In my last two Carfagno Cleaning updates, I shared the story of Doug Floro and how a seed turned into an opportunity. I started this week by completing his house cleaning proposal with 6 options and hit send! Like I always say, you never know! Right after the proposal, I wrote, published, and repurposed (to social media) a new cleaning newsletter.
I also sent out my monthly invoices and something amazing happened. One of my office clients asked if I would be willing to bill ahead for 6 months instead of one. That was an easy answer... "YES!" I read three things into this request:
Now, let's get to the meat of this week's episode. In 18 Gutter Balls, I shared the story of my infamous bowling game of 12 when I was 12. My 83-year-old Pop-Pop still heckles me about that day! The final question I posed was this. "Have you learned yet?" I was doing the same thing, over-and-over again, and expecting a different result. This is the definition of insanity by the late, great Albert Einstein. I was guilty of it that day with my engraved bowling ball and now I get to answer the question.
I shared a detailed account of how to wrap up your year in review. It's called Think Week. I have followed this process every year and even published the podcast episode ahead of my 2019 version. Let me get real and transparent. "I haven't learned yet, Pop-Pop." I started to do Think Week by reflecting of my 2019 goals and comparing them to what I accomplished. I achieved about 67%. Not bad. But I dug deeper and saw something that demanded explanation. So I pulled out my 2018 notebook for Think Week and saw the same pattern. To make matters worse, I pulled out every year back to 2012. This revealed that I have been a broken record.
I've been doing the same thing over and over and over, expecting my end-of-year results to change. But at the end of each year, I threw a 6 instead of a strike (using the bowling analogy). Some years, I did throw a gutter ball. Here's what I realized. I am a dreamer, an optimist. I love working on my passion projects and I've always had one. Early on, it was an Amway business with Teresa. Then it was writing a novel for dads to read to their kids, followed by coaching & consulting cleaning company owners. The mistake I repeated was setting my SMART goals to grow my passionate side-hustle, while setting the mark for my main business for "just enough". Whether I was an engineer or a solo cleaning owner, I have not set SMART growth goals to raise our level of income past 'just making it' to 'prospering'. I chose to set my SMART growth goals on my side-hustle, that I WANTED to do, yet had no proof of concept! My optimism kicked in as well because I made many assumptions that weren't realistic or attainable. So I'd complete a year with the same main business income and a side income that barely increased. But I was happy and rationalized that I did good because I loved doing it.
If you remember from my Make Your Goals SMART episode, an unattainable goal is SMRT. Sure, I figured out how to stabilize and optimize my solo cleaning business. I had SMART goals every 90 days, but they weren't for more income. I set them to have MORE TIME at the SAME INCOME. I looked at 8 Think Week notebooks and fell into a short term depression and frustration. I couldn't believe that after 30 years, I was still throwing gutter balls. Why would I NOT set growth goals on my main business that was tried and tested? I could have doubled my income so much faster. These are the questions I was left pondering and quite frankly, sobbing about on that hardwood floor with 8 notebooks.
This was so visceral that I was forced to make a change. Coming out of Think Week was different this time. 2020 was going to be different. I have labeled it VISION 20/20. "I have learned, Pop-Pop." I made the change and set my growth SMART goals on my new solo cleaning business and activity SMART goals on my side passion projects. I am super excited to see where this year ends up compared to last.
How about you?
Previous Show Mentioned: "Think Week"
The week started off great. In my last podcast update on my own solo cleaning business, I shared the story of Doug sliding another cleaning business's card across his desk and asking me what I thought of her. I spoke highly of her, even after he told me that he used her company for his own house. Well, I got an email from Doug on Monday asking if I would be willing to do a cleaning estimate for his house. I was amazed, scheduled an appointment, and completed it by the end of the week. It just goes to show that you never go wrong by sowing good seeds about others.
I share the full story in the episode, but I was torched on my mastermind call this week. The guys weren't impressed with my goals and how I was approaching the next 12 months. I tried defending myself, but they called me on it. Overall, it was a great call and I was challenged to do what I preach and get an accountability partner (see the Accountability Roadmap). John VanderMuelen. John is a good friend and MASTER of selling on Amazon. He runs a group holding other Amazon Sellers accountable and trains them.
I set up electronic payments for the first time after 15 years of running a cleaning business. I did my research and for now, chose Stripe. It's about 3% cost but it's easier for my new house cleaning clients and possibly an office or two. This gives me a new option for collecting money and not waiting or worrying about checks and bank deposits. It's streamlined.
