Break Fix Model
I met Tom while living with my mother in-law. He was so nice and gave recycled computers to Kenny from his computer repair store. It started Kenny on a path to do computer flipping as a side business. We stayed in touch with Tom, with a possibility of Kenny doing some interning for him. I bumped into Tom again when he was on the Chamber webinar where I taught the "9 Mistakes in Disinfecting". Tom was really impressed and wanted to have me speak on the topic in a local business owner's group. We stayed in touch as COVID slowed. He invited us over as he had more recycled computers for Kenny. I've been very grateful that Tom thought of my son and helping a budding computer entrepreneur. I showed up with my son a few days later during a podcast recording day. I was dressed in shorts and a tank top. While Kenny was rummaging through computers, Tom mentioned that he was interested in getting a cleaning quote down the road. Of course, I told him we could set it up. But as Kenny took his time, Tom said. "Would you like to see it now?" I was not in professional dress and told Tom that I felt funny. He laughed and took me around the building. I took notes and promised to get some quotes out to him. When I saw the bathroom, I felt challenged by the rings in the sink. I knew Kenny wasn't done yet, so I said to Tom. "I'll be right back. I'm going to get the big guns and make this sink look awesome." He didn't argue at all. By the time Kenny was ready, the sink was glistening and Tom was amazed.
Google My Business Rocks!
I shared in previous episodes that marketing is layered. You add one at a time. Well, I began to use the free Google My Business listing in November 2019. It's a simple tool and totally allows me to showcase my strengths. I call this in my ISO Model Course, a "Profile to Win". Here's the gist. What can I display about me and my company to create trust and credibility before they ever call me? In my 15 years, I have learned that before & after pictures, professional credentials, and recommendations are essential. This is what I love about Google my Business. You can collect 5-star reviews, add posts and credentials to show off your level of specialization, and post before & after pictures. Google has internal analytics that I can easily track called "insights", allowing me to see the impact of these updates. I currently have 21 5-star reviews, tons of pictures, and a weekly blog with links to my website. Google uses this information to boost me for free up their search algorithms. In fact, when you search "House Cleaning Harleysville", you'll find my company highly ranked in the map pack on page 1. I've been wondering if this effort was going to pay off as no leads have come yet (at least that I knew about). Please understand. I ran my solo cleaning company for 14 of 15 years with NO website. I didn't have a Google My Business listing until last year and started my Facebook business page 2 years ago. You may be asking yourself how in world I ever got any leads! I grinded it out and was referred by word of mouth and I had a ton of success in earlier years with ServiceMagic (presently HomeAdvisor). However, some marketing channels that worked in prior years may not today. I ditched HomeAdvisor for Facebook, Google, and a website. It's so cost effective as I only pay like $20 per year for the website and the others are free. Anyway, it goes without saying that I've never received a lead through my website until this week! Thank you Google!
Art Trumps Science
Let's start this Carfagno Cleaning solo business with a WIN! Last week, I got 5 referrals through my local network (listen to Play Powerball with your Business). The lead from my friend and carpet cleaner, James Hardy, converted to a new office cleaning client! Since this new client is a school, I had to jump through a few more hoops. First of all, I needed to go beyond adding them as a 'Certificate Holder' on my general liability policy. I needed to increase my insurance for this additional customer. This is called 'Additionally Insured'. My current policy provides $2 million of coverage per year at $500 in annual premium. This new client cost me an additional $50, which I count as an expense. I also had to coordinate a cleaning time with the school and their weekend janitor to let me into the building. The school is not in the habit of handing out keys to outside contractors. Spoiler alert: I prayed over this situation as I desire to have offices with the flexibility to clean anytime over the weekend. A few days later, the school made an exception for me and gave me a set of keys! Lastly, this new client is a school for autistic children. I know autism and realize that these students will be on the floor a lot, touching things, and likely touching their faces. Thus, disinfecting of the classrooms and floors was vital. They already had a food & skin safe disinfectant and asked me my opinion for the floors. I researched it and immediately determined it was a bad choice. Why? The title of this episode is "Art Trumps Science". Let's talk science first. The pH was slightly alkaline at 9. The floors are VCT (vinyl composition tile). VCT is commonly used in schools and supermarkets. They are also waxed & buffed on a regular basis to keep a beautiful finish and to protect the tile. My friend James Hardy did the job, so we conferred with him and he agreed. This ph 9 disinfectant had just enough alkalinity to eat away at the wax finish, which would dull it and cause James to come back sooner. Therefore, their disinfectant was a wonderful choice for the refrigerators, microwaves, table tops, door knobs, and light switches, but NOT the floors. I connected with my good friend Mark Lineberry at Universal Janitorial and he recommended the perfect solution. It's called MatPro. The school purchased it and now uses my recommendations for disinfecting and protecting their students and staff. This raised my expertise and trust with the school big time. See! Understanding science is vital. It sets you apart from the basic cleaning service!
