Commercial Steam Team – Your Minnesota Carpet Cleaners

We’re a family owned and family operated business here in the Twin Cities, MN

Our team is dedicated to provide you with superior service and high-quality work at an affordable price. We offer carpet cleaning for residential and commercial businesses throughout the Twin Cities Metro area of Minnesota.

We service all of Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, most of Dakota, Anoka, and Washington Counties, and significant portions of Scott and Carver Counties. (We also do larger projects outside these areas.)

Call us today for a free quote on your carpet cleaning 952-224-7222 or learn more about us at

Sand and Salt: Safe for Minnesota Roads, Harsh on Minnesota Carpets

If you live and work in the Twin Cities Area of Minnesota like I do, you are aware that MNDOT, part of the Minnesota Government that is responsible for the roads, is plenty liberal with sand and salt on our streets and highways.  This is good for safety on our roads, however, sand and salt damage carpet.  This debris is both sharp and abrasive.  The sharp corners of the dirt and salt latch onto the bottom of our shoes and turn them into walking sand paper, sawing right through the tiny carpet fibers.  This causes discoloration when light tries to reflect off of the carpet in these worn out areas.  Should this damage occur, the area can be clean as a whistle, but still appear discolored.  Because of these harsh conditions, it is very important to have your carpets professionally cleaned and protected at least once a year.  Between professional carpet cleanings, it is important to vacuum your carpet on a schedule appropriate for the amount of traffic your carpet receives (anywhere from once a week to once a day).

Which Carpeted Areas Are Most Susceptible To Damage

What areas of a home are the most important to clean in a home?  As a carpet cleaning expert here in the Twin Cities, I recommend cleaning all carpet at least once a year.  However, some areas may need more attention.  These areas include:

  • Stairs
    • Stairs take a heavy beating because we slide our feet over the nose of the stairs as we walk down and kick them as we walk up.
  • Halls
  • Halls wear out quickly because we have only a narrow width on which our feet can walk, forcing us to concentrate all of our steps on a single stretch of carpet.  Also, we make turns at the same specific points as we pivot to enter rooms.
  • Path from main living space to kitchen or bathroom.
    • Because we travel to the kitchen and bathroom every single day, this path becomes routine.
  • Entrances
    • Especially if you live in a climate that requires sand and salt to be spread on the roads, areas where people enter your home can be one of the most soiled areas of all.  I recommend taking your shoes off at the door.  Even so, these areas tend to receive the most soil.
  • Around beds and in front of sofas
    • Any time I move a bed or sofa, I see a matted area of carpet that is worn out from people getting up and down off of the furniture.

If you can’t afford to clean all of your carpet, make sure these areas are cleaned and protected at least once a year.  Said areas might require more than once a year, depending on the number of residents and guests you have in your home.

Horse Power in Carpet Cleaning

Wouldn’t it be great if carpet cleaning equipment was powered by actual horses?  This might not be the best thing for the horses, but at least you could actually see the difference in power between the different companies based on how many horses pulled up in front of your home or business.  My family owns a commercial carpet cleaning company in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area of Minnesota.  One of the difficult tasks we have is educating prospective clients as to why we are the best choice in carpet cleaning.  While our track record speaks for itself when it comes to equipment, the general public doesn’t know the difference between one cleaning unit and the next.

The honest truth is that almost every single carpet cleaner, no matter how it sounds in their advertisement, uses hot water extraction.  They might spout magic water, or low moisture, but that’s all fancy ways of saying hot water extraction.  It’s the oldest and most effective method.  The jargon is simply what the radio stations marketing team says to make the equipment seem to be something new, even when it’s not.  The process is the same from one machine to the next, but there are two areas that they differ:

The first is maintenance.  This is determined by how easy it is to maintain the equipment and how often will it break down.  This part only affects the odds that something might go wrong during or before a job, not necessarily the quality.

Secondly, and most important to the consumer, is the power source that the equipment runs on.  Portables almost all run on electricity.  The issue with electricity is that they run on circuit breakers that would trip if you draw too much power.  Next, is the Kubota style cleaning units, these are a 4 cylinder engine separate from the trucks engine.  This is far more powerful than the portable.  Finally, is the direct drive carpet cleaning unit.  Direct drive means that the carpet cleaning unit is powered by the actual engine of the vehicle that houses the equipment.  These are almost always vans with V8 engines in them.  These direct drive carpet cleaning units are the most powerful and effective units on the market because V8 engines have 8 cylinders, which create far more horse power than 4 cylinder engines.  Horse power translates directly to vacuum strength for drying time, solution pressure for rinsing, and heat for releasing tough stains and stripping away grease and oil.

