Case study:   

The Daily Adventures of the Dryer Vent Lady

More Info
Our email list is having some problems. It will be returned when all is working properly.
What's going on here?

This is the blog of an actual dryer vent cleaning business as it starts and becomes profitable.

It is a one year case study on what to do, when to do it, and what the results are/were.

On this page is 3 months of the case study. 

The case study participant is writing in first person and is performed by Alisa LeSueur, Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician and Executive Director of the Dryer Vent Cleaners of America.
The city is San Antonio, Texas. 

The financial summary on the right details the raw monthly income, expenses, and campaign totals.

Daily Blog 

September 28, 2007

In preparation of the start of this case study, several things were in place:
1. I am a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician.
2. My web page is in place
3. I have business cards and half-page flyers printed.
4. My car has magnetic signs with contact info.
5. I have golf shirts with embroidered on them
6. I have a Pro-Spin set of rods and brushes, basic dryer vent
    tools and supplies.
7. My phone number is not listed in the current phone book,
    but will be in the next edition due out November 2007.
8. Since October is National Fire Prevention Month, I sent out
    10 press releases yesterday to radio and television stations in
     the metro area offering interviews with me on the topic of
    clothes dryer fire hazards.  $4.10 in stamps. 1 hour in
    marketing time.  I will include these to the October figues.
9. I do not have an established clientele to work from, but I am
   resourceful.  Although I started cleaning dryer vents in 1998,
    I have not work in the business for 2 years and am starting off
    with a different company name than I had when I was cleaning
    dryer vents in the past.
10. Advertising in place is with a free newspaper called Much Ado
.  The paper is given away free.  I bartered my ad, so
    there are no out of pocket expenses with that.
11. I work from home, so the overhead is limited to phone
    expenses currently a land line and a cell phone and monthly
    dues to Dryer Vent Cleaners of America of $99. 
     $199/month total overhead to start. 

October 1, 2007

First day of this case study.
Since this is just starting, there are no customers, so customer acquisition is the goal.

I first looked for networking meetings in the area for real estate agents and business people in general.  There are several this week. 
About networking meetings:
Some networking meetings are more regulated, limiting the number of participants in any one field.  Others are more open to all with no exclusivity offered.  The more limiting meetings usually have attendence and participation minimums.
Some organizations charge a fee to join with regular dues.  These fees range from $25-$400 + monthly or weekly fees.  Others do not charge anything.
Typically, the meetings are at breakfast or lunch time and your meal is included in the time, dues, or is paid for separately.

Most will let you visit the meeting once or twice to see if it will be beneficial to you to join.  Look for complementary professions, such as real estate property managers, apartment managers, appliance repair people, HVAC contractors with an active follow-up process.

I also researched local Chambers of Commerce. 
There are 10 and they specialize in different geographic and cultural areas.  Most have joining fees of $300-500 with annual renewals.  I will join when the business can pay for it.  I will choose the Chamber with the most networking opportunities with the most people.

More research on the San Antonio Apartment Association.  This will be important for the contacts for large job contracts.  
There are no networking opportunites in the next month, so I will delay joining and paying their dues.  I will monitor their deadline for the membership directory since this is an important element of membership.  Luckily the Internet allows for online directories that can be updated regularly.

Tomorrow is my first networking meeting with the American Business Women's Association.  It is a lunch and I do not know how many people will show up. 

Stay tuned.


October 2, 2007

I got my first call for business today! 
It is scheduled for October 13 after the customer gets her next paycheck. 
The referrer?  My Mom! 
(Thanks Mom)
You never know where business will come from...

Today I went to the luncheon meeting of the American Business Women's Association. 30 attendees, 3 hours, 14 miles, $20 cost.

Many attendees were in the real estate field.  I took the opportunity to speak with each of them to tell them what I do and to look out for inspector's reports that mention dryer vent cleaning or repairs. 
When a home is sold, the buyer usually orders an inspection to discover problems that the buyer should be aware of. 
The buyer will use this to negotiate with the seller. 
Either the seller will have to make the repairs recommended or the buyer will get other concessions like a lower price. 
The real estate agent will recommend a repair person for each of the problems. 
I want to be the go-to person for dryer vents!

For the real estate agents, I gave them a card for themselves, then I asked them to take one of my cards to their property manager and to their sales manager - for me to speak at a sales meeting.  I will follow up with each of them in a couple of days.

A title agent was there and took my card.  She said that when a real estate agent is not involved and there are problems with the home, the parties ask her for recommendations. 

Tomorrow is the Women's Council of Realtors luncheon.  I will do the same as today but on a much bigger scale with more Realtors.

I researched home shows that are scheduled in the area. 
I found 2.  One in January the other in February.
The one in January is $1075. 
I am waiting on the cost for February. 

With this information, will it be worth it?
Let's break it down.  The cost is the booth rental, any giveaways, the time to man the booth, and the booth graphics.
I like to giveaway a $50 gift card to Olive Garden, Red Lobster, or another mid-range, popular restaurant.  The entry forms are minimal in cost. 
I have a booth backdrop from prior tradeshows, but no graphics for this event.  Graphics should run less than $100.  I will show a nasty dryer vent that I harvest from a re-route job.  I am always on the lookout for things that will draw attention.

Bottom line is that I will need at least 12 jobs from the trade show to justify the hard costs.  Soft costs are the business that is lost from not being in the field for the 3 days (one is Sunday) that the show runs.  Most jobs can be scheduled around the 2 work days of the trade show.  The most that will be lost should be 2.
That brings the breakeven point to 14 jobs. 
The way I work my giveaways is guaranteed to generate over 80 leads that, if followed up properly, will net 20 jobs. 
So, the gamble looks like it will pay off, but I need to generate the entry fee of $1075 to get it started.


October 3, 2007

I visited a Maytag repair shop, talked with the owner and left some of my cards.  I got a call this afternoon from their referral and booked a job for tomorrow.  I will try to get to another Maytag shop tomorrow on the way back from my job.

I got an email from an old friend and he asked me to check out the dryer vent in a house that he just closed on.  It looks like Saturday is the day for that.  I will go out to his house and see what his set up is to see if there are any problems with it.

I went to the Women's Council of Realtors luncheon ($25) and talked with several agents handing my card out and telling what I do.
There were over 100 agents there, but I did not get a chance to meet with as many as I wanted.  There is a luncheon next month and I plan to be there. 
One of the mortgage reps has turned into a cheerleader for me and introduced me to several of the more influential agents.  It is great to have cheerleaders. 
One of the attendees is a sales rep for a large independent living complex.  She said she would pass my card onto their maintenance director.  I will follow up tomorrow.
Joining the Council is $131 for  the year and setting up a table at the luncheon is $75.  Members get to stand up and explain what they do, so it is a likely marketing expenditure when I can afford it.  A table is likely if I feel I can reach more people that way.

I called several real estate offices to ask to speak at their sales meeting.  One office booked me for Oct. 25 and another in November.  Others I left messages for the sales directors.

The other home show rep called me and said that their show in February is $1550 for a booth.  A bit pricy.  I will be contacting some people I know that might be exhibiting and ask to share a booth.


October 4, 2007

First job!
I cleaned the first dryer vent of this case study today.  It was a standard pipe that went straight through the 1 story roof. 
Easy to clean.  $95.
The roof was wet because of dew, so I had to wait 45 minutes for it to dry before I started.
If I had been able to get on the roof right away, I would have been finished in less than 30 minutes, including the installation of a new transition duct. Their old one was vinyl and they let me put a new one on.  That was $12 extra for the job.

While I was up on the roof, I looked in the gutters to see if they needed cleaning.  They didn't and I told the homeowner so he would know.

I was in a hurry when I left the customer's home and did not take the time to look closely at the payment check.  The words did not match the numbers of the check amount.  I had to go back to get a replacement check.  It was an honest mistake of the homeowner.  He looked at the date and wrote those figures in words on the check.  Every time after this, I will try to remember to look at the check before I leave. 
Banks will use the written words as superior to the numbers of the amount on a check if there is a discrepency.

The job was schedule for 8:00 and even though I tell people that I may be 15 minutes earlier or later than our scheduled time, I still called at 8:00 to say that I was 5 minutes away.  Homeowners appreciate that .

I entered 2:10 for the field time in the column to your right.  That's 2 hours and 10 minutes from the time I left my home to the time I got to my next stop - which was a marketing call.  If I had not stopped for the marketing call and instead went straight home, I would have counted the whole time I was away from my house. 

I booked another job for Saturday.  The job came from my ad in the MuchAdo News.

I went to a networking luncheon called "The Lunch Bunch" which meets the first Thursday of the month.  There is no fee to join or attend meetings, just the cost of lunch.  There were 11 people there - all small business owners. 

Towards the end of lunch, as we were getting ready to leave, I took a call and it was the local NBC television affiliate asking if I was available on October 11 for their morning interview show.  They got my press release from last week and thought that my topic was worthwhile to discuss on their show.
I will be live on the air for the local audience.  I will bring some metal transition duct, some 4" pipe, and some nasty vinyl duct that I had removed from today's job.  I will replace that with something nastier if I come across it in the next week.
I suggested that I clean a dryer vent for a staffer on a day before the 11th.  I never want to schedule a cleaning to be broadcast live on the air in case the vent I am at cannot be cleaned, or is not spectacular.  I suggested the earlier cleaning, so that if it is not good footage, we can skip the demonstration completely.    
I offered digital pictures, but they need tape.

This earlier footage is called B-roll.   I will work on getting some made to be available for the members of Dryer Vent Cleaners of America, so that if you are called on to do a TV interview, you can supply your own B-roll - compliments of the association.

I also heard back from some of the real estate offices and scheduled myself in to 2 of their sales meetings.  These are in some big real estate offices.  50-80 agents attend these meetings.  I started on the larger office first to reach the largest number of agents soonest. The meetings are in the morning, so I can wear my clean uniform shirt to the sales meeting, then wear the same shirt to my jobs afterwards.

I will bring breakfast to the meetings.  You tend to be invited back if you bring breakfast.  Danish are fine.  We eat breakfast tacos here, so I will bring enough for everyone.  They cost 95 cents each.   I might mix it up with half danish with half tacos.

I spoke with the home show rep for the more expensive show and it looks like they may have close to double the attendance.  I will do some independent research to confirm her numbers.


October 5, 2007

Today there were 2 networking events.
Breakfast was with a group called First Friday Network.  There are 100 people who attend and the group was started to support the health care industry. 
I sat at a table with 2 nursing provider employees and the CEO of a large (700 employee) home health care firm.  
I asked the CEO if she has an employee newsletter and she said yes.  I asked if I could email to her an article to help her employees identify our hidden fire hazard.  She said yes, so I will email it to her. 
I approached other reps there from home health care firms for the same thing and got good response. 
The value to this group is the number of homeowners present and the clients they serve. There is a $25 annual fee and breakfast is provided at each of the 10 annual meetings.  The fee is $5 for a one time meeting.  I will pay $5 for each of the remaining 3 meetings of this year, then $25 for the year in 2008.

The other meeting is called Friday Networking Lunch (FNL).  It meets every Friday for lunch and there are no fees, just the cost of lunch - $8.00.  There are 50-80 people there each week with alot of new faces each week.

When I attend a networking meeting, I am ready with my "elevator speech" which is a 30 second verbal commercial to explain what I do.  I have variations of 15-60 seconds depending on how much time I am given.  Here is what I say:
"Do your clothes take longer than 30 minutes to dry? If they do, your dryer vent needs to be cleaned, and that's what I do.  I am Alisa LeSueur, a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician.  That's right, I'm the Dryer Vent Lady!"
"I'm Alisa LeSueur, the Dryer Vent Lady, cleaning dryer vents for homeowners whose clothes take longer than 30 minutes to dry.  I am a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician and my details are at"

I wear my uniform shirt which has my company's web address on it.   People ask about it.  It also helps them know where to find more information.

Most networking meetings will have a table set up for attendees to place giveaways.  I always have business cards and 1/2 page flyers that I set out.  Don't forget to pick them up when you leave.  They usually get thrown away if left behind. 
I have found that buying a business card or leaflet stand helps draw attention to your literature.  They cost $2-3 at OfficeMax and also keeps others from putting their flyers on yours.

