Carpet Repair only as side business

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Dchreha

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Hello to all the pros here,

I am looking at possiblity starting a side business repairing carpet (re-stretch, damage repair, patches,etc). I have a great full time maintenance job with the local government and am looking for side income. I have previous experience mainly in commercial carpet repair when I did hotel & apartment maintenance. I would use a cookie cutter tool for burns, repair transitions, cut and replace sections, and pattern match. I really enjoyed it. My question is to those who know, is this a viable side business? I'm talking evenings, weekends. I am serious about quality. I watch lots of videos to learn more, I have carpet scraps at home I practice on. I am able to make good seams and have some re-stretch experience. Is there a market for this? Thanks for any help or advice, I really do appreciate it.

-Daniel
 

Mark Brown

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You could literally make an income from just doing restretches for insurance companies, home owners and lazy store owners. There is a large segment of the industry that is underserved and it is carpet. If you can manage to get into a niche with the right people I would say it would be a win.

Best piece of advice I could give, its is actually 2 pieces of advice, would be to purchase a pole stretcher and get a kool-glide seaming iron. With those two tools, one could literally fix almost anything.
 

highup

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I second the KoolGlide. It's fantastic for repairs.
Every "real" carpet installer uses a power stretcher. Most use the spike or stinger as it's more commonly called, to stretch carpet.
Most installers like larger jobs and new houses. They don't like messing with small repairs and re-stretches. Set a minimum charge of $125 or $150. Not bad for an hour or two of work.
 

highup

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If you have a minimum of 150 and there was a tiny repair close by that took you 15 minutes, you can reduce your price and it looks good on you. You could tell them "my minimum price is $150 but how about we do 75 because this was easier than I was expecting"
There's something really simple they made a balked at $75 but now that you cut your price in half they might recommend you to friends.
It's always easier to have a higher minimum because you can always reduce it. That said, you can always raise it just as easily. 😉
 

C.J.

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Gotta remember he’s in the South, everything is a little less in the south. Cost of living is cheaper. I had a $135 minimum for hard surface in the Carolinas. Go up north to Pennsylvania and that same minimum charge jumped up to $175. Realistically I’m thinkin $75 to $100 for the OP’s location.
 

MAjwoody

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I considered this myself before deciding to get back into contracting on my own. I was looking at pairing repairs with helping DIYers by spending a couple hours showing them acceptable prep, layout, and installation techniques but never ran with it. I love the idea of a repair business because the margins are more in line with service work and those numbers are good! You typically wont be hauling large amounts of materials. Repairs dont carry the same warranty weight either so liability is less. I typically bid this kind of stuff without having to go do a song and dance at the customers house, saving me time and money. Also weeds out the tire kickers even though people looking for repairs are usually looking to spend less.
 

highup

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Just remember, whatever the repairs are, you need to be confident that whatever you do will look better than what you started with.
 

Dchreha

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Thank all of you for the replies and the pro insight/wisdom! I wasn't sure what would be a fair charge, but now I do. All of this advice is much appreciated. And yes, like C.J. said the "perceived value" for professional services in the south is lower than else where in the U.S. it seems.. which is unfourtunate for skilled trades people. But despite that, it is my goal to deliver quality repairs. I will keep in mind that I need to make sure I can make the repair a success. With that being said, is there anything I should probably avoid or need to especially look out for? Types of carpet or age of carpet that doesn't repair or restretch well? Jobs to avoid? I will be getting liability insurance of course to cover any worst case senarios.
 

Mark Brown

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The best thing I ever learned from doing repair work is to explain to people that all repairs come with a certain amount of risk and not everything can be made better. That being said, I often find anything is better in some circumstances. There have been some wild adventures I find myself on when being asked to repair this and that.

The point I am trying to make however is just to be open and honest with people. Crunch carpet and frayed carpet are something to stay away from that is for certain. You will get to know what delaminated rug looks like in a short time and with that there is little a person can realistically do that will have any long term effect at all.
 

Floorist

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Prices can vary widely even in the same state. I actually made more per yard in my small town than I could get in the closest city 60 miles away.
 