Every Conversation is a Seed
Six months ago, I met Michelle at a chamber luncheon and handed her my business card. After the luncheon, I sent a personal video message through VidYard as a follow-up to our meeting. She watched the video and replied back with gratitude. Then she told me she would keep my information on file. Then Corona hit and real estate was crushed, so I wasn't expecting anything.
Pandemic Proof Your Business
In my last solo cleaning business update, I shared how sharing my knowledge directly lead to my local pharmacy boosting a video I made leading to over 4,500 views! Collaboration is so vital. It's what networking done right really is. Like-minded local business owners sharing with each other for the greater good of the community. Life also gets in the way. I've shared how losing my Nana caused me to slow down work to attend to family matters. The last few weeks have been difficult as I'm the family point of contact for my autistic uncle. I had at least 2 full days of phone calls, emails, and updates to my family members and his team to take care of. I only share this to be real. I had less time and had to prioritize this week and I prioritized collaboration! Here are some examples of actions I took this week:
Boost My Post
In my last cleaning business update, I did not hoard my knowledge and it lead to opportunities to help my community. Since we're in the middle of a global pandemic, I'm doing whatever I can to serve my community in my expertise of cleaning. In part, it's actual cleaning and in part, knowledge. In this week's update, let's continue the theme of serving.
Don't Be a Hoarder
So many companies are ultra competitive, trying to dominate their local area. They hang onto proprietary information and get patents to own their knowledge. This is great and definitely needed so others don't steal your inventions and creative processes. But is it always good to keep your specialized knowledge close to the vest? I believe we are blessed with the ability to learn and comprehend and obligated to give back to help others. I'll even go so far to say that hoarding your knowledge in hopes of retaining your competitive advantage is selfish and unhealthy. My hope is that this episode opens your eyes that sharing your knowledge actually endears you to your target client and will not only increase your business, but serve your community.
It Was All a Blur
The week of February 17th, 2020 started out with a little tension. My Nana was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia. She fought this 2 years prior and beat it, so it was a little tense but I felt good about her health. I captured my business week in "Top of Mind". Typically, I would cover the next week in business and share a lesson. However, I had a month that felt like 1 long week. It was all a blur.
Top of Mind
This week started off with an excellent "Freedom Zone" in my Total Life Freedom Mastermind. The guys already knew that I landed a new client because the previous cleaner was uninsured. I gave an update how Kim was so happy with my first cleaning that she promoted me inside of a neighborhood closed group. Then I went on to explain that her neighborhood is a new development with half of the houses under construction and the builder's model home at the corner. They knew that my goal was to add 15 houses in 2020 of a certain demographic, size, location, and price. Once I mentioned one last piece of information; this house is my ideal client and the others in Kim's neighborhood are duplicates. The mastermind pounced and said, "Ken, you need to farm this neighborhood." Think of the possibility of having 10-15 new houses of the same type, demographic, and price hundreds of feet apart. I could optimize this solo business 4 houses per day at $175 per visit. That $75k in revenue on 2 days per week or $62k per year income/profit! I could add a 3rd day and earn $100k in profit on 3 days per week cleaning in one neighborhood.
A Gift For Mom
"It Just Got Real" was a very tough episode to release. I shared how my own mom was in the hospital being treated for various life-threatening after effects of COVID-19. Our whole family came together over the past 2 weeks to really show our strength, unity, and love for our mom. In that episode, I was very honest about how the pandemic had only affected us financially until my mom was in the hospital. It just got real and suddenly, I didn't care about money too much.
For the past several episodes, I have focused in on the current crisis of COVID-19 in hopes of helping you through it. It's May and spring is in the air. States are beginning their reacclamation to the world. I felt it was time to catch you up on my own solo cleaning business and get back to the show format that I began. Before I go backward, let me share an awesome story. In "Local Heroes", Ellen Johnston of Above & Beyond Housekeeping in Reading, PA was ecstatic as her company's video clip on the news of passing out free sanitizer to her community was picked up in a video by musical superstar Alicia Keys. Ellen's very own Cary Extraordinary (my nickname) is featured at the 53-sec mark in Alicia's new song "Good Job" music video! So cool!