The more familiar you get with the group members, the more you can play with your introduction, but always remember that if there are new attendees that do not know what you do, you have to be sure to include - seriously - what you do.
I had been to each of these groups in the past. so many attendees were familiar with me. 
In order to highlight my television appearance next week, I changed my introduction to add "I need everyone to skip school next Thursday morning to stay home and watch me on Channel 4 at 10:00 where I will be interviewed for fire safety and your clothes dryer vent on the SA Living show." 
This was a fun way to highlight my media exposure which shines the light of credibility on my business.

When I park in a big parking lot, I put 3 or 4 of my business cards in the lip of my car signs on each side of my car so that they are sticking out at an angle.
The multiple cards tell passers-by that they are there to be taken.
If someone sees my car sign and wants a way to remember my contact information, this is a cheap and easy way.

Be sure to remember to remove the cards when you come back to the car. Count the cards so you can monitor the effectiveness of this action, plus, if they are still in good shape, you can re-use them
Don't leave the cards on when there is rain likely.
You will just be wasting cards.


October 6, 2007

Today I cleaned out two dryer vents.
The first one was owned by a friend of mine. 
for video of this job, refer to the folder labeled "Troost" in the training videos folder of your Welcome package.

It was a vacant 2 story home with no clothes dryer.
I used my portable blower to blow the lint out.
It looked like it might be a straight shot through the one story roof with no elbows. 
When I got on the roof, I could not feel the air flow from my portable blower.  I knew that there was either a hefty clog or a damaged vent pipe. 

I lowered my rods down and felt resistance at around 8 feet.  I worked the rod gently and it gave way and lowered further. 
When I added the next rod, the system got caught at the same spot, so I used my drill to work the rods down when my manual attempts failed. 
I still was not feeling any airflow, so I knew that there was a damaged or disconnected pipe. 

I stopped my roof work, turned to blower off, and went into the attic to investigate.

The pipe through the roof jack was standing on the attic floor a foot away from the pipe that came up through the attic floor from the ground floor. 
I lifted the upper pipe and fitted it onto the lower pipe then used aluminum tape to secure the joint. 
I could see evidence of duct tape on the pipe and then saw the duct tape on the attic floor a couple of feet away. 
It had been removed from the pipe joint and laid to the side. 
I suspect that the someone tried to clean out the dryer vent and gave up without reattaching the pipe ends.

I turned the blower back on and went to the roof where I could feel the blower's air flow.  I quickly cleaned the vent and removed a great deal of lint.

The charges:
$95 for the cleanout
$18 for use of the portable blower
$25 attic work - minimum charge
$10 joint tape
$148 total

The second job was at a group home for girls and they had the complaint of drying times being too long. 
The administration secretary saw my ad in the Much Ado News and called me.

The home was one story with the clothes washer and dryer in the garage.  
The clothes dryer vent was a long transition duct that was routed behind the washer and through a hot water heater closet and out the back of the garage just off the ground. 

There was so much lint around the dryer that it was clear there was a problem. 

When I looked in the dryer I saw that the lint screen was not seated properly.  It was sitting over an inch higher than the edge of the dryer. 
When I took the screen out and looked down into the opening, I could see massive amounts of lint. 
I removed the lint screen guard - 2 phillips head screws. 
This allowed room for my hand to reach in and get the lint out. 
I took out several hands-full of lint. 
After I got the lint out, I reattached the lint screen guard and the lint screen fit perfectly. 

While the lint screen was out, I could see the film that dryer sheets leave behind. 
The film starts out invisible, but this build up was visible. 
I taught the staff member how to clean the screen once each month. 
Simply take the screen and let it soak in a baking pan filled with soapy water.  I recommended a degreasing soap like Dawn.  Swish the screen in the water every hour or so and gently scrub it with a soft brush after a couple of hours of soaking. 
After several more hours, rinse the screen thoroughly and let it dry thoroughly before placing back into the clothes dryer. 
If the screen is placed back before it is completely dry, the lint that the wet screen attracts will plug the screen.

Then I moved the dryer away from the wall (unplugged) and cleaned up behind it. 
I took the air vent off the back and reached in to grab several hands full of lint. 
I want to get as much lint out at possible.  Lint can turn into fuel if there is a fire.

After I cleaned out as much lint as possible, I turned on the clothes dryer and went to the termination point. 
The opening was a 3 louvered vent cover that had a lint build up that kept the louvers from functioning properly. 
I hand cleaned the louvers and the part of the pipe that I could reach. 
I have small hands, so they fit between the louvers easily.

The hot water heater used natural gas as fuel, so the dryer vent was supposed to be rigid metal, but was not. 
I offered to fix this for $90.  I might have done it on the spot without authorization and chanced not being paid for a non-approved repair, but I do not carry 5 foot pipe with me because it gets crushed too easily and I do not use it often enough to justify carrying it.

Also, since the NG hot water heater was installed in the garage, it was supposed to be mounted on a stand that is at least 18" high.  It was installed directly on the floor.  I let the staff member on duty know and I wrote it in my report to the administrators.

My charge : $75.


October 7, 2007
Sunday - took the day off for personal time.


October 8, 2007
Columbus Day

I have booked 2 jobs today by 5:00 as I write this.
One is from a networking meeting - the customer did not remember which one.  I will try to narrow it down when I am at his home.
The other is from my ad in Much Ado News.

I spent 2 hours doing marketing calls to real estate offices, hitting and missing because of Columbus Day. 
It is raining today, so I did not hit the streets either.

I spent 2 hours printing and stapling half-page flyers for the real estate sales meetings that I will be speaking at in the next month or 2.  I will print and staple more as needed.
I tweaked the articles that I will be submitting to the home health care agencies.  Those will go out tomorrow. 

The articles will be included in your Welcome Kit when you join the association.  You will still need to personalize them for your audience and their area of work.

I spent a hour setting up QuickBooks so that my bookkeeping will be easy for entering income and expenses. 
It will make tax-time a breeze. 
QuickBooks has a section for small business and I like to use it for my business bookkeeping. 

I already had a copy, but the software ranges from $79 to $3,000 depending on your organizational needs.  Most small business should be able to use a version under $300.  Click here for their website.  OR if you prefer: Save up to 36% Off Quicken 2008 Products + Free Shipping


October 9, 2007

I started the day at the Stone Oak Breakfast Club, a networking meeting for people who work in an area called Stone Oak.
There were 35 people there and the cost was $10.

I met an insurance agent there and I asked if I could submit an article to him on clothes dryer vent safety.  He said yes, and I emailed it this afternoon. 

I also met a rep from a local credit union and asked for the newsletter contact info.  He gave it to me and I asked him to tell her what I was trying to do.  He said he would, and I emailed her this afternoon.

My first job was at a 2 story home where the vent came through the 1st story roof.  When I pulled the lint screen, it had to really pull to get it out because it was packed full of lint. 

The homeowner was watching and now he knows to clean it out after every load.

The pipe was 3" instead of 4".  I let the homeowner know that the pipe should be 4" and the cost to replace it would be around $2,000.  He didn't like that prospect, so I just noted it on the receipt for future reference. 
If he tries to sell the house and the inspector catches that, at least he will know the ballpark figure to fix it.

The elbow joints were taped and strapped with duct tape. 
I explained to the homeowner that the duct tape was failing, and it should not have been used in the first place because the tape has a cloth element, which is flammable, which is a no-no. 
I suggested that I re-tape and re-strap the vent pipe for $35 more.  He agreed to it. 
Once I removed the duct tape, I saw that the elbows were facing the wrong way.  The male end is supposed to face away from the appliance.  I crimped the ends that needed help fitting into the other. 
I used plumber's strap to secure the top end of the slope. 
I re-taped the joints using aluminum tape. 
$95 for the clean out.  $35 for repairs.

On my way down from the ladder I noticed that the L-flashing over the doorway had a build up of leaves. 
I asked to borrow a long-handled broom to sweep it off. 
I explained that the leaves there can cause the rain to back up under the roof and that would be bad. 
It took me less than 1 minute to do and I think that pointing it out to the homeowner and not trying to charge him more will help me in the long run. 
You never know who he might refer plus it is a nice thing to do. 
If he had gutters to be cleaned out, I would have bid on that job and included the L-flashing in it, but there were no gutters to bid on.

My next job was a simple one-story, through the roof cleanout.  $95. 
The homeowner complained of no heat from the appliance for the last 2 days. 
The earlier appliance repair tech suggested that she have her vent cleaned, but she let 6 months go by without cleaning it. 

Many of the newer dryers have a safety cut-off of the heating element when it gets too hot, which happens with a clogged vent.   Others do not cut off and instead, burn out. 
Since her dryer did not heat up after I cleaned the vent, she probably needs a new heating element now as well. 
She called the appliance repair firm.

She watched me work from the ground.  She and her husband brought out lawn chairs to get a comfortable look. 
That's fine by me.  Nothing to hide. 
Her neighbors came over and she told them what was going on.  They clean out their own vent...

My brush kept getting resistance as though there were elbows and after my clean out, I was not satisfied with the air flow.
I checked in the attic and the pipe appeared to be a straight shot.  I saw a dent in the pipe, which would not have caught my brush. 
I could not see below the attic line. 

I mentioned my concerns to her and wrote it on the receipt with an estimate of $1800 to fix.  That would pay for me to open the wall and replace the main pipe.
I think that her vent pipe is damaged in the wall, but I do not have the $3000 camera system to verify that.

Her gutters did not need to be cleaned out and I mentioned that to her.  Since I am up there and can see them, I let her know. 
Also, I told her how to determine if they need to be cleaned out.  When it has been raining for a while, look at the downspout to make sure that a good volume of water is coming out. 
When the volume suggests a clog...Call me to clean them out!

She suggested to me that she might need a new transition duct since hers was 2 years old. 
I explained that they should not need to be replaced unless they are damaged. 
When I saw the duct, I also saw duct tape and asked her about it.  She  said she put the duct tape on when she broke the duct. 

Closer examination showed a bent clamp.  I replaced the clamp for an additional $1.
I could have charged her the normal $12 for a transition duct, but I don't want to make money from unnecessary repairs. 
There is plenty of money to be made on the up and up.
I did explain the differential and I think that she will be an even louder cheerleader for me because of my honesty.

This home was in a gated community so I asked about the homeowners association. 
I explained that I speak at homeowners association meetings to explain the fire safety issues with a clothes dryer.  She gave me the information and I will followup.
The homeowners association is a large management firm that handles the affairs of many homeowners associations, so I may get to speak at several association meetings.

On the way back to the home office I stopped at the home of a real estate investor who has lots of rental houses.  It was on my way and I thought I would stop in and say hi.  I have known him for 2 years from other sources. Now he knows what I am doing.

At the office I sent my follow-up emails that I promised at the networking meetings, and the questions for the television interview on Thusday.


October 10, 2007

No jobs today, so I headed out to Realtor meeting. 
It is called the Independent Real Estate Brokers (IREB) and it is for the small (1-5 agent) offices. 
There were 30 agents there.  It was held at noon, but it was not a lunch affair.  There was no charge to attend.

I had never heard of this group until I investigated all Realtor groups through the local Board of Realtors. 
Last week, I called the contact listed on the website and he invited me to the meeting today. 

The president introduced himself and asked what I was selling.  I told him and he said that everyone would be introducing themselves after the meeting started. 
The only other non-real estate person there was the publisher of Much Ado News - Rob Salter. 

We sat in the back and waited for the introductions. 
When I stood up and gave my elevator speech, the president jumped in to say that my work was really important and that I should talk more! 
I mentioned that dryer vent issues are appearing on more inspection reports now and that I am the one to call for the repairs.  
Rob and I each got to hand out our flyers and cards.

After the meeting, an agent mentioned that her dryer vent had been clogged for years and she takes her wet laundry to the laundromat to dry.  She is heading out of town so we will make an appointment next week.

After the meeting, Rob and I approached the meeting program coordinator about a time to talk to the group - in exchange for providing lunch... 
She only had November 14 open this year and since Rob and I both wanted to address the group as soon as possible, I suggested that we share the same day and split the time - and the cost of the lunch! 
That is exactly what we will do. 
We both need 10-20 minutes based on questions and we have been given 30-40 minutes total to divide. 

She also mentioned that if we promise to bring food, she will get that work out to the membership and we will probably have 100 attendees that meeting! 
Sure, some will come just for the free food, but I will get a chance to display my expertise so they will know who to call when the dryer vent is mentioned in an inspection report.