I recommend always asking if your carpet cleaner uses a direct drive carpet cleaning system that runs on an 8 cylinder engine.  This is also important because companies may have several different types and you may not know which one will show up for the actual cleaning.

Reliability in Carpet Cleaning

I own a carpet cleaning company in Dakota County, Minnesota.  The other day, the head of public works for the city of Hopkins informed me that the last company he hired to clean the carpets stood him up.  This was a job large enough to send two vans out.  Neither van showed up.  He was surprised because he hears their commercials on the radio several times a day and they claim to be the best in the industry.  City accounts are very large and lucrative accounts.  I don’t understand how any company, no matter how large or how fast they grew, could overlook any account, let alone one as large as a city government.

The problem with standing up a client is not as simple as just losing that account.  Everyone he speaks to about carpet cleaning now will hear about his negative experience.

There needs to be checks and balances to make sure that no account gets overlooked.  Phone calls should be made at the earliest sign that crews might be late to a job, even if only by a few minutes.  Waiting and wondering if a vendor will show up on time, or at all, is not a comforting feeling.  This anxiety leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the client, even if the job does end up being completed in the end, and the carpet cleaning turns out well.

At the very least, being late or standing up a client removes any chance for referrals, though usually the account is also lost forever.  To large franchises that advertise to get their business, this may appear less important, however, to any growing business referrals and satisfaction is a matter of survival.

Who Starts Carpet Cleaning Companies?

To understand the carpet cleaning industry in Minnesota, it is important to understand the different types of people who start carpet cleaning companies.

  • The first is the most common type of carpet cleaning company owner.  This is an easy industry to get started in.  For as little as a few thousand dollars, anyone can buy a small portable carpet cleaning unit and start charging their friends, family, and acquaintances to clean their carpets.  These are often people who have either been laid-off or have quit their jobs, and want to be their own boss.  Despite the best of intentions, carpet cleaning is easy to get into but very hard to succeed at.  The term, “fly-by-night” is used quite often in this industry for this reason.  Sometimes the very qualities that made them want to be their own boss, are the same qualities that keep them from succeeding on their own.
  • Second is the investor.  Investors have the money to start a carpet cleaning company.  They might be a lawyer, dentist, real estate mogul, etc.  They intend on starting a company, watching it grow through mass-advertising, and then selling it off.  This can be successful for the purpose of profit, but causes very poor quality-control since they don’t intend on being around when the complaints start coming in.  It then becomes the next owner’s job to try to fix the problems caused by the original owners.
  • Third are the franchises.  Someone who invests in a company with the pure intention of having a successful business.  The franchise, however, takes their cut whenever they can, leaving the owners of the franchise the need to find profits where they can.  These tend to be heavy marketing companies that stress sales at all cost.  It is very common to see the crew chief go an entire day without touching a carpet cleaning wand because he is too busy selling to the customer, while his assistant does the cleaning.  These companies would classify as sales and marketing businesses more than carpet cleaning companies.
  • Finally, is the independent, specialized, carpet cleaning company.  This company is started by someone who has experience in the industry, found their niche, and for some reason or another decided to break out on their own doing what they believe they do best.  This can be anything from upholstery specialists to commercial carpet cleaning specialists.  As with all companies, the goal is to be profitable.  However, without the franchise’s hand in their pocket, it is possible to turn a profit without cutting costs or high pressure sales.  While not all of these companies live up to their potential however, this is the most likely business owner to find his company both profitable and respected in their field.

One thing I recommend asking when hiring a carpet cleaning company is whether or not the company shares its profits with its employees.  This says a lot about the owners of the company.  I believe it is both a smart move in motivation and what every business owner should do to be responsible in the community.

Equipment Maintenance is Essential to Quality Control

I own a carpet cleaning company in the Twin Cities Area of Minnesota and quality of workmanship has always been my focus.  From proper hiring and employee management, to staying up to date on technology, there are many things that go into ensuring quality stays at the highest level it can be.  Quality control levels for most companies decline over time, and although there are a lot of factors involved, I believe one of these factors is overlooked by nearly all carpet cleaning companies.

