Desperately need help, I'm running out of money and can't pay the bills. - Cleaning Talk - Professional Cleaning and Restoration Forum
 
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post #1 of Old 09-21-2018, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Desperately need help, I'm running out of money and can't pay the bills.

This post might be a little long-winded, but I'm hoping to find the right person who can offer just the right words, inspiration, or someone who may have even been in my shoes and can help put me back on the right track, because
I feel that I'm getting to the point of giving up.

So here it goes.

I moved to Texas when I was 13, due to my parents relocating. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs their entire life. However, when moving, I fell in with the wrong group of kids and started getting in trouble. By the time I was 18, I was catching the bus to the Texas State Prison. I spent several years there, what seemed like a decade. I lost contact with all my little buddies in school and made up my mind while inside I wanted to be successful not a criminal. So I came home, started applying for jobs. After 50 applications, I came to the conclusion, with a screwed up background and credit score, no-one was willing to give me a shot other than scooping poop at minimum wage. This isn't what I decided on or anticipated when I decided I wanted to be successful.

Coming from an entrepreneur family, small business is the direction I went. I knew if I worked for myself I wouldn't have to worry about my past and I could move forward. In order to get my feet and put my plans into action.

With that said, I decided an easy business to get my feet wet would be a lawn business, the grass always grows right?
I scooped poop long enough to save up for some commercial handhelds and a commercial walk behind mower. Next,
I invested in a commercial printer and photoshop. I taught myself graphic design by reading books while I was incarcerated over the years. I read books about copywriting. And so on. So I started designing my lawn care flyers and off I went walking.

By the end of my first year, I had picked up 60+ weekly customers. I kept going, kept pushing. By my second year, I had over 100 weekly contracts and (2) more guys working for me. By my 5th year, we were (5) guys deep, maintaining 200+ residentials, 5 Apartment Complexes, and several businesses in Austin, Tx.

I got involved in a relationship. My partner was graduating from college and she had a job offer in Houston. So we relocated and at that time I felt it was about time to start a new business. I scoped out the Market, when I got to Houston, I noticed lots of mold and mildew on homes because of the humidity, I decided to start (Soft Washing.) It's relatively a new market, similar to power washing, but a much safer and more effective way of cleaning the exterior of
homes. I thought working in water out in the heat would be much more enjoyable the older I got anyway.


Long story short, I didn't calculate everything like I should have. I didn't anticipate on the need to constantly market. And the cleaning business is so much different. By this time, I sold all my equipment and contracts in Austin to a relative and moved on to my new venture.

Now after 1 year in Houston, my second venture has failed. I've spent the entire year, copywriting, designing, printing, and walking in excess of 100,000 flyers, and I've yet to make any money. I keep trying to stay motivated and keep going, but I am losing hope. It's not working, I'm failing to meet my end of the bills, and I'm starting to go hungry literally. My wife is making just enough to pay her end of the bills. I don't have family to run to. So I'm here asking for anything, just help, advice, pointers, from those who have been at a low spot.

So I've came to the conclusion, I was meant to be a landscaper. I was very successful at it. I made a lot of money at it, bringing in more than 5k profit a month for several years. Not to be big headed, but I was really good at landscaping,
and after many years in the business, I felt confident enough to give customers word that we could provide them the best-looking properties in Central, Texas. I know I need to get back into landscaping. However, I've hit rock bottom, and have exhausted my funds and have no family around to run to.

So as of now, my only option is to make some money with the Softwash equipment that I do have. I do have professional equipment, surface cleaners, a garage full of chemicals, and so on. However, after putting out thousands of flyers a week I just cannot find work for it. I even tried the "Name Your Own Pricing" strategy, and just can't get people to spend money on cleaning their homes. I've tried every tactic. Mold and Mildew. Increase Curb Appeal. Name Your Own Price. 40% off exterior cleaning, I just can't get the phone to ring and people to spend money.

Can anyone point me in the write direction of where to at least make some money with the equipment I do have until I can get back into landscaping in the spring? As I mentioned, I have the equipment, just not the work. I need help. Just some ideas. To hear from someone motivating.

I feel like I'm at the point of giving up. But I know inside, that that will do no good, just put me further in a hole I'll eventually have to dig my way out of.

I'm thinking about investing $200.00 on a 24 ft. Extension Pole, and A special gutter cleaning nozzle, and trying to switch over to Gutter Cleanouts through the fall/winter for at least some kind of income. Is it possible to profit or make some money focusing on cleaning gutters only? Would it be easier to sell than Soft Washing?