When I got home, I decided to invest in a system called "Send Out Cards" which will let me order and send real thank-you-for-your-business cards through the US Mail, from my computer. 

The biggest reason for using the system is because I can enter a customer's name and address once and my thank you card will be sent the next day.  And I will set up automatic reminder post cards for every 3 or 6 months - depending on the customer. 

I spent some time setting up the system and my card selection.
I will share those with you after you sign up. 
It's easy for me to send the whole campaign to you and you can change and personalize what you want.
Contact me if you want to know more. 
alisa (at)
I will set up a 'guest account' so you can send a card or two to test the system. 
Or, if you just want to peruse the system Click Here
If you want to sign up with out waiting for me, you will be required to enter a code.  That code is 31126.

I sent out some cards to my recent jobs thanking them for their business.  I set them up to receive reminder post cards in 6 months. 
For the jobs that won't need me again, I mention that in the card and ask that they keep me in mind when a friend or neighbor mentions a clothes drying issue.

The lowest level to join costs $99 which included sign up licensing and the ability to send 25 cards or 50 postcards.  Postage is extra. 
If you sign up for $24.50/month automated re-charging of your account, you never have to worry about running out of postage or card sending ability.   The "points" stay in your account until you use them, like at Christmas or when you run a special. 

I signed up for a higher level so I could help others start their own account, so I actually paid $398, but for this case study I will only include $99 in the expenses, because that is all I needed to spend.

I also confirmed my Saturday appointment.
My appointments are usually within a few days of the call, but this one needed to wait for a paycheck. 
I called to confirm today because tomorrow is my TV interview and I do not know what the response rate will be, but I want to be able to work Saturday morning one way or the other.


October 11, 2007

Today was my interview on a local television program on the NBC affiliate WOAI.  The show is called San Antonio Living and it airs daily from 10:00-11:00 in the morning.

Here is the link to their website with the video. The segment starts out with a 15 second commercial...
They will take it down at some time, so if the link does not take you to a video with my segment on it, please let me know and I will remove this link. 

The video is also included in your Welcome Package once you join the association.

The video segment went quickly - as they all do - but I got some good information in before it was over. 

Notice that it was not a big commercial for me.  That is the quickest way to get on a blacklist and never be allowed back. 
I emailed the graphics and sample questions beforehand so they would have a good direction for the segment. 
The graphics that I emailed were spelled correctly even though the TV guys got several words wrong...(I checked my email to be sure.)

Before I left I asked the interviewer if I could take our picture together on the set to put on my website and she said yes - and here it is

The date stamp on the photo is wrong...

I also uploaded the photo to my Send Out Cards account and sent her a card with this photo as the front of the card. 
I placed a thought bubble over her head that said
"This lady smells lint-y"

I'm sure she got a laugh from it.

Inside was this message:
"Thank you for making me look good today.  I got 7 calls and emails from your viewers asking for more information and I am sure we helped many others.  Please call on me if you need a last minute guest." 
I ended it with my contact information.
She should get the card tomorrow or Friday.  I bet she keeps it.

As I left the station, I gave a business card with the date of my segment to the switchboard operator in case viewers called in for my contact information.  She said that they always do...

I did not schedule a morning appointment, even though I could have squeezed one in at 7:30.  I did not want to risk being dirty or late for the interview.   I left in plenty of time to get to the studio early. 
I aim for 30-60 minutes early just to be sure.  The farther away it is, the more lead time I give.  Also, the more important the interview, the more time I give.

I changed the greeting on my voicemail just before I went in to say "I'm still in the television studio and will get to your call as quickly as possible."  That way, callers are encouraged to leave a message - and one did. 
I booked a job within 5 minutes of leaving the studio.  I got 5 other calls and one email as well.  I will probably get another job or 2 from this interview.  Watch the leaderboard on the right hand side for the tallies.

I asked each of the callers to let the TV station know that my segment was helpful.  I gave them the station phone number and asked them to call.  THis is how I worded it:
"Since the TV segment helped you, would you mind calling the San Antonio Living Show producers and tell them that you learned alot from the interview?  It will help them know that my segment was valuable and they know it is important to ask me back."

They all said they would.  We'll see. 

I used this strategy at an interview several years ago in Las Vegas, and the producer called me to see when I would be in Las Vegas next so I could be on the show.  She said "The phones rang off the hook when you were here, so we definitely hit an important topic.  We never get feedback like that from a guest."

I have been back and interviewed 4 times and will do so again whenever I'm in Vegas.  
I will also only approach that station.  Loyalty has its rewards. 

Back at the computer, after I sent the interviewer's card out, I spent some more time on the Send Out Cards site looking for more cards to save for later.

This evening I got a call from someone who Googled for a San Antonio dryer vent cleaner and called me.  He is on my schedule book for Saturday morning.  
He said that he had an appointment with another company who never showed up.  I did not recognize the name. 
Lesson: Always show up or at least call, before you were supposed to be there, to reschedule if you cannot make it on time. 


October 12, 2007

I started the day with some follow up phone calls to real estate offices then went to the Friday Networking Lunch (FNL).

At FNL, I met with some title company agents, mortgage brokers, and real estate agents.  Planting seeds for a future harvest.

I also talked with the local newspaper ad salesman because he announced that they are starting an area-specific publication for some zip codes that are ripe for dryer vent cleaning. 
The cost of the smallest sized ad is $325. 
I will try it once to see what the result is.  The deadline is next week and I have the money from jobs.

The afternoon was the job that booked right after the TV interview yesterday.  The job was a condo on the first floor with a unit above it. 
The dryer vent terminated above a bedroom and over the patio door.  I could feel from the inside that the pipe was 3" diameter.  The outside was 4" for a foot in, then reduced to 3".  $135.

I cleaned out a lot of lint then told the cleaning lady about the 3" pipe issue.  I also wrote it on the receipt.  I estimated that the job to re-route would be $3000 since there was so much sheetrock work in the ceiling of the bedroom.  I would also need to replace the pipe in the wall behind the dryer with the sheetrock being detroyed there, too.

My sheetrock skills are not marketable, so I have a great sheetrock guy that I call on. 
His part of the job would be $2000-2300.

In the evening, I got a call from the 8:00 job tomorrow to reschedule.  I moved the 10:00 to 8:00.

I also got an email forwarded to me from my Mom about a fire prevention event in a small city just north of me.  The event is tomorrow from 11:00-2:00.  I should be able to make it.


October 13, 2007

Started the day at the first job. 
Video of this job is in the Welcome Package - Training Videos folder - BrokenOak folder.  The memory card got filled, but most of the job is there.
It was a 2 -story townhouse with the vent terminating through the roof.  To get to the upper roof, I had to get onto the flat garage roof, pull up my ladder and use it to get to the flat upper roof. 

When I had to go down to get something, the same routine happened, but in reverse.

This was an unusual dryer vent.  It was oblong and measured 2" x 7".  It was big enough to carry to lint out, but not so big that the lint velocity was compromised. 
The problem is that my standard 4" brush would have been torn up on this one, so I used an older brush that had all but worn the bristles away.  This is the brush I use for 3" round vents, too.

The termination was not a cap, it was the vent pipe elbowed downward - like a candy cane.  It was not screwed on, just friction fit.  There was a beer can stuffed in the opening.
Once I took the top off, a bird-nest-like clump fell out.
I lowered just the rods for the entire length of the vent and found only 1-  45 degree elbow.  The vent was 22' long.

After getting the lint out by using only the rods, I noticed that I had lost all air flow.
I went inside to find that the transition duct had come off.  Whew!  It was not a problem with a compacted clog or a dislodged vent pipe.

My rod end was at the collection cup at the end of the vent inside, so I attached my brush there, reattached the transition duct and went to the roof to spin the rods, with brush, out of the vent.  Since the vent pipe is oblong, I had to run the brush and rods more than with a round pipe to make sure that I got maximum lint removal.  $145.

This was the customer that found me through a Google search.
He had called another service that never showed up/  He chose me because the map showed I was closest. 
He also said that he was going to call all of the other companies, but since I answered, he went with me. 

It pays to answer your phone after typical business hours.  Of course there are limits.  10:00 pm is my limit, unless I am asleep before then.
Potential customers will leave a message, but they will also call the next company on the list until someone answers.

Since this was a townhouse complex, I asked about the homeowners association and the homeowner said he would pass on my information. 
I offered that if he could get 2 or more of his neighbors to schedule me back-to-back, I could offer them a $10 discount and cut the same discount back to him.

After that job, I headed towards Schertz, TX, a little city just northeast of San Antonio.  I heard that there was a fire prevention event going on and I wanted to check it out. 

It was sponsored by a home builder and was held in their new model home area. 
There was a fire truck and ambulance there, along with a trailer-mounted 'fire house' that the fire department uses to demonstrate what to do in a fire.  It fills up with smoke and everything.

I approached the fire fighters looking for a supervisor. 
I offered to speak or display at any future fire prevention event that they were at.  I also offered to speak at any community outreach programs that they sponsored.

I will find a Thank you card on Send-Out-Cards with a firefighter graphic to send to the supervisor reminding him that I am available for talks.

The Citizen Patrol was also there and we talked about what I do and one of them suggested that I contact the local Chamber of Commerce to speak at one of their meetings. 

This reminded me that I need to contact all of the little communites outside of San Antonio and offer my speaking services.

One of the men there said he would pass on my information to another group.


October 14, 2007

I was planning on taking the day off, but inspiration hit and I did some online research for groups to contact for speaking opportunites. 
I also took time to clean my work vehicle and make sure that it was ready for the next job.


October 15 & 16, 2007

No jobs today and I took the mornings for family obligations.
One reason to work for yourself is so that you are available for family needs when they are presented.

The afternoons were spent contacting organizations to speak and working on the Quickbooks accounting software.  Just tweaking settings to my preferences.  
There were also a couple of phone calls asking for details on my work and one job was booked for Oct 17.  The call came from a referral from the Stone Oak Breakfast Club meeting.


October 17, 2007

The day started with a dryer vent cleaning job that was a 2 story home with the vent terminating out the side.  $135.
I got the job from a networking meeting.

The ground was uneven, so I ended up placing the ladder closer to the home than I prefer, but still got the job done.

I was unable to make the rods turn through the final elbow, so I also cleaned the vent from the inside.
The way I knew where the rods were was that I marked the point in the vent where the rods would not go further, removed the rods and I layed them out on the ground in front of the garage door starting at the edge of the home and ending roughly where the clothes dryer was.

The home needed a bird guard and the man of the house thought he was handy enough to install it, otherwise I would have installed one for $35.

After the job, I stopped by some real estate offices and left some flyers in the agent mail boxes.

At home, I found the list of Rotary clubs in San Antonio and surrounding cities,  and emailed to them my speaking proposal. 
I did the same with Elks, Optimist, Lions Clubs, Kiwanis, and Zonta.
The email letter is part of your Welcome Package.

Later in the day, I heard from an Optimist Club contact and scheduled a meeting to speak at.


October 18, 2007

Today was my first real estate sales meeting talk.
It was recorded and you will find it in your Welcome Package.
I will try to record all of these meetings, so you can see how to conduct them yourself.

I brought breakfast.  I wanted to offer a variety, so I brought a Texas standard: breakfast tacos; a fruit plate, and some pumpkin bread ( I could be find doughnuts where I thought they would be).  $40.71 for 30 agents. 

I arrived early and talked with the porperty management department.  These are the people who handle the rental properties and tenant issues.  The man I spoke with was unaware of the problems with dryer vents, so I gave him some phrases to listen for:
1.  My clothes are taking too long to dry.
2.  My clothes dryer worked fine in my last house and now
     it doesn't.
3.  There is a burning smell when I dry my clothes.

I also let him know that I cleaned out gutters, if he ever needed that done.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I talked with the receptionists at the front of the office to let them know what I do.
You never know who will need my services.

I also took the time to place my flyers in the mail boxes for all the agents.  I asked permission first.

As the agents got to the meeting room, I spoke with them and tried to establish a rapport.  I want them to remember me when they need dryer vent services.

