Dionne was a struggling single mom. She was willing to do anything to make it, including moving to a different state and trying out a crazy business... cleaning houses. If you're a mom listening to Dionne's interview, I fully believe you will be encouraged to know it's not easy but you can do it!
Dionne shares how surprised and honored she was when I invited her to join the Solo Cleaning School as a founding member. The idea of paying for a membership forced her to take personal leadership for her future and she dropped this insane metaphor -
"Don't worry about how much the shovel is going to cost if you have a gold mine."
It's a great message as cost and investment have completely different meanings. Cost implies consumption. You buy and use it up and it's gone. On the other hand, investment implies growth. You buy and use it to get more of what you need. Dionne illustrates this perfectly as to why she decided to join our School!
Carfagno Cleaning is a corporation with various divisions. We have a this podcast and the Solo Cleaning School. I serve team cleaners in the SMART Cleaning Tribe. This all falls under my 'consulting' division. My main division is my own solo cleaning business that I am rebuilding in the Philly suburbs after sellling my first one to Ian Traynor of Albany Pure Cleaning. I hope you've been enjoying this podcast and the journey I've taken you on.
This week was a short one as Thanksgiving cut off 2 days and my family was traveling to New Jersey for a long weekend. I started the week with a meeting with Ken Byler of Higher Ground Consulting. I met him and really connected at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon a few weeks ago. This was a fun meeting. I am used to asking questions and listening, but I met with a greater master than I. Ken skillfully got me to talk the whole time and then asked how he could help me. I literally ran out of time to help him. You got me, Ken! Anyway, here's the answer I gave him. "How do I best use or network in the chamber?" Ken's answer floored me. He said this. "Find out the available Chamber committees and see where you can help. They meet once per month for an hour. Pour into it and show your value. This builds relationships with chamber members and raises your level of trust. From here you will Get a name for doing and contributing. Others in the chamber will want to connect 1-to-1. Set the meetings and connect more. This will lead to lasting relationships, leads, and it helps the community through your chamber leadership efforts." This was a drop the mic answer.
Outside of cleaning the usual 2 offices, playing a Thanksgiving flag football game that ended in an emergency room visit, and going to NJ for excellent family time, there was one other thing I did this week. It took me all week! I worked on the 3 proposals for Gary Volpe. This is a huge opportunity. One is for his main offices & showroom, another for the chamber offices inside of his building, and the third for his old building. This was a job much larger than I usually do, so I had to connect with a janitorial business owner for his opinion and he helped quite a bit. Gary's building is 13,000 sqft of office and showroom space. The other 25,000+ sqft is warehouse space. I estimate that I would be cleaning between 40-50% of the 13,000 sqft every week. I won't bore you with the math here, but I was able to scale his large business to a size that I am used to cleaning. This gave me a ballpark for where his building should price. Trust me, it took a long time to figure this out and hours of itemizing his large building. I was able to complete the 3 proposals and email them at 10pm on Tuesday. This barely met my promise to get it done by Tuesday. I was so happy to pour so much effort into giving well-thought out proposals and even more thrilled to be done!
I mentioned the power of the new Google My Business offering in my last update. I collected my first review this week. Yay! My goal is to get 20-25, so this is a great start! I just need to keep asking. And isn't that a great message for all business owners. Just keep asking.
We're at part 4 of our goal-setting series. You should have a great handle on your Why, why you set goals, and how to create a SMART goal. These are all vital steps in getting traction and achieving. However, there is more to the equation. Let's talk about an accountability roadmap. Think about a huge map of the country. There's a car off on the side of the map. Where do you want to go? Well, that's a silly question. We first need to know where you are now on the map.
Step 1: Know Your Numbers! You have to know your business numbers, which includes your key performance indicators (KPIs) or scorecard, profit & loss, and where you want to go. This will help you assess exactly where you now compared to your goals and allow you to have the measurables to set solid SMART goals.
Step 2: Know Your WHY! Now that you're car is off the side and on the map in the location of where YOU are, you can pour the fuel into the vehicle and set the direction you would like to travel.
