This was episode 11 of this podcast, originally published on November 14, 2019 which was a tough month for me. We had successfully built and sold an optimized solo cleaning company in Upstate New York and moved back home to Philadelphia after nearly 20 years away. I desperately wanted to have a career where I could work from home and enjoy my kids growing up. I made an assumption that I'd be able to build up our online business of courses, memberships, and the proceeds of this podcast while living off the sale revenue from our NY cleaning company. I had just returned from the Total Life Freedom Gatlinburg Retreat with a new direction. I told my mastermind and my wife that I would continue to build the online business. However, I promised them that I would get back into the trenches of solo cleaning and prove to whoever was listening to the podcast that I could do it again. I built one solo cleaning company over 15 years to $60,000 profit cleaning just 2 days per week without employees. I vowed to do it again and set SMART goals of $20,000 revenue goals for the upcoming year of 2020. I even called this goal - Vision 20/20! We all know that 2020 turned out differently, but that didn't stop us! We accomplished every goal in 2020 and shared every detail in the first 100 episodes of this podcast.
This November 2019 episode was very important as it taught a vital lesson in HOW I was able to raise prices and optimize a solo cleaning business so fast. If you're thinking to yourself, 'how, Ken?' The answer is in the title. Enjoy!
Check out my interview with the T-Bag Company Founder, entitled "Respectful, Reliable, Responsible with Damon Washington". You can purchase any of the T-Bag products at a 10% discount through the Smart Cleaning School Resources Page at smartcleaningschool.com/resources.
The Solo Cleaning Elite and the ISO Model Course are the classes available to solo cleaners in the Smart Cleaning School. I am the original student and have honed the curriculum for any solo cleaner to create the profit, time, and freedom they are looking for without ever having to hire employees. I created the curriculum with our first solo cleaning business in New York as the model. We built an optimized solo cleaning company with 17 clients that created $60,000 annual profit on 2 cleaning days per week. It was awesome as I could be home with my family 5 days per week! This business sold for $80,000. Over the past 5 years, I have coached dozens of solo cleaners through my ISO Model with success. I have also built a second solo business to $70,000 profit on 2 cleaning days per week and scaled this business to almost $200k in annual revenue and a team of employees. Why do I tell you all of that? Simple. One of the classes in the ISO Model is called the 3 S's of Solo Cleaning. You can only optimize so far and every solo cleaner must make this decision at some point. Will I STAY a solo cleaner and continue to optimize to my ideal income and schedule, while turning down many prospects? Will I SELL my solo business to move on or enjoy retirement? Will I SCALE my solo business with a team of employees so we can grow to impact our community? I have done all 3 S's of solo cleaning. Therefore, I am a credible instructor for the ISO Model Course.
I Can't Take Any More Customers
I hear this statement so much in the cleaning groups. It sounds like a great problem to have, but in reality, it's a defining statement. Let me give context to the people asking it. They are called solo cleaners. I was one for 16 years. A solo cleaner starts out super excited to make money for their family. They love cleaning and can do it as a side business. As they get better and their name gets passed around, they start adding more and more customers. But here's the problem. A solo cleaner has a limited number of customers they can work with. Even the most efficient solo cleaner even has a limit. For fun, let's create a solo cleaning robot named Bob. Bob doesn't sleep and is able to clean 3 houses Monday to Friday during the day and 4 offices each night and 8 on Saturday and Sunday. Bob is a machine, literally. He cleans 15 houses and 36 offices every week by himself. If each house and office is worth $150 per clean, Bob is creating just under $400,000 in annual revenue and approximately $350,000 per year in profit as he doesn't sleep or eat. All he needs are the supplies and insurances to do the work. This is absolutely ridiculous. No one can work like Bob. I just wanted to show you that a solo cleaning robot could earn $350,000 per year. But he couldn't earn any more. What if Bob was reprogrammed to need sleep? He would tap out around $175,000 or $200,000. The point is simple. There is always a limit in solo cleaning. Most solos out there are no where near Bob. Does that strike a chord? Are you working like crazy and have no more time to take on more customers. Congratulations! You've hit the wall. So what are you going to do about it?
