As I listened to this episode recently, I heard myself say that I still have all four grandparents living. I was sharing this in gratitude as it released on February 3rd, 2020. My Nana passed away suddenly on 2/22/20. The main heckler and mentor in this episode passed away on 11/22/20. He never got to hear the episode about the 18 gutter balls. He didn't need to. He lived it and reminded me of it all the time. I want you to listen to this episode again and ask yourself the hard question at the end. "Have you learned yet?" I'd also like you to find the people that are the most special to you and go see them and give them a big hug. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them. You never know when they'll be gone.
"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want." Zig Ziglar
My two friends and mentors Vincent Pugliese of Total Life Freedom and Billy Altman of the Altman Crew helped me with a major breakthrough this month. These two friends of mine are relational in nature. Connecting and generosity are a part of their life. For me connecting and generosity is a mechanical task that I put on a list and cross off. I've been connecting in my cleaning business for the last 18 months as you've heard on this podcast. I've adopted the Zig Ziglar attitude and have made it my aim to help other people get what they want. This has absolutely worked for the growth of my cleaning business. Let me illustrate. Every time I get a phone call or I meet someone at a networking meeting or I have someone ask me a question online, I always look to help them without expecting them to hire me for cleaning.
It's time to return to my personal Carfagno Cleaning business for some updates. I got a call through my website after a referral from my TLF Philly friend, Emily Brunner. This is also "Innocent Emily" from "The Benevolent Benefactor". Stephanie is a house manager for a homeowner with a 7,000 square foot house in a wealthy suburb of Philly. She does all of the business to manage the home for the busy owner. I was very upfront and shared my prices would be $250-$500 per visit and could give many options. I gave optimizer prices. It's a little further than I'd like to travel, but the price could be worth it. She liked my approach and scheduled the estimate. I told her that I'd be able to give a tighter ballpark price window after the estimate. She could then request detailed options if the ballpark fit. I am literally trying to get her to filter out if I'm not the right fit. I can only do this because I was recommended, have a great website, and I'm starting a waiting list. This is a perfect combination of creating demand as an Optimizer. Don't copy me if you're NOT an Optimizer! The night before the estimate, I had an uneasiness about going to the estimate and shared it with my wife. She sensed that I was about to possibly take on a client that was high-paying, but possibly high-drama. That's NOT the type of client I want, so I called Stephanie back and said this. "I'm really sorry, but I need to decline the estimate. It's out of my service area and I'm not sure if I can fit it in as a solo cleaner. I do have a friend that I recommend. She serves your neighborhood." Then I connected the two and both were very appreciative. This was a win-win-win. Stephanie gets what she wants. My friend got a lead. Emily looks good that she had a great referral. I don't get the client and that's a good thing. Plus, I created future reciprocity between me and my other local cleaner friend. This is why I turned work down this week the first time.
This is the first Solo Saturday episode. You are still my people. I'm a solo cleaner and have always been one. This monthly Saturday solo show will guide you along my ISO Model. In this first episode, I'd like to start with a 15-minute clip from a recent Optimizer's Workshop I did with Heather Parke from Heather's Housekeeping in Roy, Utah. The Optimizer phase is the final part of my ISO Model. Over the years, I have developed a tool to examine and analyze a solo cleaner's business. It's called an Optimizer's Workshop. I did this workshop with Heather from the Solo Cleaning School Elite Membership as a perk of her membership. We spent 90 minutes together on Zoom to map out her business to see if she was an Optimizer yet. My goal is to show you the analysis needed to properly assess your solo cleaning business. I also realize that this workshop clip is harder to understand without seeing it. Therefore, I have also included the video on my Smart Cleaning School YouTube Channel.
