Introducing Stefan Ovcharov - the founder of “Number One Carpet Cleaning”
A brief Q & A with a carpet cleaning professional
“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he'll quickly learn how to chew it. ”
- Roy Ash
My name is Stefan and I am 32 years of age. I have lived in London for almost 12 years now. My main interests are travelling, personal improvement, music, history and of course, business development. My 5-year goal is to establish our business as the “go to company” for high quality specialised cleaning services in SW, West London.
- Why did you choose to start a business in the service-based industry?
I first came across carpet cleaning thanks to a friend of mine and this was one of my first jobs in London. Very quickly I saw the large demand for the service, there are carpets literally everywhere - in homes, offices, hotels, care homes, schools and even in common parts of blocks of flats. Then I looked at the industry and there were not enough high-quality large service providers in London. So, the demand was high, and the quality overall was low. I just saw an opportunity in the industry. I was very well aware that if you over deliver in an undelivered industry or market you are bound to success. What I didn't know was how difficult it would be to constantly out do yourself in the job and compete with the newcomers and their low prices.
- What are the Highs and the Lows of being a company owner?
The highs are, of course, the ability of creating opportunities for yourself, your family and the people you work with.
The lows, I would say, are when you’re solving a problem or setting up a new service or anything that takes more of your personal time. Sometimes we have to sacrifice the time with our family and friends to make sure we have taken care of the business.
- What’s one thing you learned while working in this industry that would be applicable in any other job?
That when you have a strict systematic approach to the execution of a particular task you will always get the same or better result.
- Is it hard to find already qualified technicians or do you have to recruit people who are just starting to learn the A-Zs of this specific job?
It is hard to hire and manage already qualified technicians as they would already have developed their own ways of working and habits that are difficult to change. That’s why we would rather find someone interested in starting a career in carpet cleaning or someone with little experience and train them to our systems and standards.
- Although you spend most of your time managing the company’s performance, you also clean on-site and have to navigate the customer relations. Do you ever wish you could dedicate yourself to one of these jobs, or you like to have control over everything and letting somebody else take over is a no-no as of now?
My current situation in the company gives me the advantage of experiencing key activities first-hand and then to use this experience to create systems that can be thought of and implemented by someone else, while the quality of the work and customer service remains the same or even better. My ideal position/activity will be to deal with the sales/contracts of commercial clients, creating collaborations and managing/helping to constantly improve the performance of my colleagues and the company. I am happy to let someone else take control over a particular activity once we all understand why we are doing this, what is the desired result and what is the system that will deliver it for us and our clients in the best and easiest way.
- Do you find it hard to guide your colleagues, especially when you have more expertise than them in this field? Is your leadership accepted or questioned by those in the lower part of the hierarchy?
It is not hard when you manage to explain something in a very simple way and prove empirically to the other person that this is working and that it makes the job or the task easier and more efficient.
In Number One Carpet Cleaning I am using the concept “Bottom-up”. This calls for system improvement ideas to be provided by customer service, marketing, and technicians, basically anyone who has an idea, and then passed on up to me for messaging, testing and approval. This way everybody can contribute to the overall improvement of the company.
- What is one misconception people have about the professional carpet and rug cleaning services?
I think that one of the main misconceptions about carpet and rug cleaning is that it is an easy service and anyone with a machine and some cleaning products can do it. The truth is, it requires expensive professional equipment, professional cleaning products, extensive and ongoing professional training and lots of knowledge and experience to deliver a service that really provides a healthier indoor environment and extends the life of carpets and rugs. And the latter is what carpet and rug cleaning is all about.
- Would you give some words of encouragement for those seeking a career in the service industry?
I would say that there is always a place for quality service providers in the service industry in London and the UK as a whole, which allows entrepreneurs in this field to really experiment with such a business format.
Also, being kind, doing the right thing, and going the extra mile for the clients and the people you work with will take you far.