This next meeting with my realtor friend, Denise Simone, is where the title for today's episode came from. Denise has a passion for the elderly and helping them downsize to fully enjoy the twilight of their lives. She told me a beautiful story of a former client. Betty is a widow that Denise helped downsize through crazy issues with mold, a broken septic, obtaining permits, and just 45 years of a lived-in home. Denise was her hero and did work way beyond real estate to help her client and friend to a better life. She even helped her clean the house a bit. Denise had a great line. "An old unkept house is like a broken down car." This was in reply to houses over time with neglect fall into disrepair. I shared an analogy about the brain and personal development. Our brains, businesses, and relationships don't stay the same. They also fall into disrepair with neglect. I was so impressed with Denise and was grateful for the time and for allowing me to share her story of Betty!
Previous Show Mentioned: "Blueberry Pie"
TLF Mastermind friends I mention: Andy Storch, Gustavo Fernandez, Jon Appino, John VanderMuelen,
Listen to this episode to hear the backstory and how our game of Giant Jenga went. I want to share the vital part and message in the show notes. We were at the critical point where there were no more potential blocks to pull. My daughter was faced with a critical decision. Does she go for the best option and face a 99% chance of failure? Or does she CREATE a new option?
I've literally never seen anyone do this in Jenga. Christianna lifted up the top half of the building and rotated it 90 degrees so that it fit together like Tetris. This created a loose block that she slid out and sat down to escape losing. My mouth dropped in awe as my initial reaction was, 'That is literally the most creative solution I've ever seen in Jenga'. We did wonder as a family if the move was legal, but we played on. Ultimately, Christianna did not lose.
I posted the video clip on Facebook with a question and the video? "I need a Jenga ruling! This is a the most creative solution I've ever seen in this game. But... is it legal?!" I got a lot of comments, but two back-to-back contrasting views really stood out. I won't mention names. One said, "If you're not going to play by the rules, don't play the game." The other said that she loved the out of the box creative thinking and that she will go far in life. I was so thrilled to see these two comments as they show the stark differences between the employee and entrepreneur's mindset.
Employees are trained to always follow the rules and stay inside the box. I mean no disrespect to the first commentor or to employees in general. I was an employee for over a decade and have great memories. I'm just stating that employees have been trained to be excellent direction followers. The better they follow directions, the better they do on the test and in the job. Now granted, those that are in leadership do think bigger. However, there is always someone giving them instructions.
In stark contrast, entrepreneurs are always stretching and redefining the new box. In fact, great entrepreneurs just say, "What box?" They are creative, curious, and think critically to solve difficult problems. It's what our awesome nation was built on! After reading this comment, I was so excited about my daughter's future as we train our kids in entrepreneur thinking! Way to go Christianna! I'm so proud of you!
If you like or identify with this level of thinking, check out the work of Seth Godin as it inspired so much of what I wrote and talked about here!he
Let's face it. You're going to mess up your communication as a business owner. You will say one thing and mean another. Or, you will think one thing and not fully communicate it. That was the case for me last week with a new client, Ellie. I was under the assumption she understood my 3-part cleaning plan because I had explained it in person. But I never wrote it out and therefore, the plan never existed. I executed the plan of part 2 and followed up with Ellie afterward to get cleaning feedback. She was very pleased with the master bathroom and other rooms I detail deep cleaned. However, she was unhappy that I "skipped" the guest bathroom when she had guests coming over in a few days. I'll let the podcast audio share the full detail of this story, but I will say that apologizing is an action verb! It's one thing to say, "I'm sorry." It's another thing to show it. I knew the right thing to do and I fixed it by going back and cleaning Ellie's bathroom for free and apologizing in person. She was so happy and it raised my trust factor big time.
This week I also met with Doug Floro of My Father's Business Wealth Management. He is the leader of the Believer's in Business Networking Group that I attend twice per month. Anyway, we wanted to do a 1-to-1, so we could get to know each other better as I'm still a new member. The meeting was in his beautiful office and we definitely had a fantastic conversation. At the end, Doug did something unexpected. He slid a business card of another cleaning company across his desk and asked, "Ken, do you know this person?" I recognized the name and company. Although I didn't know much, I did know that she was part of a larger franchise and had recently upgraded her office as her business was growing well. My answer to this question would be a seed and I knew it. Would I say that she was an average company and that I'm way better, in hopes that he would hire me to clean his office? Or would I say share what I knew and find a way to edify her? If you know me at all, I don't even think like the first option. I edified her success and then asked why. Doug told me that she was his cleaner for their home. There wasn't anything else to say. I just said, "That's great! I hope she keeps doing a great job." It was a great meeting, for sure!
