"Do you have a few minutes?" Have you ever been called and asked this? Have you ever been at a store or church or at a business meeting and asked this? I'm sure you have. Does it ever take a few minutes? NO! In fact, is your definition of a "few" minutes the same as the other person's? Nope. I believe this is one of the most dangerous questions known to man! You might say. "Ken, you're being dramatic." Oh, you think so. I have been on 90 minute phone calls that derailed my day because the caller wanted a "few minutes". I have stayed at business meetings 45 minutes longer and missed out on other important things because of a "few minutes". At this point in my life and especially after reading the "7 Habits of Highly Successful People", I can now start to recognize this question for what it is.
Hello solo cleaners out there! I thoroughly enjoy speaking directly to you every Solo Saturday. In this episode, I'm going to address a common question I'm asked when I coach solo cleaners through my ISO Model. This time it was asked by Shasta Patterson who is a listener to the Smart Cleaning School Podcast and an up and coming solo cleaning optimizer! Thank you Shasta for taking me up on my free coaching call option on my website. Let's revisit your question and my answer so others can hear it.
Don't you love catchy titles?! I do. This one was totally organic and unplanned. It was my turn to present the next education piece at my local MCBA business networking group. I had a topic that I wanted to test on a group of business owners. I do this with newer content. The result was very good. At the end of the talk, the group was discussing who they wanted to bring in as a special guest speaker during an upcoming "bring a guest day" and the group unanimously chose me! They wanted me to do the same talk again. I recorded both and have permission from every member who commented in my talk. As promised, I wanted to give each of them a shout out and link to their business.
In my last Freedom Report, I humbled myself with the reality of my situation. I'm striving for this New Freedom Vision, but two glaring blind spots were holding me back. Another month has gone by. How is it going? Short answer. Not good! I am going to share my update exactly as it happened and end with a clip from Coach Josh at the end of October with an encouraging word that helps me and will hopefully encourage you. We all need encouragement. I'm not above that because I happen to have a podcast and talk about cleaning. This scaling and building a team thing is new for me. I am bringing you my monthly results exactly as they've occurred to build you up and hopefully teach you something. Here's an outline of my month.
I joined the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce 2 years ago when I was told I would be the only cleaner in a chamber with 300 members. I am so glad that I joined and decided to engage with the goal of helping to grow the chamber. This is an important "Best Of" episode to prepare you for the next episode.
Today is November 22nd, 2021. It's an emotional day for me. One year ago, my father went home to be with Jesus. I was the one that held his hand, prayed into his ear, and told him it was okay to go home to be with his wife as he took his last breath. It was the most bittersweet moment in my life. On one hand, I lost the man who raised me. Yes, he was my grandfather, but he was so much more. I am Kenneth Joseph Carfagno III. I was named after him. Ken Senior otherwise affectionately known to me as "Pop-Pop" was only 40 when I was born. My dad was 18 and still figuring out how to adult in the world, so my Pop-Pop took me under his wing. He is the one that raised me up and encouraged me to achieve. He is the one that showed up at my sports events. My dad did too of course, but not as often as my Pop-Pop. He is the one that was tough and demanded excellence out of me. He is the one that taught me life skills around the house. He is the one that showed me how to love by staying happily married from age 20 to his death at 84. He is the one that believed in me and challenged me to be better. He is the one that I loved more than any man on this planet. He is the man that I called father. One year ago, Kenneth Joseph Carfagno, Sr left this earth and thus left a huge void in my heart.