I'm just at lost for words. I literally drive around neighborhoods all day and see mold all over siding and homes. I leave them a flyer. Try and talk to them. Leave more fyers. No-one cares here at all about mold or mildew growing on their walls or windows.

I need some help can someone give me some ideas?
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post #2 of Old 09-21-2018, 05:07 PM
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First of all I want to thank you for your courage in sharing your story. Mine isnt all that different. Private message me for those details, please. I went through some things that the average person doesnt. Going through it made me a much better person....and that is a small miracle.

I think you have done truly well despite some early roadblocks. Moving to a new city is never easy! Doesnt surprise me you arent making money yet. It takes time to figure out your market in a new town, and figure out how to work so you DO make some money.

I cannot advise on exactly what to do now. It is possible you are sort of trying TOO hard right now, and perhaps losing site of what you truly want to do.......?
Sit back. Relax a little. Think about what you LOVE doing for work. You will ALWAYS do better (ie make money) if you do work you really LIKE! Your enthusiasm will win over customers, and if you are good at what you do, your reputation in a new city will slowly grow.

I worked as an RN for many years. I LOVED being a nurse. I was proud of what I did and up North I made good money. Then I moved to Florida and my careers instantly started downhill. Florida is a "Right to Work" state, which is a nice way of saying that employers have all the power here. Employees have none. The result is very low pay for people like me, poor benefits and a political system that only promotes BAD workers.
I got out of nursing and ended up cleaning houses!

Seriously, pprivate message me. Your story interests me and I think mine might inspire you.
Annie
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post #3 of Old 09-22-2018, 11:29 AM
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Ok, I started our pressure cleaning at 18 years old. Then I began cleaning houses and then onto construction cleaning. High rise pressure cleaning, high rise windows (tough work)I had many employees.

I learned something when I was 18 that at first did not make sense to me, but then the Ah-ha moment.

I cleaned mobile homes initially: you may want to check that out. It takes about 1-1.5 hours per mobile. Fast cash and go plus the people are typically super nice.

Back to what I learned-if someone's house is super dirty they don't care and won't pay to have it cleaned. Look for the house that is well maintained as that is someone that will want your services.

Since it is now nearing the colder months seek out those people that spend their winters in your area.Do it now and you could gain a nice share of seasonal customers.

Pressure cleaning can be done on roofs, facia and soffit, the sides of the home, the screened in porch, driveway, pool deck, pool coping, sidewalks etc. Don't forget to check out commercial properties.Painting contractors that might need someone out front to prep the walls.

If your soft wash system won't work on the pressure cleaning you should be able to pick one up cheap through Amazon or better yet rent one until you get started.

Trust me most of us doing hard labor have a story.Ever lived in a feed store?
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post #4 of Old 09-22-2018, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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MissAnnieNow, I can't send pm's yet. So I'll respond through here. Feel free to pm me your email address.

Hey, first I would like to thanks for your inspiring post. You sound like just the kind of encouraging person I need to talk to. Also, wake up at around 3 every morning and love listening to Motivational Speeches to start off my mornings during workouts. I love listening to the struggles people have gone through and the obstacles people have gone through to achieve what they have now. With that said, I would love to hear your story!

So after reading your post over several times. Perhaps you are right and trying too hard is distracting me from my long-term goals. I'm in the process of re-evaluating things trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong. However, I strongly, strongly agree with doing something you love with a passion. When I was landscaping over all those years I loved and enjoyed waking up every day. It showed in my work. It showed in my customers. And I got a sense of pride in trying to make my properties look better than all of the competition. I made a bad mistake leaving it and I will defiantly be working on that over the few winter months we get in Houston. lol

I'm really glad you responded and I look forward to hearing back!

My name is Michael by the way!
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post #5 of Old 09-22-2018, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response! I think the mobile home idea is a great idea. They would be pretty quick to knock out and I have seen some filthy ones in the past. Not too sure where any parks are around Houston, but I'm going to search now. I might do some checking with painting contractors, but for the most part, most of the painters I've seen around here are competition.

Going forward, I'm going to be looking into going back into landscaping and doing what I enjoyed and miss to this day. However, I think I'm keeping all the Soft Wash Equipment, also in response to your post, I do also have Surface Cleaners and such for hard surfaces and parking lots. However, I'm going to keep all the equipment and use it as up-sells in the landscape business to customers I get under contract for landscaping.
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post #6 of Old 09-23-2018, 08:03 AM
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Hi Michael,
I am Annie.