Step 3: Determine Your Route! You will need a series of milestones every 90 days in the form of SMART goals to create the dotted line on your map to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
Step 4: Put on Your Wheel! You need wheels to make your gassed-up car to roll to its destination. My friend Courtney Wisely of Rescue My Maid Service uses these 5 areas to measure the health of your cleaning company: Human Resources, Operations, Marketing, Administration, Finances. I added a 6th area and that is Goal Setting & Accountability. We can place these 6 criteria as 'spokes' on a wheel. Simply segment the spokes with 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Then grade yourself on each to start your journey and connect the dots. You can see this exercise done on my FREE SMART Goals Masterclass. You will need to create a circle so your 'wheel' can get you to your destination.
Step 4: Get a Passenger! We are human and therefore emotional creatures who get distracted easily. It sounds so logical to set the goals and simply drive your car from point A to point B. I wish it were that easy. You will likely get distracted with shiny objects or in some cases, personal struggles may attempt to derail your plans. This is why you can't drive this journey alone. You need a passenger. They are called an accountability partner. Their job is to keep you on the dotted line by monitoring your 'Wheel' and making sure you are not getting distracted. They can become your lifeline, especially if your route takes you over or winding through the Rocky Mountains! What is an accountability partner? I like the Wikipedia defintion: "An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment." Who do you choose? I recommend you create 1-way and 2-way accountability with people you admire and respect. In 1-way accountability, someone is holding you accountable only. They are someone ahead of you and you greatly admire and respect them. You don't want to let them down. They stretch you. This creates respect accountability. You become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Don't choose someone that isn't in life where you want to go. In 2-way accountability, you are buddied up with someone like-minded with similar goals. You are moving in the same direction and can help each other get to your destination. They will have strengths that help you and vice versa. This creates competitive accountability. You still will not want to let them down. The irony is that you will work harder NOT to let your accountability partner down than you will work for you. It's human nature.
Other References and Resources:
It was GO-TIME for Bridgett and I this week! We met on Monday at a coffee shop to connect and to prepare our double showcase presentation to our MCBA group. Once we made the connection that we were both in the same business, the "business of first impressions", our presentation was like riding a bike going downhill. We selected fellow member Vernessa Hopkins and discussed how we could help her in a way that was engaging to the meeting for 40 minutes. There would be NO call-to-action to the other members except for Vernessa to incorporate the recommendations we gave her. Bridgett and I had an opening, relevant stories, and the word congruency. We both agreed that the first impression that Vernessa's written content provided had to be congruent with the first impression that her office environment provided. This set the stage for each of us to share for 10 minutes on 3-5 recommendations Vernessa could incorporate to strengthen her first impressions. The double showcase was set and it went amazing! The others were fully engaged, leaning forward, nodding their heads, and asking great questions afterward. Vernessa was very thankful. Bridgett and I were the first to ever create a showcase 'alliance' to help another. And that's what the 'A' in MCBA stands for. Other members were talking at the end of the meeting and starting to form their own strategic alliances.
Gary Volpe couldn't make our showcase as he was taking care of his president's role in the Rotary. We met right after at his office for an estimate. I can't share details of individual estimates for privacy sake. I can say this. I was so impressed with the 15 foot high mural of the Volpe Family business through it's 50 years of operation. Gary took me on a tour of his 40,000 sqft office building and told me great stories and introduced me to associates. I wasn't expecting this, but we also went to his old building for a second estimate. This is where the title of this episode comes from. We walked into a bathroom. There was some toilet paper on the ground by the trash can. He saw me going to pick it up and he stopped me because he wanted his employees to 'see it' and do it. I said. "You knew I was going to pick it up, didn't you?" He responded. "Yep, you're a cleaning guy. I know you would." This was a great meeting and I am so grateful for Gary's time and friendship. It's amazing how this is working. I already set myself apart by being a business man who happens to clean (from Andrea Szlavic). I am an introvert who has read books to be better with people and not afraid to network and try new things. I go to new network groups on faith and knew no one. A month later, they all know me. I'm a giver in the group and now Gary is giving me a huge opportunity.