At home, I responded to emails from more Optimist Clubs and scheduled meetings. 
I also contacted a home inspector that I found on the Internet and asked if I could speak at their next meeting.  He said yes so I am lined up for that.
The reason you want to speak at inspector meetings is because they are the ones that are called in when a home is sold to look at the home for deficiencies.  They check heaters, A/C, plumbing, window glass, etc.   I want them to know what to look for in the dryer exhaust system. 

I don't mention this to the real estate agents because many will look on this negatively. 
When the inspector finds things wrong, the buyer uses this list to negotiate the final price, or make the seller fix everything before the closing.  The more there is on the list, the greater the chance that the deal will fall through.  If the dryer vent is the straw that breaks the camel's back, I do not want the real estate agent thinking that I was the influence.  Some real estate agents like to shoot the messenger.
I just want them to call me when there is a problem to be fixed.

In the afternoon, I attended the Bulverde Chamber of Commerce Mixer in a nearby community.  These mixers are monthly and if I can get some business from them, I will join the Chamber in 2008. 
I tried to talk to as many people as possible and hand out lots of cards.  I took specific time to talk with the real estate agents.  One said he has an inspector's report with a dryer vent issue right now.  The dryer vents into the attic and the inspector caught it. 
I hope to get the call to look at it soon.


October 19, 2007

No jobs today.

In the morning, when I checked my email, I saw that there were alot of returned emails from my Rotary Club emails.  I will look into it this weekend.

I attended the Friday Networking Luncheon (FNL) today. 
Again, I tried to talk to the real estate agents that were there.
A handyman suggested that I contact a specific apartment complex about dryer vent cleaning.  
July is the best time to contact apartment complexes because they are working on their budgets that have to be submitted by August for October approval.  Not all complexes have this timeline, but July is when I will blitz the apartment complexes.

In the mean time, when I am driving I will look at apartments to see where the dryer vent terminates and stop in when I can.

While I was in the FNL, I place 3 business cards under each car sign on my car.  When I got back, one was missing.  I'll let you know when they call for an appointment.

In the afternoon, I made some calls coordinating the Independent Real Estate Brokers (IREB) meeting.  There are some scheduling and room availability issues that we need to work out.
IREB has 70 members and the president said he would try to keep out the non-members so our food cost would be lower.
It is good to know that the most we should have is 70. 
There will be an RSVP system in place for better numbers.

Rob Salter - the newspaper publisher that is sharing this with me has found a local restaurant/caterer that will charge $6/plate for the special of that day. 
Attendees will bring their own drinks.
The other options were pizza or burgers. 
The plate dinner will class it up a bit.
I would not spend the $6/plate on my own, but since I am sharing the cost my portion will be $3/plate.
If you are doing this and are cost shopping, pizza is a good way to go if your attendees will not be too dressed up. 
You don't want to be blamed for bringing sloppy food that causes dry cleaning bills.
Check with your host first.
Ice some drinks for a complete experience.

One of the Optimist Club presidents that I am scheduled to speak at called to make sure that my talk was not going to be a commercial for my services.  I assured him that it would be very informative and not a commercial.
I said I could hand out literature, which I will.

Most service clubs will have this concern.  Be ready to assure them that you are providing an important message to the community and not just promoting yourself.

I also sent a Thank you card to the real estate office that hosted my talk yesterday.  I put them on the list for real estate office so that I can send other cards throughout the year.  Of course I used Send Out Cards.


October 20, 2007

No jobs today.
I worked in the office searching the Internet for more networking and speaking opportunities.

I concentrated on real estate and general business groups.

One of the Lions Clubs contacted me. This is the text of the email: 
"It is Lions general policy not to have someone speak to us who is in
a business and the purpose of the speech is to solicit customers.
Thanks for your interest."

Hre is my response:
"I understand.
The purpose of my talk is education, not to solicit customers.
I teach the basics of clothes dryer safety and how to service the dryer vent yourself, if you choose.
Sure, some people may hire me, but most will just get the good education and peace of mind that they are doing what they can for their family's well being.
Let me know if you reconsider.
Alisa LeSueur"

I'll let you know if they reconsider.

October 21, 2007

Sunday - took the day off.


October 22, 2007

No jobs today which is a good thing because it is raining and windy. 
I have added a table to the right to indicate non-working days and the reason. 
Today is being counted as half a weather day.
If I had jobs, I could have worked them after the rain stopped, although rain threatened all day.
These are good days to work in the office on marketing or bookkeeping duties.

One of the 'days off' catagories is holidays.  Columbus Day was last week, but this is not a holiday that I take off.  If you do, you should count it on this table. 
Whatever religious or secular holidays that you want to take off should be counted. 
It is your business, so you get to decide. 
You do not have to defend the decision, just count it so you will know how to price your time and services.

One of the reasons for the 'days off' table is for the cash flow class at Convention. 
In order to properly price my service, I need to know how many days I can work in a year and wet or windy weather is one of the reasons to not work.  
Safety first!

Sure, I could have made the process work from the inside of the customer's house or the attic, but given my druthers, I would rather not.   If the customer had a time crunch, I would have attempted it to keep the job, but most customers are accomodating to the weather.

You also have to ask yourself if you want to work for someone with so little regard for your safety.  If nothing else, I would charge what I call the "a>>hole tax" for jerks who have no regard for your well-being or who are just difficult to work with.
I rarely run across this type of customer, but when I do, I either turn the job down, or get paid extra for it.

At the office, I worked half the day on registering my business with local sites such as TV stations.  They have a free search for their visitors looking for local service providers like me.  The basic listing for me is free, so I signed up.
I also registered at Yahoo!Local that was also free.

Keep your eyes open for these resources for the consumer. 
In order to offer a complete search result, the basic listing is often free.  Take advantage!

I also heard from a Rotary Club scheduling me in to speak at one of their meetings.


October 23, 2007

One job today. 
The homeowner saw my TV interview earlier in the month and called this morning and I was able to get to her house this afternoon.
It was a straight shot through the roof (steep, but the vent was near a valley) so the charge was $95.

The cap was sitting a little too low, so I used self-tapping screws to bore new holes that positioned the cap 1/2 inch higher.

The homeowner wanted to watch and she got an eye-full of lint blowing out.  She noticed that the lint that was stuck in the cap looked singed, so she is a big believer in dryer vent cleaning now.

Of course, she will get reminder cards every 6 months from my Send Out Cards campaign.

While I was on the roof I noticed that 2 of the sewer vents were capped, so I told her about them and pointed them out so she could investigate.  She is the first owner of this 7 year old house and did not know why they were capped.

I also fished 3 baseballs out of the gutter for her. 
She did not know they were there, but they could have lead to backed up water in the gutters, so I got them out for her. 
The gutters did not need to be cleaned out other than the balls.

The new phone books were delivered today and my listing made it to the white pages, but not the yellow pages. 
I am really unhappy about the yellow pages omission for 2 reasons:
1. I will lose business because of this, and
2. I wanted to be able to include those jobs in this case study.  Since the phone book only comes out once a year, there is no correcting this now.

Next year (Oct 2008-Sept 2009), I will have statistics for a 12 month period and I will make a note of them in this case study. 
I am sure it will be a significant number. 
Even with the Internet, some people still grab the phone book.

For what it's worth, I verified twice with AT&T that my listing was going to be included in the yellow pages in the dryer vent cleaning section.  Grrrrrrr.


October 24, 2007

This morning started me out at the Latino Breakfast Club which had 50 attendees.  I made the point to meet as many real estate and insurance agents there, offering my article on clothes dryer safety for their newsletters.  I emailed 4 articles this afternoon.

At 11:30 I went to the Residential Property Managers meeting where there were 50 real estate agents whose work involves managing rental homes and apartments.  My services were well received.  There is a cost to become an affiliate and I am waiting for the application to see that cost.  I am sure it is worth it.

My afternoon was spent fighting for Internet connection so I could email my articles.   I also made sure I had enough flyers for tomorrow's real estate sales meeting.

I am running out of business cards, so I ordered 1000 more.  I started with 500 and they went quickly.

October 25, 2007

The morning started with me at a real estate sales meeting.  I was the first speaker.  The talk was recorded and is in your Welcome package as BradfieldOCT25-07. 
Before the meeting, I asked and received permission to place my flyers in the agents' mail boxes.

After the sales meeting, I stopped in at a real estate office that was a block down the road from the first.  I asked to place flyers i the boxes, then asked to speak at one of their sales meetings. 
They will get back to me...

In the afternoon, I went to Independence Hill, a retirement community that wanted a bid on cleaning their dryer vents.
I met one of their sales reps at  the FNL meetings and she passed my name on to the maintenance department.
I always visit these types of jobs, because commercial vents are non-standard. 
This property has 2 main buildings, each with 2 laundry rooms.  One is on the 2nd floor, the other on the third floor.
They also have 'cottages' with individual dryer vents.  I will visit them another for these day since they need to get permission from the resident to go in.

This bid brought up a subject that has not been broached before.  The property requires that all contract workers have liability insurance. 
I called my insurance agent and was quoted $1,066.93 for the year. 
Is it worth it? 
I can't work at apartment complexes without it.
I can charge these clients more to cover the cost, but this would need to be spread out over several jobs or it will kill the bid. 
Can you imagine charging $1200 for a single dryer vent?
On the positive side, I can use the insurance coverage as a plus when selling my services.

My plan now is to bid the job with extra charges to cover some of the premium cost, then get the insurance if they accept the bid.  

October 26, 2007

I went to my weekly networking meeting at FNL and tried again to meet with real estate and insurance agents.  One agent that I emailed my article to said that he would put it in November's newsletter to his clients. 

I got a call for a job and scheduled it the same day.  The homeowner saw me on TV and called because her clothes were taking 2 hours to dry.
The vent terminated through the side wall between the first and second stories.  $135 + 35 for a critter guard.

There was bird nesting material sticking out and I pointed that out to the homeowner suggesting the critter guard and she agreed to the charge.

The cleaning was almost typical and took 2 hours.  I was unable to make the brush go through the elbow above the dryer, so I worked from inside as well. 

There was water in the horizontal pipe that had turned some of the bird nesting material to mud.  These are never fun other than the satisfaction of getting them clean. 
I worked on the horizontal pipe first to get out what I could, then worked inside. 
I wanted the warm air to dry the mud so it was easier to remove.  If I was unhappy with the amount of evaporation, I would have asked to come back in a week or two, knowing that the clothes would dry faster (customer satisfied) and the new air flow would dry the water/mud. 
There have been times when there was so much water that I had to come back.


October 27, 2007

No jobs.
Office work. But not too much...

October 28, 2007

Sunday - took the day off.


October 29, 2007

I started the day at a networking meeting with 45 attendees.
No cost.

I went back to Independence Hill to deliver a bid for 4 clean outs and look at what described to me as needing re-routes. 
Re-routes are necessary when the current dryer vent is unacceptable.

This property has individual apartment units with dryer vents. 
After getting on the roof to see the termination points, I saw that there was vinyl on the other side of the vent cover. 
Sometimes the bathroom vent is vinyl, which is acceptable, so I needed to gain attic access to invesitgate further.

A member of the maintenance staff was with me, so he got permisison from a resident to enter her unit and use her attic access panel.

In the attic, the dryer vent from the lower unit was joined to the vent from the upper unit and they shared the vent to the outside.
The vent was 3" vinyl and was torn in places. 
The vent also did not terminate at the shortest distance.
The maintenance man told me that they were all like this.
They all need to be re-routed.

I asked my drywall contractor to join me on the worksite so that he could give me his bid for sheetrock work. 
We talked about the best way to do the job - one unit right after another - so that the work would be done most efficiently.

We both agreed that it would take a minimum of 3 days, but should not take longer than 5 days.
The problem is that we do not know what we will run into until we break the wall open.
He will get a bid figure to me in a day or so.

The bid for the clean out was $800 with the unlikely possibility that it could jump to $1500. 
You always want to give yourself this cushion because there are so many unknowns.
One thing that I do know is that the joints of these vent pipes are fastened with screws, so I will need to take out the visible screws and fasten the joints with aluminum tape.
This was included in the bid.

Part of the bid was that payment for the minimum was due at the completion of the work.  I know that the typical payment system for apartment complexes is 30-60 days - or more.
I do not want to be a bill collector, so I am asking for immediate payment.

On the re-routes, I will ask for 50% when we start and 50% at completion.  I cannot afford to pay the sheetrock crew without this money in hand.

