I've been cleaning homes since 2006 and have noticed a dramatic increase in home security as technology improves. Alarms have gone from wired to wireless. Cameras surveil various angles and locations of the home. Garages have keypads. Families are more secure than ever and they can do so at an expense less than it used to cost. This happens so predictively that economists give it a name.
McDonald's is largest fast food restaurant chain in the world. There are nearly 40,000 stores worldwide totaling $21 billion in annual sales. I used to eat at McD's a lot as a kid and young adult. My favorite meal was the breakfast combo Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin, hash brown, and juice. Ray Kroc founded McDonald's on April 15th, 1955. He was a big thinker from the beginning and pioneered the franchise model, where you have a system for each new store empowering the spirit of the entrepreneur and leveraging the success of duplication. The company knows how to advertise with their jingles being some of the most well-known on the planet. They know how to entertain, bringing playgrounds inside their restaurants to get more kids to bring their parents. The company knows how to grow and scale. If you ever study this, you will be impressed. So many cleaning companies adopt franchise models as well for the same reasons. Like McDonald's, they can scale to incredible proportions.
When I was 13, I got a job with the Movie Exchange. It was the company owned bye buy step-grandparents Monty and Shelly Tibbitts, whom I've talked about in prior episodes. They were the only entrepreneurs in my teen years, but I never had the courage to ask them real questions on business mindset. I wish that I had! However, I did learn a ton from them by watching the way the they lived and the way others treated them. First of all, they had money! There were always two Jags in the driveway. They owned a private plane, a boat, a beach house, wave runners. Secondly, they had beautiful decor and they entertained first rate. Check out "Eat with your Eyes First". The Tibbitts' were all about serving and mingling family with business. They made their business deals and built relationships with employees and their families at the dinner table in their home. Their imprint is definitely on me as an adult entrepreneur. I just didn't recognize it until Pop-Pop Monty passed away a few years ago.
I met Tom while living with my mother in-law. He was so nice and gave recycled computers to Kenny from his computer repair store. It started Kenny on a path to do computer flipping as a side business. We stayed in touch with Tom, with a possibility of Kenny doing some interning for him. I bumped into Tom again when he was on the Chamber webinar where I taught the "9 Mistakes in Disinfecting". Tom was really impressed and wanted to have me speak on the topic in a local business owner's group. We stayed in touch as COVID slowed. He invited us over as he had more recycled computers for Kenny. I've been very grateful that Tom thought of my son and helping a budding computer entrepreneur. I showed up with my son a few days later during a podcast recording day. I was dressed in shorts and a tank top. While Kenny was rummaging through computers, Tom mentioned that he was interested in getting a cleaning quote down the road. Of course, I told him we could set it up. But as Kenny took his time, Tom said. "Would you like to see it now?" I was not in professional dress and told Tom that I felt funny. He laughed and took me around the building. I took notes and promised to get some quotes out to him. When I saw the bathroom, I felt challenged by the rings in the sink. I knew Kenny wasn't done yet, so I said to Tom. "I'll be right back. I'm going to get the big guns and make this sink look awesome." He didn't argue at all. By the time Kenny was ready, the sink was glistening and Tom was amazed.
I loved and hated the movie "Patch Adams" when it came out in the late 90's. There is one scene that is burned into my mind and unfortunately, I'll never forget it. Patch and his girlfriend Carin Fisher were serving the community with a medical clinic. A man named Larry enters the clinic and they take him in. He is mentally ill and disturbed, but seems harmless. One night, Larry calls Carin and asks her to come over and help him. She is so trusting and willingly comes over. She enters Larry's house with a smile, says his name, then sees his face. The scene ends as my heart fell into the pit of my stomach. I knew what happened and it was confirmed when the scene ends and goes to Patch receiving the news that Carin was murdered by Larry, who then killed himself with a shotgun. Years after this movie, I still think of this scene for my wife, my daughter, and even myself as I enter homes and offices to clean by myself. What could Carin could have done differently? Are there steps that solo cleaners can take to protect ourselves? I admit that I don't worry as much as a guy cleaning, but I've still had my doubts from time to time. The majority of solo cleaners are female, so I've asked a solo cleaning community that I lead for suggestions. Here's what they said...
