Interview With Mike Decker of Decker's Carpet Cleaning - Kingwood
Interview With Mike Decker of Decker's Carpet Cleaning - Kingwood
Published: Apr 06, 2022, 1:45pm
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As part of our ongoing "Getting to Know Your Local Businesses"
series, we sat down this week with Mike Decker, owner of Decker's Carpet Cleaning.
Tell us a bit about your business: What does your business offer, and how long have you been around?
My family and I started Decker’s Carpet Cleaning in April of 2011. Our Kingwood based business started with and continues to operate with the mission of helping our neighbors improve and maintain their homes and workplaces, so they can live a healthier and more comfortable life. We strive to excel in service, deliver over the top results, create enthusiastic fans, and maintain our values and ethics.
We offer carpet cleaning and repair, area rug cleaning and repair, tile cleaning, grout re-coloring and repair, upholstery cleaning and repair, stone floor and countertop cleaning and polishing, shower cleaning, strip and wax service, wood and vinyl floor cleaning, deodorization, pet odor remediation, and emergency water extraction and damage mitigation.
How did you decide to get involved in this line of work? How did the business get started?
We have always been dog and cat lovers and we understood the need for regular floor and furniture cleaning but had too many bad experiences with in-home service providers. We also fought with those rental machines once or twice a year and felt there must be a better way.
I worked for a carpet cleaner in the Northwest Indiana Region in the 1990’s and learned a lot of the ins and outs of basic carpet cleaning. The carpet cleaning method was primitive and left carpets soaking wet and full of soap, but we worked on mansions and section 8 rentals, so I saw a wide variety of carpet situations.
After cleaning carpets for a few years, I went on to manage big box bookstores for 17 years. I worked in the Chicago, Dayton and L.A. area, as well as managing a few stores here in Houston. Over my career I became a Field Training Store Manager and managed over a dozen different stores, ranging in volume from $2.5 million to $11 million. I’ve had breakfast meetings with Jack Welch and dinner with Jim Collins, sold books to handfuls of Hollywood celebrities. I became an operations and loss prevention expert and learned to manage teams from a dozen booksellers to well over 100. During my retail career, I honed my service skills as well as learned to operate a business under varied economic climates and regions.
After a few years in Houston, my family and I decided to take my 401K from my retail job and start Decker’s Carpet Cleaning. In December of 2010 I bought my first carpet cleaning machine and started to develop our system. On April 1st of 2011, we officially opened for business and launched our Carpet Cleaning Google profile. It was only a day or so until we had our first customer. In June 2011 I left my retail job and began cleaning full time. My son Quinn was 14 years old and a junior at Kingwood High School at the time, and he spent most of his after school and weekends helping with cleaning jobs and delivering flyers when he wasn’t skating at Dylan Duncan Skate Park or playing drums or guitar in one of his bands.
At 16, Quinn was IICRC certified as a carpet cleaning technician and started overseeing his own crew. He now handles phones and dispatch as well as our web design and IT needs.
Since 2011, I’ve achieved IICRC certifications in Carpet Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaning, and Water Damage Restoration. I’ve also been certified by the Global Biorisk Assessment Council for SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 response and remediation.
Tell us a couple things you are proud of about your business. What are you known for? What separates you from the competition?
I’m proud of the fact that our business has survived 10 years and counting. If I REALLY knew the statistics and likelihood of a small shoestring startup making it past the first year, let alone 10 years, I may not have started this business. It has given me a new level of respect for other local small businesses.
During that time, I’ve seen a technician pay their way through college and go on to be accepted into a doctorate program – debt free! I’ve helped half a dozen young musicians hold a job while having the flexibility to “gig” on weeknights and weekends. I’ve helped young men develop job skills and strength of character. I’ve seen my son develop into a leader and learn skills related to business, music production, and computer programming.
We’ve developed our process over the years to become the go to experts when it comes to pet stain and odor treatment. Pet issues make up the majority of our business and improving pet owners’ living situations remains our core reason for being in business.
We are driven to improve the in-home experience for our customers and deliver a thorough and long lasting clean. In that effort we have streamlined our process and have found ways to counter or eliminate many of the negative experiences associated with a carpet cleaner visiting your home.
For example, we generally offer half hour arrival windows and try to be as accurate about estimating arrival times as we can. I get annoyed by companies 4 hour arrival windows because I don’t have the time to wait around to get a job started – I would imagine many of our customers feel the same. From our inception, being on time and good communication (if we are running late) has been a priority.
Carpet cleaning customers do not enjoy their door being opened, even a crack, for hours on end while loud and smelly gas powered engines rage in the driveway. We’ve developed a system to clean light to medium soiled carpets (carpets that are well maintained) with the door closed and using machines that are quiet and not gasoline powered. This low moisture system utilizes advanced orbital floor cleaning machines that blot the carpet clean and dry with cotton bonnets, and is dry in a few hours as opposed to 8 to 24 hours for hot water extraction (Steam Cleaning), eliminating one of the biggest complaints about the carpet cleaning experience – long dry times.