It is up to you whether you offer free bids or not.
Right now, the bid time is not taking away from money-making jobs, so I don't mind the free bid.

On the tally tables on the right, I will count this bid time as time, since I will not get paid directly for this work.

October 30, 2007

No jobs today, but I did get a call for a future job.
The call came from a lady in the same subdivision as an earlier job.
It turns out that the earlier customer (who saw me on my TV interview) sent an email to her list of neighbors telling of the wonderful job that I did.

The new customer said that I will probably be getting lots of calls for that neighborhood, so I suggested my "good neighbor program" where I give both neighbors a $10 discount if they schedule me back to back in the same subdivision.
She said she would get on her email list and see what she could come up with.

Later today, I scheduled 2 more jobs on the same day in the same neighborhood.
The plan worked!

Why offer a $10 discount?
This turns your customer into your sales person, as well as your cheerleader. 
You save time and gas money because of the proximity.
You get more jobs completed in a day because you do not have to allow for travel time.
Everybody wins!

The rest of the day, I updated my free Internet listings that expired.  I have a list of websites that offer this free service.  You will get that and a sample listing in your Welcome Package.

I also contacted some real estate offices for sales meeing presentations.
One of the chains has a "preferred vender network" that I can join for $249/month which includes my information in their relocation package, a talk at one if their office once each month, the ability to place my flyers in their agents' mail boxes, and a few other benefits.
Is it worth it?
Well, there are 13 offices in the area.
They have quite a few agents - I don't have the count.
The advertising for newcomers to the area is valuable.

I would have to get at least 3 jobs/month to breakeven on the fee.
That is iffy at best.
The other side of the coin is that I am one of 2 CDETs in South Texas, so the choices are few if my service is needed.

If I was in the A/C business, this would make more sense because the service is needed more often and there is a lot of competition in the area.

I don't see the value and cash flow won't let me try it now.

I will target the agents from this chain more heavily at the real estate functions that I attend and maybe I can get into a sales meeting that way. 
If nothing else, I will be part of the informal resource network for these agents.


October 31, 2007

My job today was a one-story, through the roof setup.
The homeowner was watching me while I worked. (I don't mind that, and it turned out to me in my favor this time.)

As I was on the roof lowering my rods, I mentioned that I was concerned that 20 feet of rods were feeding into the vent pipe, and I was not 20 feet off the ground.  I also was not feeling air flowing through the vent.
I went into the attic to check it out.

The pipe had come apart in the attic in an area that was hard to access.
My rods were feeding down into the laundry room because they went straight through the drywall ceiling!
There was a small hole made by my rods.

I explained to the homeowner what happened, and that the rods would have stayed in the pipe if the pipe have been installed correctly.

After examining the situation, I wanted to give the homeowner a price to repair the pipe break, as well as the hole that I needed to make to get to the repair area.  
She said she would do the sheetrock work, so bid $250 on the repair of the pipe. 
She approved and I proceeded with the repair.

My spiral saw barely fit in the opening that I created from the rod-hole that was there. 
I worked for a while until my arms and shoulders gave out.  Ultimately, I needed to come back another day, so we made arrangements for me to come back and finish tomorrow.

I don't like to break up my jobs this way, but this is what needed to happen.  I physically could not continue.

The income will go in next month's column. (darn it)


November 1, 2007

The Lunch Bunch networking group met today.
This is a small but active group that has not dues or fees, just the cost of lunch.

I had a new job in the area of yesterday's repair that needed to be completed.

The new job was a rental home and the real estate agent found me from the flyers that I placed in the real estate office mail boxes.

The job was a straight pipe through a 1-story roof. $95
The dryer was a stackable unit and these are murder to work with.

In a regular clothes dryer situation, I would pull the dryer out from the wall and check the connection and pipe for problems.
With a stackable unit, the pulling out is easy, it's the putting back that is the time-consumer.

I got tons of lint out through the pipe which will help the drying time. 
I told the tenant to time the next couple of loads for drying efficiency.  If there is still a problem, I will come back.

The repair job was next and it took longer than I thought it would, but I stuck to my price as quoted.
When I come back to clean, I will be extra careful since the taping of the joints was at such an angle that I am not completely sure that it will hold through a cleaning. 
If it does not hold, I am repairing it for free...


November 2, 2007

This morning was the First Friday Networking Breakfast with over 100 attendees. 
I looked for home health care company reps, and real estate/insurance agents to offer my newsletter article to.
I will be emailing the article tomorrow.

Lunch meeting of FNL had over 50 attendees and I looked for the same contacts.

My "good neighbor program" jobs were this afternoon.
The first was a straight pipe through a 1-story roof. $95 + $20 for a cuff repair minus the $10 good neighbor discount.

The cuff repair was this:
The cuff is the part of the interior pipe that sticks out through the wall and allows the transition duct to attach.  This cuff was flush with the wall and the transition duct was shoved into it.

I put on work gloves and reached in to pull the cuff out. 
They have ridges on their edges to hold it in place.  I pulled it out to the 3rd ridge and secured it with aluminum tape. 
I also taped the transition duct sleeve to it, since the transition duct had a 'male' end to it.
I could have replaced the transition duct for $12, but there was nothing wrong with this one and I don't want a reputation for nickel-and-diming customers.

The second job was quoted at $135 from the homeowner's description.  When I got there, this was not the case.
The termination was where the homeowner said it would be, but the vent pipe was less than 12 inches, so there was nothing for me to clean out from the outside.
I did clean off the vent hood and flap.
Inside, I took the transition duct off and cleaned it out. 
There was not enough lint to cause an increase in the drying time.

I asked to talk to the person that did the laundry for the household and 4 people "came to class".
Here are the things that I addressed to increase dryer efficiency:
1. Keep the laundry room door open at least a little while the dryer is operating.
2. Don't overload the dryer.
3. Clean the lint screen after every use.
4. Wash the lint screen with soap (Dawn) and water every month.
5. When testing the efficiency of the dryer, time a regular size load on high heat with regular clothes.
Seams in jeans will always take longer, as will big thirsty towels.
The drying time should be 30 minutes or less for these conditions.

I dropped the charges to $85 - $10 good neighbor discount.

The third job was a one story roof which was too steep for me to climb, so I worked from inside hoping that the pipe was straight through the roof.
It wasn't.
I could tell when my rods - with brush - would not go up over 10 feet.
I went to the attic and saw why.
The 10' point was an elbow connected to another 10' pipe with a 90 degree angle.  This was connected to another 7' pipe with a 90 degree angle.
I mentioned to the homeowner that the length was too long.
The pipes were also attached with duct tape.

I disassempled the pipes and cleaned them in the side yard, then reassembled them in the attic using aluminum tape. 

On the invoice, I wrote that the next time, the cleaning would be $120, instead of the $95 that I charged her (minus the $10 good neighbor discount.)

I could have charge her the $120 now, but this neighborhood is close and they talk, so I want my reputation to be that I stay with my quote, or lower it, versus the "she quotes one price and charges you more" rep.


November 3, 2007

No jobs, so I worked (just a little) in the office.
I emailed the articles that I promised to the real estate and home health care agencies from yesterday.

I also ordered a gift card to be included in a "thanks for the referral" card for the lady that started the neighborhood referrals from yesterday's jobs.
I am ordering it through my Send Out Cards account.
She never got the "good neighbor" discount, but I want her to get something that says that I appreciate what she did for me.


November 4, 2007
Sunday - took the day off


November 5, 2007

I had a personal committment in the morning, so I started my work day at noon.

I called some real estate offices for the sales meeting presentation and then headed out to deliver flyers to the offices and the agents.  

While I was in the offices, I asked to be scheduled in as a speaker at a sales meeting.  I was successful at getting put off until next year.

The sales meetings that are left in the year are interrupted by holidays and parties.  Most office managers were receptive, but asked that I call back after the 1st of the year.

In the evening, I spoke at an Optimist Club meeting.  There were 15 people there and they were mildly interested in what I had to say.  I recorded the talk with low light, so look for it in your Welcome Package to see how it is done.


November 6, 2007

My day started at the Hispanic Realtors breakfast meeting.
I met all of the agents that were there on time and many of the support reps - like title and mortgage agents.
The cost was $20.

The speaker was a marketing guru that was asking who in the room had a clear marketing plan.  My hand was one of 2 that were raised.  As he was asking more questions, my hand was the only one raised on the topic of marketing, referrals, follow up systems, etc. 
I got the "Dryer Vent Lady" recognized as a true business entity that the guru was impressed with. 

After the meeting, I distributed flyers to real estate offices.

In the evening, I spoke at the Texas Home Inspectors' meeting.
My topic was refreshing, or teaching fresh, the Code requirements for dryer vents.  This talk was much more technical than my presentations to Service Clubs or Real Estate offices.

It is from these inspections that I will get some repair jobs.  As one of the 2 CDETs in the area, it is easy for people to choose my credentials as a specialist in this area.

The presentation was recorded but the lighting was not very good.
Look for the Inspectors Meeting video in your Welcome Package.

November 7, 2007

I got a call in the morning for a job and scheduled it for this afternoon. 

At 11:00, I went to the Women's Council of Realtor's lunch where there were over 200 realtors in attendance. 
I got permission to lay my flyers out on a giveaway table that people stand in front of as they register.
I introduces myself to as many real estate agents as I could.

At my table were some affiliates as well as a Realtor.
One of the affiliates is an Allstate agent.  I asked if  she sends out a newsletter and she said "no". 
This lady needs some marketing help, so I explained how important it is and suggested that she contact Allstate to see what resources they have.  I bet they have paper and e-newsletters written and ready to go.
I offered her my article and she graciously accepted.

I may have made a friend for life.  She will get alot more business if she follows a marketing plan and she knows who turned her on to it. 
I emailed the article and she responded positively and said we would talk more at the next luncheon if not before then.

I got on the list for a display table next year. 
The cost will be $75 and I will have a drawing to collect names and email address of real estate agents.
This is all a way to introduce my service in a memorable way.

The job in the afternoon was a 2 story through the roof job.  $95.
The homeowner usually called a chimney sweep, but he is overbooked this time of year and cannot get to her soon.

She saw my ad in the local newspaper's insert for her area.
I decided to run this ad because it targets a great area for me, plus I don't have to pay for it for a month, so the income from the ad will pay for the ad.

I took the time to explain some things about dryer efficiency.  I was trying to add value to my visit so that she will be more inclined to refer me.

I also moved some leaves from the roof valley for her.  She is not a ladder person and would never see the leaves building up that can cause water backup.

In the evening I went to the Hispanic Realtors' after-hours mixer at a local night club.  There was no charge. 
I am not comfortable in Club settings, so I did not stay very long. 
I did see several agents that I met over the last couple of days, so they are getting used to the Dryer Vent Lady being around.


November 8, 2007

I started out at a real estate office and spoke at their sales meeting.  It was well received. 
There were 35 agents there and they asked good questions.

After the meeting, I stopped in at several large real estate office for flyer distribution and to try to get scheduled at one of their sales meetings.  This time I was more successful at the scheduling.

In the evening, I spoke at a small Optimist Club meeting.  There were 12 people there and it went well.  It was recorded for you.
One lady said she was going to ask Santa for a dryer vent cleaning.


November 9, 2007

This is Friday, so I went to the Friday Networking Luncheon.
I will go to this every week that I can because there are roughly 50 attendees and each week there are several new faces.

I always look out for the real estate and insurance agents asking about their newsletters for my article and reminding real estate agents that I am the one to call when an inspection report mentions dryer vent issues.

I tried to contact the retirement community that I gave the bid to for cleaning some vents and re-routing others.
The bid for cleaning was $800 and the bid for re-routing 21 vents was $9400.
They have to do something about the re-routes.  The question is with whom.
My contact there is a maintenance director who is rarely near the phone, so I have left 2 voice mails.
I will continue to follow up.

I also distributed flyers to more real estate offices. 

I received a call from a lady who asked alot of questions about how I did my work.
I do not mind questions, but these were about things like "Will you protect my floor" and " Can I call some of your references".

Of course I will protect her floor and I can arrange for references, but I could tell from her tone of voice that she is going to be a demanding and un-forgiving customer.
It was all in her voice as she asked her questions, as though she was setting me up for the fall.

