The Carpet Chemist
Executive Q&A: The Carpet Chemist CEO Brandon Cerrito
1851 Franchise spoke with the founder of the emerging carpet care franchise about the inspiration behind starting the brand, what he’s accomplished so far and what’s to come.
When starting his carpet cleaning business, Brandon Cerrito knew he was facing tough competition in a heavily-saturated market. He had experience from working at a carpet company before founding his own emerging franchise, The Carpet Chemist, and knew the key to success was standing out in the services offered.
He decided to capitalize on a few different novelty areas of carpet care, like dyeing and stretching in addition to repairs and cleaning, and be the company that’s a one-stop shop for the various needs of customers. The Carpet Chemist is growing fast and hopes to have 22 locations open in Kentucky by the end of this year. Cerrito spoke with 1851 Franchise about the brand and the vision he has for it.
1851 Franchise: When creating this company and concept, what void were you looking to fill? What was missing in that space?
Brandon Cerrito: When I started my carpet cleaning business, I competed with millions of other carpet cleaners in the area. You don't have to go to tech school; anybody can just buy a piece of equipment and say they're a professional carpet cleaner. So you can either compete or you can carve out a niche, and I have found that. Talking to my customers, they would ask, ‘Can you do anything about these wrinkles in my carpet? Can you fix up this area where my dog tore it? Can you fix this discoloration or bleach spot?’ The installation companies don’t have time for those. So there’s carpet stretching, repairs, dyeing, and I did a Google search to see what kinds of companies do that, and nobody is really doing this anywhere.
So, my wife and I decided we should buy the equipment and learn how to do these services. And when we did, the floodgates opened. We're filling those voids because nobody else is doing it. We were getting calls from out-of-state and all over the place, so we decided we needed to do something big with this and franchise.
1851: What would you say The Carpet Chemist is doing best right now?
Cerrito: Obviously, carpet cleaning and specialty stain removal are always going to be there. We specialize in all the odor removal, red wine, slime, ink and curry stains, and all that stuff that nobody else can get out. But honestly, what is exploding right now is oriental rug cleaning services. A handful of oriental rug cleaners in our area have been doing it for 30 or 40 years, but they're either retiring or selling the business. We're really capitalizing on that and taking it on as our thing. The demand is so high it’s hard to keep up.
1851: What are some of your growth goals and the vision that you want The Carpet Chemists to fulfill?
Cerrito: Our team has a plan and a goal as an emerging brand. My goal is to get 22 franchises in 2022. We have about half a dozen potential franchisees in the pipeline right now. We secured the first franchisee, and then immediately after that, we got two or three more inquiries — then they steadily rolled in after that. Now it's like, ‘Hold on; you better get ready.’ We're gaining some momentum, and some traction — and our systems are all ready to go. If five of them want to sign tomorrow, we will be ready.
1851: What are some learning opportunities that the company leveraged to get to where it is today?
Cerrito: We've learned a lot about what not to do in terms of marketing because as a new business owner and new franchisor, many people promise and try to sell you on services. We used to be that company and spent a lot of money on all these things and got burned a few times. We’ve learned what works, and we've stuck with that formula. We can educate our franchisees on how we've dialed in their marketing and what we suggest they spend on advertising dollars. We have tips and tricks that have worked for us in getting the brand name out there and building relationships with commercial and residential clients.
1851: What are the most important milestones that you've hit over the last five years?
Cerrito: Every year we've been in business, we've financially surpassed our goals. So it keeps going up and up. Building out and creating all these systems to give to the franchisees was a monumental task that took a couple of years to put together because we did it all ourselves rather than hire a team. It was a huge undertaking, from building out operations manuals to tons and tons of checklists and all these other things that go along with the blueprint you create for your franchise to follow.
My wife and I have been able to get off the truck because we have hired employees that can run the show without us. So we've got to step into the role of just overseeing the day-to-day, which frees us up to work on the franchise part of it.
1851: What does an ideal franchisee look like to you, in terms of personal traits, experience and how they run the business?
Cerrito: We really don't expect them to have carpet experience; we train all that. We want somebody with a strong work ethic, where this will be their own business and their baby. We want somebody passionate about going out and doing the work, who interacts with the customers and is a good owner-operator. This is going to be guerilla marketing. They'll have to get out there and introduce themselves to customers and commercial accounts, so they just need to be passionate about what they're doing and have a good attitude and work ethic.
1851: How does the corporate team support the franchisees?
Cerrito: I'll have bi-weekly phone calls with the franchisee and contact them every two weeks in the beginning. We're in constant communication with them. We've got a pretty good team, so they can always reach out to somebody, and we can help with whatever it is — be it marketing or a technical issue with a carpet repair. We're not going to leave them hanging, and we are absolutely not going to let them fail. After they become a franchisee, they have access to our portal, and we've got tons of videos about everything we do. And if they have questions beyond that, we have people they can call or email to help them through it.
Another huge thing is we have a call center that receives the calls and books the appointments for them, so the franchisee will not be out in the field and have to worry about stopping to answer the phone and book an appointment. We take care of all that for them. All they do is wake up in the morning, look at their schedule for the day and go to the job. We simplified all that for them.
The total investment necessary to begin operating a Carpet Chemist Business with a base operating territory is $77,300 to 109,700, including a $30,000 franchise fee.