How did I find my buyer? I had 6 months left at this point and no training system to train the buyer. Plus, I no idea how to move clients from me to them. This is where I was ready to hammer my list of 600 people in my phone I had generated scripts and was ready to start the grueling process of asking quality people if they were interested in an opportunity. I was overwhelmed as I had very little time. This is how it worked for me. I'm a Christian and I prayed about it. As I was driving to one of my houses one morning, the Lord clearly said inside of my ear. "Call Ian.". Ian was becoming a good friend and a new commander in the Royal Rangers ministry I had served for 6 years. He looked up to me as I was the Senior Commander. He was 26 years old with a lot of promise and potential ahead of him. I got to the house and I texted Ian. "Hey are you around today." He said. "Yeah call me." I called him and I told him this, which was absolutely true. "How happy are you with your job?" Backstory... I knew that he had been working for a tape manufacturer operating heavy machinery. He had also worked at the rail yard but always doing physical labor. He was beating up his body and was earning $17 an hour. As a single guy, he was profiting between $1,500 and $2,000 a month, but not really getting ahead in life. I knew that if he learned how to clean and saw the opportunity he could triple his income and have freedom. He wanted to do more Royal Rangers, but his job was also second shift, and often was hard for him to get to the church and serve the boys. I knew he could work two or three days a week and triple his money. Back to my question. "How happy are you at your job?" He said. "Well not that happy. Why do you ask?" I told him. "I'm going to move to Philadelphia." He was shocked and said. "Ken, you can't leave!" I told him. "God was calling me to leave New York and go back home to be around my family. I'm going to sell my company and I have a short list of people that I think would be great fits. You are one of them. On my way to work today God told me to call you." We talked about some details briefly over the phone. Then he confided and told me that he was just thinking about his future and setting up a 401k and retirement, but wondering if his job would help him get to the next point in life. He was excited about this opportunity. He asked if we can meet at Starbucks that Sunday. Side note. I was going through my third battle of Lyme Disease and was feeling awful. I showed up and essentially pajamas and slippers to the Starbucks on Sunday afternoon, feeling nauseous and wanting to vomit. I brought my notebook and sketched out my business. He had lots of questions and he kept me there for almost 3 hours. At the end I said. "Hey Ian crazy question. I'm going to Dallas for a cleaning conference. Would you like to come with me?" He had never been on a plane before and said heck yes! By this point, he had known the numbers of my business as I showed him the valuation. He knew the price at $79,500. I told him I would take any expenses that he incurred from the Dallas trip off of the sale price as a perk.
This podcast episode releases on the 3-year anniversary of the day I sold my first solo cleaning business. Over these 3 years, so many cleaning company owners have asked me how I did it. So many people told me that you can't sell a solo cleaning business because I just owned a job and a job has no value. I didn't believe them. I'm not going to start this story where it really started for me and that's where God put a dream and vision in my heart to leave Upstate New York and go home to the Philly Area. I want to confine this story to the "How", so you can see the practical steps I took.
Many of us are paralyzed by too many ideas. We get overwhelmed on which to implement, when, how, and most importantly, WHY. This metaphor is brilliant. I heard it from an Amway stage years ago. You can't steer a parked car and you can't park a moving one. The act of taking action is driving. A coach or mentor can't steer your action if you're not taking it. In fact, have you ever tried to steer a car while it's parked? The power steering is off and the wheel is extremely hard to turn. It's the same way with people. It's easy to turn when they're moving, harder to turn when they're slow and hardest to turn them in their parked. There are also people that don't listen even when they're taking action. They are like the car which loses its power steering on the road! That's not as bad as losing your power breaks, but it's scary. Some people are like that too. These people can be just as dangerous to themselves and their future as the ones that are parked and doing nothing. What about the other side of this metaphor? You can't park a moving one. You have to slow down and then stop the car before you can park. What does parking look like in a person of action? It's them slowing down to come into a mastermind retreat or a weekly call or a meeting with a mentor. They're slowing down from their action, parking, to receive new information. It might be pulling in for gas or getting their tires filled with air or their fluid levels topped off. They might be getting a repair or some maintenance done before they can get back on the road of action.