It Just Got Real
I've watched the devastation that cleaning companies face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I've listened to all sides of the quarantine argument and I'll tell you this... when Corona hits your loved ones and you get a gut punch, your perspective changes. It's one thing to feel the pain of the financial strain and only hear of the health strain many face from Corona. It's an entirely different thing to feel the pain of a loved one fighting for their life in the hospital with the disease. That was me this week. And it's my mom. Not to mention, my step dad and 2 of my sisters have tested positive and been through torture. I am not advocating that we keep our country in lock down forever, but I am so much more empathetic to those that have dealt with this virus on a human level and understand what they've been going through. Please take a moment and be thankful that you're only problem is financial compared to what others are dealing with.
Know Your Numbers
This week started amazing. Lead #2 Kim (from Erika's recommendation) hired me for cleaning. The story of the hire is worth sharing. They were weary of keeping their old cleaner as they were uninsured and minor property damage occurred. I educated Kim on the risk of hiring uninsured cleaners. This lead to a great in-person discussion and estimate. I sent the proposal directly after and they hesitantly agreed. The hesitancy came from her husband that I didn't speak to. He was strictly comparing prices and said I was higher. I pushed back and recommended that they don't allow the current cleaner to come back into their house without proof of insurance. Kim took the advice and her cleaner gave an excuse. They hired me right away.
Assume the Best in People
I alluded to this story in "There is a Huge Difference". If you'd like to hear this full story, listen to the episode. The quick version is this. I was working from home and noticed a car in our driveway. They were upset and waiting for something. After a half hour, I knew action needed to happen. But what would I do? I chose to assume the best in this person and it paid off big time. The stranded motorist was the owner of a local chocolate factory. Six months later, they remembered me when they needed cleaning. This week, I was able to get the estimate done for Asher's Chocolate. It was a blast! The best part was meeting the 4th, 5th, and 6th generation owners. Great people. Great culture.
Can You Send Me Information?
The week started with a text referral. I had no idea who the client was until talking to her and connecting the dots to Erika lead #5. Here's the text. "Hello Ken, my daughter got your info from FB about cleaning. Can you send me information about your services?" I could have easily called her, but I used what I learned from "70% Happens Before the Phone Call", asked for her name, and then sent her my website to learn more about our company. She responded with her name, Diane, and thanked me. By the end of the day, she had done her research and wanted to talk, so I scheduled a phone call. The phone call lead to an in-person estimate and emailed proposal by the end of the week.
There Is A Huge Difference
This week started off great! I got the email back from Doug Floro that they are ready to start me this week. Yay! I've added my 3rd new house cleaning client. Another email came in early in the week from Scott from Asher's Chocolate. They were looking to get a window cleaning estimate. I connected with Scott, he wanted to get quotes on office deep cleaning, floor cleaning, and window cleaning. At the end of the conversation, he said something about his owner recommending to call me and something about being stuck in my driveway. Oh, there is a great story here that I touch on in the podcast but I'll reserve the full story for a later episode.
Will You Come to Delaware?
I break down the numbers in this episode. If you remember, I was at a low point in "Broken Record", making the connection between average SMART goals and average results. I wanted 2020 to connect great SMART goals to great results. Therefore, I had to make a critical change. For the previous 10 years, I've been creating ACTIVITY & OPTIMIZATION SMART goals on my main business and GROWTH SMART goals on my side passion project. This wasn't fruitless as I optimized my solo cleaning business big time, sold it, and we got debt free. However, I left a lot on the table. What could have happened to both my main cleaning business and side business if I reversed the way I set up goals? That's what 2020 would be.
In my last two Carfagno Cleaning updates, I shared the story of Doug Floro and how a seed turned into an opportunity. I started this week by completing his house cleaning proposal with 6 options and hit send! Like I always say, you never know! Right after the proposal, I wrote, published, and repurposed (to social media) a new cleaning newsletter.
I also sent out my monthly invoices and something amazing happened. One of my office clients asked if I would be willing to bill ahead for 6 months instead of one. That was an easy answer... "YES!" I read three things into this request:
Now, let's get to the meat of this week's episode. In 18 Gutter Balls, I shared the story of my infamous bowling game of 12 when I was 12. My 83-year-old Pop-Pop still heckles me about that day! The final question I posed was this. "Have you learned yet?" I was doing the same thing, over-and-over again, and expecting a different result. This is the definition of insanity by the late, great Albert Einstein. I was guilty of it that day with my engraved bowling ball and now I get to answer the question.