I attended a recent Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce event called Reinvent. Four CEO's were in panel format in a local theatre to discuss their leadership models through and after the pandemic. I was so impressed with each speaker. Jenny Fujita of Fujita & Miura Public Relations, Inc shared mostly on the modern home-based workforce and proper well-being of the individual. Mark Bergey of Bergey's Auto spoke on personal and leadership development during a supply chain shortage. Mark is a self-admitted podcast junkie, so I immediately connected with his message. I loved his passion for growing as a leader and the man runs a company with close to 1,500 employees! Craig Edsill of the Clemens Food Group has over 4,000 employees in multiple states. He taught me a wonderful crisis and leadership model they used during the pandemic - Discuss, Decide, Support. It's so simple. Take the time with your team to brainstorm, mastermind, and debate in the discuss phase. Make a decision as the leader and do not go back to the discuss phase. Go forward. Have everyone put aside their personal differences and support the decision to make it happen. I loved this! Finally, Dave Freeman of QNB Bank shared the status of available money in the banking system for lending. They are seeing a major decline in the need for money due to the stimulus cash in 2020/2021. This has hurt banks, but he was confident of the return to normal. Every speaker talked about being flexible in your leadership style as nothing is business as usual anymore.
I have mentioned my dear friend and cleaning customer Dennis Gehman of Gehman Design Remodeling many times on this show. That's because he is such a blessing to me. I thoroughly enjoy our breakfast conversations as we both leave sharper and more ready for our day when we do. We had the opportunity to meet for breakfast earlier this week for the first time in a few months, so we had a lot to catch up on. We usually pray to start our meal and toward the end for the Lord's favor on our lives and businesses.
I have been journaling for most of my adult life. This "journaling" has constituted many forms over the years. In high school, I took course notes and sketched in my art pads. As an engineering student in college, I transcribed complicated math formulas and mechanical processes along with pictures. I didn't have a laptop, so all of my notes were written and they were vital when it was time to take my exams. I started writing more about my life, family, and personal goals after college when I was an engineer and ran an Amway business side hustle. I attended conferences and took tons of notes on business hacks, tips, and strategies. I read my bible as a new Christian and wrote down lessons I was being taught. As a new husband and father, I would write my personal feelings and convictions about these new experiences. All in all, I have over 100 notebooks in shapes and sized packed away in boxes up in my attick. They are the written "diary" of my life.
Denai Wolfe is the first ever three-peat expert guest in the Smart Cleaning Tribe. She came on this May to talk about basic accounting and teach our members how vital it is to read basic accounting sheets. I'll bring more of this expert call to you down the road. This 18-minute clip reveals an excellent mindset on money and why we ever opened a cleaning business. Plus, Denai shares a few great examples of what knowing your numbers can do for your bottom line.
"The real reason you started your business was to make money. Admit this to yourself." - Denai Wolfe
J. Paul Getty was the wealthiest person in the world for 3 decades from the 1950's to the 1970's! His list of accomplishments are mind-blowing. At the end of his life, it's estimated that his net worth would be worth $27 billion is today's dollars. He was very wealthy. I heard this quote when I was a new business owner in the Amway business in 2002 and it has stuck with me for 20 years.
“I'd rather have 1% of the effort of 100 men than 100% of my own effort.” - J. Paul Getty
My friend Charlie Schofield from BQ Basement Systems was sharing a 30-second commercial and introduction at a recent MCBA local networking group meeting. He said something so simple that I wrote it down and knew it would be a podcast!
"It's rained a lot lately. Have you had anyone come and check out your home for potential water getting into your basement. Water can crack the foundation and that is a nasty problem to fix."
This original episode featured a blast from the past. I've been sharing coaching updates with Coach Josh all summer. This episode features a clip from a call with Coach Herb from 2008 when he told me that I couldn't afford employees. What's different about my company now, 13 years later as I scale? If you listen to my last coaching update, the answer is nothing. I still can't afford employees. My income has dropped from $70,000 per year solo to $50,000 per year with employees. It's true that this business has MAJOR upgrades and systems to have the foundation to house a $300k-$500k business. However, the same basic problem exists. I need 10 more offices to support all of the new investments I've made into my company. It's obvious. I wanted to grow. I need to grow. This episode is a reminder to me and anybody out there that we all need to work hard at keeping the pipeline full.