I have dealt with these before and if I can see them coming, I do not take the job for a couple of reasons:
1.  I will never do a good enough job.
2.  Her expectations will be so high that no one can reach them.
3. She will complain about the lint on her roof and in her lawn and demand that I pick every speck up.
4. If I do happen to scratch her floor, she will demand a new one and be trouble for a long time.
5. If there is a problem while cleaning, it will be my fault and I will be responisble for correcting it on my dime.

It sounds like maybe I am a lousy, sloppy, under-performing slob that does not care about my customers, but really, I do a great job, and sometimes the unexpected happens. 
I have thousands of dryer vent cleanings under my belt and have never damaged a customer's property.
She is just trying to protect herself, but she is more worried about the collateral damage potential than me doing a professional job.

If I can identify customers from a distance that will too demanding, or not be understanding, I do not take the job.  

I have learned to trust my instinct on these.  

If I did not trust my instinct and took the job and something happened, I would be kicking myself for a long time.
Trust your gut. 

November 10, 2007

I started the day with 2 jobs booked. 
On my way from one to the other, I received a call for a third booking.

First job was a straight pipe through the 1 story roof.  $95
I met this homeowner at the Women's Council of Realtors Luncheon.  She is a title company rep.
I made the appointment as soon as she said she wanted it done.
Many of you might have given her a card and said "call me", but if you take control and schedule it on the spot, you will get more jobs.

Second job was a referral from a member of ITEX, a barter organization that I joined earlier in the year.  This is a cash job.
Straight pipe through a steep 1 story roof.  $95

Third job saw me on TV last month.
It was a 2 story with the termination through the wall between the first and second stories.  $135.
This was a spectacular job and the homeowner was impressed.
He had tried to clean it himself last year but only got a bird's nest out.

Today is Saturday, so I ordered Thank you cards for today's jobs through Send Out Cards and I am calling it a day - although I will answer the phone if it rings... 


November 11, 2007

Sunday - day off.


November 12, 2007

I started the day with no jobs but got a call early in the day from a fellow CDET and CSIA Certified chimney sweep.
He wanted me to take a job for him because he was too swamped sweeping chimneys.

Why would a CDET give away business?
In this case, the CDET prefers chimney sweeping and this is high season for that.
He got his CDET because he does clean dryer vents for his customers and wants to provide the highest level of service to them, but when given the choice, he would rather sweep a chimney.

My preference swings the other way.
I have referred many chimney sweeping jobs to him because I prefer to clean dryer vents.

This is a great source for referral business. 

Since this customer is a long-time customer for this chimney sweep, I will not follow up with Thank you cards or reminder cards.
The sweep and I talked about this beforehand. 
I will get many more referrals from him with this 'no-follow-up' policy.

There is nothing to keep the customer from callilng me next time, and I will not turn the business down, but I will not pursue it.

The job was a vent that went up and over through the side of the home.  $135.
As it turned out, I had met this customer at a networking event and she remembered me.

The vent was too long and I wrote that on my invoice.  The fix would be in the $3,500 range and most people will not spend that, but it is my job to tell them.

While I was at that job, another referral came in from the same chimney sweep.

This job was at a home that looked like a castle.
The vent went through the one-story roof, but the roof line was tiered and I ended up using a series of ladders to get to it.
I charged more than if the roof was a standard 1 story:  $115.

I hit a milestone today.
My gross receipts for November has surpassed my receipts for the entire month of October!
It will be interesting to see my progress in December.


November 13, 2007

The day started at the Stone Oak Breakfast Club.  $10.
There were 15 people there which is much lower than the regular attendance.
In any case, I spoke with the 3 real estate agents there about referrals and newsletter articles.

I spoke at a real estate sales meeting later in the morning.
They fed me lunch.
I got a call immediately after the talk for a job later in the week.

My first job of the day was from seeing me on TV and it was an interesting setup.
It was a 2 story home with the dryer on the first floor.
The vent went up an over to the side of the house.

The vent to the side of the house was visible in the attic space and was flexible metal.
This is within Code, but was not set up well.
I did not clean it with my standard power tools.  Instead, I removed the flexible duct and took it outside and used a manual brush on it, then reattached it.

I used my standard powered brush on the rigid metal in the wall.
I found insulation in the wall duct and looked for a break in the pipe, but there was none.
Someone had dumped insulation into the pipe - accidently or on purpose - and it had to be removed.

I suggested that the vent be rerouted through the roof - which is shorter ($600)- or replace the flexible duct with rigid ($350).

I also replaced the transition duct so the price was
$135 + 12 = $147

The next job was a referral from a real estate agent for a home that was being sold and the inspector noted the dryer vent needed to be cleaned. 
It was a 1 story through the roof with 2 elbows.

There was no clothes dryer in the home, so I had to hook up my portable blower. 
The job went quickly.
$95 for cleaning + $18 for blower use.

I sent a Thank You card to the sellers at their new address.
I will send a reminder card to the new homeowners explaining that I cleaned their dryer vent before they moved in.
I will address the reminder card to "Resident" since I do not know the name of the new owner.


November 14, 2007

The day started at another networking meeting. 
There was not cost to attend and there were 30 people there.
I looked for the real estate and insurance agents.

At 1:00 I spoke at a real estate meeting of small and indepedent brokers.  This is the one that I shared catering with the newspaper publisher that also wants real estate business. 
Cost was $90 for me.

I scheduled one job at the meeting and everyone there took my card for their resource files.

I then went to a job from the real estate meeting the day before.
This was another doozy of a vent route.
It started at the wall with a 4" elbow and reduced to a 3" pipe through the wall. 
At the top of the pipe in the attic, a 4" flexible duct was attached and routed around the air conditioner through the side of the wall.

The flexible duct was not directed to the side, so it 'sat' on the top of the pipe which did  not allow the air to flow freely.

I showed this to the homeowner who understood the problems.
The pipe in the wall should be 4" diameter. 
The route would be much shorter through the roof ($600).

The flexible duct was made partly of vinyl, so I told the homeowner that it should be replaced if the re-route through the roof was not done.

For the time being, she had me replace the vinyl duct and will try to do the roof vent after the first of the year.

To do the job correctly, I needed an elbow and reducer for the pipe in the attic, so I went a bought these parts.
Sure, it took time out of my day, but it was the right thing to do.

My parts cost was $8.49 and I charged $210 for the work that I did.

After that, I went to the Property Managers meeting to join the organization and try to get business there.
Membership dues are $100 for the year and this pays me up through December 2008.
I just need one job in the year to pay for this.


November 15, 2007

I started the day with a talk to a Rotary Club.
There were 15 people there and I scheduled one job for a week or so later.

I got another referral call from the chimney sweep and was able to get to him quickly.
It was a standard 1 story straight through the roof, except that it was so clogged that even after poking at it with my rod end for a while, I still could not feel air flow.
I checked for a disconnection in the attic but there was none.

I stuck with it an FINALLY got the clog to burst through the top of the pipe. 
The homeowner was impressed with the amount of lint that came out.  $95

I then got a call that was a home inspector referral.
It was a 1 story slate-type roof that was not too steep.  $95
This was a home that was only 11 months old, but the homeowner had heard that the dryer vent was a possible fire hazard, so she wanted me to perform routine maintenance.

There was not a lot of lint in the system, but I was able to educate her on the importance of washing her lint screen and keeping her laundry door open while drying clothes.

I also offered to speak at the homeowners' association meeting.
The homes in this subdivision are on a zero-lot line which prevents them from having a straight-out-the-back dryer vent.
Sure, this will take some business away from me if I help convince the homeowners' association to grant variances, but it also sets me up as honest and looking out for the homeowner.

After that job, I headed out to a Chamber of Commerce mixer in a nearby community.
I was looking for business and real estate agents.
There was no cost for this event.


November 16, 2007

No jobs today.
I went to the Friday networking luncheon trolling for business and real estate agents.  $8

I distributed some flyers in real estate offices and sent thank you cards to the real estate agents who were at the meeting on Wednesday.


November 17, 2007

I had one job on the books this morning.
They found me through an Internet search.
It was a 2 story that vented through the side of the home.
Another company had attempted to clean this dryer vent, but said that it was too wet to work with.
My tools did the job.
Yes it was wet, and yes it was plugged, but using tools specifically designed for cleaning dryer vents really paid off.
$135 + $35 for a critter guard installation.

When I finished and checked my messages, another call request was there.  I headed right over.
This time, they had seen me on the TV last month and decided to call.
It was a 2 story terminating through the side with uneven ground to place my ladder on.  $135
The lint volume was spectacular.

When I finished that job and checked my messages, there was another call for service, so I headed over there next.
They found me in the Much Ado News.
It was a one story roof termination, but the roof was wet from a recent rain, so I cleaned it from the inside + from the attic.
I charged $95 even though I did not work from the roof.
I did not want to put the job off.  They fall off the books too easily if there is time between the call and the service.

There was not much lint, but the homeowner complained of drying time being too long.
After reviewing several options, I determined that she was overloading the dryer.
She will follow my instructions and call if the drying time is not cut down.


November 18, 2007

Sunday - took the day off.


November 19, 2007

I attended a Monday Networking Lunch that had 25 attendees, most of whom already know me.  $8.69

On the way to the Lunch, I got a call for an afternoon job that was just down the street from the lunch.
The customer was referred to me by a local Maytag repair place.

The job started at a typically nasty side cleanout with bird nests and lint, but then my rod came out with pink insulation on it.

The pipe was disconnected in the wall. 
I could tell by my rods used where the break probably was.

At the top of the main pipe.

I confirmed this by running my rods up 8" from the inside and got insulation.

The wall behind the dryer was the garage wall, and the homeowner offered to cut into it.

When he got the wall and ceiling opened, he saw the break and declared that it was never connected.
I silently disagreed.
My opinion didn't matter.

I re-taped the joints as best I could and noticed that the pipe was not supported in the crawl space. 
I made notes to myself for future cleanings that I have to be super careful with those cleanouts.
$135 for the cleanout
$35 for critter guard
$20 for retaping of joints. - The homeowner did the sheetrock cutting and repairing, so I only charged for my tape. 

On the way home from that job I got a call for another job on the other side of town.
I prefer to bunch my jobs so save gas, but I did not have any other jobs today so I went right over.

This homeowner was referred to me by the chimney sweep that has referred other jobs. 
She was not a prior client of his, so I will follow up with thank you and reminder cards.
It was a straight through the roof cleanout.  $95

The vent termination cap was atypical and will clog easily, so I mentioned that to the homeowner and asked that she monitor the cap for build-up.


November 20, 2007

One job today at the home of a real estate agent that I met at a real estate networking meeting.
One story venting straight through the roof.  $95

This roof was steeper than it looked, so next time, I will not attempt it from the roof, but from the inside.

There was a charity lunch that I attended but did not get any solid leads.  $37

November 21, 2007

I got a call in the morning for my only job today.
It was for a dryer vent in a hair salon.
They got my name form the chimney sweep that has been referring business to me.

The salon has a 1 story metal roof that is not too steep, so I worked from there. $95
The building is only 11 months old and they estimate 10 loads of laundry each day.

There was not much lint in the vent, but the transition duct was crushed, which I replaced.  +$12

Commercial dryer vents are great for regular business.
The salon manager and I set up a cleaning for every 4 months.


November 22, 2007

No work.


November 23, 2007

I was willing to work, but did not have jobs.
Weather was gloomy so I did not venture out.
I worked a little in the office on bookkeeping.


November 24, 2007

I was willing to work, but did not have jobs.
Weather was gloomy so I did not venture out.
I am counting this as a bad weather day for when I do statistics at the end of the case study.  It was windy and raining most of the day.
The cold weather has gotten me lazy.
Next week I will work to overcome that feeling.

I called to confirm 2 jobs for Monday that were set over a week ago. They were set so far out at the request of the homeowners because of the Thanksgiving Holiday.
One confirmed, the other cancelled without explanation.

It is always a possibility that homeowners will attempt to clean their own dryer vents ( or find a friend/relative to)  if given the idea and time to do so.  This is probably what happened here.

I always try to clean a dryer vent as soon as possible to lose as few jobs as possible to the do-it-yourself-ers.


November 25, 2007

Sunday.  Took the day off.


November 26, 2007

On the way to my first job, I got a call from a price-shopper who found me on the Internet.
I gave him my price and told him I could be out this afternoon since he lived close to my 11:30 luncheon.