I shared a detailed account of how to wrap up your year in review. It's called Think Week. I have followed this process every year and even published the podcast episode ahead of my 2019 version. Let me get real and transparent. "I haven't learned yet, Pop-Pop." I started to do Think Week by reflecting of my 2019 goals and comparing them to what I accomplished. I achieved about 67%. Not bad. But I dug deeper and saw something that demanded explanation. So I pulled out my 2018 notebook for Think Week and saw the same pattern. To make matters worse, I pulled out every year back to 2012. This revealed that I have been a broken record.
I've been doing the same thing over and over and over, expecting my end-of-year results to change. But at the end of each year, I threw a 6 instead of a strike (using the bowling analogy). Some years, I did throw a gutter ball. Here's what I realized. I am a dreamer, an optimist. I love working on my passion projects and I've always had one. Early on, it was an Amway business with Teresa. Then it was writing a novel for dads to read to their kids, followed by coaching & consulting cleaning company owners. The mistake I repeated was setting my SMART goals to grow my passionate side-hustle, while setting the mark for my main business for "just enough". Whether I was an engineer or a solo cleaning owner, I have not set SMART growth goals to raise our level of income past 'just making it' to 'prospering'. I chose to set my SMART growth goals on my side-hustle, that I WANTED to do, yet had no proof of concept! My optimism kicked in as well because I made many assumptions that weren't realistic or attainable. So I'd complete a year with the same main business income and a side income that barely increased. But I was happy and rationalized that I did good because I loved doing it.
If you remember from my Make Your Goals SMART episode, an unattainable goal is SMRT. Sure, I figured out how to stabilize and optimize my solo cleaning business. I had SMART goals every 90 days, but they weren't for more income. I set them to have MORE TIME at the SAME INCOME. I looked at 8 Think Week notebooks and fell into a short term depression and frustration. I couldn't believe that after 30 years, I was still throwing gutter balls. Why would I NOT set growth goals on my main business that was tried and tested? I could have doubled my income so much faster. These are the questions I was left pondering and quite frankly, sobbing about on that hardwood floor with 8 notebooks.
This was so visceral that I was forced to make a change. Coming out of Think Week was different this time. 2020 was going to be different. I have labeled it VISION 20/20. "I have learned, Pop-Pop." I made the change and set my growth SMART goals on my new solo cleaning business and activity SMART goals on my side passion projects. I am super excited to see where this year ends up compared to last.
How about you?
Previous Show Mentioned: "Think Week"
An Old Unkept House
The week started off great. In my last podcast update on my own solo cleaning business, I shared the story of Doug sliding another cleaning business's card across his desk and asking me what I thought of her. I spoke highly of her, even after he told me that he used her company for his own house. Well, I got an email from Doug on Monday asking if I would be willing to do a cleaning estimate for his house. I was amazed, scheduled an appointment, and completed it by the end of the week. It just goes to show that you never go wrong by sowing good seeds about others.
I share the full story in the episode, but I was torched on my mastermind call this week. The guys weren't impressed with my goals and how I was approaching the next 12 months. I tried defending myself, but they called me on it. Overall, it was a great call and I was challenged to do what I preach and get an accountability partner (see the Accountability Roadmap). John VanderMuelen. John is a good friend and MASTER of selling on Amazon. He runs a group holding other Amazon Sellers accountable and trains them.
I set up electronic payments for the first time after 15 years of running a cleaning business. I did my research and for now, chose Stripe. It's about 3% cost but it's easier for my new house cleaning clients and possibly an office or two. This gives me a new option for collecting money and not waiting or worrying about checks and bank deposits. It's streamlined.
This next meeting with my realtor friend, Denise Simone, is where the title for today's episode came from. Denise has a passion for the elderly and helping them downsize to fully enjoy the twilight of their lives. She told me a beautiful story of a former client. Betty is a widow that Denise helped downsize through crazy issues with mold, a broken septic, obtaining permits, and just 45 years of a lived-in home. Denise was her hero and did work way beyond real estate to help her client and friend to a better life. She even helped her clean the house a bit. Denise had a great line. "An old unkept house is like a broken down car." This was in reply to houses over time with neglect fall into disrepair. I shared an analogy about the brain and personal development. Our brains, businesses, and relationships don't stay the same. They also fall into disrepair with neglect. I was so impressed with Denise and was grateful for the time and for allowing me to share her story of Betty!
