Carpet Cleaning

About Chem-Dry on the Shore

Chem-Dry on the Shore's very own Vance Morris was recently interviewed about his business and his views on hospitality. Check out the interview sound bite below:

Check out Vance's LinkedIn page here.

Chem-Dry on the Shore wins Talbot Chamber Small Business Award 2014

By Bob Zimberoff

Read the Full article on The Star by clicking HERE

photo by Bob ZimberoffEASTON — Vance Morris attributes much of his success to marketing, a dedication to customer service and a shift in mentality.

Morris owns Chem-Dry on the Shore, a carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning and rug cleaning service that covers the area from Chestertown to Ocean City. Based in Easton, Chem-Dry is the winner of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce 2014 Small Business of the Year.

“He’s a little cut above,” Al Silverstein, president and CEO of the Talbot chamber, said of Morris. “I’ve watched Vance since he started his business and how engaged he is in customer service. … The response from people who used him — people are very pleased with the service he provides.”

Morris said customers often distrust traveling services that enter their homes.

“Any industry that’s got a sign on a telephone pole, there’s another big hole to dig out of. I knew from the get-go that I was not going to be like any of those,” Morris said. “We set our service apart. There is no one on the Eastern Shore, let alone I think in the State of Maryland, that has our guarantee, which is ‘the most thorough cleaning ever or it’s free.’”

Morris said while his approach is good business, the main reason he guarantees quality service is because he is part of the community he serves.

“These are my neighbors. I’m not based in Ohio or Indonesia,” he said. “When you call the phone number, you’re not getting a call center in Pakistan. You’re getting Easton, Maryland. So that was really the driving force.”

Morris maintains a staff of three technicians and an office assistant. He has systems in place, checklists, to assure timely, quality service. He said many carpet-cleaning technicians are expected to clean six to eight locations a day. His techs clean three carpets per day at most.

“The only way they know that they’re done is when the carpet’s clean,” Morris said of his technicians. “You don’t stop until it’s clean. If it takes you all day, it takes you all day.”

Morris tells his technicians to have customers contact him if there are any problems.

“If you’re not head over heels thrilled with what we’re doing, I’ll give you your money back,” he said. “It’s easier. There’s no heart ache.”

There are no gimmicks, Morris said.

“We do our pricing by the square foot because that is the most fair thing to the client. A lot of our competitors price by the room. Every one of our competitors has a different definition of a room,” he said. “I don’t want anybody arguing with anybody. … You pay for the carpet we clean. If you don’t want us to clean under the bed, I’ll subtract the square footage out of your price.”

Morris became the owner of Chem-Dry in summer 2007. Before then his career in hospitality, hotels and restaurants was quite volatile. He worked for Disney in Florida for 10 years. He then went to Boston to work for Legal Sea Foods which relocated him to Baltimore.

He then got a job in Northern Virginia and was laid off. Then he worked in corporate food service, working jobs for the Smithsonian, Tyson Chicken, the White House, the IRS and the Kennedy Center among others. He was laid off again.

“I got tired of being laid off. Being in the corporate world was evidently not meant for me,” Morris said. “After my second lay off, I said ‘You know, I’m tired of this, so I got to do something.’”

Living in Centreville, Morris hired what he called a “head hunter” to help him find a business worth owning. Though wary at first, he was eventually convinced to buy the Chem-Dry franchise serving Talbot, Dorchester and Caroline counties.

“I was hesitant, very hesitant,” he said. “This was a natural fit because everything I ever used from Chem-Dry works. I didn’t want to sell smoke and mirrors.”

He said Chem-Dry’s chemicals are nontoxic and green.

“... Safe for pets, children, humans, we’re the only nontoxic cleaner on the Shore,” Morris said.

He has even drank a bit of the fluid while cleaning overhead upholstery on RVs and didn’t suffer any effects.

He said unlike his competitors, once the work is completed, a carpet “typically it is dry within a couple hours. Squish is not a sound your carpet should make.”

Morris said he knew next to nothing about marketing when he bought Chem-Dry, but found that his approach worked.

“As far as generating leads and converting those leads into clients, that was trial by fire,” he said. Despite that, “every year’s been better than the year before — no less than a 30 percent increase year over year the last three years.”

Six months after buying his first Chem-Dry franchise, he bought the Wicomico County market. Soon after, he expanded into the Ocean City area. In 2012, he bought the Queen Anne’s and Kent County markets.

Though these markets have helped increase income, he said “the year over year growth is not through acquisition. That’s actually natural growth.”

Even though his venture has been successful, it took him some time to be acclimated to being a business owner.

“It’s a mentality shift. Four years ago, I owned a job. Now I own a business,” Morris said. “Until I got that through my thick head, I was going to own a job for the rest of my life and I didn’t want that.”

His success was noticed by others in the company.

“I was doing numbers that our franchise was just blown away by,” Morris said. “Chem-Dry says if you have a $250 job average you’re doing good. … I’m doing $350.”

As a result, he started teaching other Chem-Dry franchises about his marketing techniques.

“Now I’m teaching the marketing. I have 11 other Chem-Drys around the country. Actually one’s in Ireland,” Morris said.

He realized that his marketing technique could be replicated, and now teaches his approach to other small businesses.

“I just started about three months ago doing some local marketing coaching,” he said. “Having created one successful business, allowing me some free time, has allowed me to do what I love to do which is teach the style of marketing that I do. Having that freedom to do what you love vs. what you have to do is liberating.”

Morris said he spends more than half of his time teaching. He even has an educational website,

“I have taken my entire program, my entire system, worked with an educational web designer, and I have put my entire program online into an e-learning system,” he said. “That is the basis for any one-to-one coaching that I do.”

Morris said his longterm goal is to be able to donate 50 percent of his income to charity. Right now, he donates about 9 percent.

For more information about Chem-Dry on the Shore, call us at 410- 221-0097!