This week was a BIB group meeting as well. We meet for breakfast in a local diner, open in prayer, discuss an educational piece, do two short 5 minute mini showcases, and connect. The group is small, but I enjoy the fellowship and you never know what will come from it! During the 30-second commercials, I used my time to help another member (just like Bridgett and I did at MCBA) and it went over really well. Another member said to me afterward, "I really appreciate how you used your time to talk about someone else. I need to get you to my house for a cleaning estimate". Are you starting to see that people hire people that they know, like, and trust!?
In my last update, I shared how we got our first two house cleaning clients. I had already cleaned for Ellie and now it was time to start at Erika's house. Normally, I wrap my initial cleaning into the first 2-3 visits of a new biweekly client. Most really appreciate this as it saves them from the big $500+ initial cleaning. A few items of interest occurred by I was cleaning. To set the table, Erika and her husband work out of the house and her parents are temporarily living there as their new home is built. Erika's mom is the nanny. She was watching me clean and on multiple occasions said this. "Ooh, the other girl didn't do that." It felt good and Erika should be thrilled. I also got a call from Marci at Edward Jones. They chose another company. I could tell that Marci was disappointed as the current partner didn't see the value of my presentation cleaning. I hope it works out for them and if not, I'll be ready to come off the bench and hit a home run for their company!
I also facilitate the SMART Cleaning Tribe, that I affectionately call 'our cleaning family'. We are close to 20 cleaning company owners from around the U.S. and Canada who needed a tribe to belong to, set SMART goals each month, and be held accountable to achieving them. I run 5 live video conference calls per month with one an expert call. This month's expert call was on Wednesday afternoon and we all got a dose of millionaire mindset as Crystal Hamm of the Go-2-Girls in Raleigh, NC put on a clinic of how to grow a 7-figure cleaning company in under 3 years. She loves her people and her people love her. One of the takeaways I got was this. Her marketing is a machine with over 300 leads coming in every month. Of the 300, 50 are coming in totally free through a new offering by Google called 'My Business'. Crystal has a strong profile and over 100 reviews. This is generating incredible free SEO for her company. I've had this on my list to do since coming back from Gatlinburg, TN and the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat. But, I wasn't there yet. I strengthened my profile after the call and asked for 3 reviews.
Have you picked up on my marketing strategy? It's not one thing and one thing only. I am doing everything and assessing what is working.
Goal-setting is a science and an art. We covered some of the art and the emotion of why to set goals. Now it's time to dive into some science. The S.M.A.R.T. Framework is a methodology of setting goals that allows you to measure and track your progress. Without a system like this, your goals are likely just wishes. Check out my free "SMART Goals Masterclass" to get a great recap on the Why of goals and for an in-depth explanation of the SMART Framework.
In this episode, I want you to grasp that each letter in SMART has a greater purpose. However, I don't think the letters are in the right order. For the purpose of an acronym, SMART makes sense. The true order should be RASMT.
In my last solo cleaning business update, I was thrilled to report two successful house cleaning estimates. I had cleaned for Ellie last week and verbally, she agreed to a recurring service starting in December. The other estimate was with Erika, whom my wife connected with through the local Facebook mom's group. I felt great about the estimate and expected a second yes, but heard nothing all weekend. Of course, doubts trickle in and you wonder if she changed her mind. Here's what I did. I texted Erika on Monday morning and said this. "How was your weekend? I just wanted to check in..." I didn't even mention cleaning and she replied with "I'm so sorry, so much going on. I meant to call you. When can we get on your schedule?" I was able to schedule her family on biweekly Thursdays along with Ellie. There's a lesson here. I could have been more direct and said. "Hi Erika, were you interested in cleaning services?" I could have been less direct. "Erika, did you have any other questions about my cleaning options?" I'm sure many of you would do this and I'm NOT saying it's wrong. I just had a gut feeling that Erika is a busy, working mom and my all-important cleaning proposal got looked at and forgotten in the chaos of her weekend. Therefore, I opted to be a human and ask how her weekend was. She may have responded with something short. "Fine." There is an emotional intelligence component required here. In my experience, this type of response shows disinterest or they just had a bad weekend. Either way, I'd give them time and follow up again in a week. Erika did not do that. She responded with enthusiasm. That's always a great sign. The result was expected. I asked about her weekend and she booked our cleaning service.