Previous Show Mentioned: "Blueberry Pie"
TLF Mastermind friends I mention: Andy Storch, Gustavo Fernandez, Jon Appino, John VanderMuelen,
Apologize With Action
Let's face it. You're going to mess up your communication as a business owner. You will say one thing and mean another. Or, you will think one thing and not fully communicate it. That was the case for me last week with a new client, Ellie. I was under the assumption she understood my 3-part cleaning plan because I had explained it in person. But I never wrote it out and therefore, the plan never existed. I executed the plan of part 2 and followed up with Ellie afterward to get cleaning feedback. She was very pleased with the master bathroom and other rooms I detail deep cleaned. However, she was unhappy that I "skipped" the guest bathroom when she had guests coming over in a few days. I'll let the podcast audio share the full detail of this story, but I will say that apologizing is an action verb! It's one thing to say, "I'm sorry." It's another thing to show it. I knew the right thing to do and I fixed it by going back and cleaning Ellie's bathroom for free and apologizing in person. She was so happy and it raised my trust factor big time.
This week I also met with Doug Floro of My Father's Business Wealth Management. He is the leader of the Believer's in Business Networking Group that I attend twice per month. Anyway, we wanted to do a 1-to-1, so we could get to know each other better as I'm still a new member. The meeting was in his beautiful office and we definitely had a fantastic conversation. At the end, Doug did something unexpected. He slid a business card of another cleaning company across his desk and asked, "Ken, do you know this person?" I recognized the name and company. Although I didn't know much, I did know that she was part of a larger franchise and had recently upgraded her office as her business was growing well. My answer to this question would be a seed and I knew it. Would I say that she was an average company and that I'm way better, in hopes that he would hire me to clean his office? Or would I say share what I knew and find a way to edify her? If you know me at all, I don't even think like the first option. I edified her success and then asked why. Doug told me that she was his cleaner for their home. There wasn't anything else to say. I just said, "That's great! I hope she keeps doing a great job." It was a great meeting, for sure!
I also worked hard on my proposal for Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe with my recommendations for daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly presentation cleaning. Then I introduced Jim Hardy to the owners for a potential package deal to get all the cleaning done. I heard back from Kayla the next day and she was very grateful for the introduction to Jim and she was going to read the proposal and thanked me again. To wrap up the week. I attended a play that my kids were in at church. There was a couple behind me that I didn't recognize, so I introduced myself. He wanted my cleaning card and, OF COURSE, I had one. That's a huge tip! It turns out that the husband is the CEO of a local charity. We're going to get together for breakfast soon. You just never know!
Past Show Mention - "My Name is Kevin LaCombe"
Never In A Million Years
January 2008 was a very busy time in my cleaning business as I was cleaning all the time, managing employees, and trying to spend time with my wife, 3 year-old-son Kenny, and newborn daughter Christianna. By late 2008, I changed my cleaning model to solo cleaning and never went back. I cleaned for years alone and got quite used to the lifestyle of listening to audio books, podcasts, music, and talk radio while I cleaned, then came home to play with my kids.
Never in a million years could I have ever imagined that one day I'd have those two little kids working alongside me in the family business. My mind was blown when Kenny (15) and Christianna (12) cleaned a few offices with me Thursday night. I'm not sure why adding Christianna gave me the wake up call as Kenny has been cleaning offices with me for 3 years. Maybe it's because I wasn't cleaning when Kenny was born, but I was in full swing during Christianna's birth. Maybe it's because she's a Daddy's girl. I don't know. I can say this. We teach our children how to think like an entrepreneur and help them start businesses. We believe in developing a great work ethic in ourselves and kids. Our family cleaning business is an excellent resource to give real-life experience to our kids in both of those goals.
In the Pros of Solo Cleaning, I forgot to add this pro. You own a family business and cleaning is a worthy trade to teach your kids. There are no guarantees in the workplace with college degrees. The trades are dying as young people want to pursue the glamorous digital marketplace. This is a tremendous opportunity for us. I encourage each of you to think long-term about your cleaning business. If you are in the "February of Cleaning" and you Don't Want to Do This Anymore, listen to this podcast episode to inspire you to push through!
I Don't Want to Do This Anymore
Everything is NOT all flowers and sunshine in a solo cleaning business. I have shared solid mindset to grow and so many pros to this amazing business as I've grown my own solo business a second time. But it's not always great. There are Cons of Solo Cleaning. In this episode, I wanted to be REAL and share when I reached my "February of Cleaning" and wanted to quit! Essesntially, I had a pity party and needed the encouragement of my wife to get me through.
