I sat down for coffee with Mr. Michael Terry, owner of Dirtbusters Carpet Cleaning! We discussed why he got into the carpet cleaning business, why he loves it and what his plans are for the future of his business. Learn more below....
TSR: Why did you choose this line of business?
Michael Terry, Owner/Operator of Dirtbusters: I chose it because I couldn’t get anybody to clean my carpet. I wanted to be in business on my own, and anything you do you have to have a love for it. I had a guy who was to clean my carpet, but he was so busy, kept breaking appointments, so I finally said can I ride with you? And so I rode with him a couple times and it just seemed like something I really wanted to do. So now I am kind of in his shoes.
TSR: What made you decide to start your own business vs. working for somebody else?
Michael: I like the freedom! I like to go to things like my daughters graduation, if I’m sick, or just tired, no doctor’s note needed, whatever reason, I don’t have to answer to an employer. I remember one time, being pulled into my (superior’s) office, they had said they wanted to see me…then all week it had me worried, then it really turned our it was about nothing! But it let me how much control other people had over my life, and I didn’t like that feeling.
TSR: Starting a business is a tough thing to do! What inspired you to keep going as you were getting it off the ground?
Michael: If you have a love for what you do, and you have a satisfied customer, that’s just… well, I had a woman hug me last week! She was going to throw her carpet away, I was able to save it… she said I don’t mean anything personal but can I give you a hug? I said sure, like the commercial says, that’s priceless.
TSR: When would you really say your business went from a concept to actually functional ?
Michael: I would say when I put the first real money in it… I purchased a machine at that particular time that cost $70,000, at that time that was my reality. At that point I was committed!
TSR: Looking back, what was the most difficult challenge you had to face?
Michael: Learn the business. Everyone has different ways. Every stain is different. Even today, I just came across a carpet cleaning chemical that so far, is just outta this world. It took me over ten years to find it. That’s just it, things are always changing. Learning, going to school, finding what works best for you. Instead of spending three hours in a house, you get to the point where you can spend an hour and forty five minutes, that was just hard to learn to get more productive. Just learning the trade… we want to do right by people, you are in people’s homes. They want results and they expect you to know it when you walk in the door, everything pertaining to carpet. You’ve gotta stay up on it.
TSR: What do you enjoy the most about the Spartanburg communities your business takes care of?
Michael: You get to interact with a lot of people. Me, being a former officer, when you are in somebody’s house, I feel like we can always share a story. I feel like somewhere along the line I can benefit them. I have some people that tell me they made a decision because of me, that changed their lives, you know, because of my experience, they can look on the website, there’s me, in my uniform. So sometimes I have people ask me to stop, do I have a few minutes to just talk to their son or their daughter… because they know my history. I used to deal with the DJJ kids, who were in trouble, that really kind of feels good that I can make a difference, help others in the community.
TSR: If a potential customer has to pick from 3 different businesses providing what you provide, what would make your company really stand out, and them choose your company over the others?
Michael: I would say my guarantees on work. A lot of people have “guarentees” like (one company) say if they can’t get a spot off, they discount the next time they clean… customers are not interested in that, they are interested in THIS cleaning. So, I’ve got a concept, if you are really dissatisfired, you don’t owe me nothing. I won’t take anything from you. You have sever days from the time I walk out of your house. No body offers that… I will come back and fix whatever is wrong free of charge. I don’t nickel and dime you, if the price goes up because of something I didn’t know, we have not talked about it on the phone, I clarify. If the price goes up a little more, then I eat it. They even had it on the news, some of these companies say it’s such a price for three rooms… then they come out, measure the size of these three rooms, you did not see that coming! Now your paying three times as much as they said it would be. I don’t do that.
TSR: Has technology played a big part in your growth, and making your company more successful?
Michael: Yes. New machines, like the CRV, where I used to have to scrub the carpet with a tool, that technology does it for me, one or two passes (over the carpet) is equal to me doing five hundred times in one spot, just with one part of the technology. It makes our service be a better clean, again, more productive.
TSR: Where do you see your business in the few months we have left of 2018?
Michael: I don’t see any major changes. My goal is to pass this onto my son, see what he wants to do with it. I thought about expanding, but my standards are high. I’ve trained a couple of people, then when they get to a customers house, there may be a problem, I would just rather deal with it myself. It never was about money with me, even though I know I’m going to make money, it’s got to be a personal service. With my experience as an officer monitoring even some of the worse detention centers, I run into people all the time now, and never once have I had a bad experience. They know I treated them like men. I’ve always told them the difference between me and you is just a charge. I will always do my job respectfully, always firm and consistent, and men respect that. So, when I’m out and about I never have to watch my back. That’s no different in this business.
TSR: Thinking back to day one, can you think of anything you may have done differently to overcome challenges, and to meet your business goals in a more efficient amount of time?
Michael: I think I would have studied up on the equipment more before I got it. I bought a lot of equipment that gave me a lot of problems, but I had just rushed into it. I should have just took my time. I would have done more. I finally got all my schooling, but I should have gotten more before I just jumped out there. That defiantly cost me a lot of time.
TSR: Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
Michael: Just give to my son whatever of it he wants to take.
You can schedule Dirtbusters Carpet Cleaning to give you a free quote at 864-416-7547 or visit them on Facebook