I also worked hard on my proposal for Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe with my recommendations for daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly presentation cleaning. Then I introduced Jim Hardy to the owners for a potential package deal to get all the cleaning done. I heard back from Kayla the next day and she was very grateful for the introduction to Jim and she was going to read the proposal and thanked me again. To wrap up the week. I attended a play that my kids were in at church. There was a couple behind me that I didn't recognize, so I introduced myself. He wanted my cleaning card and, OF COURSE, I had one. That's a huge tip! It turns out that the husband is the CEO of a local charity. We're going to get together for breakfast soon. You just never know!
Past Show Mention - "My Name is Kevin LaCombe"
January 2008 was a very busy time in my cleaning business as I was cleaning all the time, managing employees, and trying to spend time with my wife, 3 year-old-son Kenny, and newborn daughter Christianna. By late 2008, I changed my cleaning model to solo cleaning and never went back. I cleaned for years alone and got quite used to the lifestyle of listening to audio books, podcasts, music, and talk radio while I cleaned, then came home to play with my kids.
Never in a million years could I have ever imagined that one day I'd have those two little kids working alongside me in the family business. My mind was blown when Kenny (15) and Christianna (12) cleaned a few offices with me Thursday night. I'm not sure why adding Christianna gave me the wake up call as Kenny has been cleaning offices with me for 3 years. Maybe it's because I wasn't cleaning when Kenny was born, but I was in full swing during Christianna's birth. Maybe it's because she's a Daddy's girl. I don't know. I can say this. We teach our children how to think like an entrepreneur and help them start businesses. We believe in developing a great work ethic in ourselves and kids. Our family cleaning business is an excellent resource to give real-life experience to our kids in both of those goals.
In the Pros of Solo Cleaning, I forgot to add this pro. You own a family business and cleaning is a worthy trade to teach your kids. There are no guarantees in the workplace with college degrees. The trades are dying as young people want to pursue the glamorous digital marketplace. This is a tremendous opportunity for us. I encourage each of you to think long-term about your cleaning business. If you are in the "February of Cleaning" and you Don't Want to Do This Anymore, listen to this podcast episode to inspire you to push through!
Everything is NOT all flowers and sunshine in a solo cleaning business. I have shared solid mindset to grow and so many pros to this amazing business as I've grown my own solo business a second time. But it's not always great. There are Cons of Solo Cleaning. In this episode, I wanted to be REAL and share when I reached my "February of Cleaning" and wanted to quit! Essesntially, I had a pity party and needed the encouragement of my wife to get me through.
I shared the story of Ian Traynor of Albany Pure Cleaning. He was so excited to start his new solo cleaning business. It was summer time, warm, sunny, and didn't get dark until 9 pm. I warned him about February, saying "Ian, February is coming. I know you're excited now but a time is coming when you will question everything. You'll be leaving the house in the dark and cold and snow of Upstate New York and coming back home to the dark and cold and ice. Your supplies will be frozen as well as your car every morning.You'll wonder why you're doing this. But remember that spring and summer are coming again." I meant this in a literal and metaphorical sense. Spring and summer are literally more fun and tolerable for cleaning. However, in a metaphorical sense, Ian's business will go through seasons. The first season is shiny and new, which leads to the emotion of excitement. The last season is optimizing and great profit and great mindset, leading to the emotion of excitement. But the middle season, the "February of Cleaning", will be old and boring and cold, leading to the natural emotions of depression and frustration.
You'll have to listen to my account on this podcast, but I share what I was feeling after cleaning Erika's house for the second time. I worked so hard to get two new clients and I was excited to start rebuilding my company. Then, I started the actual cleaning and realized it was going to be hard work. I realized that I needed to get my mind back into "Cleaning Mode". That's why podcasts like this can be so beneficial. I had my pity party as I was tired after cleaning two houses. That's when my wife stepped in and encouraged me. I told Teresa. "I don't want to do this anymore." I was questioning my career and if I would have to clean solo the rest of my life. Then I talked to Rachel Hicks of Slightly OCD Cleaning while doing an office later that night and came up with a plan that excited me again. I have fully trained Ian, who was an entrepreneur looking for an opportunity. She reminded me that I trained her to double her hourly rate as a cleaning owner. That's what I'm great at and what I love doing. Rachel helped me to dig out of my season of pity and also encouraged me. I started to see and visualize the spring and it excited me again.
