This is the last business update on my new solo cleaning business for 2019. What a way to go out! Andrea Szlavik of A2Z Realtor Pa assures Ken that he is not a cleaner who happens to do business. He is a business person that happens to clean. This is a big difference. Let's dive into this week in my business!
We had a business showcase presentation from Laney Landis this week at MCBA. She is the 5th generation owner (over 200 years in the family) of Old Village Paint. I was mesmerized at the history of this American Pre-Civil War paint company. I happened to record this meeting as I wanted to learn each member's business better. This was very fortuitous as Laney was sad she didn't have a recording of her showcase on her family company. Afterward, I told her of my bootleg recording and sold it on the black market for a can of paint. Just kidding. I sent it to her after the meeting and she was so pleased and thankful. As I've shared many times, always look to sow good seeds.
I also connected with a few other members after this meeting. James wanted to set up a 1-to-1 breakfast meeting to get to know each other's stories better. Charley wanted me to start sending me cleaning referrals. Paul wanted to connect. I am becoming a trusted face & member and others recognize that and want to get to know me better to refer me.
I met Andrea Szlavic on NextDoor last week and she added me to her realtor preferred vendor list. I was very thankful and asked if she would like to grab a coffee and connect. She opted for breakfast at a brand new local spot called Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe in Harleysville, It was a productive meeting where we shared our business stories with each other while enjoying the new flavor in town. We discovered a common connection as well. I had attended the Growth Now Movement LIVE! Conference in Reading, PA with Justin Schenck. While at this conference, I met another Keller Williams realtor at the same office as Andrea. It's a small world, after all. At the end of the meeting, I asked her this question. "Why did you add me to your preferred vendor list without meeting me or seeing my work quality first?" Her answer floored me and became the title to this episode.
"Because you set yourself apart by reaching out to me first on NextDoor. That told me that you were a business person that did cleaning verses a cleaning person that tried to do business. Most cleaners don't take that initiative."
As we parted, she assured me that she would get me out to her team's office in the spring for a real estate cleaning presentation. Then instead of getting in my car, I went back into the cafe and asked to speak to the owner. They were hesitant as they assumed I wanted to complain. Then I told them that I enjoyed the experience and would like to leave the cafe a 5-star review on Google. The hostess introduced me to my breakfast waitress, who was also part owner in the brand new cafe! She was very grateful and told me where to leave these reviews and asked for my cleaning business card. I left one on the cafe's bulletin board and went home.
Once I got home, I followed up by giving 5-star reviews on Google, NextDoor, and Facebook for Andrea and the Bullfrog Cafe. Andrea and Kayla (my breakfast waitress) were so thankful. Again, these are good seeds!
After leaving the reviews, I checked my phone and had a missed call and voicemail from Sean at the grocery store. Do you remember in "I'm the Only Cleaner" when Vernessa gave me the lead for her common areas cleaning? This was Sean's follow up. Unfortunately, he is looking for a company to service the entire grocery store! This is way out of my league, but I'll still connect with Sean and see if I can help.
Do you remember Eva Finlan from "Building My New Cleaning Network II" and the referrals she gave me. I heard back from one of them this week and added him to my cleaning newsletter. His local company is evaluating their cleaner soon and my name will be top of mind if he happens to see my newsletter. I also followed up with my friend Dexter from "Free Donuts" as we still need to get together for breakfast.
I completed my first house cleaning estimate this week from Bill's referral and emailed out her proposal. It looks pretty good, but you just never know. Shortly after sending this proposal, Kayla from the Bullfrog Cafe emailed me back asking if I'd come in for a cleaning estimate. I love this! It's so fun to sow good seeds and start to see the harvest.
I continued to market from home as well. Teresa connected with moms on our local Facebook Mom's group. I started conversations and build relationships on LinkedIn and NextDoor. One of my conversations from last week made it to the next level. Tom was one of my new LinkedIn friends. We had a lot in common. We both graduated Penn State, knew some of the same people, and were the same age. He is a financial planner and worked under a mentor at a local Edward Jones office. Last week, cleaning came up and he stated that they had a cleaning service and were happy. Everything changed. He shared over LinkedIn that "they were now looking for a new cleaner and thought of me." I connected with Tom's office manager Marci and set up an estimate for next week. You just never know! Oh, and I added Tom to my cleaning newsletter email list.
Here is my LinkedIn takeaway. My first approach was to target office managers on LinkedIn. This produced not results because there was no trust. Then I changed my strategy to connect with mutual connections for the trust factor and look to grow those new connections with more trust. I did this with Tom and it lead me to his office manager for an office cleaning estimate. I have no idea how this will go next, but the opportunity was created solely due to trust.
John Maxwell is internationally acclaimed and sought after for his gifting in the instruction of leadership development. He has spawned thousands of leaders through his system. I may never physically meet him in person, but his books and talks have mentored me for over a decade. There is one specific annual exercise that I would like to wrap up 2019 and I hope you'll join me. Check out John's blog article first!
