There is so much to dig into for this month's update of my personal cleaning company. If you're new to this show, here's the quick version. I've been a solo house and office cleaner for most of my 16 years in business. I have a system that initializes, stabilizes, and optimizes solo cleaning companies to create over $50k profit per year on a few days per week. In fact, I've done it twice. My first solo cleaning business was in Upstate New York from 2005 - 2018. I optimized this company to create $55k profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week without employees. The company was 90% residential and 10% commercial. I sold this company in 2018 for $80k and moved back home to Montgomery County, PA. We have since built a second solo cleaning business to $70k profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week. This new company is 75% commercial and 25% residential. As amazing as this sounds and it has been, our family wanted more. Our coaches and mentors challenged us to follow our dream as a homeschooling family. We had a New Freedom Vision and booked a house on the Gulf Coast of Florida for a month next winter! We wanted to go from $70k profit on 2 days per week to 0 days! This requires a team and systems. As an engineer, I love systems. But I've resisted them as a solo as I viewed them as tedious. Thankfully, I've hired Coach Josh to walk me into our dream. Josh is a co-owner at Athens Cleaning in Athens, GA. He is a fast-growing commercial cleaning company serving small, professional offices with professional workers. This podcast feature is a monthly peak into my own company, Carfagno Commercial Cleaning, as we build our business with systems and team members in order to start living our dream.
I attended Podcast Movement in Nashville in August. As usual, this conference was phenomenal. Yes, I learned a few exciting tips to improve my podcast and listenership. But I gained so much more in relationships. In fact, I'd say that the biggest reason I went was to grow my network and boy... did I!
I was so thankful to have my friend Juan Chaparro of Gmaids and PipeHire HRM as our Smart Cleaning Tribe Expert for April 2021. I wanted to start a series for the members where I brought in million dollar cleaning owners to share the milestones and lessons they picked up along the way. Juan has an incredible story. He spent 5 years in Dallas growing his company, but he wanted more. He wanted freedom. Juan read the "E-Myth Revisited" and the "4-Hour Workweek" and applied what he learned. He was able to move to Miami to pursue freedom of time and location as he didn’t need a ton of money. It took Juan 13 years, but now he runs a 7-figure business remotely and enjoys a life of freedom.
My wife and I were enjoying breakfast at Postively 4th Street Cafe in Ocean City, NJ. We love this place and especially the lattes. Oh my, they are good! During our connecting time, we were searching for ways to improve our business and effectiveness as parents. I asked the question. "How can we become 10 Talent People in each area of our life?" This is a reference to a story that Jesus teaches in the Book of Matthew. I'll read it.
Earlier this summer, I was talking with my 16-year-old son Kenny about his podcast editing business. I asked him if he'd like to come with me to Nashville for the annual Podcast Movement Conference. He'd have to buy his own ticket obviously. At first he didn't understand why he would even consider it. This lead into a great discussion on networking and why we build relationships with others in our community, online, and nationally. I'll come back to that conversation soon. But first let me ask you, the Smart Cleaning School listener... Are you building relationships in your local community? Did you answer no? Why aren't you doing it as a strategic part of your work week? Is it because you don't believe it's worth your time because it's just more meetings? Allow me to demonstrate with a few stories...
In this episode, we pick up where we left off with Kelly Jones of The Cleaning Girl. You will enjoy her story as it goes from humble beginnings as 22-year-old mom to SBA Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in her state. Pay close attention to the story of how Kelly was nearly featured on Marcus Lemonis's new show, "Lemon-Aid". Marcus is the award-winning host of "The Profit". Kelly is a bridge-builder. She has built thousands of little bridges to get her to that pinnacle. Every bridge is a relationship.
This podcast will show you what is possible when you build relationship bridges and serve like Kelly has done so well. Make sure to follow Kelly as she launches her first product line for homeowners, Maid in a Bottle.
Kelly Jones of The Cleaning Girl (Wilmington, DE) was a 22-year-old mom working at a bank. She got into a car accident and was given the summer off to recover. During this time, she enjoyed the pool with her young children. Then the bank came calling for Kelly to come back to cubicle world. Her husband asked her as she whined about going back. "What are you going to do? What can you do?" Her answer is the title of this podcast.