My Total Life Freedom local friends and local networking friend Eric Laylon intersect for a second episode. In "Don't Fight Google or Facebook, Fight for Lunch", my friend Eric Laylon from ReachLocal shared great marketing tips and stats on the digital giants. I followed this with a story of who paid for lunch. In this episode, I am copying the format!
As I sit down to record this podcast, I grabbed a Clif Bar from my lunch bag to further establish my point. Right on the label, it says this. "We're Planting 1 Million Trees." This is the mission of the Clif company to appeal to those that love and want to maintain our environment. How many people have never eaten a Clif bar that would buy it when they read this across the label in a store? That is exactly the message I'd like to share in this re-introduction podcast!
This statement will resonate with many of you. Do you have customers right now that you know are sucking the profits right out of your business? If you don't resonate, you will soon! I've been doing this solo cleaning ISO Model journey for 16 years as you already know. I would like to share 4 types or categories of clients to keep a pulse in your business.
Before you listen to this article, please check out my Carfagno Cleaning article, "Home Trends that Intersect with Cleaning". I credit my friend Mary Ann Alig of Fox & Roach Berkshire Hathaway Realtors for the content that drove this article and this podcast episode. Mary Ann shared 8 home trends that realtors are seeing for this new decade. Trends like these tend to change every decade and currently include barn vs pocket doors, white interiors, shiplap, matching furniture, accent walls, rose gold, open concept, and multigenerational homes. In my article, I showed how these trends affect cleaning professionals. I also hint to all business owners how important it is to know your industry trends so you can stay ahead of them.
I shared in my last business update that I increased the monthly service price of one of my commercial clients by $350 per month. Plus, I was on the verge of adding a new house and veterinary hospital as clients. The estimate with Melissa went well. She never had a house cleaning service before, so I eased her into it. I had her read articles from my website and was able to direct some of her questions to other articles I've written. This really increased my credibility before I even showed up at her home. During the estimate, I also pointed out things I liked in the house that I genuinely liked. I can't go into detail, but one thing was a wedding anniversary gift her husband bought for her. It was in their bedroom and I asked the husband for the website. He was pleased to oblige. I shared what we do for anniversaries and the honeymoon retreat location we go. He was thankful in return. That gesture between me and them build trust, but it was genuine. It wasn't mechanical. Look for opportunities to do that in your business. Make your estimate more than mechanical, but relational. At the end of the estimate I went through my availability and how the proposal process will go with the options I'll put together. She was very impressed. This customer found me through the marketing machine I've built through Facebook, Google My Business, my website, and in-person networking
The original "Pros of Solo Cleaning" was so popular that I ran a 'Best Of' replay recently. I covered 10 pros that are very persuasive if you're evaluating a cleaning business for yourself. Here are the 10 pros listed out. Check out the original podcast for the details of each pro.
Do you remember "Back to the Future" starring Michael J. Fox? Marty McFly ran in his panic from the Libyans and got Doc Brown's Delorian to 88 miles per hour in the parking lot. He escaped 1985 and entered 1955. The whole movie focused on saving his 1985 family from perishing by helping his mom fall in love with his dorky, bullied dad. Marty also had to figure out how to get back to 1985. It was a fun movie that was super popular in the 80's and still is today. In one scene, Marty visits the 1955 version of Doc Brown at his house. Doc Brown was paranoid and thought Marty was crazy-talking a time machine until he described the Flux Capacitor. Marty yelled through the door that he was in the bathroom, bumped his head, and that's how he got the idea of the Flux Capacitor, the last piece of the invention to take him back in time. Doc Brown came out of the room, showed Marty the drawing he made of the Flux Capacitor, and believed him.
This episode released 1 year ago and has been one of my most popular and mindset-changing episodes ever. This one really sets solo cleaners free and it is just as relevant as it was last year. I'll be releasing follow-up episodes in the future to help you even more with this overcoming mindset.