I shared in previous episodes that marketing is layered. You add one at a time. Well, I began to use the free Google My Business listing in November 2019. It's a simple tool and totally allows me to showcase my strengths. I call this in my ISO Model Course, a "Profile to Win". Here's the gist. What can I display about me and my company to create trust and credibility before they ever call me? In my 15 years, I have learned that before & after pictures, professional credentials, and recommendations are essential. This is what I love about Google my Business. You can collect 5-star reviews, add posts and credentials to show off your level of specialization, and post before & after pictures. Google has internal analytics that I can easily track called "insights", allowing me to see the impact of these updates. I currently have 21 5-star reviews, tons of pictures, and a weekly blog with links to my website. Google uses this information to boost me for free up their search algorithms. In fact, when you search "House Cleaning Harleysville", you'll find my company highly ranked in the map pack on page 1. I've been wondering if this effort was going to pay off as no leads have come yet (at least that I knew about). Please understand. I ran my solo cleaning company for 14 of 15 years with NO website. I didn't have a Google My Business listing until last year and started my Facebook business page 2 years ago. You may be asking yourself how in world I ever got any leads! I grinded it out and was referred by word of mouth and I had a ton of success in earlier years with ServiceMagic (presently HomeAdvisor). However, some marketing channels that worked in prior years may not today. I ditched HomeAdvisor for Facebook, Google, and a website. It's so cost effective as I only pay like $20 per year for the website and the others are free. Anyway, it goes without saying that I've never received a lead through my website until this week! Thank you Google!
This episode is completely different from others! I made a mistake in my industry, owned it, and it turned out really well! I'm a member of various cleaning groups on Facebook. One of them is called Professional House Cleaners, run by my friend Angela Brown of Savvy Cleaner. There are over 10,000 cleaning service owners active in this group to share lessons and best practices for the benefit of our industry. That's how it's supposed to work. We are all a part of the same industry and we understand that a rising tide, rises all ships.
Let's start this Carfagno Cleaning solo business with a WIN! Last week, I got 5 referrals through my local network (listen to Play Powerball with your Business). The lead from my friend and carpet cleaner, James Hardy, converted to a new office cleaning client! Since this new client is a school, I had to jump through a few more hoops. First of all, I needed to go beyond adding them as a 'Certificate Holder' on my general liability policy. I needed to increase my insurance for this additional customer. This is called 'Additionally Insured'. My current policy provides $2 million of coverage per year at $500 in annual premium. This new client cost me an additional $50, which I count as an expense. I also had to coordinate a cleaning time with the school and their weekend janitor to let me into the building. The school is not in the habit of handing out keys to outside contractors. Spoiler alert: I prayed over this situation as I desire to have offices with the flexibility to clean anytime over the weekend. A few days later, the school made an exception for me and gave me a set of keys! Lastly, this new client is a school for autistic children. I know autism and realize that these students will be on the floor a lot, touching things, and likely touching their faces. Thus, disinfecting of the classrooms and floors was vital. They already had a food & skin safe disinfectant and asked me my opinion for the floors. I researched it and immediately determined it was a bad choice. Why? The title of this episode is "Art Trumps Science". Let's talk science first. The pH was slightly alkaline at 9. The floors are VCT (vinyl composition tile). VCT is commonly used in schools and supermarkets. They are also waxed & buffed on a regular basis to keep a beautiful finish and to protect the tile. My friend James Hardy did the job, so we conferred with him and he agreed. This ph 9 disinfectant had just enough alkalinity to eat away at the wax finish, which would dull it and cause James to come back sooner. Therefore, their disinfectant was a wonderful choice for the refrigerators, microwaves, table tops, door knobs, and light switches, but NOT the floors. I connected with my good friend Mark Lineberry at Universal Janitorial and he recommended the perfect solution. It's called MatPro. The school purchased it and now uses my recommendations for disinfecting and protecting their students and staff. This raised my expertise and trust with the school big time. See! Understanding science is vital. It sets you apart from the basic cleaning service!
This episode is completely my son's idea. Kenny jammed his finger a couple months ago. I noticed that he was dragging his feet with household chores because his finger hurt. He wasn't shooting the basketball well and losing in PIG because his finger was hurt. It seemed like everything Kenny did that first week, he was looking for empathy and wanting everyone to see him suffering. It also gave him a built in excuse why he wasn't performing in multiple tasks.
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.