The maintenance of carpet cleaning equipment is essential to keeping quality levels high.  I was speaking with our supplier who supplies most of the carpet cleaners in the area the other day; He said that we were the only company that does preventative maintenance on our vans.  I always assumed that a lot of companies slack off in this department because there are front end costs to this and a lot of tedious work involved.  To hear that we are the only company doing it shocked me!  Carpet cleaning vans are full of tubes and hoses.  If these tubes and hoses get clogged up, the strength of the vacuum drops considerably and the pressure per square inch of solution drops, causing the van has to work at higher rpms in order to try to keep up.  This drop in pressure and vacuum strength may not even seem noticeable to the technician, since it happens gradually over time, but this power is very important to the quality that a company can provide.  No business can afford to go out and buy new equipment every couple years when the power begins to drop.  Some technicians begin to try to boost their results by using more cleaning agents and altering the ph. levels of their solution.  This creates unbalance in the ph. scale and can cause rapid re-soiling.

This is why de-scaling the equipment and lubricating the machine is so important.  Checking valves and running water through the system every night is a must.  These machines are the constant in carpet cleaning.  No matter who you have operating the equipment, no one can do the best work possible if the equipment isn’t capable of producing the best results possible.  Well-maintained equipment gives the technician’s fair opportunity to do their very best work.

Who Would You Like to Have Clean Your Carpets?

Commercial Steam Team

  • Career employees

  • Carpet cleaning technicians who make 10% profit sharing at the end of the year
  • Technicians who are trained to clean carpet

  • Crews who are supplied with everything they need to do a great job

  • Technicians rewarded for quality of work
  • Crews who make a living they can be proud of

Corporate Franchises

  • Short term employees (very high turnover)
  • Technicians who are treated like numbers

  • Technicians trained in marketing and sales

  • Crews who have to pay for their own cleaning agents

  • Technicians rewarded for how much they sell at each job
  • Crews who make just enough to get by

Everything in the Commercial Steam Team column of this article is the standards by which Commercial Steam Team treats our employees.  The Corporate Franchise column is a conglomeration of the different trends that they each individually make.  Not every franchise makes all of these mistakes with their employees, however each franchise is guilty of at least one of these.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to any company who makes any of these mistakes do work for me.  I would want a company that takes pride in their employees and treats them accordingly.

Family Owned Carpet Cleaning Companies Vs. Corporate Franchises

It is true that corporate franchises have deeper pockets than independent family owned businesses.  This is definitely true in the professional carpet cleaning industry.  Other than that, what are the differences between corporate franchises and family owned businesses?

  • Franchises tend to pay closest attention to the “bottom line”.
    • Ideals, morals, employees, and customers usually take a back seat to the stock holders.
    • Since those that profit from the business are not usually present to see these employees and customers, it is easy for them to become disconnected from the people that their decisions effect.
    • Franchise owners have to pay their corporate parent company a percentage of their profits.
      • I am familiar with companies being charged 15% of their gross sales.
    • Franchise owners are usually forced to buy their equipment and cleaning agents directly through their parent company regardless of whether it is the best or most cost effective product.
    • Deep pockets often lead to expensive advertising campaigns that drive in business.  Sometimes so fast, that it reduces months of training to only a few days.
  • Independent family-owned businesses are run by the morals and values of their family.  Not all families are the same, but a strong morally-just family will most likely build a strong and morally-just company.
    • Without a parent company to answer to, family owned carpet cleaning companies are allowed to choose the best product on the market.
    • Without a 15% franchise fee to pay, family owned businesses can pay their employees more and buy more powerful equipment, resulting in better outcomes.
    • Because there is no board of directors to appease, family owned carpet cleaning companies can treat their employees the way great employees should be treated.  I recommend profit sharing as a means of doing this.
    • Without the money to hire large advertising firms to drive in business, family owned businesses rely on repeat business and referrals through hard work, expertise, and customer service.

Although it is true that not all family owned independent businesses follow these guidelines, it is true that corporate franchises have no choice but to adhere to the guidelines that their parent companies have set for them.  Franchises are more easily accessible due to their advertising, but once discovered, family owned businesses have the potential to provide far superior service than corporate franchises.

What is a Residential Carpet Cleaning Company?

What is a residential carpet cleaning company? What are the differences between a residential carpet cleaning company and a commercial carpet cleaning company?  What are some of the problems that come up when hiring a residential carpet cleaning company?