Here's what John is doing right now and I'll quote him directly from the blog.
"I steal off to my study while everyone else is watching television or napping. There on my desk waiting for me is my appointment calendar from the preceding year and a yellow legal pad. Starting that afternoon and continuing that week up until New Year’s Eve, I spend time reviewing my calendar. I review every appointment, meeting, commitment, and activity—hour by hour—from the previous 359 days. And I evaluate each of them.
Right now, I’m in the midst of this process.
With this annual process, I try to account for every waking hour I had the previous year. What’s the value of that? It helps me to develop strategies for the coming year. Because I do this every year (and have for decades), I’m continually becoming more focused, strategic, and effective. Even if I have a difficult time or relatively unproductive year compared to what I desired, it’s never a loss, because I learn from it and improve upon it in the coming year."
Most people allow their lives to simply happen to them. They float along. They wait. They react. And by the time a large portion of their life is behind them, they realize they should have been more proactive and strategic. My yearly process is just one method that I use to be strategic and intentional.
I’ve found that this is a perfect time of year for reflecting and setting goals."
Here's John's advice for us for 2020 -
"Start by sitting down with your calendar for 2019, along with any to-do lists or journals from the past 12 months. Make note of each event, appointment, and activity. Then evaluate every item on your list.
The key to this exercise is to use what you discover about your past year to inform and guide you in the coming year. This type of reflective thinking can help you discover what worked and what didn’t, and what needs to change for you to become more effective."
Here's my conclusion. Modify this process for YOU. The goal is to start a new discipline in your life. That discipline is called "THINKING". Invest a whole week doing it so you can audit your 2019 and purposely plan 2020 to be a breakthrough year. Lastly, I recommend listing out all of your daily tasks, projects, clients, commitments. Run them through John's questionnaire and place them into 4 boxes! BONE
Honor Your Gift
This goes back to my introduction episode and going into more mindset on honoring what you currently do and have. Every seed sown comes up. The message here is simple for you to ponder during Christmastime... what are you sowing into the ground with your current job or business? What about your relationships? Every action you take will leave a ripple in the pond of your community. Which ripple are you making... one toward good will or bad? Merry Christmas to you and your family!
I'm the Only Cleaner
I don't have any new clients yet, but you will absolutely start to see the seeds being planted and my expectation of future harvest. This episode starts with my meeting with Indian Valley Chamber President, Steven Hunsberger. Steven loved my approach to meeting the other members. Although I had no intention of joining the chamber right away, Steven uttered these words. "Ken, you'd be the only cleaner." My next words were, "Steve, can I have an application?"
I also attended my first Montgomery County Business Alliance (MCBA) meeting as a member. Gary Volpe of Volpe Enterprises was the man in the middle as he shared a current situation and asked the other members to help him group solve it. I felt like I was back in Gatlinburg at the Mastermind Retreat.
Prior to the meeting, I used the common area restroom outside of Vernessa's office and MCBA location. The restrooms were maintained, but not to my standards. After the meeting, I asked Vernessa about these common areas and she connected me with Sean from the grocery store that did that cleaning work. This was my first lead for the week. I went directly to the grocery and asked for Sean. He wasn't available, but I left my business card and said I was referred by Vernessa. This is exactly like "Building My New Cleaning Network II" and "I'm a friend of Eva Finlan and she told me I should connect with you."
I was also networking at home as well. This is a big part of my strategy - 50% in-person networking meetings and 50% social media / email marketing. It was my last week of my free LinkedIn Sales Navigator trial. Since my target for new small office clients are the office managers, I tried connecting with OMs directly by friending 100 through LinkedIn. This approach was a failure as very few responded. I'm not sure if it's because they don't use LinkedIn much or they don't know me! Either way, I needed a new approach, so I shifted to something new. Over the past month, I've met over 50 local business people in the various networking groups I've attended. I added as many as I could to LinkedIn. They are now 1st connections. I did a search of 2nd connections in Harleysville, Telford, Souderton, and Lansdale. These represent the 1st connections of the new friends I've just made locally. I used a simple script, "Good morning Bill, we're new in the Harleysville area and saw we have mutual connections. Thought I'd reach out and introduce myself." I am getting excellent response from this approach as they trust me more with the mutual connection. I immediately say, "Thank you for accepting my connection request, Bill." Some would respond and message me back. I would glance at their profile and ask a question about their work, which would hopefully initiate conversation and a new business relationship. This new approach lead to two new friends this week. One was an old high school friend that connected me with a lead for commercial post-construction cleaning. Of course, I chased this lead right away! This LinkedIn approach will change once I cancel my premium trial, but the concept is solid for growing my local network.
I was invited to do a real estate presentation for Jeff Silva's Keller Williams Team in September 2018 and made a great impression. Some of his realtors have kept in touch. In fact, Jeff wanted me to stay connected through email so I added his whole team to my cleaning newsletter to keep my name in front of them each month. One of his agents reached out this week and wanted to get me over to his girlfriend's house as she needed a cleaning service like mine. I chased this lead and set up an estimate this week. Side note... the cleaning newsletter is one more example of how you can market your business by keeping your name at the top of people's list. My newsletters shares cleaning tips for homeowners, office managers, and realtors. Click HERE if you'd like to be added to my newsletter.
