Blind Cleaning Business Models:
There are two common operational models used for blind cleaning businesses, mobile or shop. Some choose to have a workshop that they have equipped for cleaning and bring the items to that location, whether it be the garage of their home, a commerical location or a mobile van or truck parked in front of the customer's location. Those that do injection-extraction cleaning can do their work while the window treatments are still in the windows in many cases, however it is sometimes desired or more convenient to do the off site. Having a commercial space increases one's overhead expenses, but removes the traffic from one's personal home and often allows for more space and opportunities to provide a variety of services conveniently. The best choice is the one that makes the most sense with your overall business model and goals. The density of ones market, climate and other factors also influence which model may be the best for your proposed service area.
Blind Cleaning Methods & Equipment:
Hand cleaning methods are as simple as doing mini blinds, faux woods and some roller or fabric shades with some soapy water and rinsing them off. One's equipment may be a mobile trailer with a portable wash board or a plastic table or wash wall in a shop where things are brushes, flushed and dried after cleaning. While many window cleaners do blinds by hand (or using a low power pressure washer) and my have drying racks etc., there are definite limitations to what types of blinds can be done this way, not to mention all the hand work involved. Like anyone cleaning blinds, knowing what types of finishes and other items might be problematic is important to one's success.
Ultrasonic Blind Cleaning methods typically use long stainless steel trough like tanks with electronics (generators) and ultrasonic transducers in the bottom of the tank (in bars or under the bottom surface of the tank). As the sound waves pass through the wash side of the tank they create exploding air pockets in the cleaning solution. The other side of the tank is for rinsing the blinds. Having a set of racks, poles or other means of hanging the blinds to dry and various other equipment like fans, blowers and such comes in handy for doing the blind cleaning efficiently.
One should do some research or talk to some experienced blind cleaners before purchasing an ultrasonic blind cleaning tank. Not all ultrasonic cleaning machines are good for blind cleaning purposes. The frequencies used for blind cleaning are usally 25-80 MHz with 40 MHz being the most popular in newer machines as 25 MHz is a bit agressive, though it was used in many older machines. While some things about the technology have changed in the past decade, old machines (like buying a used car) are often a budget friendly alternative verses spending tens of thousands of dollars on new equipment when one is just getting started. If you are serious about purchasing a new machine, we caution any prospective blind cleaner to speak with other knowledgeable people in the industry and get comfortable with their answers to your questions (not just the salesperson or their list of favorite "references") as many companies selling new ultrasonic blind cleanoing machines to the industry (and even "training") do not actually deliver the level of after sale support they claim to offer. Their "training" also is not always what they make it sounds like as well, most don't even actively clean blinds or shades but are more demonstrations and notebook sessions. Sadly the relationship with many of these companies last about as long as one is buying over priced accessories, equipment or chemicals.
Our purpose for existing as a network to support professionally minded blind cleaners. Accessing the information available on our website (for Members etc.) is a great place for prospective blind cleaners to ask question and do some research on the industry before making an expensive commitment in equipment or training that doesn't turn out to be quite what was promised. We have people come for our basic training who are just doing their background research and others who have been struggling to get started after trying to learn things on their own or "trained" with someone else. During a typical training we usually have 2-3 different ultrasonic blind cleaners in operation in our shop, an actual full time blind cleaning operation. While we will show you a few (hundred) pictures and tell a few stories, you'll also will get your hands in the tanks and on a wide range of actual blinds and shades. You'll see the way what works for us, learn why we chose to do it that way as well as other ideas that may or may not work better for the ideas you have for your operation.
OnSite Fabricare or Injection-Extraction methods use a small portable machine (US Products PB3 which is no longer made or Kleenrite 204HX or other consumer level machines) to spray the fabrics with either a wet or dry cleaning solution and extract it all in one pass. The professionals use the commercial machines and their knowledge of the right techniques for cleaning the various types of fabrics to do their work. As all one needs for this is a bin of supplies, a small machine, hoses and cleaning heads the operation can be done easily in homes, on jobsites or at a location set up for convenient cleaning of various types of fabric window treatments from blinds to draperies and valances. While one might think this type of cleaning is simple after seeing a few video clips, there is really quite a bit one should know about fabric window treatments, fabric types and other things related to their care and cleaning before venturing into business. There is a vast different between cleaning a few heavy draperies and working with silks, delicate fabric blinds or mistakenly cleaning something with either a wet or dry cleanign solution when the opposite should have been used. Spotting stains, removing paint and other specialty topics also separate the professionals from the novices in this field.
