Tahoe woman finds clean slate through dirty floors at Heaven’s Best
Special to the Sun
TAHOE-TRUCKEE — When it came time to close the curtain on act one of her career, Annie Pratt had two prerequisites for act two.
First, she sought a job that provided instant gratification, and second, she wanted to live in a small town far from the hustle and bustle of the east coast life she had always known.
“I tell people the main reason I moved was because I just had one too many bad hair days,” joked the curly-haired, outgoing owner of Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning Lake Tahoe.
Raised in a military family outside of Washington, D.C., Pratt didn’t stray far from home after launching a career with point-of-sales technology giant, Micros Systems — now owned by Oracle — where she climbed the corporate ladder to become a project manager and senior account executive.
“By the time I was ready to retire, I had received exclusive contracts with big players like the Department of Defense … and there was a lot of money in the pipelines that came from that,” Pratt said. “But the thing about trying to get a company like the Department of Defense to buy something is you have to go through the Mount Everest of dog-and-pony shows before anything happens, so sometimes sales could take up to six years.”
Pratt’s lifelong experience with military travel made her a likely choice for the higher-risk contracts, as opposed to her colleagues who oversaw far-less treacherous deals implementing Micros in restaurants and retail stores.
“After 9-11, with my job, I was already in the Middle East setting up supply bases,” Pratt said. “I had been in military C-130 transport planes many times, so I was prepared for it, but it would scare other sales people in my organization because you just never know what you’re going to be walking into – that didn’t scare me, but it wore me out.”
At the end of the day, the high-stakes contracts provided high-rewards, namely early retirement for a young Pratt, who was ready to switch gears in her career, her geographic location, and her life in general.
“One of the things that really crystalized my decision to move to a small town was the sniper attacks that were happening in DC when two crazy people were popping people’s heads off from the back of a car,” Pratt said, referring to the DC Beltway Sniper Attacks in 2002 that left 10 dead and three seriously wounded. “That was when I decided it was time for me to live in a really small town doing something that gave me instant gratification.”
SHIPPING UP TO TAHOE
While still in DC, Pratt had received wind of a franchise opportunity that a handful of former colleagues were profiting from, and after some careful calculations, she decided a clean slate was worth the investment.
In 2004, just two short years after the tragic sniper attacks had plagued the DC-area, Pratt packed up her sizeable retirement package and relocated to Incline Village.
“I didn’t always dream of being a carpet cleaner, but I love the instant gratification of it, because with carpets, you show up and it’s dirty, and you leave and it’s clean, and I love that kind of simplicity in business,” Pratt said. “I’ve never for a second regretted this decision.”
After attending a weeklong training course held at Heaven’s Best Carpet Cleaning’s headquarters in Idaho, Pratt was given the tools necessary to launch her new business off the ground.
“I’m not just some person who bought a truck and said, ‘Voilà! I’m a carpet cleaner!’” Pratt said. “Buying the franchise meant that all I had to do was buy a white truck, and they would provide the rest — the training, equipment, products, and the support.”
SAVING WATER, TOO
With an estimated 325 franchisees in more than 1,300 locations, Heaven’s Best has a reputation for delivering a cost-effective, reliable and virtually leak-proof cleaning system, which boasts minimal water usage, environmentally friendly chemicals, and an impressive one-hour dry time.
“What really differentiates us is that we use easily one-fifth the amount of water that the other guys use,” said Pratt, whose list of clientele expands from Incline Village to Donner Summit to Rubicon Bay, boasting big names like Vail Resorts, KSL Capital Partners and the US Forest Service. “The equipment is quiet and portable, and there isn’t a signal point of failure because the company has redundancies for every type of problem that might occur.”
The process begins with a thorough vacuum to loosen up the dirt particles, followed by a spray-on carpet cleaning solution, which is then absorbed, buffed and cleaned until every spot is permanently removed.
“People want to see buckets and buckets of dirty water in order to believe their carpets are clean, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Pratt said. “More water and more soap actually means more dirt because your carpet doesn’t have a rinse cycle, but with this system, if a spot is gone, that means we’ve cleaned it to a point where it’s not going to come back.”
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at email@example.com.