Once I got my mind straight, I noticed an email in my box. Kayla from Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe asked if I could come in to meet with Sammy to discuss cleaning. I set up the estimate and met with Sammy while the restaurant was closed. It was very productive and I sent a proposal out a few days later to serve Sammy. I offered a comprehensive plan to cleaning the cafe with their existing staff, an outsourced cleaning service (me), and carpet & floor company (my friend Jim). They were thankful and we'll see, maybe they'll be a new client!
We are all going to face our "February of Cleaning". The strong ones will endure through determination and disciplined thought. It's totally amazing how our emotions follow our thoughts.
I'm calling an audible to my original plan. We started this now 5-part series with Goal Setting I "What is Your Why" and talked about the most important aspect of goal-setting. It's your reason for getting up and doing what you do. The "5 Why's" exercise is an effective way to peel back the layers of your reasons to get to the core of what makes you tick. We are not robots, but emotional creatures. Mike Michalowicz, in his epic book "Profit First", shares why rational accounting doesn't work. He uses an example of plate sizes. Do you know that the average size has grown from 9" to 13" in diameter. That's DOUBLE! Over the same time period, the average American male's weight increased from 160 lbs to 190 lbs! Why? Mike goes to say that humans consume everything they are given. It's human behavior. They also use every available amount of time to finish a project and every dollar to fill their budgets. This is why Americans don't have 'extra' savings on hand or 'spare' time or 'uneaten' calories. There is a name for this. It's called Parkinson's Law.
Parkinson's Law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." We have to fight against this human behavior to win and learn how to Kill Parkinson!
Our SMART goals are subject to Parkinson's Law too. If you set a SMART goal with a 'T' of 3 months, you will either miss the goal or make it just in time even if you could have done it faster. This is human behavior. I want to encourage you to set goals so that you can complete them in the beginning and get the wins. However, you need to get more aggressive as you progress. I'm going to use this example. I interviewed my friend Courtney Wisely of Rescue My Maid Service on a FB Live to help her set a SMART goal. She wanted to complete a technology course for cleaning service owners to help them be more productive and automated. I asked her if she could get it done by December (12 months away). Her answer was "Heck, yeah!" Then I asked if she could have it done this month. She said, "Heck, no!" I asked about June, which was 6 months away. "Um... yes." She wasn't as confident, but knew she could. Then I said April or 4 months away. She was very uncomfortable, but believed it was possible. I encouraged her to set her SMART goal for April. Here's the psychology behind this and it looks at the 'A' in SMART or 'Attainable'. I pressed Courtney and discovered she could achieve this massive goal in 4 months. However if she set the goal like most people for 12 months, Parkinson's Law would kick in and she'd allow the work to expand to fit the time. That would waste 8 months of potential goals or create a huge Opportunity Cost. Courtney won't do this. She will set the goal for 4 months and kill it this year. Just keep in mind that Courtney is a hyper-focused goal-achiever. We're not all there. So start where you are. The 'A' in the SMART goal has to be defined by YOU depending on where you are in your goal-setting journey. What's barely attainable now will be a joke in a year, so you cannot continue to set the same goals.
The reason I added a 5th part to this Goal-Setting series was to show that human behavior drives your completion of goals. You need to have an emotional 'Why' which determines the 'R' in your SMART goal. You need behavioral 'A' in your SMART goal to kill Parkinson. And you need an accountability partner to ride with you along the journey to point out when you are veering off the path or taking too long to get something done. Face it. Goal-setting is 80% emotional and 20% rational.
My Pop-Pop has been the man I've wanted to perform for my whole life. My father and I are both named after him. My son is named after him. For most of my life, Pop-Pop has been an encourager... except for this one time!
When I was 12-years-old, I was competing in a Saturday morning bowling league where I was one of the best in my league for my age. I carried an average around 135. But on one occasion, I defied all sense and threw a low-game of 12. There are only 10 frames in a game of bowling and if you don't mark in the 10th, you only get 20 throws of the ball down the lane. In this game, I threw 18 / 20 gutter balls. My score was embarrassment enough. But not on this day, nor the 30 years since.
My Pop-Pop watched every throw. He could see what I was doing wrong and had the answer. He was in the right perspective to help me make the adjustments, but I was too dang stubborn to accept his help. So what did he do?
He heckled me like the Volkswagon guy in Happy Gilmore. I'll let you listen to the episode to get the gist of it
My Pop-Pop reminds me over and over again about this epic failure of a bowling game. I reply. "Pop, that was 30 years ago!" His response is powerful. "Have you learned yet?" What about you? Are you throwing gutter balls over and over again? Do you have a mentor or coach that sees a broader perspective of your game, but you are too stubborn? Get over yourself and adjust! Change your approach and increase your score.
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.