Kelly quickly found a few clients and then connected with a mom selling her company. Kelly went all in and purchased the business. But the business took its toll on Kelly and she was burnt out after 10 years. That's when her husband stepped in again to ask her. "What are you going to do?" Her answer to this second question is what has built The Cleaning Girl to a BRAND recognized and respected throughout her entire state and earning her multiple business awards!
I recently coached a new friend and solo cleaner, Angelica Pedraza of U B Lazy Cleaning Services out of San Antonio, TX. She had just completed her onboarding as a new member of the Solo Cleaning School Elite and had a few questions. The conversation was beneficial both ways. I was very impressed with her progress. Angelica has been in business 3 years as a solo and she has listened to every one of my podcasts. And no, that's not why I was impressed. She is 21-years-old and has served in our military. Yes, this means she served our country and started her cleaning company before the age of 20. I'm impressed because we hear so much negative about the Milennial Generation and their tendency to look for the easy path. Not Angelica! She is driven and accomplished at a young age. Angelica, if you're listening to this... you have a BRIGHT future! Welcome to our Elite Membership!
This original episode was very popular because it spoke to a mindset of defeatism. In a recent episode, "Pick Up Your Problems", I shared a powerful quote from NBA Champion Chris Bosh. "The problem and the solution are both in the mirror." That really speaks to the heart of this 'Best Of' re-run. Make sure to listen again as it equips you to think like a problem solver over someone who takes the lumps and gives up.
July was a crazy month. As a family, we had a ton going on. We had Kid's Camp and Youth Camp at retreat camp centers for 4 of our 5 kids for 5 days each. During one of those camps, Teresa and I slipped away for 4 days to the beach. I had a 5-day father / son camping trip with my son to the Adirondacks that I do with each son. This was with my 8-year-old Kye. It was glorious being off the grid for 5 days with no phone or social media! We just connected, camped, swam, boated, ate, heard campfire stories, songs, and devotions, and did shooting sports and hiking! Awesomeness! Coach Josh was also away in Florida for 2 weeks, so we had to move our coaching to Marco Polo and email. Even with all of this going on, I had BIG goals!
I'm currently reading Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". It's hard to believe that I never read it before. The book is literally eating me alive. What do I mean by that? Do you know when you're out at night in the summer and the mosquitos start to attack? You lose the ability to move forward with your plans as you're consumed with the bugs. That's what is happening with this book. I read a chapter and literally have to stop reading and just stew!!! One concept from the book early one got my attention big time and it should get yours too. So listen up!
I met with a good friend and spiritual mentor of mine recently for breakfast. I'll keep his name anonymous, but not his message. In fact, we'll call him Todd. Todd loves breakfast and knows everyone in the restaurant. He regularly takes his friends out to breakfast and won't even let us pay. As you know from this podcast, I like hanging out with friends like that. I love being around generous people as it rubs off on me. Todd is a retired/semi-retired painter. He was excellent at his craft for over 35 years. He ran crews, teaching and mentoring many younger apprentices over the years. I was staring at the wall next to our table and noticed some trim work. "Would you tape this off?" In my mind, I assumed all painters had to use tape so you wouldn't get paint from one area onto another. Oh boy! I had no idea that this was the wrong question to ask a professional painter! Todd responded. "Painters don't use tape!" He did explain later that there are certain applications where special painters tape can be useful. For the most part, it's time consuming to use tape, adds expense, and lowers the quality of the job. Of course I had to dig into his response.
Kevin Smith is a close friend of mine. We originally met at a Speed Cleaning conference in Dallas, TX lead by Debbie Sardone. There aren't many men in house cleaning and Kevin is over 6 foot tall. Therefore, it wasn't hard to spot him. We connected right away because of our mutual faith and the way we honor God with our businesses. It's been over 3 years since we met, yet we've stayed connected through text and phone calls. Kevin's company Grace Home Cleaning in Omaha, NE was doing $100k in total revenue. They do over a million now and he shares in this episode a few mindsets which unlock how he was able to do this.
I have shared multiple times on this podcast that I am a huge Tim Ferriss fan. "The Four-Hour Work Week" really changed the way I viewed my work and freedom goals. I also listen to his podcast. They are what's called "long-form" interviews in the podcasting world as he spends between 1.5 - 2.5 hours per interview. Joe Rogan conducts his interviews the same way. By spending so much time, Tim and Joe can really dig deep into their guest's life stories. I LOVE hearing these stories of challenge, obstacles, overcoming, learning, and victory. I always hear some one-liners and zingers too that I share on Instagram or Facebook. Plus, I hear some mindsets that I feel compelled to share here on the Smart Cleaning School Podcast. This episode is one such example, similar to "When You're Humble, You're Teachable".
