Where To Go From Here? - Cleaning Talk - Professional Cleaning and Restoration Forum
 
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post #1 of Old 12-19-2008, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2
Where To Go From Here?

Hello fellow cleaners , I just joined your community to talk the business of cleaning. I guess I'll let you know a little about me, where I am, and what my question is.

First, I'm a 31 years old, and my wife (won't give her age, lol) and I currently clean private homes and an office or two. We've been cleaning together for our entire married lives, close to 9 years now. I had cleaned for apartment communities, pressure washed parking lots and fast food restaurants, and washed windows prior to meeting my wife. I've done a lot of things, but that is what relates to cleaning. My wife had cleaned a couple private homes with another lady. After marrying, we sub-contracted, cleaning banks and car dealerships locally, until the person we worked for lost the contracts due to being underbid.

The first several years of marriage, we worked almost exclusively for apartment communities, cleaning vacant units, common areas, and office areas. We were growing, and hired my dad and brother to work with us, dad full-time and my brother part-time. Things were going great, and then, like always, there was a shakeup in the local apartment management. Managers were always moving from place to place, and if the new manager that came in had a cleaner they worked with in the past, you were gone. This particular time, however, a lot of our work was with one huge property management company. They sold off all properties, and we lost 60% or more of our business in one day. I never intended to put all of my eggs in one basket, but they had a lot of eggs, and a lot of money, until they sold out.

The next several years, until now, we moved into cleaning primarily for private homes. We offer weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly service. Additionally, I have a mobile auto detailing business that I work very much part-time on the side. Our customers love us. Things are fine, but we want to learn how to expand and grow this business. We don't want to do all of the work forever, and cleaning 2-3 homes in a day is tiring by ourselves. In the past, we've tried to hire a person or two to work with us in hopes of turning over some accounts to them. However, we find that our current customers aren't trusting of the newbies. They like my wife and I, and want us to work there. Also, in our area, it can be difficult to price homes higher than what would amount to $20-25 per man (or woman) hour worked. That doesn't always leave much of a margin, though it's fine for my wife and I.

So, does anyone have any advice on growing this house cleaning business? The truth is that I don't even advertise much, but if I did, I could get a ton of houses to clean. However, I don't necessarily trust others to do the job that I would do. I would have to start the newbies at the new houses so as to avert the prejudice against them when my wife and I work on a house for a while together. How easy is it to find people that are willing to work part-time, and at times unsteady hours?

Getting the business isn't a problem, developing it with other people is. How did you grow your business? Right now I own my own job, but I'd love to turn it into something more.

Thanks to anyone that reads all of this, lol.
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post #2 of Old 12-21-2008, 01:49 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 15
Welcome to the Forum,
I am new to this forum myself, however it is always nice to see what others are doing.

First, Owning a profitable business is quite different then owning a job as you are finding out. Often when people start a business they have all these dreams of the service they will be able to offer, all the money they will make and vacations they will enjoy. All goes well for a couple of years, working hard, growing their business, maybe making more money then they have ever made before, or a least seeing the potential of making more money. Many of us become workaholics, thinking one day we will arrive and it will all be worth it. In the mean time we are working so hard we miss our children growing up and maybe even lose our spouse, all because our focus is all on work instead of them.

Just one more job... Only if I could get the right employees... If I could just get that big cleaning contract.... Then I would have arrived.

Well the sad news is we never arrive and if we do it only last a minute or two then we are back to working again to have even more.

So where I am going with all of this? You have to change your mindset when it comes to business.

It all starts with being very clear on what you really want. Most of us want money, but in the end this is empty. what you want must be more clear then money, deeper, like what differance you want to make in the lives of others.

Then once you are very clear, create your business to help fulfill your vision

Money becomes a bi-product.

This is my forth business. The first three I sold, each new one I start gets stronger and more focused.

I now look for opportunities where I can specialize in an area where people need a service that others are not offering.

Start listening to your clients, people around you, your family, friends. What is it they need that they can't solve or find others to solve. The harder the problem the more money you can charge.

One of the biggest complaints over the years that I heard and experienced was with tile and grout cleaning. That is why now it's all I do. I make $300 to $400 per hour per truck, cleaning and color sealing.