My networking meetings were lively as always. I shared last time that I was voluntold to do a 20-minute business showcase along with Bridgett. I had an idea that I wanted to pitch and it went great. What if we used our showcase time together to help another member AS we showcase what we each do in our businesses? Bridgett loved it and so did Vernessa, who was the member we were going to help. We had an educational piece during this meeting where we watched a TED talk and discussed how it related to us. I had a chance to wrap up with my comments and then casually mentioned that I was going to interview James Hardy from the group on a future podcast. Several members said. "You have a podcast!" "What is it called?" Before I could answer, Eva Finlan piped up and said. "Oh, it's a really good show!" I had promoted Eva on a prior episode and shared it to my Facebook friends. She was so grateful and listened. I told them the name of this show and a handful wrote it down. After the meeting, I set up a time to meet with Eva for a 1-to-1 to connect more. I also had a quick word with Gary Volpe about his office cleaning. He had tried to get me in there, but the timing wasn't right yet. I was grateful that he was considering me. As a quick note, I also attended my first Chamber of Commerce luncheon as a new member. It was an honor to speak in front of the members and all 3 of our county commissioners to introduce myself.
In parallel with my in-person networking, I've been connecting online as well using LinkedIn, NextDoor, and Facebook. I have already invested the time to build stellar profiles on each platform and introduced myself. I've even commented to help others, so they know, like, and trust me. My aim this week was to be more direct. I searched "clean" on NextDoor and found 3 neighbors looking for cleaners over the past 3 months. Many cleaners just replied with "Me. I do it." I answered with tips on how to find your next cleaner. I will repurpose that answer into a future Newsletter. My guess is that using this approach will create curiosity and possibly interest in my company. On LinkedIn, I answered messages, thanked all new local 1st connections for accepting, and reconnected with Tom at Edward Jones. I did NOT ask about the proposal. I thanked him for trusting me enough to let me into his office for an estimate. His response was, "Us Penn Staters need to stick together and that we're evaluating our proposals next week." I didn't have to ask about my proposal, but I got my answer. Lastly, I wanted to connect with new friends from the Chamber meeting. Instead of basic emails, I used the VidYard plugin and recorded personal messages and sent the video links out. Each responded and were impressed.
As the week winded down and I prepared for my Thursday night cleaning with my son, I got a voicemail from Gary Volpe. He was talking to his sons and they do want me to come over for an estimate. Here's the takeaway! Gary has gotten to know me from seeing me every week consistently for 5 weeks. He likes me, knows I'm a fellow believer, and share the same political bend (as we met at the polls on election day). I have positioned myself over the past 6 weeks as the cleaner he knows, likes, and trusts. We'll see what happens next. We have an estimate for next Tuesday!
I've been writing newsletters for my consulting role for a few years, but never for my cleaning network. I knew this needed to chance in 2019 and 2020. Thanksgiving was quickly approaching, so I wrote an article entitled, "Cleaning Tips to De-STRESS the Holidays". I added new names to my mailing list that gave me permission to add them and sent the newsletter out to 50 people through my free MailChimp account. I also repurposed the article to my website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google My Business, and NextDoor. My strategy was simple. Write one article and put it on every channel as you never know how people will consume your content.
This is our second lesson on goal-setting. The first was "What is Your Why", where we saw the importance of finding what makes you tick and use that to keep you inspired. In this lesson, I want to prove to you why you need to set goals if you want to succeed. In fact, I'll let the well-known Harvard Business Review study tell you why!
