John Disselkamp is the owner of First Class Commercial Cleaning in Louisville, KY. John was born and raised in Louisville and had a hard-working mentality. This suited him well in his early corporate life and propelled hiim to a bank executive at a young age. John won the prestigious "40 Under 40" Award during this banking stint. In this interview, John shares his transition from corporate to starting a commercial cleaning company in 2016 and growing to six-figures per month in revenue and 50 team members in under 3 years. He then lead his company to $5 million in revenue and 230 team members 3 years later. John is an American Success Story!
First Class Revenue Story
Year 1 - $90k
Year 2 - $350k
Year 3 - $950k
Year 4 - $1.4M
Year 5 - $2M
Year 6 - $2.4M
Year 7 - $4.8M
Year 8 projected- $9-$10M
John has accomplished all of this with mental illness. Since childhood, he struggled with mental depression and anxiety.
"We were in growth mode and growth sucks cash. We had intentional moves to make sure we could scale a company."
John believes that investing into your business is more than just the supplies to fill an office cleaning location. It's in people and in culture. He made sure to keep relationships first, which he learned in corporate, to fuel First Class's culture. John believes that the culture he created is why First Class excelled through Covid and a labor crisis since 2020.
He joined the Strategic Coach Program to up his leadership game. John was challenged with the concept of the 4 boxes that is taught in that program. John early career was spent in the box that represents something that you're good at, but don't enjoy. This is where most careers go to die. John wanted fulfillment and has found it in his cleaning company. He's good at it and enjoys it, a rare combination for adults in the working world.
"What makes a smart person smart or an intelligent person intelligent? It's not knowing what they know. It's knowing what they don't know. And that's always been something that I've taken to heart."
"It's a pretty simple business. If you treat people well, you work hard, you do what you say you're gonna do, you're halfway decent at communicating and building relationships... You're better than most and I've still found that to be true 6 1/2 to 7 years later."
John had a playbook for how to start a cleaning company and couldn't find it. He was going to St. Loius with his future wife and decided to cold call a local company to see if he could learn from then. He called Spencer Commercial Cleaning and a guy named Scott Bader answered the phone. Scott met with John for over two hours to mentor him. John is so grateful to Scott for helping to launch First Class Commercial Cleaning. John still uses the contract templates, pricing strategy, and a few other systems that Scott has taught him.
"My strength is in business development and weaker in operations. And I would say that most cleaning owners are the opposite. This is somewhat normal across all blue-collar businesses, but it's also what holds people back too." John has coached others and find this to be true. People focus on the actual cleaning and not on the sales and relationships. This is why they struggle to grow. "I learned very quickly that my ability to clean has little correlation to how successful and how much we can grow as a company. I learned very quickly that our success would depend on how good of a leader of people I could be... Business is all about relationships."
Leadership applied in John's business. He hires on his weaknesses. Growing intentionally is not taking anything that comes in, but taking good clients. Good clients are those that value relationships, long-term partnerships, and the other side of that handshake.
John uses LinkedIn to communicate his business, team members, EOS quarterly sessions, and whatever else shares the core values of the company. "LinkedIn is the most powerful tool for B2B in the world." If you're in the residential world, Facebook is king. LinkedIn is king for commercial.
Resources Recommended by John:
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"Helping cleaning professionals make the impact they were meant to make."