DarisMulkin

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I have been biting my tongue on this post since the day it was posted.You say you have a decent job and such. I have a problem with things like this when someone like you fire fighters that work so long and have a number of days off joining the ranks of installers. I say let the installer make his living, most are fighting just to survive, I know I did it for 56 years. I've said my piece on this.
 

highup

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Thank all of you for the replies and the pro insight/wisdom! I wasn't sure what would be a fair charge, but now I do. All of this advice is much appreciated. And yes, like C.J. said the "perceived value" for professional services in the south is lower than else where in the U.S. it seems.. which is unfourtunate for skilled trades people. But despite that, it is my goal to deliver quality repairs. I will keep in mind that I need to make sure I can make the repair a success. With that being said, is there anything I should probably avoid or need to especially look out for? Types of carpet or age of carpet that doesn't repair or restretch well? Jobs to avoid? I will be getting liability insurance of course to cover any worst case senarios.
Woven carpet unless you are familiar with it's characteristics.
If you see something that doesn't look repairable, or simply looks quite iffy, tell the customer that the chances of making it worse are much higher than doing the repair successfully. For most of us, there's a little guy that sits on your shoulder and talks to you every now and then. When he says the repair is too risky, don't be afraid to walk. No need to prove your Superman no matter how badly the customer wants the repaired done.
It's difficult sometimes to say no but I just did that a couple of days ago. It was a very nice older lady with some damaged carpet that had become delaminated. Had I cut into the carpet and not been able to find enough backing that was intact enough to make the repair, then I would have been in deep doo doo. The repaired area was right as you walk from the front entry towards the dining room, a very high traffic area.
Yes she was disappointed but she also understood why I refused to do the work.
 

Floorist

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I have been biting my tongue on this post since the day it was posted.You say you have a decent job and such. I have a problem with things like this when someone like you fire fighters that work so long and have a number of days off joining the ranks of installers. I say let the installer make his living, most are fighting just to survive, I know I did it for 56 years. I've said my piece on this.
I agree Daris. Taking food away from real installers.
 

C.J.

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Once upon a time I used to get mad that someone else was undercutting me. Didn’t matter if they were a ‘real’ installer or if they were someone side giggin it, they were still undercutting me. Then I changed how I see things and how I run my business. There will always be someone out there willing to work for less, even ‘real’ installers, and it’s up to me to sell my value to the customer as well as those ‘cheap’ customers weren’t the ones I wanted anyway.

I say this as someone coming from a larger metropolitan area with no shortage of customers. When I lived in a small town I didn’t work in that small town I traveled to larger metropolitan areas with plenty of customers, customers who have money AND were willing to part with it in exchange for my services.

Not tryin to start a fight but rather get people to think about how they are running their business. Are you in fact running your business or are you simply taking whatever you can get/ need which is essentially letting your business run you.
 
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Dchreha

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Definitely didn't mean to offend any contributors to this thread. I've been careful to be as respectful as possible.
A) I'm not a fire fighter, unless that is a figurative remark. I have been working in building maintenance for nearly 15 years. I just broke $20 an hour which is the most I've ever made, and the job has cheap enough health insurance for me to take care of my family so I have no intention of leaving.
B) Likewise, I have no intention of doing installs. Of any kind. I am looking to perform repairs only on carpet. That's what I have basic experience doing, not full complex instalIs. I will not be taking any work from installers. I have much more integrity than to lie about my abilities and undercut more talented people just to make a buck.
C) I have always enjoyed the challenge of a repair on the carpets at the buildings and properties I've worked. Being able to do it more often in various settings, get better at it, and make some extra income is my goal. I'm not too proud to tell a customer I can't make a repair. I'll reccommend they obtain quotes to replace the carpeting. And, no I will not do the install.

I have nothing but respect for the tradepeople here and the work they do everyday. All of you have more experience than me and I know my place. I actually hope I can create referals for some installers locally, and that would be my contribution.

Thanks again!
 

Mark Brown

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Dont mind the old folks, they are crusty from a life time of floor laying :)

You would be willing to fill a segment of the industry that most guys cannot even be bothered with. Any floor layer worth even a lick of salt is busier than snot these days. Last time I was asked to do a restretch for someone I just turned my phone off for a couple of days and cancelled the renewal on my webpage :p

You keep coming for advice, I will give out as much as I can and hope that you can do as many restretches and repairs as you want so that I do not have to!!
 

Floorist

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Dont mind the old folks, they are crusty from a life time of floor laying :)

You would be willing to fill a segment of the industry that most guys cannot even be bothered with. Any floor layer worth even a lick of salt is busier than snot these days. Last time I was asked to do a restretch for someone I just turned my phone off for a couple of days and cancelled the renewal on my webpage :p

You keep coming for advice, I will give out as much as I can and hope that you can do as many restretches and repairs as you want so that I do not have to!!
I loved restretches and repairs. I could make more in a couple of those than laying 100 yards of carpet. I could make a days wages in a couple hours. He is going to run into a lot of things he has never seen before.
 

MAjwoody

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Consider subcontracting with installers or stores as well. I would love to have a competent repair guy in my circle. If you cant fix the carpet you can probably make a sale for me. Win-win
 

MSLI

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I have been biting my tongue on this post since the day it was posted.You say you have a decent job and such. I have a problem with things like this when someone like you fire fighters that work so long and have a number of days off joining the ranks of installers. I say let the installer make his living, most are fighting just to survive, I know I did it for 56 years. I've said my piece on this.
 

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