You don't want to fight the battle of making $25 dollars always just trying to make it. Often people think by hiring more people will be the solution. Guess what? it's not. Now you still have no money and more headaches.

I know to many cleaners who are just scraping to get by, yes they are busy but also tired.

There is a big difference between being busy and making money.

You always want to exchange your time for the highest amount of money. This give you more options when it comes to hiring managers, sales people and the most qualified workers out there.

I never structure my company anymore where it relies on me. My only responsibly is to find ways to grow my business, share my passion and vision with my employees and getting them to buy into my vision. then always checking and improving my numbers.

A model that works for me is this. I have a manger that oversees my sales people. each of the my sales people are responsible to oversee their own jobs, working with the leads of each crew. This simple model has always worked for me.

My manager, sales people and leads are given bonus and commissions as an incentive to maintain a very high level of customer service.

I know I have wrote a lot here. I would be willing to help you with anything, just ask a specific question.

Eric
Leading Edge Tile Care is offline  
post #3 of Old 02-16-2009, 06:45 AM
Cat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Maryland
Posts: 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leading Edge Tile Care View Post
Welcome to the Forum,
I am new to this forum myself, however it is always nice to see what others are doing.

First, Owning a profitable business is quite different then owning a job as you are finding out. Often when people start a business they have all these dreams of the service they will be able to offer, all the money they will make and vacations they will enjoy. All goes well for a couple of years, working hard, growing their business, maybe making more money then they have ever made before, or a least seeing the potential of making more money. Many of us become workaholics, thinking one day we will arrive and it will all be worth it. In the mean time we are working so hard we miss our children growing up and maybe even lose our spouse, all because our focus is all on work instead of them.

Just one more job... Only if I could get the right employees... If I could just get that big cleaning contract.... Then I would have arrived.

Well the sad news is we never arrive and if we do it only last a minute or two then we are back to working again to have even more.

So where I am going with all of this? You have to change your mindset when it comes to business.

It all starts with being very clear on what you really want. Most of us want money, but in the end this is empty. what you want must be more clear then money, deeper, like what differance you want to make in the lives of others.
I'm catching up on the articles on this site. And I have to tell you, you gave some outstanding advice and food for thought.

Without mentioning the book, The E Myth, you pretty much summed up what that author advises. Work "on" your business, not "in" your business. Otherwise, you will burn out and never know what hit you.

I love what you said about vision. Scripture says, "Write the vision and make it plain..." That would include a Business Plan. The business plan is the road map and it's so interesting how so few people bother to put their plans down on paper.

So many pearls of wisdom in what you wrote. I like what you said about money being the bi-product. Nothing makes me happier than when I'm signing the weekly payroll checks for my employees. Sure, I enjoy depositing client checks. I have to be honest. But I so enjoy signing those payroll checks, knowing that I am offering an opportunity for a hard working person to survive out there.

You hit on the topic of money and the fact that many businesses fail to charge enough. That is often a mistake that new owners make. I made that error in the beginning. I was turning profit, but barely (at the beginning). I then met a local man who owns a million dollar a year cleaning service and he told me matter-of-factly to increase my prices and to not think twice about it. My business really took flight after that.

And finally, I like how you shared at least part of the "systems" that you have created to make your business run smoothly.

In my case, I have systems in place but the system I presently have is only an abbreviated version of what is in my vision. What owners need to do is establish a vision for the "ultimate" system that will make their business run like a fine oiled machine----with or without them being present! But...if they don't have the means to fulfill the ultimate system, start with a smaller version of the ultimate. I'm presently functioning on a mini-version of the ultimate system.

I have not yet invested in office space. I'm taking my time and for now my entire basement is our "office". The commercial space I want is in a prime area and I am willing to wait for just the right opportunity. Once I move into the space, I'll set the "ultimate" system in place.

Eric, the man to whom you were speaking never returned. So I have no idea whether or not he read what you wrote. But I read it and it re-confirmed some things for me. Thanks!

Write the vision and make it plain: http://maidservicecoaching.wordpress.com/

Last edited by Cat; 02-16-2009 at 06:57 AM.
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