Through the Blind Cleaners Network we offer a variety of training and ongoing support services. One can also commonly receive a few hours or in some cases a few days of working with the seller or another experienced blind cleaner affiliated with the seller of the equipment to learn about their equipment and how to clean the different types of window treatments their machine can do. There are several companies offering "business opportunity" type packages of equipment, training and marketing support to entrepreneurs, however we caution novices to reach out to us if you have any questions or subscribe to our Free monthly Newsletter as a place to start. Get some referrals or check out the industry endorsements of those that you are considering using, before investings in their training. Slick websites or a large web presence does not mean that company will be as invested in your success as as a new operator as they are in their own marketing or sales. Ask for back issues of their Newsletters or a list of those supported in their network of cleaners.
The training offered by the blind cleaners network is different. The person doing the training is a "hands on" owner of a local blind and drapery cleaning business with multiple certifications in the industry. The training takes place in the conference room of our national network and out in the shop of a working blind cleaning plant with multiple machines of both types. We have samples of all the common types of blinds, draperies and valances and one gets hands on practice pertinent to the type of training of the course you take. Professional events for experienced blind cleaners are also hosted annually for those in the trade to sharpen their skills, update their knowledge on new products and industry changes and to work on their own marketing or other parts of their own operations while collaborating with others around the room.
There is a lot to learn if one wants to be a professional window treatment cleaner, from techniques to products to repairs. No two or three day crash course will more than scratch the surface of the basics of what you need to know. Becoming affiliated with a network of other professionals in the industry is a great way to accelerate your learning curve and to find ways to successfuly move your dream into a profitable reality.
There are many ways to promote one,s blind cleaning businesses. Many of the "business opportunity" folks have slick ads and other notebooks of full of advertising ideas. We could pull out the typewritten copies of their binders from 20-30 years ago and show you they haven't really changed with the times. Most of them are selling a package or equipment, not working on educating you to successfully look for what works in your market or for your chosen customers. There are plenty of resources available to save you time, point you in the right direction and get into action with what will work to promote your business without spending thousands of dollars for someone else's benefit.
As our network has the power of a larger group of professionals behind it and is recognized by major fabricators for the cleaning services they provide, individual blind cleaners reap the benefits of those endorsements. Consumers that ask the people who made or sold their blinds, shades or draperies to them are looking for certified professionals they can trust. The internet is full of websites that for a monthly fee will promote or sell a lead to anyone that wants to call themselves a "professional", but traffic from the customer service agents or decorators is what you really want. Our online directory of blind cleaners is referenced by Hunter Douglas, Springs Window Fashions and others in the industry. We also maintain an extensive database of blind cleaners beyond the Certified Membership.
Mobile blind cleaning units have long been promoted as a great business opportunity by several vendors of ultrasonic blind cleaning equipment. While this may be true, it is good to look at the bigger picture before investing.
Any one of three methods are commonly used to clean blinds. The tools for hand cleaning methods (or low pressure power washing) can be purchased at the local big box or hardware store. For those considering either ultrasonic or injection-extraction cleaning methods there is usually a more significant investment required. Before commiting to any method one should take into consideration variables such as performance vs. price and have at least a basic understanding of the efficiencies, limitations or potential liabilities of each cleaning method.
Or it shouldn’t be! At the very least, it should be taken out of your vocabulary. All too often you may be asked to clean fabric items that you don’t have the ability to handle and, more than likely, you’ll take the easy way out and say “No, I can’t do it”. But a true professional never says no, they will either find a way to get it taken care of for the customer, or they buy the equipment to handle it themselves. How often while you’re cleaning blinds, do you get asked to clean fabrics that are beyond your current capabilities? How often are you asked if you know of someone who can clean upholstery? How often are you disappointing your customer? Many of you that clean blinds ultrasonically (or use other methods) are currently in this position of saying “No” and there’s no reason for it.