Chem-Dry Celebrates 30 Years in Australia

This year, Chem-Dry celebrates its 30th year in Australia — a significant milestone for the world’s largest carpet cleaning franchise, which entered Australia’s sunny shores in 1986.

This year, Chem-Dry celebrates its 30th year in Australia — a significant milestone for the world’s largest carpet cleaning franchise, which entered Australia’s sunny shores in 1986. With 140 franchisees nationally and 3,500 franchise partners around the world, newly appointed Chem-Dry Australia CEO Alan Biddle said that this brings a lot of confidence to the marketplace. “It didn’t start yesterday and it is going to be around for a long time. We’ve got that strength in the brand name.” Currently the market leader in carpet cleaning franchises, the quality of the products and equipment is central to Chem-Dry’s success.

The business

The business wholeheartedly believes that “it’s impossible to find a better cleaning franchise opportunity”, and Biddle attributes this is to the innovation Chem-Dry invests in. Founded in 1977 by Robert Harris, the company started in America, with its head office originally based in California and now in Utah. Extensive research formed an integral part of Harris’s venture. As a result, their organic hot water carbonated extraction method (“The Natural”) has also been successfully used to clean Australian homes and businesses.


“Essentially where we get all our products comes out of Harris’ research back in the late 1970s. We develop products every year and put money into the research and development landscape,” Biddle said. A full-time chemist concentrating on healthy and green alternatives, Biddle explains, “Change rewards those businesses that innovate, adapt, and remain ahead of the curve.”

Cleaning methods

Where competitors try to compete with major brands and keep cutting corners with products to make it them cost-effective, the actual carpet cleaning component of Chem-Dry means that “there are very few that can actually compete with us” due to their different cleaning methods. 

The technicians are trained in the process of hot water carbon extraction instead of traditional steam cleaning or spray-on additives. These techniques “use a lot of water in the carpet, so ours dries in hours, not days. We don’t use a lot of cleaning solutions or chemicals that are unsafe,” added Biddle. 

With best-in-class equipment and products, Chem-Dry has created a “really simple business model that anyone can run. There’s not a lot of moving parts. It is home-based and territory based, allowing the franchise partner to run as hard as they can.” Biddle says that most franchise partners do a minimum turnover of three jobs a day — “generally five days a week and some guys work half a day on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Support network

With a stronger support network in place for the future franchise market in Australia, Director Lachlan Mitchell (son of Bruce and Elva Mitchell who brought Chem-Dry to Australia) said bringing Biddle in was a purposeful move, as he’s the first senior manager from outside the Mitchell family.

“It is a fresh approach, [with] new ideas and a new drive to the organisation.” Biddle’s background at a largely successful mobile coffee franchise network, in addition to his other diverse franchising roles, means that he knows first-hand how to build franchises from the ground up and take them to the next level. 

Prospective franchisees looking to secure a lifestyle business or be their own boss are recommended not to view Chem-Dry as “just a carpet cleaning business”. Biddle explains, “We’ve got all sorts of services, including tile and grout cleaning. What we are also looking at now is not just focusing on owner operators but [on] people who are looking to establish businesses, put it under management and have several businesses up and running.” 

People who are driven to be “more than just a franchise partner” will be suited to Chem-Dry’s dedicated support network, on-road support and training, innovative cleaning solutions, and state-of-the-art cleaning equipment. There’s capacity to put “four, five, six of these on the road and manage staff; it is a very scalable business”.


Low start-up costs

The low start-up costs mean that entrepreneurial franchisees still have a great degree of flexibility to choose their own hours, work outside of their own premises, and still be provided with a high level of support and training. Biddle said that, in his years of working in franchise networks, a system is important “if you want to do extremely well. Those who go looking for silver bullets take their eye off and sacrifice sales.” 

The turnkey franchise includes a fully branded Chem-Dry vehicle as well as all the equipment and cleaning solutions franchisees need to get started in their own carpet cleaning business. Entry costs include franchisee induction training at the National Office, a five-year franchise agreement with additional five-year options, a franchise territory, and a marketing pack that includes uniforms, flyers, business cards, and personalized website. Biddle adds, “The best thing about being part of a global company is that U.S. companies are great at creating Intranets — franchisees can tap into advertising, marketing campaigns, and the resources behind it. Access to information all over the world: templates, advice, online training, is something most don’t offer.”