This is a remarkable finding. Out of 100 people, only 3 write down their goals and less than 2 (on average) write them down and review them on a regular basis. Furthermore, it is my guess that 1 out of 100 write down their goals, review them on a regular basis, and are held accountable to someone they respect to complete them.
Which of these 100 people would you like to be? If the goal-setters succeed 10 times more than non-goal-setters and the goal writers succeed 30 times more, how much more successful are the 1% that go all-in?!
I want to be a 1%'er. How about you?
Reference: The verse I quoted from the bible is Habakkuk 2:2-3
Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
I started this week with a presentation cleaning assessment for Tom and Marci at Edward Jones. As you may remember, this lead came through connecting with new friends's friends on LinkedIn (2nd Connections). I was able to point out several cleaning & presentation changes that could "present" their office better on first impressions to their target client. They were grateful for the time and free consulting I suggested. Plus, it was really great to meet my new LinkedIn friend Tom McKee in person! I promised to email the proposal by Wednesday and delivered. I was very pleased with myself because I was able to cut my office cleaning proposal time by 2 hours with a better template. This will save me time in the future!
At MCBA, I shared my Edward Jones story to show what I do. It connected with the group. I also voluntold that it was my turn to do a 20-minute showcase at an upcoming meeting. This opportunity gave me an idea. What if I could use my time to help another member and let everyone know what I do? I talked to another member, Vernessa Hopkins of H3 Business Services, who also rents the meeting space to our group. She was totally game! We chatted for a few minutes and she told me her ideal client and gave me permission to walk around to do my presentation cleaning assessment. After the meeting, I chatted with member Gary Volpe of Volpe Enterprises. He said. "Your name came up yesterday. We've had our cleaner for a couple years and their quality has been declining. We're not ready to switch, but I wanted to talk to you." I offered to do a free presentation on assessment to give my impression of the condition and what the current cleaner should change. Gary was very kind to think of me when cleaning came up at his company. I look forward to setting up an estimate. He said one other thing that really made me feel special. "I had a good feeling about you when I first met. You can just tell about people. Then, I met your wife and I got a better feeling." My takeaway is this. I am networking to establish myself in the community, build relationships, and grow our business. It's so cool that I could introduce Teresa to a friend, successful businessman, and potential future client.
1-on-1 meetings are very productive. I have tried to meet with other members of my 2 networking groups at least once per week and certainly 2 per month. I met with James Hardy (a fellow MCBA member) for breakfast and had a fabulous conversation about how each of us are in the business of first impressions. James owns the Carpet Guys and has been in restoration carpet cleaning for over 20 years. He shared some stories of how vital trust and excellence are in his company. One story in particular, James shared how his company maintained a consistency and excellence from the first phone call to the estimate, clean uniforms and work truck, to the initial cleaning excellence of his equipment and the work he did. I was SO impressed with his mindset for excellence that I asked if I could interview him for my podcast at some point and call the show "Presentation is Everything". He thought it would be a great idea to get the word out on what he does and help others. I also did a 1-on-1 Mary Ann Alig of Fox Roach Realtors. She's a fellow member in my BIB meeting. I really liked the niche she serves of first-time home buyers and how she educates them fully. She also goes to church with James Hardy and they didn't know each other. I connected them with an email introduction afterward. Mary Ann was very interested to get me to visit her office to give a presentation on Presentation Cleaning for realtors.
