
[Barry]: Hot and humid! However, the winter is great! I look forward to the slow season of January through March each year. But, the rest of the year is hot and sticky. You get used to it after a while. I don’t get hot till it’s over 96 degrees! I thank God I started here because of all the condos along the beach in Navarre, Ft Walton and Destin. I landed 5 condo accounts in my 1st week. I could not have made it without them. Within 3 months I had over 20 condo accounts which I’ve maintained to this day. The only bad thing about the condos is that many will call you without any notice and if you refuse to clean for them that day , somebody else will. So, I can’t turn down “request to clean” from my condos. Now I have all of them trained to give me advanced notice except 5 accounts (which of course happen to be my largest accounts!) Residentials are tougher to get into but I haven’t been doing too bad. I’m working on getting better at acquiring residential work.
[VLM]: What first attracted you to the carpet cleaning business?
[Barry]: I wanted to do something that I already knew a little about. So I thought
I looked around at the competition and figured that I could do a better job than most.
In the four years I worked for another company, I had heard several bad comments
about almost every company in town except for 2 or 3. I figured… I couldn’t do any worse than these guys! …And they make a living at it. Why can’t I? [VLM]: What carpet cleaning systems do you currently use? [Barry]: I’ve always been a bonnet cleaner. I use the No Soap carbonating sprayer system which is very nice. With 10 gallons of solution and 85 ft. of hose I can set the sprayer outside the door and never move it do an entire house, and I don’t have to constantly refill it!
I have one van and one truck. I have a new employee that I’m training so we are working together till he’s up to speed and ready to go out on his own. I have 5 buffers and four sprayers and over 65 Bonnet pads. I also use the Dirt Napper system often. I had been using the No Soap Carbonating Cleaner, but recently, I have been amazed at the results I am getting with Carpet 123. I also use Laser-Brite 2 which is an awesome carpet cleaning solution. I’ve found that in certain situations each cleaner has it’s strong points. So depending on the job, I will use any of those cleaning solutions. Fairly soon I plan to purchase the Challenger Pad System, probably after tax season. All you guys have peaked my interest with the OP Method. Any one Near Ft. Walton beach, Florida with the Challenger need a free employee for a day? I’d love to see one in action!
[VLM]: What about upholstery cleaning?
[Barry]: In my truck I don’t have room for a large upholstery machine so I have really
good mini-extractor. In the van I have a 100-PSI Ninja. I use mostly Bridgepoint upholstery cleaners and their spotters, as well. I can’t say enough good things about Bridgepoint’s upholstery cleaners!
[VLM]: What additional services does your company offer?
[Barry]: Right now just Pet Odor Removal. I farm out all my water damage work to a friend of mine who refuses to clean carpet. He just does water damage. I used to do duct cleaning for the company I previously worked for. We used a RotoBrush. It is a great machine if you take your time and do several passes. I plan to purchase one, one of these days and pursue this market ardently. It’s simple-clean-effortless-easy work that pays high. Tile cleaning is another market I may pursue in the future.
[VLM]: Which would you say is your main market, residential or commercial?
[Barry]: I do allot of condo work. I’d say it’s 80% commercial and 20% residential. My residential market has grown this year due to using Val Pak advertising. I’m trying hard to grow my residential market. It’s been difficult but I’m slowly getting there. I bought an expensive marketing system which I have been unable to get to work well. Actually I was doing much better sending out my own letters I designed myself. So guys… if you are looking for an easy quick get rich scheme?…there is none. I have a small ad in the phone book. Here, there are two companies with 3/4 page ads, I believe these two companies get a large portion of the residential market. I plan on increasing my Val Pak distribution area as soon as my employee can handle more condos per day, by himself.
[VLM]: Why did you choose the VLM carpet cleaning system you are currently using?
[Barry]: Start up cost was the major factor. If I’d known about the Challenger Pad Machine, I would have considered it greatly. If it cleans as deep as I’m thinking it will, I will implement it for residentials and probably for condos as well. Another factor was I wanted to be a Dry Cleaner. Down here on the Emerald Coast, most people don’t want their carpets wet for 1 to 3 days. I wanted to be different. The condos need Dry Cleaning. I can clean a unit at 9:00AM and they can put a guest in the unit by 11:00AM!
[VLM]: What cleaning agents are you currently using?
[Barry]: Carpet 123 is just amazing. It may well end up my main cleaner. I’m trying out CleanCraft’s Carpet Cop, as well as Abstraction. I use the Laser-Brite 2 allot. I also use the No Soap Carbonating Cleaner that comes in the two separate chemicals that mix together, self-carbonating in the sprayer hose. For spotters, I use mostly Bridgepoint.
[VLM]: What was your most embarrassing moment on the job?
[Barry]: I once drove off after a job leaving my Buffer, Sprayer, Pads, Spotting Kit , my check for the job, and my employee! Not too bright, eh? Good thing I have a cell phone! :o)
[VLM]: What was your proudest moment on the job?
[Barry]: When I worked for the “other company”, I had one job where the woman was
not satisfied with the cleaning (the house was a Pig Pen!) and refused to pay. Later, that same lady had me (my company!) clean her house and was blown away with the job I did. She didn’t remember me at all from the previous company. Not only that… she’s a Realtor and I have been cleaning for her ever since!
[VLM]: What would you say has been your most effective marketing tool?
[Barry]: Just walking in and giving my own Flyer to condos. Next to that, it’s been Val Pak. I get anywhere from 11 to 25 new clients each month from Val Pak distributing in one 10,000 area. I plan to mail to another 10,000 as soon as my new employee is ready.
[VLM]: What advice would you like to give those just starting out in this business?
[Barry]: Treat your customers like GOLD, because they are! Stay in constant touch with them any way you can. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Get to know your chemicals. Read everything about them, and everything about the ones you don’t use too! Learn everything there is and then look for more to learn. Study marketing, but use your own ideas. Nobody can market your ideas better than you. Your day does not end at 5:00PM when the physical work is over. For the first 2 to 5 years, it should end at 10:00 PM. Just jump in and don’t look back! Don’t be afraid of the water. It’s fine!
[VLM]: Any final thoughts?
[Barry]: I really enjoy the VLM Board you have here. I appreciate all of you guys that I interact with here. It’s nice having friends that I’ve never met. This is a GREAT, GREAT web site! I look forward to meeting many of you one day soon!
[VLM]: Thanks, Barry! [Danny]: Thank You!