About Steve Marsh
I have a different background from most carpet cleaners and marketing experts in our industry. My background gave me a big advantage in my personal business success, and it positions me to help you with yours. I have inside knowledge of how the most profitable consumers think and choose their service providers.
A helpful background
I was raised in a traditional middle-class home in San Jose, California. But, an opportunity in the early 1970s gave me a chance to discover and study how the high-end community thinks differently. Midway through college to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I took a year off from school to accept a job as an intern youth minister at a church. The church is located in a high-end residential community in what is now known as California’s Silicon Valley. The next nine months had a profound effect on my life in many ways.
My mentor at the church believed it was important for me to clearly understand that the congregation of the church had a distinctly different view of life than I had. He was not talking about spiritual and religious views but their social and economic views. Many of the church members were doctors, lawyers, and top executives of major Silicon Valley corporations. These were influential and wealthy people who lived their busy lives with few financial limitations, so they were willing to pay for quality. My mentor helped me start to understand how living at a different socio-economic level changes one’s perceptions of daily life and of the world. I quickly discovered how dramatically different my thinking was from theirs.
An inside view
Returning to college, I started a janitorial and carpet cleaning business to support me through the remaining years of school. During the last semester of college, I found it harder than I anticipated to find a job in psychology. I didn’t see myself working in a cubicle in the high-tech industry like many of my friends had done. I liked being my own boss. I sold the janitorial portion of the company and focused on residential carpet cleaning.
I met my wife at the church where I interned. We started dating during her last year of law school. We got married the following year, and I became a part of one of those families in the church where I had worked. Talk about culture shock! I don’t think my in-laws planned on putting their daughter through law school so that she could marry a “carpet cleaner”. Things have worked out fine, and for the last 30+ years I have had an intimate view of what life is like in a much more upscale community than I was raised in.
For 30 years I focused my attention on serving the high-end residential market. I had decided that I preferred running my business as an owner/operator, and this market proved to be the most profitable and enjoyable.
I had been advised by other cleaners that this would be a hard market to make money in. Many had tried and failed before me. From my education at the church I had already figured out that this market doesn’t respond to advertising in the way cleaners expect. This market uses residential services frequently. Using service providers is a regular part of their lives and they know how to find the best. These consumers aren’t looking for the lowest price– they want a good value. I found that if I offered what they wanted they were willing to reward me well for it.
I grew my clientele solely from referrals, and found these consumers to be very loyal. As my clientele grew, I got better at providing the service they desperately wanted. My prices steadily increased as did the quality of the clients I serviced.
In 2004, my final year of hands-on cleaning, I was charging more than double the going rate. (I charged 65 cents per square foot of cleanable space for basic cleaning). During the peak season, I was booked out over two months in advance, so I never had to worry about any potential competitors.
Over the years I’ve watched many cleaners come and go. I marvel at the fact that so few cleaners across the country figure out how to tap into this enjoyable and profitable market.
Bridging the gap
My years of working and living with this target consumer market gives me a clear understanding of how they think. I’m not speculating or learning it from a book. I’m intimately familiar with what frustrates these consumers about service providers and what they want and how they would like their service companies to act. Fortunately, I’m in a unique position to advise and to help you portray your skill, confidence, and professionalism so that these consumers will be glad to pay top dollar for your services.
These consumers are women who live in nice homes and can afford to regularly hire companies to provide residential services such as carpet cleaning, housekeeping, landscape maintenance, pool service, and numerous other services to make their busy lives run smoother. These women have more money to spend than carpet cleaners, and this affects how they view life and what they are willing to spend it on.
It’s natural to assume that others think similarly as ourselves. It’s easy to project your own values which results in attracting people similar to you instead of the market you want. There’s a social, economic, and gender gap between you and your target market. To successfully reach this market, your marketing message must communicate that you provide the service that they want in a way that they clearly understand. I have learned how to communicate clearly and effectively with these profitable consumers from my unique life experiences.
I am an IICRC Master Cleaning Technician, Senior Carpet Inspector, and an IICRC approved Instructor. I am a columnist for both Cleanfax and Trend Tracks Magazines. I am on the Board of Directors for the Cleaning and Restoration Association, and am a past director of the Carpet and Fabricare Institute where I was awarded their top honor – the Bill Bailey Memorial Award.
Business and Marketing Expert
I am a nationally-recognized expert in building profitable owner/operator businesses and in marketing to high-end residential consumers. I have consulted for the carpet cleaning industry for the past ten years. During that time I have authored and published two full-day audio seminars, Single Truck Success™ and Be Competition Free™.
I created the industry’s only complete and ready-to-use marketing system, the Be Competition Free™ Marketing Program.
I am also the co-creator of Wizard Solution™, a customer tracking software program designed specifically for small carpet cleaning companies.
On the Personal Side
In 2003 I served as the business and marketing manager for Mark Patten, one of the country’s top ultra-distance cyclists. I also acted as Patten’s crew chief as Patten took on what Outdoor Magazine rated as “the world’s most physically grueling competition”, RAAM, Race Across America. This is a non-stop bicycle race that started in San Diego, CA and ended 10 days later in Atlantic City, NJ. Patten was out to beat his personal best -– 4th place.
I am currently acting as the marketing consultant for a tribute band, The California Beach Boys.
I have been married since 1980 and have one daughter.
In 2009 my family and I traveled to Morocco in Northern Africa to spend two weeks working with a team to rebuild homes for impoverished people who had their homes destroyed during an earthquake. I am active in my church and have interests that range from travel to enjoying performance magic. I have trained in the martial arts for over 20 years, and I am an expert in both Japanese Jujitsu and Shotokan Karate.