I shared the story of Ian Traynor of Albany Pure Cleaning. He was so excited to start his new solo cleaning business. It was summer time, warm, sunny, and didn't get dark until 9 pm. I warned him about February, saying "Ian, February is coming. I know you're excited now but a time is coming when you will question everything. You'll be leaving the house in the dark and cold and snow of Upstate New York and coming back home to the dark and cold and ice. Your supplies will be frozen as well as your car every morning.You'll wonder why you're doing this. But remember that spring and summer are coming again." I meant this in a literal and metaphorical sense. Spring and summer are literally more fun and tolerable for cleaning. However, in a metaphorical sense, Ian's business will go through seasons. The first season is shiny and new, which leads to the emotion of excitement. The last season is optimizing and great profit and great mindset, leading to the emotion of excitement. But the middle season, the "February of Cleaning", will be old and boring and cold, leading to the natural emotions of depression and frustration.
You'll have to listen to my account on this podcast, but I share what I was feeling after cleaning Erika's house for the second time. I worked so hard to get two new clients and I was excited to start rebuilding my company. Then, I started the actual cleaning and realized it was going to be hard work. I realized that I needed to get my mind back into "Cleaning Mode". That's why podcasts like this can be so beneficial. I had my pity party as I was tired after cleaning two houses. That's when my wife stepped in and encouraged me. I told Teresa. "I don't want to do this anymore." I was questioning my career and if I would have to clean solo the rest of my life. Then I talked to Rachel Hicks of Slightly OCD Cleaning while doing an office later that night and came up with a plan that excited me again. I have fully trained Ian, who was an entrepreneur looking for an opportunity. She reminded me that I trained her to double her hourly rate as a cleaning owner. That's what I'm great at and what I love doing. Rachel helped me to dig out of my season of pity and also encouraged me. I started to see and visualize the spring and it excited me again.
Once I got my mind straight, I noticed an email in my box. Kayla from Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe asked if I could come in to meet with Sammy to discuss cleaning. I set up the estimate and met with Sammy while the restaurant was closed. It was very productive and I sent a proposal out a few days later to serve Sammy. I offered a comprehensive plan to cleaning the cafe with their existing staff, an outsourced cleaning service (me), and carpet & floor company (my friend Jim). They were thankful and we'll see, maybe they'll be a new client!
We are all going to face our "February of Cleaning". The strong ones will endure through determination and disciplined thought. It's totally amazing how our emotions follow our thoughts.
Get A Name For Doing
Carfagno Cleaning is a corporation with various divisions. We have a this podcast and the Solo Cleaning School. I serve team cleaners in the SMART Cleaning Tribe. This all falls under my 'consulting' division. My main division is my own solo cleaning business that I am rebuilding in the Philly suburbs after sellling my first one to Ian Traynor of Albany Pure Cleaning. I hope you've been enjoying this podcast and the journey I've taken you on.
This week was a short one as Thanksgiving cut off 2 days and my family was traveling to New Jersey for a long weekend. I started the week with a meeting with Ken Byler of Higher Ground Consulting. I met him and really connected at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon a few weeks ago. This was a fun meeting. I am used to asking questions and listening, but I met with a greater master than I. Ken skillfully got me to talk the whole time and then asked how he could help me. I literally ran out of time to help him. You got me, Ken! Anyway, here's the answer I gave him. "How do I best use or network in the chamber?" Ken's answer floored me. He said this. "Find out the available Chamber committees and see where you can help. They meet once per month for an hour. Pour into it and show your value. This builds relationships with chamber members and raises your level of trust. From here you will Get a name for doing and contributing. Others in the chamber will want to connect 1-to-1. Set the meetings and connect more. This will lead to lasting relationships, leads, and it helps the community through your chamber leadership efforts." This was a drop the mic answer.
Outside of cleaning the usual 2 offices, playing a Thanksgiving flag football game that ended in an emergency room visit, and going to NJ for excellent family time, there was one other thing I did this week. It took me all week! I worked on the 3 proposals for Gary Volpe. This is a huge opportunity. One is for his main offices & showroom, another for the chamber offices inside of his building, and the third for his old building. This was a job much larger than I usually do, so I had to connect with a janitorial business owner for his opinion and he helped quite a bit. Gary's building is 13,000 sqft of office and showroom space. The other 25,000+ sqft is warehouse space. I estimate that I would be cleaning between 40-50% of the 13,000 sqft every week. I won't bore you with the math here, but I was able to scale his large business to a size that I am used to cleaning. This gave me a ballpark for where his building should price. Trust me, it took a long time to figure this out and hours of itemizing his large building. I was able to complete the 3 proposals and email them at 10pm on Tuesday. This barely met my promise to get it done by Tuesday. I was so happy to pour so much effort into giving well-thought out proposals and even more thrilled to be done!
I mentioned the power of the new Google My Business offering in my last update. I collected my first review this week. Yay! My goal is to get 20-25, so this is a great start! I just need to keep asking. And isn't that a great message for all business owners. Just keep asking.
