Entrepreneur: Bill Schwartz, Wise Solutions Steam Clean
Describe your business.
We are a carpet, tile and upholstery cleaning business, specializing in deep cleaning and stain removal to make carpet, tile and upholstery look new again. We use the newest in tools, equipment and products. We clean with a seven-step process.
What’s your title?
We are the owners. I work out in the field cleaning, doing estimates and networking, and Melodie works the office and sometimes helps out on larger jobs.
What drove you to launch your own business?
I always had a knack for cleaning and making things look new again, from early on shining up my Matchbox cars to always keeping my school shoes looking new.
I started out cleaning for a high-rise window cleaning company and eventually worked in carpet cleaning. I love it. My customers kept telling me to start my own business, they constantly requested me personally for their cleanings. I guess what drove me was everyone around me.
I found a whole world of other cleaners in online forums and eventually in person, too. I knew that there were better ways to serve my customers and better products to use to get better results. I knew I needed to go off on my own to implement the cleaning etiquette I knew I could provide. It definitely helped that my wife is a business graduate.
How many hours do you typically work in a week?
It varies per the seasons, I usually get a 40-hour work week in any time of the year. Spring, summer and fall I can work 80 hours a week or more. We have a new piece of equipment called a Seal-A-Door that allows us to clean in any weather without letting the heat or the cat out and it keeps the bugs from getting in. We’re hoping more people realize what we can offer and that we can clean for them year-round, even in the snow.
How many employees?
We are the owner operators and have not hired out any employees yet. Our kids help out with some of the mundane things in the office and keeping the truck orderly and clean. Our oldest son, Preston, works with us full time in the summer and year-round on weekends
When did you start your business?
We were officially open in April 2016. We researched and prepared for many months to be able to start up full time.
If you left another job to start this business, what was it?
I had worked in construction and roofing with my dad, Dale Schwartz, before I got into window washing. Then I worked for a couple carpet cleaning companies in town for a little over a decade before we opened Wise Solutions Steam Clean.
Do you work elsewhere in addition to the time you put in at your business?
No, but my wife works part time as a secretary at a church here in town. At first, I worked part time in restoration, and Melodie worked full time. But it wasn’t too long before I had to dedicate all of my time to Wise Solutions Steam Clean.
What sacrifices did you make to launch this business and to keep it running?
Money: We were able to purchase all of our business needs with our own money, we haven’t had to get any loans. But it sure was tight in the beginning.
Sleep: There’s so much that goes through your head when you first start out I would stay up late getting as much done as I could and got up early to get ahead of the day.
Time: When we first started, all of our time was dedicated to working. I don’t think I even got to go fishing our first year.
What is the best thing about owning a business?
I can finally give my customers the service and standard of cleaning I always wanted to. When I was working as an employee, my hands were tied. I had very little time to complete my jobs and even though I did my best with what I had. I am able to give my customers the time and attention they deserve.
What is the hardest thing about owning a business?
Our regular business hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but we are available for emergency work 24 hours. It can be very hard to leave in the middle of a family function or on a holiday. It’s tough on all of us, but it is so rewarding to help our customers when we are really needed and knowing I can be there to help.
What’s your hope for your business in the next year?
We are continuing to grow, and we hope to grow more. We would like to be able to add on another truck for Preston to run and be able to take on even more work.
What inspires you to keep doing it?
Have you seen all of the sweet carpet tools I have? I love this industry and I love that when I leave a job the customer has received the best customer service and the most detailed and deepest clean. We have some real cheerleaders that spread the word about us and the reactions from new customers are incredible. They seem to be really impressed with our work. It keeps me going, keeps me on my toes to continue to educate myself and keep on the up and up with the newest products and equipment coming out on the market. Anything to make our customers experience even better.
Knowing what you know now, would you do anything different?
No, I may have not wanted to over stress about the little things. But ultimately, any mistake or fear we went through was a learning and growing experience and we wouldn’t have the drive that we do if we hadn’t gone through it. We’re still learning. I wouldn’t change a thing.