Standards Vs. Expectations
I need to give credit to where credit is due for this episode. Thank you Vincent Pugliese for this mindset. If you don't know Vincent, check out "Content But Not Satisfied". Vincent has grown an online community called Total Life Freedom with over 100 strong in the past 4 years. The members inside this community have access to expert calls on various topics of online platform building, elite masterminds, internal courses, retreats, and of course, the extremely valuable connections between like-minded, freedom-seeking entrepreneurs. I have been a part of this community and mastermind since the first day. In fact, I am an original member and was there to help Vincent set up the foundation. I've had a unique perspective of watching Vincent build this community and raise up leaders from within it. I remember the hard times too, such as last summer. We stayed together in Nashville for Podcast Movement. When the masses went to the insane iHeart afterparty with drinking, we stuck around the hotel to mastermind. You see, Vincent had built a great community. But like any business, he had some parts and people that were higher maintenance than others. I showed him my 2 x 2 grid to map out the various aspects of his business. I talked about this in "Why I Fired My First Client", where I divided all of our clients into 4 groups - low-paying & high-drama, high-paying & low-drama, high-paying & high-drama, and low-paying & low drama. When you hear these listed out, it's obvious that we want the high-paying & low-drama and don't want the low-paying & high-drama. It's the other two groups that cause us so much grief. I explained this to Vincent and he started getting excited. Then he asked if we could add a mid-range box and make it 3 x 3. That's when I got excited. We started mapping his various clients and income streams on this grid. It spoke so loud that we knew what he needed to do. I did the same exercise for us as well. By the way, this is vintage Ken & Vincent since we met at a Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin, Gary Vee conference in 2014. We mastermind so well together. When the drunkards returned from the iHeart party, we were chilling in the hotel restaurant with wings and our maps. We were so excited. Vincent pledged that he would raise the standards in his community to have 100 amazing people that were all low-drama. Some were low-paying and some were high, but no one brought drama. They would be an ultra generous community always looking out for others. This was the vision. This episode releases at the 1-year mark of that mapping meeting. Vincent's vision has come to fruition. TLF has leveled up more than I've ever seen it.
It's Not Just a Corn Muffin
When I started this podcast in late 2019, I never imagined in a million years that I'd be eulogizing my father a year later. If you get a chance, check out the Tribute to My Father from December 17th, 2020. Ken Carfagno, Sr was born in Northeast Philadelphia on May 11th, 1936. He was the youngest of 6. Ken Sr. married Gabriella Corbett on October 20th, 1956. They were 20 years old. Soon after, they had their first of three sons, Ken Carfagno, Jr. That's my dad. 18-year-old Ken Jr married 16-year-old Lynn Driban in August 1976 and Ken Carfagno III was born on March 1st, 1977. Ken Sr became a Pop-Pop at the age of 40. My parents didn't stay married long. I have shared this so many times in this podcast as it's so vital to understand me. My single mom raised me during the week as a kid, while my dad and mostly my Pop-Pop raised me on weekends. The most influential man in my life has always been my Pop-Pop. In latter years, I started calling him my father because he raised me into the man that I am. Thank you for listening to this opening and my genealogy story. I just wanted to give you context to this episode.
I gave this talk at my local Montgomery Country Business Alliance (MCBA) meeting in June on Interpersonal Skills. Here are the notes from that talk!
MCBA Talk on Interpersonal Skills – Ken Carfagno 6/21/22
This is a HUGE topic to cover! I will barely scratch the surface in 30 minutes. Therefore, let me give you a few books to check out on your own. My story: I was a selfish, shy, introverted engineer when I left PA in 2000. Teresa and I joined Amway in 2002 and I started devouring books on business, personal development, people skills, goal-setting. Here are a few of my favorites in the people skills / developing meaningful relationships genre.
Snag Success with Angela Brown
In "This Moment with Angela Brown", we relive her childhood and early adulthood through the lessons she learned along the way. It's so interesting to see how the traits that make her successful today were forced at various ages. In this episode, we conclude the interview with Angela Brown.
This Moment with Angela Brown
Angela Brown is a 25-year veteran of house cleaning, #1 YouTuber and podcaster with her show "Ask a House Cleaner", and a guru in our industry. I have been friends with Angela for 5 years. In fact, she was the first person to really challenge me to start a podcast in late 2016. Angela is highly respected in the residential cleaning world and is helping thousands to grow their house cleaning businesses. In this double interview, we dive into so many topics that make Angela... Angela. You will see that she is just like you. She just persevered through every adversity over and over again with an insatiable desire for learning. I love this quote early on in part 1 of the interview.
The Power of a Platform
This is the first-ever podcast swap on the Smart Cleaning School. I was recently interviewed by my good friend John Stange in front of his Platform Launchers live audience. In this interview, John wanted me to teach the benefits and synergy of running a local service-based business along with growing a platform. Let me briefly tell you about John Stange. He is a pastor in the Philadelphia area that has developed over 10 income streams outside of his pastor's income. He is a platform builder. John's first platform is called DesireJesus.com, where he has been blogging, selling books and ads while helping Christians grow closer to Jesus for years. John also started the Daily Audio Bible Podcast in 2016, which has just surpassed 8 million downloads. I remember meeting John in person for the first time. We met at Five Guys. As he strolled up to the storefront, I heard his voice and instantly thought, 'this guy has a voice for radio'. 8 million others apparently agree. John has been able to reach the masses with his 2021 book, "Dwell on These Things", that I promoted in the self-titled podcast. John has been so successful in developing his own platforms that he chose to start Platform Launchers to help others do the same. I highly recommend his membership if you're a cleaner wanting to do something else to help others. I hope you enjoy this podcast from Platform Builders and John Stange. John has given me permission to share it.
Make sure to check out Platform Launchers if you have ever thought about starting something on the side to help others.
"Helping cleaning professionals make the impact they were meant to make."