This message is short and sweet. I teach often and have created my own solo cleaning business niche of presentation cleaning and first impressions. That's what I do. Yes, I clean. But what I do is create peace of mind through presentation cleaning. What does that mean and why is it worth so much? I'm glad you asked. We are all emotional creatures and make our decisions as such. I've shared on previous podcasts that the busy mom doesn't have time to clean, yet dirt and clutter cause her stress and anxiety. My cleaning niche goes beyond basic cleaning and science. Check out the podcast, "Art Trumps Science". I add the art of first impressions to remove the stress and anxiety. This provides my clients with peace of mind. Similarly, I clean the first impression areas in offices to impress their clients, prospects, and staff every time they come into the office. This also has a value. What if a financial company loses a several million dollar client because their office "image" didn't match the website? My presentation cleaning investment can earn that client and easily pay for cleaning for the entire year! That's the point
I have been a huge fan of the Tim Ferriss Show lately because I love the long-from interviews with world-class performers as Tim dissects how they accomplished what they've accomplished. I LOVED a recent interview with Kelly Slater. If you've never heard of Kelly Slater, he's an 11-time world surfing champion and highly regarded as the GOAT in the sport. I listened to Kelly's interview and was mesmerized by his mindset, attention to detail in his craft and his health, and most importantly, the simplicity of life he lives. I have two life lessons to share from Kelly that really impacted mine.
The business week started out great. I recently upgraded one of my commercial cleaning clients by $350 per month. When I got the call at the Airsoft field about another veterinary hospital, I was thrilled. Yes, that's right. The Airsoft field. Here's a short bonus funny papers. My oldest son, Kenny, just 16 recently and we decided to do a birthday party for him. It involved 7 of his teenage friends, Airsoft guns, gear, a 3-hour battle at the Airsoft field, games at home, food (lots of it), cake, and presents. Due to shutdowns in December, we had to move his party to late January. It was well worth the wait. I decided to sacrifice my Honda Pilot over Teresa's family van. I took 4 of Kenny's friends directly from church to the Airsoft field. We met the other 3 there. I helped them get set up and left in the hands of the field referrees to play for 3 hours. I then went to the car to chill out, stay warm, watch from the parking lot, and get some work done on my laptop. While I was waiting, I got a call from a local veterinarian looking for cleaning. She told me that she used to work with Ruth at another hospital I clean. Ruth saw her post on the veterinary private group and proudly referred me. The first takeaway is that I am worthy of being referred. My work and customer service are excellent, which is why I was referred. Are you doing likewise at every house and office you clean? The call lasted for 20 minutes as we learned about each other's background. I learned that she had recently opened a new hospital after working for others for years and she invested heavily into cleaning using her staff (but they needed a break). She learned that I also cleaned for another vet. We worked out a few scenarios of how I could help. I even gave examples of how much I currently charge for other vets and how much it may cost her. She invited me for an estimate a few days later. That estimate went outstanding. We're working on a rotational cleaning schedule that I'll quote her several options for next week. Back to the teenagers... After the call, I realized something vital. My Pilot was equipped to seat 8, but not 8 with Airsoft guns and gear and certainly not 7 teenagers and me! I underestimated the choice of using my Pilot. I called Teresa for an audible. She drove over the field to drop off some gear that Kenny forgot and took most of the gear off my hands. The boys were so stoked after playing for 3 hours and ready for mass quantities of chili, candy, and cake. They were also filthy and muddy. This is where the sacrifice came in. My car still has mud marks all over the back seats, carpet, and vinyl trim. It's everywhere! The ride to our house was hilarious as myself and 7 high school boys cramped into my Pilot. We all joked it was like one of those clown cars in the circus. The rest of the day was great. I knew teenagers could eat, but even I was surprised when they ate an entire pot of homemade chili and like 3 bags of corn chips. My wife had designed "Minute-to-Win-it" games with ping-pong balls, dice, straws, candy, and other dollar store items for the boys to challenge each other. I was MC and scorekeeper. They needed one more player, so one kind teen allowed my 9-year-old son Kolby to be his teammate. Guess what?! Bryce and Kolby won! The night ended with cake, presents, man-hunt outside, and stupid YouTube videos The last boy was picked up at 8:30! Teresa and I were exhausted, but my son was happy and I got a new potential big client! The combination of this client and the increased one ends my commercial cleaning goal before I start optimizing
Teresa and I went on a honeymoon retreat in the Amish Country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was so quaint and beautiful. The rolling country hills with farms, horse and buggy, small antique shops, and farmer's markets were such a breath of fresh air to our normal busy and chaotic life. We planned multiple day trips from our wonderful bed and breakfast called the Barn at Strasburg. Sight & Sound's Esther was on the list for sure. We've been eager to see one of these captivating representations of the biblical account. We booked that. We found many covered bridges that we arranged on a map to visit. We even found a working Amish farm to visit. We checked out the pictures and reviews on Google and decided to make a few hours of it! We were excited to see the Amish make butter, see the schoolroom, the farm. The pictures and stories online really painted a story of what the place would be like. We were excited to see it! But, oh man... the TRUE story did NOT match the pictures.