One of my favorite movies when I was in high school was Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as Phil Connors and Andy MacDowell as Rita Hanson. I liked it because it was hilarious. How could you not like a movie with Bill Murray who still makes me laugh from "Caddyshack" and "What About Bob?" I grew up in Pennsylvania as well, so Groundhog Day was a thing that we actually celebrated every February 2nd. Let me elaborate on the plot. A Pittsburgh weatherman, Phil Connors was assigned to go to Punxsutawney on February 1st. He has this assignment every year and he lothed going. The small town hicks as he called them drove him crazy. He was too big for this town and he made his contempt known. Phil was a total jerk and made every effort to get through the day of February 2nd, 1993. He scarred everybody in his path. When he finally laid in bed, he was so thankful that the assignment was over. Phil then awoke to the Sunny and Cher hit, "I've Got You Babe". Was it Deja Vue all over again as Yogi Berra once said? Yes it was. Phil experienced February 2nd all over again and everything was exactly the same as yesterday. It was the worst nightmare in Phil's life, but it was really happening.
I had a limited mindset on how much money I could make for many years. It was my Upper Limit Problem that Gay Hendricks defines in "The Big Leap". I earned $54,000 at the peak of engineering in 2005 and thought I was rich. Up until then, I never earned over $20,000 in a year. That's mostly because I was in school and working was part time. But earning $45,000 out of college was huge! Earning $54,000 just five years later was mind-blowing income for me. I got comfortable at this level. When I was fired that year and realized that $170,000 in debt and no income wasn't good, I needed to make money. But what did I do? I built my cleaning income to $40,000 over the next 2 years and stayed there. At $40,000, I was living the same lifestyle that $54,000 in engineering provided. Why? Welcome to the world of business tax advantages and owner perks! When our need for more income came in 2011 (4 years of $40,000 income), I did what seemed right. I asked my wife to start making money to "help the family". I really manned up!
Recently, a listener to the podcast took me up on my free coaching call option on my website. Niki Kempf of Custom Cleaning in Dyersburg, TN had some pretty big questions. Niki was close to pulling the trigger on a coaching program for $10,000+ and decided to hold off. She left that situation discouraged as her family has big dreams and no idea how to get there. Our call was awesome. I didn't ask her about her business or what she wanted her business to look like. Instead, I asked her about her dream. She shared an awesome vision. First of all, she is recently married and Niki and her husband want to grow their personal ministry to help people coming out of rehabilitation programs. She wants to mentor them, possibly hire them, and definitely donate to organizations that support them. She wants to get her husband out of his job to help her in the cleaning business. This lit her up! Then she told me something amazing. They have a dream to give away 80% of their income. Whoa! I shared the JC Penney story and how he was known for giving away 90% and living off 10%. This is the opposite model of the church/tithing model where the Christian tithes 10% and lives off 90%. Niki loved this. Then I built her dream as I shared a story of a cleaning friend doing something similar. Jessica comes from a rough situation where she dealt with abuse. She has a huge dream to help battered women in her area. She wants to hire woman coming out of the shelters to get them back on their feet. Then she wants to start a non-profit where her cleaning business funds a portion and both the cleaning business and non-profit could be in a commercial building that she buys. Jessica would have a building for everything she wanted to do and the income to do it. Niki LOVED this even more. That's when I shared the Home Depot story.
The original episode was published very early in my Solo Cleaning School Podcast before I changed the name. I was pausing to reflect upon a major crossroads in my business when I met two coaches at the same time. I chose the less traveled and it made all the difference. As you know, I've hired a new coach. Josh Melton of the Athens Cleaning Company is guiding me down a new road. Meanwhile, I still have my original coach from this Best Of episode, Vincent Pugliese. In fact, I've introduced my two friends and coaches and they appeared on this podcast together. Check it out after re-listening to this popular and sentimental episode.
Greg Shepard is a serial entrepreneur. He is the owner of Dallas Maids along with 2 other cleaning companies which he founded or co-founded. In this interview, we dive into the subconscious mind and the limitless power we all possess to win at business and life. Greg sounds like a modern day Napoleon Hill, who wrote "Think & Grow Rich". You will love how I probe Greg for his Why and vision behind each step in his journey. And I know you'll love his resolve to earn his next life's dream to sail around the world by building a 4th cleaning company in Toronto, Ontario. This interview was fascinating to me!