September is in the books. It's time for another business update. Afterward, I'll share a clip from our final coaching call from September to close out the summer. Now that October is here, it's time to crank it down! I have 4 months left to build and delegate my cleaning company before my self-imposed deadline of February 1, 2022.
We had an interesting conversation in our Smart Cleaning Tribe recently that I wanted to share. I'll play the full clip in the podcast, but here's the scenario. Kate is a very successful cleaning business owner with 18 cleaning techs (cleaners). On this particular Monday, she had 2 call out. It put Kate into crisis mode. Can you relate? What would happen if 2 of your cleaners called out or quit on you? As I listened to Kate describe her employee scenario, I thought of the term negative employee margin.
Would you like to know the one book that will absolutely change your life? Come on! Wouldn't you like to know how to cut through the thousands of self-help books out there to the one book that sums it all up? It's so much work to read all of those books. What if you could just listen to this podcast episode and hear my answer to the best book I ever read? Wouldn't that be awesome? It's the perfect microwave answer. You can take your uncooked mind and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes and presto... you have wealth mentality.
I talk about freedom on this podcast a lot. I talk about finances and building your company a lot. I also talk about family and keeping the main thing, the main thing. But I haven't talked about a topic that is as important if not more important than all of them. Let's talk about our health. In this podcast, I'm going to simply share a story of my own health journey from that of trusting doctors to taking ownership of my own health and being proactive. This has lead me to partner with doctors and health professionals in order to create the most healthy experience possible. Do you know why this is so important to me? I'm 44 years old with 5 kids between 4 and 16. I can still get down on the floor to play and out in the woods to hike and camp. I want to do that with my grandkids and great-grandkids. Therefore, I need to work hard to get healthy and wealthy.
Resources - In this podcast, I mentioned "The Model Health Show" by Shawn Stevenson. Check it out. There are so many hacks you can do to improve your health from anti-inflammatory diets, to cutting wifi while to sleep, supplements, walking every day, and so on. I highly recommend that you find a medical partner that you can work with to achieve your goal.
I've built my cleaning company for 16 years solo and have operated under my own set of personal core values. I've communicated them in my marketing system and they have earned me better, higher paying clients that stay with me a long time. However, I've never had to document them or communicate them to a team. My coach, Josh Melton, has been driving this point home recently. He recommended that I re-read the book, "Traction" by Gino Wickman and complete the EOS® VisionTraction Organizer or the VTO. This process is so helpful because it forces me to extract my most inner and core beliefs about me and my company and share them in my vision. I have never done this before. It was scary at first. But now, it energizes me and that's a true tell if my foundation is right. I should be able to communicate my mission, vision, and values. Before I dive in, let me give thanks where thanks is due. I've already mentioned Josh. Josh, if you're listening... thank you! I want to also thank Kevin Smith of Grace Home Cleaning in Omaha, NE. Check out my interview with Kevin called, "It's Grace for a Reason". Kevin shares his mission and vision in this interview and it truly inspired me. I shared the exact one, just didn't know how to communicate it. Thank you Kevin for being so real and transparent about your relationship with God and He leads your company.
Every time I meet with my chamber president for breakfast, great podcast episodes result. The last breakfast with Steven Hunsberger produced Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. Why should our August 2021 breakfast be any different? I was sharing with Steven my recent camping trip and the profound influence my phone has on me. He totally related when I said my goal was to simplify my life. I started the next part of the conversation with this. "Steven, I'm trying to do too much and I'm missing the simple things in life. And I really wasn't missing that much but I was convicted at camp. I got back and did my best to not return to where I was. I was changed and I wanted my life to reflect that change. All the things I thought were so important can all wait, my kids are growing up and they won't wait. It's what are the essential things I need to do to hit our goals but not steal from this valuable time with my kids? That's the question we should ask ourselves? What are the 80/20 opportunities in my life?" Steven loved this and wanted to apply that way of thinking to how he runs the chamber.