He said he was going to call around and maybe call me back.
I suggested that he ask if the other companies were Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians, since I end up at alot of homes re-doing the job of an un-Certified Tech.

He ended up calling me back during my first job and leaving a message asking if I could still come out this afternoon.

When you encounter a price-shopper, give them a reason to exclude all other prices!

The first job today was from a real estate networking meeting - the one where I shared the lunch expense with the Much Ado News publisher.
It was a 1 story with a steep roof, but the reason I couldn't work from the roof was because the termination cap was low profile and my tools would not fit, so I had to work from the inside of the house and the attic. $95

The pipe in the attic had come apart from the main pipe in the wall and had to be reattached. 
Once reattached properly, the pipes did not fit, so I had to replace one with a shorter length. +$40 (could have been more but I want this real estate agent to refer me to others.)

Inside, the transition duct was crushed and had to be replaced. +$12

It was time for lunch and I was in the area of the Monday Networking Lunchen, so I ate there and trolled for business.

I headed to the price-shopper's house and could not work from the roof - too steep. and my ladder would not make it to the roofline. 
Could not easily get to the pipe in the attic, so I worked from behind the dryer. $150

I could tell that I was not getting to the top of the vent. 
My rods were not making it past the last elbow, but I was getting alot of lint out.
I told the homeowner that I was concerned that I was not able to get to the cap which might be caked with lint, so he needs to watch his drying time for the next 3 loads - regular size, high heat.
If the clothes do not dry in 30 minutes, call me back out and I will bring a helper and a taller ladder to get to the cap.
My receipt shows that if he calls me within 2 weeks, there is no additional charge.  This keeps him from calling me in a year and trying to get me to work for free.

I do not mind paying someone for their help (and ladder) for a morning.  Coming back out is the right thing to do.

On my way to this job I got a call from another realtor wanting a cleaning.  She is selling her house and wants everything working properly.
Another roof too steep to work from, but the attic was easily accessed.  $95.
I worked from the inside behind the dryer, then went to the attic for the final elbow work.
I noticed that the pipes and elbows were facing the wrong way.
(Male end should face away from the appliance.)
I told the homeowner and said that it would cost $100 to fix.
She said OK, so I did the work.

This is the biggest payday to date: $492!


November 27, 2007

Before I left for my only job scheduled, I got a call from a homeowner that had just replaced his clothes dryer and learned that the clogged vent was the culprit.
He was referred to me by the chimney sweep.

I started with first job that was a one story straight through the roof $95.
Referral from the chimney sweep.

The pipe was 3" instead of 4" and had never been cleaned out.
The lint was wet and sticky.
The homeowner was on the roof with me and witnessed the air flow starting at 0 and going strong once I worked the rods in.

At first there was not airflow even though my rods were all the way into the vent and at the end.
I was concerned and went inside to check the transition duct and  air flow off the back of the appliance.  
The transition duct was clear, the air flow off the back of the appliance was good, and my rod end was in the recepticle box.

I went back to the roof knowing that the pipe was still connected and the dryer was blowing adequate volume.

I just kept using my rod and old brush.
Since the pipe was 3" instead of 4" I did not want to use my 4" brush since that would tear up my brush, so I have an old brush that I use on 3" pipes.
Eventually the old brush broke through the clog that was a thin layer of wet lint about 6' down.

The lint that came out after that was lumpy and moist - like a popcorn popper.
I kept at it until lint stopped coming out.
The homeowner got to see the difference and will probably clean the pipe himself next time.

The second job was also a 1 story through the roof but had 2 elbows. $95
The job went quickly and the homeowner got to see the tons of lint that  blew out.
I noticed that the gutters were full of debris, so I offered to clean them out for $100.
He said he would call me...

I ran a personal errand to drop something off for someone and the lady I was visiting asked if I could clean her dryer vent. 
I had time right then, so I did.

The home was 6 years old and the vent was never cleaned.
The vent went up and through the side of the house with 2 elbows.
$135 - $10 discount since I was there anyway.

I got alot of lint out while the homeowner watched.
She said that she had heard about me from her "moms group" in the neighborhood and would pass on the good referral to the members. 
She will also pass on my "good neighbor discount" offer of $10 off if several of the neighbors schedule their jobs right after each other.


November 28, 2007

The day started as I spoke at an Optimist Club meeting.
There were 15 people there and my talk was well received.

At lunch, I attended a new networking group meeting that had 7 people there and one owned a maid service where they sometimes do the laundry for the homeowner.
I suggested that she ask here employees to watch for extended drying times and to recommend me for appropriate jobs.

I also set an appointment with another lady to visit her house.  She thinks that the problem is with her dryer. 
I think it is something else.
I made a bet that if I cannot find (and fix) the problem, she does not owe me anything.

I am willing to make this bet because she told me that her clothes take longer than 30 minutes to dry and her dryer gets hot to the touch while running.

There were no jobs for the rest of the day, so I visited some real estate offices.


November 29, 2007

My first job was a referral from the chimney sweep.
It was a 1-story through the roof job.

My habit of asking homeowners to watch me paid off today.
As the homeowner watched the lint spew, one if his neighbors drove by and he told them what I was doing.
They asked to to clean their dryer vent next.

I offered each of them my $10 "good neighbor" discount and they both started to call other neighbors to get in on the discount.

Nobody else took me up on my offer, but I am sure that I will get multiple jobs from the neighborhood the next time I am out there.

Each job was $95 - $10 good neighbor discount.

The next job was a lady who was worried that her dryer flapper was tapping loudly. 
She found my information in the newspaper insert.

The flapper noise was a complicated house pressure issue but the fix was a simple flag of aluminum tape on her flapper to mute the noise.

I looked at her full vent system - all 8 inches of it - and cleaned her transition duct for her.
I considered this my minimum $65 diagnosis charge.

In the evening, there was a networking meeting of Hispanic Medical Professionals.  $10
I met 4 people that asked for my card for their homes.
I got their cards too so that I could follow up.


November 30, 2007

The day started out at a networking meeting with 50 people attending.

I met with a Farmers Insurance agent and asked if I could send my article to him.  He said yes.  He also said that he had contacts within some appliance rental places and that he could introduce me to them. 
I will follow up next week.

My first appoinment was with a lady that was at the Wednesday meeting.  She bet me that the problem was not her vent, but her old dryer and I took the bet.

I won the bet.

The problem was that her transition duct was crushed.
As I  took it off, I noticed a tear, so I replaced it.
She was doing laundry when I got there and a new load went into the dryer as I started my work.

In 30 minutes the clothes were dry.
$65 diagnosis charge + $12 for a new transition duct.
Satisfaction: priceless.

Next was the Friday Networking Luncheon.  $8
60 people in attendance.
I spoke extensively with a real estate agent and a mortgage broker.  I want to be the person that comes to mind when dryer vent issues are brought up.

Afternoon was a dryer vent that was a referral from the chimney sweep.
1 story through the roof $95 + $12 for a new transition duct.
Lots of lint and a happy homeowner.

This is the last day of the month, so check out the end-of-month figures for this the 2nd month of the case study.
Make note of the comparison between the field time and marketing time from October and November.


December 1, 2007

I had one job today.
He found me through an Internet search.
One story through the roof $95

This vent had 2 unneccessary elbows that were harboring a sticky clog.
It took almost 2 hours to get the vent clear, but I have a customer for life!
Instead of the lint blowing up and out, the wet clog weighted the lint and dropped it down to the recepticle box.
I had to clean that out every 5-10 minutes.
It was slow going.
At one time, I went into the attic to see if the pipe had separated.
That's when I found the elbows.
There were 2-90 degree elbows with less than 6 inched of pipe between them.
On top of that the transition duct kept coming off.
I think that the homeowner's children were responsible.
Oh well.

It's the weekend, so I did not work anymore today.


December 2, 2007

Sunday - took the day off.


December 3, 2007

No jobs booked so I called and visited real estate offices.


December 4, 2007

I took half of the day for personal business and then cleaned 1 dryer vent.

She heard about me from a real estate agent who was at one of my sales meeting talks.
This was a 1 story house with the vent through the roof.
$95 + $12 for a new transition duct.

In the late afternoon, I attended a Christmas party for the Independent real estate professionals.  $19.48 for dinner.


December 5, 2007

I was able to get a table at the Women's Council of Realtors to increase my visibility.  I shared it with Rob at Much Ado News.  $37.50
The Realtors seemed uninterested in talking to me.
On the way out, I practically forced everyone to take my card for their resource book.

I will have to track the results to see what business I get from it.
Right now, I just want all the real estate agents in town to know that there is a specialist in the dryer vent area.

In the evening, there was a Christmas party for Realtors given by a home builder.
I made some great contacts there.


December 6, 2007

Today was a very full day for me.

I had an early cleaning of a 2 story home with the dryer vent terminating between the first and second stories.  $135.
The dryer was not operational, so I had to use my portable blower.  +$18

This was a typical cleanout and the homeowner found me in the Much Ado Newspaper.

Next I spoke at a real estate sales meeting. 
There were 10 agents there and they seemed really interested in learning more about dryer vents.

Lunch was a networking meeting with 4 ther people there.  $8.50
One of hte attendees was an aggressive real estate agent that offered to take a stack of my cards back to his office and try to get me to speak at their sales meeting. 

In the afternoon, I had a 3 house job in the same subdivision for the same person.
They were all one story, through the roof jobs and I had bid $95 + $75 + $75 = $245 for all 3.
The customer had lower bids and asked me to meet the lower prices, but I refused and he hired me anyway.
This was a referral from a handyman company that I met at a networking meeting.
I will pay a $30 referral fee to the handyman for the referral of 3 houses.

The customer went onto the first roof with me.
The first vent was not very dirty, but the transition duct was crushed.  I replaced the transition duct for free.

The second home had a very clogged vent and the cleaning was quite spectacular.

The third home had no airflow through the vent and I could see that the vent pipe had fallen down into the attic.
Fixing this was not part of the origianl bid, so I talked it over with the homeowner.  He said "just do it".

He watched as I put the pipe back into the roof jack and re-taped the joints, strapped the pipe in 2 places and tested the strength by running my brush through the pipe. 
I also replaced the transition duct.

Ultimately, I charged $345 for the 3 jobs and spent less than 3 hours there.

That's a $498 day!

After that, I went to a Christmas party that was close by and tried to make contacts. 
It was a technology industry party and it was free.

December 7, 2007

There were not jobs today, so I took advantage of the Christmas party schedule and networking events.

The first event was the health care networking meeting.
150 in attendance.
I met 2 real estate agents there and an insurance agent who called from across the room "I need you -  Dryer Vent Lady".
Everyone heard which was great.

The second event was a Christmas party for property managers of residential real estate. 60 people in attendance.
I got a chance to give a little commercial for myself and someone in the room mentioned that there was a clothes dryer fire in one of their homes last week.
Another agent had been looking for me and jumped up to get my business card.
The Treasurer announced the my information is on their website and if anyone else needs the Dryer Vent Lady, get the contact information there.

The President of the organization said "Maybe there is something to this dryer vent cleaning after all."

It was a really cool moment.

There was a ReMax real estate office opening in the afternoon and I left some cards there.

There was another Christmas mixer in the evening that had 30 people in attendance.


December 8, 2007

Another full day of jobs.

First job was a 2 story house with the vent terminating between the first and second stories but it terminated under an eave.

As I started cleaning it, the pipe, which was not secured with straps, came apart.
There was attic access which confirmed the "no straps" condition.
The only way to access the pipe is through the ceiling.
My drywall guy and I will be coming back on Tuesday.
The total job should be $650 with the drywall guy getting $325.

The next job was a 1 story home with the vent going through the roof which was steep.  $95 + $12 for transition duct.
This customer saw my ad in the newspaper insert.

The next job was a 2 story home with the vent terminating between the first and second stories.
$135 + $12 transition duct.
This customer saw me on TV.

I then went to a real estate agent's open house to support him.
One of the visitor's lived close by and just wanted to see the refurbished home.
The agent introduced me and the visitor was when I could clean his dryer vent.  I told him I would be right over.

This dryer vent terminated directly through the wall to the exterior, but had not flap or vent cover, so the lint inside was "pasted' to the  inside of the pipe. 
The transition duct was also crushed in 2 places.
I cleaned the pipe - all 12 inches of it, replaced the transition duct and taught the homeowner about washing his lint screen.
He was happy to pay me $75 to have the peace of mind that everything was in good shape.