A few weeks ago, I shared about a lead I got to clean an entire grocery story. I followed up on that lead a few times without much success. Since I was at the grocery store with James Hardy, I stopped over to the customer service desk and asked for Sean He was there and the two of us chatted in his office for 10 minutes. He needs a better cleaner to contract out to clean 3 hours per day, 7 nights per week, and a crew of 6 guys in the kitchens, bathrooms, and mezzanine. I didn't want to embarrass myself, but I knew that I had to answer honestly. I declined the opportunity and thanked him and said I'd refer a company if I come across one that I trust. He thanked me. Here's the lesson of this meeting and the title of this episode. I could have said, "I can do that." It would have placed me on a new focus to hire 6 commercial cleaners and then train them. I could have, but it's not in my lane. When you drive outside of your lane, you slow down and cause damage. I didn't want the distraction. And yes, I have said "I can do that" before. In 2007, a commercial GC found me and wanted me to deep clean a school. I said yes and then panicked. This lead to me cleaning a school, a library, a pool, stipping & waxing a gym. These stories ended up in the Funny Papers for a reason. I was out of my lane. Oh, and after my meeting with Sean, I stopped at a chiropractor's office next to the Gehman building that I clean. I had reached out to this chiropractor on LinkedIn to introduce myself and he gave me permission to stop by and say hello. Therefore, I wasn't stopping over cold. He was expecting me. When I got there, my timing was good and Mike immediately recognized me from my LinkedIn profile picture. We chatted for a few minutes. I offered to add him to my cleaning tips newsletter and he was very grateful to be added.
Now, let's get to some house cleaning! I've been cleaning for an office in Perkasie for over a year. Recently, the owner asked if I could stop over for a house cleaning estimate. It took some time to coordinate, but we got it done this week. The estimate went well. She was very impressed with my ability to fit her in for a pre-party cleaning this week and how I do the house priority zoning in my quoting process. She hired me to do the 1-time deep cleaning for the next day and I absolutely performed with excellence. She was very happy. Afterward, she hired me for ongoing biweekly services. Yay! I got a new house cleaning client!
Teresa had been connecting with other moms on the local Facebook Mom's group. One mom needed help with cleaning, so Teresa connected the two of us. I talked with this mom for 20 minutes about her needs and made sure to answer all of her questions. She had previously hired a mom that was there once, but cancelled 3 times. She needed someone reliable. I shared my price range and she invited me over for an estimate the next day. The estimate went really well. I delivered the proposal as promised and she said yes to one of my options! Yay! I got a second new house cleaning client!
I've been sharing my marketing journey for a few months now. This week I had 3 estimates and sent 3 proposals. It lead to 2 new clients! It felt great!
e are starting 2020 with a 4-part podcast series on Goal Setting. Recently, I was asked by Courtney Wisely of Rescue My Maid Service to be an expert on this topic. I did a live training through Zoom to 8 growing cleaning business owners in St. Louis to identify what topics connected the most. Then I refined my presentation to record a 60-minute masterclass on Goals & Accountability for Courtney's Maidivation subscription boxes. Since this content has been received so well by cleaning companies with large teams and growing businesses, I knew it would connect with my solo cleaning family! Surely, you can go to my website and watch my free 60-min masterclass or just listen to all 4 parts of this podcast series.
Why does the Why matter so much? Let's just say it this way. Simon Sinek has built an entire company, platform, and brand on helping people and companies figure out their why. In his book, "Start With Why", Simon shares the concept of the Golden Circle where the WHY is in the center and the How and What flows outward from it. His experience with thousands of individuals and companies show that those that truly start with why, achieve the most success and significance. The ones that just go for the details, tend to lose their way. Without the Why, the How and the What doesn't matter.
I learned a great exercise in San Diego at Social Media Marketing World. It's called the "5 Why's". In this exercise, you peel back the onion until you get to the real & true heart of your why. This is the vulnerable and most cherished part of you. It will create the fuel of inspiration verses the outside need for motivation, which is more of an air pump. This concept really connected with Courtney's Rescue Retreat attendees. In fact, let me share an example from the retreat.
As you can see, the responses got deeper and more personal. This woman wants her cleaning business to provide the income and time freedom so she can live her Why. By the time you get 5 Why's deep, you should have something that is highly emotional to the person and is highly likely to light their own pilot light for inspiration verses outside motivation. The light of inspiration will never go out.
Go to my Resources page to see my recommended book list including "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek. I also referenced my good friend Josh Melton of Athens Cleaning Company in Athens, GA in the Funny Papers. He co-owns this commercial cleaning company and helps other commercial cleaners nationwide get to the 6-figure income mark.
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.