Let's journey together into an update of my own solo cleaning business. 2020 was a great year. I started at $29,000 in total cleaning revenue, which was the beginning of the Stabilizer Phase of my ISO Model. After hitting multiple 60-day SMART goals, I ended the year at $80,000! That's a $51,000 increase in 1 year! Our profit tripled to just under $5,000 per month on 2 cleaning days per week. As you follow my podcast this year, I'll be showing you how I take this $80,000 Stabilizer business, cross the Optimizer threshold, and convert it to a $90,000 revenue, $6,000 per month profit on 2 days per week solo cleaning business. This is my SMART goal for 2021. This Optimizer business will be worth over $100,000, which means I could sell it again like I did in 2018! Please do not take that as a brag. I'm excited and grateful. This has been a journey. If you're new to my podcast, make sure you check out my 2020 catalog of podcast episodes as they take you on the $51,000 increase journey.
I still remember the car ride to Gatlinburg, TN with my wife when she told me this story. I had no idea that one story about shopping at the discount racks would turn into a podcast episode that has helped solo cleaners understand their value in the marketplace.
In my first full year as a solo cleaner, I worked a lot but we had no money. You've heard my story on this podcast a dozen times! We just lost our car to repossession. We had $170,000 in debt and no house! We earned under $2000/mo, lived in a ghetto, had bill collectors calling every day. We lived 5 hours from our closest family and we were new parents. In December 2006, we had no idea how we'd pay for our rent, let alone get a Christmas gift for our 2-year-old Kenny! That's why I'd like to introduce my dear friend Sean Rogers. We were in the Amway business together. After a Nite Owl (business mastermind session after hours at TGIF), Sean gave me a hug and followed it up with the Italian handshake. He had slipped me a $100 bill and said, "Get your son a Christmas present." I was in tears. How did he know we had nothing and couldn't even afford the air we were breathing? My guess is that Sean is a Christian and he was being obedient to what God told him.
In this episode, I have an important lesson to share from a new friend of mine in the digital marketing space on the power of Facebook and Google. Eric Laylon is a consultant with ReachLocal. He understands the online landscape more than almost anyone that I know. He's a new member of the MCBA networking group and had a chance to share a presentation on his work. I asked many questions as I wanted to understand a little more of the trends he's seeing in 2021.
Today is a very sad day for me. My Nana passed away 1 year ago on February 22nd, 2020 and my Pop-Pop passed away 3 months ago on November 22nd, 2020. They were married for 63 years and raised me to be the man that I am today. I miss them tremendously. If you are interested, check out the podcast episodes where I read the eulogies for each of my grandparents. My Nana - It Was All a Blur, My Pop-Pop - Tribute to My Father. I don't want to make this episode about me and the grieving I'm still doing. I wanted to share an important mindset shift that I hope you hear loud and clear.
This is an article I wrote for my solo cleaning company, Carfagno Cleaning. I encourage you to check out my cleaning website for ideas on how you could build An Optimizer's Website.
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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.