You're A Cleaning Guy
It was GO-TIME for Bridgett and I this week! We met on Monday at a coffee shop to connect and to prepare our double showcase presentation to our MCBA group. Once we made the connection that we were both in the same business, the "business of first impressions", our presentation was like riding a bike going downhill. We selected fellow member Vernessa Hopkins and discussed how we could help her in a way that was engaging to the meeting for 40 minutes. There would be NO call-to-action to the other members except for Vernessa to incorporate the recommendations we gave her. Bridgett and I had an opening, relevant stories, and the word congruency. We both agreed that the first impression that Vernessa's written content provided had to be congruent with the first impression that her office environment provided. This set the stage for each of us to share for 10 minutes on 3-5 recommendations Vernessa could incorporate to strengthen her first impressions. The double showcase was set and it went amazing! The others were fully engaged, leaning forward, nodding their heads, and asking great questions afterward. Vernessa was very thankful. Bridgett and I were the first to ever create a showcase 'alliance' to help another. And that's what the 'A' in MCBA stands for. Other members were talking at the end of the meeting and starting to form their own strategic alliances.
Gary Volpe couldn't make our showcase as he was taking care of his president's role in the Rotary. We met right after at his office for an estimate. I can't share details of individual estimates for privacy sake. I can say this. I was so impressed with the 15 foot high mural of the Volpe Family business through it's 50 years of operation. Gary took me on a tour of his 40,000 sqft office building and told me great stories and introduced me to associates. I wasn't expecting this, but we also went to his old building for a second estimate. This is where the title of this episode comes from. We walked into a bathroom. There was some toilet paper on the ground by the trash can. He saw me going to pick it up and he stopped me because he wanted his employees to 'see it' and do it. I said. "You knew I was going to pick it up, didn't you?" He responded. "Yep, you're a cleaning guy. I know you would." This was a great meeting and I am so grateful for Gary's time and friendship. It's amazing how this is working. I already set myself apart by being a business man who happens to clean (from Andrea Szlavic). I am an introvert who has read books to be better with people and not afraid to network and try new things. I go to new network groups on faith and knew no one. A month later, they all know me. I'm a giver in the group and now Gary is giving me a huge opportunity.
This week was a BIB group meeting as well. We meet for breakfast in a local diner, open in prayer, discuss an educational piece, do two short 5 minute mini showcases, and connect. The group is small, but I enjoy the fellowship and you never know what will come from it! During the 30-second commercials, I used my time to help another member (just like Bridgett and I did at MCBA) and it went over really well. Another member said to me afterward, "I really appreciate how you used your time to talk about someone else. I need to get you to my house for a cleaning estimate". Are you starting to see that people hire people that they know, like, and trust!?
In my last update, I shared how we got our first two house cleaning clients. I had already cleaned for Ellie and now it was time to start at Erika's house. Normally, I wrap my initial cleaning into the first 2-3 visits of a new biweekly client. Most really appreciate this as it saves them from the big $500+ initial cleaning. A few items of interest occurred by I was cleaning. To set the table, Erika and her husband work out of the house and her parents are temporarily living there as their new home is built. Erika's mom is the nanny. She was watching me clean and on multiple occasions said this. "Ooh, the other girl didn't do that." It felt good and Erika should be thrilled. I also got a call from Marci at Edward Jones. They chose another company. I could tell that Marci was disappointed as the current partner didn't see the value of my presentation cleaning. I hope it works out for them and if not, I'll be ready to come off the bench and hit a home run for their company!
I also facilitate the SMART Cleaning Tribe, that I affectionately call 'our cleaning family'. We are close to 20 cleaning company owners from around the U.S. and Canada who needed a tribe to belong to, set SMART goals each month, and be held accountable to achieving them. I run 5 live video conference calls per month with one an expert call. This month's expert call was on Wednesday afternoon and we all got a dose of millionaire mindset as Crystal Hamm of the Go-2-Girls in Raleigh, NC put on a clinic of how to grow a 7-figure cleaning company in under 3 years. She loves her people and her people love her. One of the takeaways I got was this. Her marketing is a machine with over 300 leads coming in every month. Of the 300, 50 are coming in totally free through a new offering by Google called 'My Business'. Crystal has a strong profile and over 100 reviews. This is generating incredible free SEO for her company. I've had this on my list to do since coming back from Gatlinburg, TN and the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat. But, I wasn't there yet. I strengthened my profile after the call and asked for 3 reviews.
Have you picked up on my marketing strategy? It's not one thing and one thing only. I am doing everything and assessing what is working.