  • Carpet cleaning started in the residential districts and residential carpet cleaning continues to be the lion’s share of the carpet cleaning industry.  The reason for this is that the profit margin on each job is much higher in residential carpet cleaning.
  • By training salespeople to upsell in the home, split second decisions made under pressure can bring a residential company large dollars. Residential carpet cleaning companies usually pay very little for carpet cleaning; bonuses are instead given for add on sales.  Residential carpet cleaners can make a very good living if they are trained heavily in sales.  Budgets are already in place when businesses get cleaned, so training in sales are pointless to commercial carpet cleaning companies.
  • Customers can be placed into large vague time frames to minimize driving time and waiting between jobs.  By placing all of the jobs from Lakeville, Apple Valley, Eagan, and Rosemount Minnesota together, residential carpet cleaning companies can avoid gas costs.

Although this is inconvenient to the customer, it has been done this way for so long that most people accept it and take time off of work to get their carpets cleaned.  Commercial businesses need to be cleaned when they need to be cleaned so these time frames are irrelevant in commercial carpet cleaning.

  • Although commercial strength carpet cleaning equipment is better for cleaning residential carpets, it is not as necessary as this equipment is in restaurants, and trucking companies, etc.  Therefore this expensive equipment is usually not considered as cost effective for residential carpet cleaning companies.
  • Advertising is key for residential carpet cleaning companies.  Formula’s such as X amount of dollars spent on advertising equals a similar amount of customers received from the advertising and the profit comes from the up selling done once in the home.

Commercial clients don’t usually to find their carpet cleaners through advertising.  Businesses tend to find their vendors through networking and referrals.  Because of this commercial carpet cleaning companies don’t tend to spend as much money on advertising and instead focus on quality and repeat business.

  • Large corporate franchises are the driving force in the residential carpet cleaning industry.  What these franchises lack in quality control, they make up for in advertising dollars.  I am not currently aware of any commercial carpet cleaning franchises.  I am only aware of independent family owned companies in the area of commercial carpet cleaning.  Family owned independent companies tend to deliver higher quality because the owners are “present” and often maintain the ideals they were raised with.  If your profit comes from advertising, then you will focus your resources toward advertising.  If your profit comes from upselling, your focus will be on sales.  However if your profit comes from repeat business, then your focus will be on the hiring, training, and maintaining of career professional employees.  This is where commercial carpet cleaners stand apart.

What is a Commercial Carpet Cleaning Company?

What is a commercial carpet cleaner?  What do commercial carpet cleaners do?  What is the difference between commercial carpet cleaners and residential carpet cleaners?  These are all good questions. The difficult part of the explanation is that commercial carpet cleaners can clean residential and residential carpet cleaners can clean commercial carpets.  The question is, “who is best suited for each and why?”

  • Commercial carpet cleaners have more powerful equipment that gets far hotter than most residential companies because this is necessary to release the grease and oils that are often on commercial carpets.  That heat also does far better to release dyes in the carpet such as coffee.
  • Commercial carpet cleaners have more powerful vacuum strength as well.  This is because most businesses, especially restaurants, can’t have their carpets cleaned until their business day is over and that can be as late as 2:30am.  The carpet then needs to be dry by the time they open in the morning.  The stronger vacuum strength supplied by an 8 cylinder engine cuts the drying time down considerably.  This vacuum strength also increases the percentage of debris and particles that are removed from the carpet fibers.
  • Commercial carpet cleaners have a responsibility to do more thorough background checks and pay substantially more than residential carpet cleaners to ensure that they always have clean cut, professional personnel.  Government agencies and other secure businesses often require background checks on the vendors that will be entering their buildings.  Also, residential carpet cleaning relies on advertising to bring in a steady stream of new clients and commercial carpet cleaning companies rely on repeat business as the bulk of their business.  The quality of employees is the largest key factor in this equation.
  • Residential carpet cleaners hire and train salesmen because the person holding the checkbook is usually on hand to talk to.  Commercial carpet cleaning companies hire and train for quality instead because the decisions are usually finalized in a board room weeks before the job is completed so there is no point in trying to sell anything during the job. This is why commercial carpet cleaners train for cleaning, not for selling.
  • Residential carpet cleaning companies usually work a normal 9-5pm schedule.  Commercial carpet cleaning companies understand that the normal business model for residential carpet cleaning companies won’t work well for businesses. Commercial carpet cleaning companies may do a job at 5pm in Plymouth Minnesota and then head down to Apple Valley Minnesota for another job at 8pm.  A crew may finish a job in Roseville Minnesota at 7pm and have to wait for 2 hours to start a job in Shakopee Minnesota at 9pm.  Residential carpet cleaners want to use broad time frames like am or pm time slots in specific areas of the state.  Businesses simply need it to be done when they need it done.