There are two other avenues I am pursuing from home. One is NextDoor and the other is Facebook groups. Thankfully, we have a thriving moms group with 2,000 members locally that my wife has agreed to start connecting. It's a long-term strategy with both of these online communities. Once I get a client in one of these communities, I need to impress them big time and then ask if they could promote me. This would open the door to more house cleaning clients. Teresa is helping with Facebook and I'm being a giver on NextDoor. This has lead to an opportunity to meet with a local realtor who agreed to add me to her preferred vendor list.
This episode closes with some other tidbits like doing GEMS for Dennis Gehman's office. A GEM is Going the Extra Mile and has always served me well. I also updated my website to better target my ideal client, one that truly appreciates the art of Presentation Cleaning. Teresa and I had a coffee shop date at a new upscale cafe and I decided to leave some business cards on the bulletin board. The guests who visit here are not discount shoppers from "The Jeans Don't Fit".
Other friends I mentioned:
I Felt Limited with Ronita Jefferson
After 20 years of working in the medical field, Ronita was offered an opportunity to work part time as a solo cleaner. The position was commission based, so she started earning part time close to her full time job income. This built her dream that she could leave corporate America to start her own solo cleaning business, Divine Commercial Cleaning Services. Within a few years, Ronita felt like she was back in corporate America because of the choices she made in her cleaning business. She took on a high paying client in another town which required daily driving 60 miles each way. In her own words, she could not grow any more due to three things:
This episode continues to follow Ken's path to building a brand new solo cleaning company. If you haven't heard the two introductory episodes, check out Building "My New Cleaning Network I and II".
Teresa and I attended the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in early October 2019 in Gatlinburg, TN. We left our scarcity mindset in Tennessee, resolving to become the givers we have always wanted to be. We also renewed our commitment to build this new solo cleaning business and share our progress with the listeners of this show. I hope you like this new segment. I'll be updating you on my own business progress from week to week in hopes that you glean inspiration and encouragement to grow your own.
There is one comment from Vincent Pugliese that I really took to heart in TN. "Come here with questions and be curious verses coming here with the answers. This leads to change and growth."
Also, the giving mindset that we left with was this. You give where you are. That's how you advance to the next level of giving. The Go-Giver tells that.
When we returned, I had a new resolve to make this process fun. I got a few big things accomplished the week following Gatlinburg:
It Was Hard to Leave
Many have asked me, "Ken, how did you sell you're solo cleaning business." They want to hear the steps and the numbers. In this episode, I share the emotional rollercoaster of selling our business. If you are a solo cleaner and you've considered selling, make sure to listen. It wasn't about the steps or the numbers. That was a necessary part, but it wasn't the main part. The main part was the heart. Truly, it was so difficult to leave my New York cleaning families.
My Secret Weapon with Roland Downs
"You have to master your own lane." - Roland Downs
Roland knows that his wife Dina is extremely professional and understands the language of business. In his follow up with accounts that he's cleaned and helped grow, he gets feedback that the gym owner didn't think he was legit as a cleaner. Dina gave the image of a business person and secured the account. That'a Dina's lane. Roland knows he is the master of custodial arts (as he says in his Facebook intro) and he will be the best cleaner they ever had. This is how Roland uses his secret weapon.
However, as Roland states. "The problem is when either one of them tries to cross over. She tries to micromanage me or I try to micromanage her. That's when it falls apart. It just doesn't work." Our spouses have a significant role in our solo family cleaning business. Look at me. My wife started the company.
Roland dives into some cleaning science in this interview and gives us the takeaway that there are 3 parts to excellence in cleaning - 33% cleaning science, 33% right equipment, and 33% technician. Never overwork any one of these or you will LOSE time, quality, and in the case of the technician, you will injure and wear out the body. This is such a huge tip that it is worthy of it's own episode.
Finally, let's wrap this up with a Pro Tip from Roland on using Instagram. He records his cleaning excellence with before & after pics and live videos of him cleaning various areas of gyms. He starts to follow gyms (targeting) and posts these images and videos. The gyms that like his stuff multiple times, Roland will reach out to them in person, phone, or email. It's quite brilliant!
The Funny Papers
This is the craziest time of the year for the solo cleaner as EVERYBODY wants their house cleaned after Thanksgiving and before Christmas! Please allow me to help you declutter your scattered brains with one of the best remedies... HUMOR! Do you remember the "Funny Papers" in the Sunday newspaper? I remember my grandfather reading his comics after church every Sunday. I didn't get it. I didn't think they were funny. But he would read & laugh as he sipped his coffee in his Sunday best. That's how I remember it.
I have decided to add an element of the Sunday "funnies" to many of my episodes and in this one, I am making the entire show to entertain you! That's it. Life is short. Laugh a little!
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.