I Meant to Call You
In my last solo cleaning business update, I was thrilled to report two successful house cleaning estimates. I had cleaned for Ellie last week and verbally, she agreed to a recurring service starting in December. The other estimate was with Erika, whom my wife connected with through the local Facebook mom's group. I felt great about the estimate and expected a second yes, but heard nothing all weekend. Of course, doubts trickle in and you wonder if she changed her mind. Here's what I did. I texted Erika on Monday morning and said this. "How was your weekend? I just wanted to check in..." I didn't even mention cleaning and she replied with "I'm so sorry, so much going on. I meant to call you. When can we get on your schedule?" I was able to schedule her family on biweekly Thursdays along with Ellie. There's a lesson here. I could have been more direct and said. "Hi Erika, were you interested in cleaning services?" I could have been less direct. "Erika, did you have any other questions about my cleaning options?" I'm sure many of you would do this and I'm NOT saying it's wrong. I just had a gut feeling that Erika is a busy, working mom and my all-important cleaning proposal got looked at and forgotten in the chaos of her weekend. Therefore, I opted to be a human and ask how her weekend was. She may have responded with something short. "Fine." There is an emotional intelligence component required here. In my experience, this type of response shows disinterest or they just had a bad weekend. Either way, I'd give them time and follow up again in a week. Erika did not do that. She responded with enthusiasm. That's always a great sign. The result was expected. I asked about her weekend and she booked our cleaning service.
My networking meetings were lively as always. I shared last time that I was voluntold to do a 20-minute business showcase along with Bridgett. I had an idea that I wanted to pitch and it went great. What if we used our showcase time together to help another member AS we showcase what we each do in our businesses? Bridgett loved it and so did Vernessa, who was the member we were going to help. We had an educational piece during this meeting where we watched a TED talk and discussed how it related to us. I had a chance to wrap up with my comments and then casually mentioned that I was going to interview James Hardy from the group on a future podcast. Several members said. "You have a podcast!" "What is it called?" Before I could answer, Eva Finlan piped up and said. "Oh, it's a really good show!" I had promoted Eva on a prior episode and shared it to my Facebook friends. She was so grateful and listened. I told them the name of this show and a handful wrote it down. After the meeting, I set up a time to meet with Eva for a 1-to-1 to connect more. I also had a quick word with Gary Volpe about his office cleaning. He had tried to get me in there, but the timing wasn't right yet. I was grateful that he was considering me. As a quick note, I also attended my first Chamber of Commerce luncheon as a new member. It was an honor to speak in front of the members and all 3 of our county commissioners to introduce myself.
In parallel with my in-person networking, I've been connecting online as well using LinkedIn, NextDoor, and Facebook. I have already invested the time to build stellar profiles on each platform and introduced myself. I've even commented to help others, so they know, like, and trust me. My aim this week was to be more direct. I searched "clean" on NextDoor and found 3 neighbors looking for cleaners over the past 3 months. Many cleaners just replied with "Me. I do it." I answered with tips on how to find your next cleaner. I will repurpose that answer into a future Newsletter. My guess is that using this approach will create curiosity and possibly interest in my company. On LinkedIn, I answered messages, thanked all new local 1st connections for accepting, and reconnected with Tom at Edward Jones. I did NOT ask about the proposal. I thanked him for trusting me enough to let me into his office for an estimate. His response was, "Us Penn Staters need to stick together and that we're evaluating our proposals next week." I didn't have to ask about my proposal, but I got my answer. Lastly, I wanted to connect with new friends from the Chamber meeting. Instead of basic emails, I used the VidYard plugin and recorded personal messages and sent the video links out. Each responded and were impressed.
As the week winded down and I prepared for my Thursday night cleaning with my son, I got a voicemail from Gary Volpe. He was talking to his sons and they do want me to come over for an estimate. Here's the takeaway! Gary has gotten to know me from seeing me every week consistently for 5 weeks. He likes me, knows I'm a fellow believer, and share the same political bend (as we met at the polls on election day). I have positioned myself over the past 6 weeks as the cleaner he knows, likes, and trusts. We'll see what happens next. We have an estimate for next Tuesday!
I've been writing newsletters for my consulting role for a few years, but never for my cleaning network. I knew this needed to chance in 2019 and 2020. Thanksgiving was quickly approaching, so I wrote an article entitled, "Cleaning Tips to De-STRESS the Holidays". I added new names to my mailing list that gave me permission to add them and sent the newsletter out to 50 people through my free MailChimp account. I also repurposed the article to my website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google My Business, and NextDoor. My strategy was simple. Write one article and put it on every channel as you never know how people will consume your content.
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.