If there comes a day when I dislike cleaning, I will find something else to do. My business has been slow lately, due to changes on the two main web sites I use to find jobs. This is quite bothersome to me and I have asked both for help and gotten none. I use Thumbtack and Care.com, mostly.

Try to relax a bit. It sounds like you are sort of nitpicking yourself, trying to find your "mistakes." I doubt you made any. When a person moves to a new city, their business WILL have to change to fit that community. This can take time, because you will slowly absorb what you see and hear and get to know what the people there expect.

Instead of trying to figure out how to make money with the pressure cleaning stuff, spend more time on planning how you will market your landscaping business there. Maube you can pick up a couple of small jobs with the equipment just to stay afloat....? Or ignore the equipment you have (OR sell them) and get on with the work you love.

Maybe someone else here will have ideas.
Annie, sweating in Florida
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post #7 of Old 09-27-2018, 10:23 PM
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So, my thought as I read that was this:

First of all, good on you for persevering.

I don't know a lot about the equipment you have, but is there any chance you could sell it? That would at least turn that into some money while waiting to start your lawn business again?

You mentioned that you had taught yourself design -- is it enough that you could do some freelance design while you're working on building your business back up?

And I know you said you had a lot of issues getting a traditional job before, but there's a lot of time between and the credentials you have of running your own business, perhaps you could get something for the months leading up to spring? Maybe some gig-type jobs?

Just spitballin' here.
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post #8 of Old 09-28-2018, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DorothyAt40 View Post
So, my thought as I read that was this:

First of all, good on you for persevering.

I don't know a lot about the equipment you have, but is there any chance you could sell it? That would at least turn that into some money while waiting to start your lawn business again?

You mentioned that you had taught yourself design -- is it enough that you could do some freelance design while you're working on building your business back up?

And I know you said you had a lot of issues getting a traditional job before, but there's a lot of time between and the credentials you have of running your own business, perhaps you could get something for the months leading up to spring? Maybe some gig-type jobs?

Just spitballin' here.
Many thanks for the sharing experience. Good day all !
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post #9 of Old 10-01-2018, 01:12 PM
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Michael, thanks for sharing your story. Not familiar with Softwash system. Does it clean windows? what about carwash? fleet vehicle washing? The last recession killed off over 1/2 my biz. Paid an attorney to file bankruptcy--she gave me the retainer back after 3 weeks, saying she couldn't help me, this was after I followed her advice NOT to pay any of my creditors.
ThumbTack.com has changed their model in that they have up to 8 vendors bidding on each lead, to competitive. I would make a list of all the types of customers that need to have something cleaned by Softwash. I still get lots of window cleaning requests from ThumbTack.com and also lots of restaurant cleaning ( mostly 1x) requests.
Keep at it, Brad BD janitorial
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post #10 of Old 10-06-2018, 11:15 PM
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Why sell your equipment? Why not try to incorporate this service with a cleaning service? I understand your wanting to pull away from the cleaning industry however just until you get out of the rut maybe gain a few small commercial accts or residential accts. After all you have a proven history in that industry right and that means you can do it again. While your pulling yourself out of the rut your in you could also move forward with advertising your soft wash service, right? Promote it to your customers and their friends and family. Maybe offer a demo or run an add for a demo or full service at a discounted rate to get your name out there. Advertise on your facebook business page or other social media outlet. Have you tried reaching out to the HOA's of the more prominent area's? If not try that and offer a demonstration of the services that you provide? How about local small businesses? Don't they need this service just as much as residential clients? Did you go door to door residential AND local businesses? Just asking because you might find that a person that maintains there own business simply doesn't have time to power wash their home so going from business to business leaving your card (possibly include a gift certificate offering a really good discounted rate) might get your foot where it needs to be to grow this new venture. Eitherway it sounds like you can always fall back on residential cleaning which seems to me to be the most reasonable approach to your circumstance. Anyhow, just my thoughts> Our son was in a similar situation so I truly understand your struggle and wish you a speedy recoup
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post #11 of Old 10-26-2018, 05:28 PM
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Sometimes you have to cut and run. Seems to me you have wrung everything out of cleaning siding that you can. Time to stop throwing good money after bad. Don't spend another dime or another hour on it. Switch up to landscaping and pursue that. You know how to do it already...

Matt
Smith Brothers Carpet Cleaning
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