Lisa Brendefur, a wife and mother who lives in Henning, sold real estate for 15 years. She enjoyed it, but the hours were brutal. So about eight years ago, she went into the carpet cleaning business.IGC.carpet.cleaner.4.

Archived Story

Cleaning Up in Business

Published 3:57pm Monday, August 12, 2013

“It was a fluke,” Brendefur said. “It really was a fluke.”

She knew she needed to make a switch from her real estate job, so she could spend more time with her family. She wanted her weekends back to spend with her husband, Rance, and their two kids, now ages 19 and 16.

“I kind of felt like I missed a lot of family time,” Brendefur said.

As she debated what to do after real estate, she heard about her neighbor who was selling his carpet cleaning business. He called her up one day and asked what she thought about taking it over. He worked with her for about a month so she could get the hang of it, which was helpful, she said.

And now?

“I love it,” Brendefur said. “I absolutely love it. I love being in a different location every day, and I love, love meeting new people.”

Though real estate was an “All in the Family” business, since her dad was a broker, he was also a huge advocate of owning your own business. Her father encouraged both Brendefur and her brother to go out and follow this philosophy.

The woman who went from selling houses to cleaning the carpets in them said she got a “little guff” from family at the time of her job transition, but she enjoys the flexibility and scheduling better.

“I was excited about it, I really was,” Brendefur said. “I’m really anal about cleaning, so this is a really good fit for me.”

She now owns Brendefur Carpet Cleaning, a business she runs out of her home, and serves the Henning, Vining, New York Mills, Deer Creek, Battle Lake and Ottertail areas. She likes to keep it local, and she’s able to keep her prices competitive working from home.

She also does very little advertising, because it isn’t necessary when 75 percent of her jobs are from referrals and repeat customers.

The best thing about her career switch was being able to schedule her work around her kids’ activities. She generally works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so the hours are definitely better.

“We’ve never missed a football game,” Brendefur said. Or volleyball, softball or wrestling. Sports are her kids’ passions.

“It’s a really good feeling to be able to be there, and to be able to have your Saturdays and Sundays off.”

Still, the carpet cleaning business presents some challenges. Like puppies. She also recalled one job where the residents left four dogs at home alone for a few days. Then there’s little carpet emergencies, like wine spills that are hard to remove for homeowners.

“That seems to happen quite often,” Brendefur said.

She’s cleaned RVs, boats, vehicles and even a few fish houses. Some customers give her a ring every time “they spill one little, tiny thing on the carpet,” she said, which she considers a compliment.

She was also asked once to clean up the carpet from a crime scene, but she said she won’t do that and she’ll instead leave it to the experts. Another deal breaker? Flood or sewer damage.

“I stick with what I know, and I think I do it well,” Brendefur said, which is carpet and upholstery.

One of the biggest things people don’t realize is they wait too long to have their carpet cleaned. It’s good to maintain on an annual basis, according to Brendefur, since regular cleaning extends the carpet life. Spring is usually her busiest time of year, so it’s good to call ahead.

Brendefur is happy she decided to come clean, so to speak. She loves the relationship between her and homeowners, and she loves to go to work every day. “The only way that I will quit is if my body won’t hold up,” Brendefur said.

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