Resources: Greg recommended the books, "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell and "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" by Harv Eker. Greg's cleaning company specific SEO company is Clean SEO.
I shared in my last Carfagno Cleaning update, "Stay, Scale or Sell " that the seasons are shifting from Spring to Summer. As promised, I'm departing from my weekly business updates to allow space for other impactful episodes like my interview, "The Cleaning Journey to Nineveh with Josh Melton". I will continue bringing you updates, but during this Summer season of me earning my freedom, I'll be starting this new monthly podcast segment.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to share an education segment for the MCBA local business networking group. As the co-chair of this committee with Shelby Leight, I have the freedom to share topics I believe will benefit the group. I chose the topic of creating multiple streams of income because I've been on a quest personally to build out a healthy income portfolio of businesses and investments. I've very new at this since we just got of debt last year. Nevertheless, my curiosity lead me to start this discussion and it went really well.
Josh Melton has been a friend of mine in the industry for several years. We are both Christian husbands and fathers with a heart for men's ministry. Outside of cleaning, Josh has been involved in many side hustles including a coaching program to empower and strengthen men. Likewise, I am an author and was involved in a coaching program to help Dads. Can you see why we'd connect so well? How about this one. Josh built his commercial cleaning business to the level I'd like to attain, which is 6-figures of profit without having to clean. But he did that to earn his freedom to focus on other projects he felt more called to lead. That is also me 100%. During this interview, Josh and I share our stories and ultimately how God has been trying to turn our eyes toward Nineveh. What does that mean?
In a GoFundMe, Staci Merriman wrote the following. "My brother Roland suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm on Friday May 14, 1 week after his 40th birthday. He was found unconscious/unresponsive by friends who called 911. Transported to Vincennes Hospital then transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indy where emergency surgery attempted to relieve pressure on his brain. From that point on he had limited brain function and suffered strokes then developed pneumonia. According to his medical team, there is 0 chance for improvement. Today his family made the hard choice to let him go and end life support. Roland is an organ donor so our loss may benefit others. Funds will go to final expenses and travel to/from Indiana and Georgia. If anything remains it will be set aside for his son who is 6."
Roland Downs was my friend. In this podcast, I share how our lives intersected from 2016 to 2020. I am deeply saddened by his loss and pray this tribute and lessons he taught me will live on through you. Thank you Roland!
The summer is finally here! This is both literal and figurative. We just celebrated Memorial Day as the weather is heating up. Just like the 4 seasons of nature, my business is entering a new season. After selling my 1st solo business in 2018, we moved to our hometown and stayed indoors. I tried everything in my power to build my coaching and consulting business in 2018 and early 2019. I stayed indoors as much as possible as I didn't want to clean. This was winter. Ultimately, I needed to get outside again and start planting seeds. I started this podcast and my aggressive networking plan in late 2019. This was the start of Spring. By the beginning of 2021, our new business was cranking and I was able to work on my consulting business again. My cleaning business was optimized and it was comfortable outside. Spring was coming to an end. But with anything, being comfortable is not a good place to be. I needed to get my hunger back and stretch myself. I need to put on my shorts, get outside and enjoy the weather. A New Freedom Vision was placed in my heart and we needed to enjoy this summer in the winter by spending a month in Florida in February. This would require me to scale my business beyond the comfort of Spring into the dog days of Summer. This will pay off because Fall represents the harvest of all seeds sown in the Spring. I am so excited to reach that season and earn my family's financial freedom!
I could talk about Clark W. Griswold for hours. He is one of the best characters in American cinema, hands down! Clark is a man with a big heart. He loves his family. He desires to create memories that will last a lifetime. He is a dreamer and has HUGE ideas. Everything I've just said describes me to a tee and I wonder who else it relates to. But I need to pop the balloon now. In part 1 of my Don't Be Like Series, we examined Owl from Winnie the Pooh. Owl is a highly intelligent creature with a desire to own the room. He wants everyone to hear how smart he is. Owl does not know how to read the room. He will tell you all about him on the side of the river as Pooh and Piglet are heading toward the waterfall cliff. Don't be like Owl. Clark W. Griswold has a glaring blind spot too.
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.