The truth is that all of these characteristics that successful commercial carpet cleaning companies should possess are better for both commercial and residential carpet cleaning.  The difference is that these standards are absolutely necessary to do a great job in commercial carpet cleaning where as they are a luxury in residential carpet cleaning.  Personally, I would prefer a commercial carpet cleaning company at either my house or my business, but then again I am a little biased as one of the founders of the Commercial Steam Team in Burnsville Minnesota.

Benefits of Adding Deodorizer to Carpet Cleaning Rinse

I hear all the time: “I can’t believe how good it smells in here now.” I hear this when I call my clients to make sure they were totally happy with the carpet cleaning job we did for them.  Do I have a secret to achieving this?  Yes, I do! Every time we fill our rinse tank with water, we add Multiphase Deodorizer to the mix.  There are three major benefits to doing this.

  • This deodorizer contains an enzyme that feeds on bacteria.  We do not put enough in our rinse to treat problem mildew, mold, or urine areas.  However there is enough to ensure that even if the carpet takes longer than usual to dry there no worries of mold or mildew forming.
  • It helps reinforce the full strength application of deodorizer that we do use to kill the bacteria, mold, mildew, and urine.
  • Leaves your carpet smelling fresh and pleasant.

We have found that despite the extra cost of introducing this enzyme deodorizer to our carpet cleaning rinse, going the extra mile goes a long way in customer satisfaction. Not only making these Minnesota nice clients happy, but actually turning them into full-fledged fans.

My Experience With Multiphase Enzyme Deodorizer

I own a carpet cleaning company in the Twin Cities Area of Minnesota called the Commercial Steam Team.  I have been cleaning carpet for 13 years and one of the most effective products I use is Hydramaster’s Multiphase Deodorizer.  As in its name, Multiphase is a triple action deodorizer that covers a broad spectrum of odor causing bacteria.  I like to use this deodorizer because it is both powerful on bacteria while being gentle on carpet cleaners.  In my 13 years of carpet cleaning in Minnesota, I haven’t found anything that works nearly as well.

How Your Van’s Appearance Influences First Impressions

How many times have you driven by your neighbor’s house and seen a white van parked in the driveway covered in rust with hoses running into the front door of the house?  After seeing that beat up old van, your first inclination was probably not, “I should get their phone number so I can have them clean my carpet”.

This is because your subconscious makes certain assumptions when you see a poorly maintained van;

  • If the van looks that old, the equipment is probably out of date as well.
  • If they haven’t taken good care of their van, do they take good care of the equipment?
  • If they can’t afford a new van, can they afford capable employees?
  • If they don’t take pride in their appearance, do they care about generating positive word of mouth?
  • They don’t look like they care at all!
  • Are they too cheap to do a great job?

The truth is that one or more of these assumptions is probably correct.  If you want people to take you seriously as a capable and educated professional, you cannot let your first impression be a rusted out van.  A sharp, crisp, clean van lets people know that you take pride in being the best professional carpet cleaning company you can be.  After all, your van is a moving billboard.

Salt Build-Up In Carpet

If you live in the Twin Cities Area of Minnesota, or any community that salts their icy roads, then you know that salt coats your car and needs to be rinsed off regularly to avoid rust.  The truth is that this salt coats the bottom of our shoes as well.  We don’t notice how much salt is on our shoes because it is most abundant on the part of our shoes that we don’t see very often (the bottom).  That surface has tread that is designed to grip the surface that you are walking on.  The better the tread works, the more it also grips sand and salt.

Salt is especially harsh on carpet for several reasons;

  • Salt is coarse and abrasive;  It can wear out the carpet fibers.
  • The salt from roads is coated in smog which can transfer to the fibers and dye them a darker color.
  • The chemical make-up of salt is harsh on the carpet fibers and can break them down.
  • As salt gets damp it dilutes and re-crystalizes around the carpet fibers holding fast in place.

The problem with salt that has re-crystalized around the carpet fibers is that it has to be diluted into liquid form to release itself from the carpet.  This is done through the method of hot water extraction.  The heat and water injected into the carpet dilutes the water and the vacuum sucks that salty liquid out of the carpet.  This is why The Commercial Steam Team uses powerful truck mounted hot water extraction (steam cleaning) unit.  Weak vacuum strength will leave the carpet soaked since it takes large volumes of water to melt the salt down.  Also be sure after the salt has visibly disappeared to continue rinsing the carpet as the diluted salt is invisible and may still be in the carpet.  Extra rinsing is essential.