My daughter Christiana said something very interesting. I was telling her about a house I was considering taking on, but totally willing to say no if I didn't get the price and the other parameters that I wanted. She said. "If I were ever to have my own cleaning business that would be really hard for me to do. I'm a people pleaser." I thought about that and it's so true. There's something called the disc profile that helps put people into personality boxes. It's a useful analysis that helps us understand ourselves and others around us. We can learn things like traits, work styles, tendencies, best way to communicate with each other.
In the opening story, I shared a major breakthrough of how my phone loads stress on me that I didn't even know what there until I had 4 days on airplane mode. I came away from that camping trip with my 8-year-old son with this. Simplicity is the word. It's the word that I need to press into. How do I get simplicity into every area and role in my life? This became a burning question. I learned that airplane mode is simple. The 80/20 Rule is simple because less is better. Less equals less stress equals simple. I was in this place as I was processing the decision to scale my cleaning business for the first time in 15 years. I realized that delegating tasks that I was good or great at to someone equally suitable was simple as it gave me more time and allowed me to function in an ever greater capacity. I realized that creating sustainable systems was simple as it ran predictable workflows through a repeatable process. For the first time, I wanted to scale so I could add more simple into my life. I was in this place as Coach Josh's instruction to simplify my cleaning business to a targeted niche. This helped me narrow my cleaning focus to reduce the loading and make it way simpler to scale. I was in this place when Vincent and I were in our Nashville hotel room during Podcast Movement 2021 and I discovered the 3 x 3 matrix that simplified my business to the key income-producers to focus on to close out the year. Simple. I was in this place when I read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. I heard so many concepts that I knew needed to be adopted. Above and beyond every one was what Stephen called "Habit 3 Putting First Things First".
I had an awesome conversation with a good friend recently that I'll keep anonymous. He was struggling with anxiety around his lack of control. This is only a problem for him because he has the type of personality that thrives on being in control or at least the perception of it. This is what I mean when I use the word illusion. The conversation was deep and very therapeutic for both of us. We dove into so many topics including health, family, finances, and faith. As I took a giant step back from this conversation, I made 3 observations that I'd like to share.
This lesson was so profound to me as a new entrepreneur. I have never forgotten it. I want to play it again so you will never forget it either! What fruit are you holding onto so tight that you can't see danger about to club you to death?
There is so much to dig into for this month's update of my personal cleaning company. If you're new to this show, here's the quick version. I've been a solo house and office cleaner for most of my 16 years in business. I have a system that initializes, stabilizes, and optimizes solo cleaning companies to create over $50k profit per year on a few days per week. In fact, I've done it twice. My first solo cleaning business was in Upstate New York from 2005 - 2018. I optimized this company to create $55k profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week without employees. The company was 90% residential and 10% commercial. I sold this company in 2018 for $80k and moved back home to Montgomery County, PA. We have since built a second solo cleaning business to $70k profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week. This new company is 75% commercial and 25% residential. As amazing as this sounds and it has been, our family wanted more. Our coaches and mentors challenged us to follow our dream as a homeschooling family. We had a New Freedom Vision and booked a house on the Gulf Coast of Florida for a month next winter! We wanted to go from $70k profit on 2 days per week to 0 days! This requires a team and systems. As an engineer, I love systems. But I've resisted them as a solo as I viewed them as tedious. Thankfully, I've hired Coach Josh to walk me into our dream. Josh is a co-owner at Athens Cleaning in Athens, GA. He is a fast-growing commercial cleaning company serving small, professional offices with professional workers. This podcast feature is a monthly peak into my own company, Carfagno Commercial Cleaning, as we build our business with systems and team members in order to start living our dream.
I attended Podcast Movement in Nashville in August. As usual, this conference was phenomenal. Yes, I learned a few exciting tips to improve my podcast and listenership. But I gained so much more in relationships. In fact, I'd say that the biggest reason I went was to grow my network and boy... did I!
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.