Carpet cleaning customers regularly report that the issues they do not like about carpet cleaning are long dry times, returning spots, and the door being open during the cleaning. We took initiative to develop a hybrid cleaning method that uses traditional Hot Water Extraction (Steam Cleaning) ONLY when necessary, but instead focuses on colloidal chemistry and brittle polymers in a low moisture cleaning method that uses approximately 10% of the water, reduces the carbon footprint of our cleaning operation by reducing the use of gas powered truck-mounted cleaning machines. This method leaves carpets cleaner for a longer period of time by reducing soil attracting residue.
We are the only carpet cleaning company we know about that has a multiple step dry soil removal process that lifts and separates the carpet pile before cleaning. We are the only floor care company in Houston we are aware of using a Low Moisture/Hot Water extraction hybrid method. We basically carry two cleaning trucks in one and combine both methods to eliminate the negative effects associated with either and provide an unparalleled cleaning result.
What is your favorite part of running this business?
I absolutely love the experience of seeing a floor or piece of furniture go from dirty to clean. It’s a zen feeling - part personal accomplishment, part wonder of the science, part reward for your effort.
The only thing that improves on that experience is sharing it with our customers. When a young mom has her carpet cleaned for the first time in her life and is visibly overjoyed by the experience and knowledge that her kids will play on clean, healthy carpet - and she won’t be embarrassed by her floors – that’s rewarding! When a person is distressed over issues their dog or cat has created, whether it’s a new puppy, pet accident, or a beloved pet that is part of the family reaching the end of their life – we’re there to help.
We enjoy knowing we help customers maintain the value of their homes. Flooring such as carpet, stone, or tile is a major investment. We hope to reduce waste going into landfills and extend the life of whatever floor is installed. By keeping the floor clean it will last longer, be healthier, look better, and help the entire home maintain value.
Not only does cleaning help to maintain value of the floor, but it also helps the mindset of the people living or working in the environment. Spending time in a dirty environment can be depressing and demoralizing and leads to further decay.
Who is your ideal customer/client? Who do you serve best?
We find that our ideal customers are people who want a high level of service and quality results from a company that is straightforward and stands behind their work. Our customers understand the value of our hybrid methods, respect our efforts to give their floors the best possible care we can, and know that the investment they make in their flooring and home requires regular maintenance. Our customers understand that they can find cheaper alternatives but will sacrifice quality. Our best customers let us evaluate their needs and develop a plan to bring their floor back to its best presentation, and then discuss the plan and find the best solution for their budget – understanding that there is no “one size fits all” method to cleaning an individual home.
We even have a program developed for our Very Best Customers. We call it the Stay Beautiful Club. These customers receive priority treatment and discounts because they are committed to keeping their floors as clean as possible by cleaning on a regular rotation.
Is there any other information you'd like your potential customers/clients to know about your business?
Because of our name, Decker’s CARPET CLEANING, many customers do not realize we clean tile and stone, as well as upholstery. Our residential and commercial services include Carpet Cleaning, Pet Stain and Odor Removal, Carpet Stretching, Carpet Repair, Area Rug Cleaning, Tile & Grout Cleaning, Grout Sealing, Grout Recoloring, Grout Repair, Upholstery Cleaning, Upholstery Protector and Stain Blocker, Upholstery Pet Stain and Odor Removal, Leather Cleaning and Protector, Car, Truck, SUV, and RV Interior Cleaning, Stone Floor Cleaning, Stone Honing, Stone Polishing, Stone Restoration, Stone Sealers, Stone Countertops Cleaning and Polishing, Stone Repair, VCT Strip and Wax, LVT and LVP Cleaning, Wood Floor Cleaning, Shower Cleaning, and Outdoor Surface Cleaning.
How do you see your business growing and improving over the next couple of years?
We currently (April 2022) have the capacity to run 3 trucks and cover most of the greater Houston area. We will continue to recruit and develop new technicians in order to reach our capacity. As many small businesses are experiencing, staffing has been an issue for us. We are in the process of opening our floor care training center which will be located in Kingwood and will allow us a laboratory environment to train new technicians.
We are always accepting applications for new technicians. We generally have job openings posted on this community board and you can apply online here.
We will use our training center to build and develop our staff to reach our expansion goals and expect to have multiple locations operating by late 2022 or early 2023. We are currently (April 2022) expanding our shop area to include a 1470 square foot area rug cleaning plant to clean all of our area rugs in house. In the past, we have subcontracted much of our area rug cleaning to at least four different rug cleaners in Houston and found that we have much better quality control when we keep the cleaning in-house. This area rug and oriental rug cleaning facility will be located at our office/shop on Northpark Dr. in Kingwood and is expected to open to the public in late May/early June of 2022.
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