December 9, 2007

Sunday - took the day off.


December 10, 2007

My job today was a referral from a previous customer.
It was a one story, through a steep roof job $95.


December 11, 2007

I started the day at the repair for the Saturday job.
It was to repair the vent pipe that was broken between the 1st and 2nd stories.
The drywall  guy opened the ceiling where I needed to work.
I re-attached the pipe and strapped it down to make sure that it would not likely come apart later.

The drywall guy patched the ceiling and re-painted it.

While he was doing that, I made a service call close by.
It was a real estate referral.
This house had their dryer on an exterior wall, which is not a location that I work with much.
As it turned out, the transition duct was crushed which restricted the air flow from the dryer.

I straightened the transition duct and cleaned what little vent pipe there was.  $75

I went back to the repair job and the drywall guy was finishing the painting.

When I presented the bill to the wife, she went to the husband for a check and they started talking about whose fault it was that they had a repair bill of $650 for a home that was less that 14 months old.

She started calling her builder, the inspector, and insurance agent while I was waitng to be paid.
Ultimately, she gave me 2 checks: 1 for the cleanout $135 (plus sales tax), and the other for the repair protion $500.

I assumed that she would be getting reimbursement from her insurance policy and the amounts had to be broken out.

I had a bad feeling about this, so I took her 2 checks directly to her bank to cash them.
As it turned out, she stopped payment on the repair check.

Her explanation to me was that I had caused the damage and should have repaired ot myself without charging her.
When I discovered the damage, her husband was there and she wasn't, but he seemed to understand that I did not cause the damage.

A properly installed dryer vent will not be damaged during cleaning with the proper tools, which is what I was using.

She didn't tell me that she thought it was my fault when she gave me the check.

In my State, this is called "theft of services by check" and I will turned over the check to the District Attorney's office.

I will pursue this as far as I can.

She is one of these people who needs to place blame on whomever is available.
You know the kind...

For record keeping purposes, I will count the $135 income, the $325 drywall guy expense, but not the repair income for $500 until I collect on the check.

In the evening, I attended a Christmas networking dinner event.


December 12, 2007

Today I went to a networking luncheon for Mortgage professionals.
I met several people who have newsletters that are sent to their clients and prospects.  $20


December 13, 2007

I started the day speaking at a real estate sales meeting. There were 20 agents attending.

Lunch time was at the local Board of Realtors Installation of officers event.  $35

In the evening, I attended a networking event with 40 people there.
I was seeking out people with mailing lists...  $10


December 14, 2007

The day started with a vent that would be best cleaned from the roof, but there was a light mist and the steep roof was wet. 
The homeowner offered that I could come back tomorrow.

Normally I try to do the job while I am there so that the homeowner does not have a chance to change their mind, but since the homeowner offered, I rescheduled it for tomorrow.

Lunch was at the weekly FNL group. $8


December 15, 2007

The day started with the job from yesterday - One story through the steep roof. $95
The homeowner found me from an Internet search.
There was not a great deal of lint in the pipe, but I found out that they were keeping their laundry room door closed while the clothes dryer was running.

This door being closed is enough to raise drying times.

It is a combination of factors that affect drying times.
Cleaning a clogged vent is the most visual of fixes, but all factors need to ba addressed.

The next job was not scheduled until the first job was completed.
The homeowner heard about me from a real estate agent.

It was a one story through the roof job $95 + $25 for a pipe restrap, tape joints, and extend the pipe through the roof jack a bit more.

The homeowners were so happy with my work that they made me a sandwich for lunch!  Cool.


December 16, 2007

Sunday - took the day off.


December 17, 2007

My job today was unusual.
The one-story home was added on to and the clothes dryer's original exterior wall was now an enclosed room.

The vent was run up the wall with a 3" rigid pipe, then a 4" transition duct was run accross the attic to the side wall.

My tools would tear up this transition duct if I tried to use them on it, so I went into the attic to disassemble the ductwork and clean it outside.

This set-up, while within Code, is not the best venting to use.
The pieces of transition duct were taped together with duct tape, which had failed, and the joints were not smooth.

The resident is not the owner, so she was not willing to pay for it to be repaied correctly, so I reassembled it as smoothly as I could.  The clean out involved a lot of attic work and I charged $200.


December 18, 2007

I started today speaking at a real estate sales meeting with 12 agents attending.

My job was in the area of the sales meeting and was quite spectacular as I cleaned it out.  $135

The homeowner saw my ad in the Much Ado Newspaper and was watching as I was cleaning the vent from the side of the house.
The volume of lint was huge!

The lint behind the dryer was over an inch thick and caked on the floor, walls, and dryer.
With the pipe blocked with old lint, the new lint had nowhere to go. 


December 19, 2007

I started this morning at a networking breakfast, then went to my first job.
No one was home at the first job, so I left my card.
He called me later to apologize.  He was called into work unexpectedly.

My next job was a simple one-story through the roof home that needed a new transition duct. $95 + $12.

They got my name from a Maytag dealer in town.


December 20-25, 2007

I went out of town for the Holidays.
I did not have any job requests for these days but did return phone calls to schedule for after Christmas.

I will count 3 days as personal days, 2 as Holidays.
One day was a Sunday which I take off each week.


December 26, 2007

The first job was for a lady who saw the sign on the side of my car.
She had a 1 story home with the vent through the roof.  $95

The second job was a 2 story home with an Alcoa aluminum roof which was too dusty and steep to attempt, so I cleaned from the inside of the home.  $150
The were referred by the chimney sweep.

The third job was also referred by the chimney sweep.
It was a 1 story home with the vent through the roof. $95
The pipe was a 3" diameter pipe which should be 4" diameter.
I quoted $1600 for the replacement.
I always quote even though no one has taken me up on the offer.
You never know...


December 27, 2007

No jobs today.
I was playing catch up so I did not do office work today.


December 28, 2007

My first job today was a real estate agent's home from one of my sales meeting talks.
It was a one story, through the roof easy job.  $95

FNL was next. $8
I met with the ad salesman for the newspaper insert and we talked about how my ads with him were not generating enough income to justify continuing.
He said he would try my ad for free in a different section of the paper to see if that would pull.

The second job was for the property management department for Coldwell Banker real estate.
They require forms to be filed with them for tax and legal purposes.

The forms are for tax ID numbers and the statement that I am not an employee of Coldwell Banker.
They also require general liability insurance, so I got a $1,000,000 policy for $917.97 for the year. 

I paid for the year even though I could have made payments.
The interest rate on the financing is 30.30% and that is just too high for me.

The job was a 2 story house with the vent coming through the side of the house between the first and second stories.  $135.
The home needed a critter guard for the birds' nests, but I did not have authoization to install and charge for that.

I will clarify my parameters with Coldwell Banker next week.

The third job was called in while I was in the field today.
This was another referral from the chimney sweep and was an easy 1 story, through the roof vent.  $95.


December 29, 2007

My job today was a 2 story home with the vent terminating through the roof.   The homeowner that set this up was the husband who did not remember how he got my information.

He said that he would not be home when I got there, but his wife would be there.

The roof line was only accessible from a tall ladder.

Since I work alone and cannot handle a ladder by myself ( I am 5' 5" tall and my work vehicle is a Honda Civic), I do not own a tall ladder.   I have 2 contractor friends who are available to set up their ladder for me.

Since the clothes dryer was on the second floor, I elected to clean from the inside.

I knew something was wrong when I found sopping wet lint at the base of the vent pipe.

I carefully proceeded and just beyond the 8' point where the standard rectangular pipe transitions into the rest of the venting, my rod was bringing back pink insulation.

I stopped and brought my findings to the homeowner asking her if I could access her attic.

In the attic I found white vinyl, flexible venting material which was brittle and torn in several places.
This needed to be replaced with metal material.
I prefer rigid metal even though flexible metal is allowed by Code.

I quoted $300-450 for the cleaning and repair depending on the problems I ran into.  She approved.

I started the repair by taking down the existing material and measuring for the amount of metal duct I would need.

I was not carrying enough pipe to complete the job so I went to Home Depot for supplies.
Since pipe is easily crushed and damaged, I carry 24" sections in a plastic box.  I do not carry 5' lengths since they are more easily damaged and I do not need them very often.

When I got back to work, I showed the vinyl venting to the homeowner and she commented on how brittle it was.

In the attic, the hole in the roof for the roof jack was not quite big enough for my new pipe, so I used my spiral saw to cut away some of the wood.

I had to use 2 elbows and the 5' section of pipe to complete the job.
The elbows were adjustable and were close to 45 degrees instead of 90 degrees.  The 45 degrees is better. 

The elbow from the top of the ceiling was placed crimped end down since there was no room for the non-crimped end to go around the vertical pipe connector.

Normally, the crimped end faces away from the appliance.

I used my hand crimping tool to create a crimped end on the non-crimped end so that the rest of the pipe would flow properly.

I taped the joints and the pipe was really tight.

My charge for the job was $400.
I took the check straight to their bank since I did not want to replay of the earlier job where one spouse ordered my service and the other approved of the repairs...

The check was good, but the bank charged me $3 since I did not have an account there.


December 31, 2007

Just one job today which was at the home of an insurance agent that I met at a networking event.

This was a 1 story home with the vent going straight through the roof.  $95

The termination cap was welded on, so I had to break the welds to access the pipe.
I carry self-tapping screws that I used to replace the cap.

The vent pipe was 3" instead of 4" and I quoted $2400 to replace.
This quote is higher than most since there are cabinets that would have to be taken down and re-installed during the job.

December income/expense recap and explanation

My goal was for $500 each week which was $2500 for this month.
Using the prior month's excess, I was able to do this with $35.19 left over.

The table shows a loss for the month due to the annual insurance premium that I elected to pay instead of monthly payments, my 'extra' paycheck this month, and I did not show the $500 in income from the check payment issues from th job on December 11.

If I was working strickly on a month to month basis, I would have only paid myself $1000 this month disregarding the earlier month's income.


For "the rest of the story", see your Welcome Package when you join the Dryer Vent Cleaners of America.

Start date: October 1, 2007
End date September 30, 2008

To be able to generate enough income to pay the business bills, a $500/week salary to me, and create a reserve fund for equipment and vehicle replacement; all as quickly as possible.
field time
office time
 Oct 07  29:00  105:30
 Nov 07  65:00  82:00
 Dec 07  44:00  46:30
 Jan 08  45:30  37:30
 Feb 08  49:30  58:30
 Mar 08  52:00  34:30
 Apr 08  13:45  22:45
income marketing expenses
Oct 07  $1236  $222.43
Nov 07  $4053  $643.87
Dec 07  $3151  $176.48
Jan 08  $2302  $185.59
Feb 08  $3235  $630.20
Mar 08  $3327  $528.01
 Apr 08  $1031  $135.00
overhead and non-marketing expenses $500 weekly
salary to me 
Net for month after salary to me
Oct 07  $224.00  $500  $289.57
Nov 07  $308.49  $2000  $1100.64
Dec 07  $1539.97  $2500  -$1065.45
Jan 08  $309.00  $1500  $307.41
Feb 08  $294  $2000  $311
Mar 08  $369  $2000  $429.99
Apr 08  $319  $500
 Source of job # of jobs $ of jobs
Much Ado News  24  $2755
Internet search  13  $1711
San Antonio Living  TV Interview Oct 07  10  $1282
Newspaper insert ad  4  $362
Neighborhood News  4  $5750
Saw my car sign  2  $180
CSIA website  1  $95
Veterinarian mailing  1  $130
networking meetings  11  $1444
real estate referrals  24  $3030
client referrals  12  $1184
Chimney Sweep referrals 29  $3262
Returning customers  2  $193
appliance repair referrals  5  $652
other referrals  7  $1153
Gutter cleanouts  1  $75
 Days off -not counting Sundays
Weather related 5.5
Holidays  4
sick days
personal days - do not count everyday needs, such as half-day to drop-off/pick-up the kids from school, etc.  17


About Us >> 

Dryer Vent Cleaners of America was founded in 2005 by Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician Alisa LeSueur.

The Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician program is a national certification and is awarded by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) as part of their venting professionals' training responsibility. 

Alisa has had her CDET credential since the program was first offered. 
Her national certification badge number is 14.