In this podcast, I share an incredible case study from my friend Hugh Gbewonyo from Foot Solutions in Norristown, PA. Before I go into Hugh's case study, it's important to understand his industry and how he chose to niche. The shoe industry has been growing year-after-year from the 1-to-1 shoe salesman model to the box store. My dad was a shoe salesman in small private owned mall store who knew shoes, was great with people, and took the time with each. I sold shoes years later in a box store where I was trained to help as many as I could and how to properly greet and "sell" them. This is the retail model that took over every industry for the past 40 years. Hugh didn't want that kind of shoe store. He wanted to set himself apart and really help people with every day life by becoming a certified pedorthist. Although he's not a medical doctor for feet, he can analyze feet & gait to recommend custom shoes for people. Thus, his shoe store is a sub-niche from shoe stores.
We are in a challenging time as we navigate the devastating effects of the Coronavirus. We need to be wise, use caution, and protect ourselves and families. But we also need to control our emotions and try to view things optimistically. A great example emerged a few weeks before the corona outbreak with my daughter. She was struggling as a pre-teen and allowing a small irritant to throw off her whole day. I told her the beautiful story of the oyster and the pearl. First, an irritant enters the oyster. It usually opens it's shell to eat and stays closed to not be eaten. Sometimes sand or small organisms enter. The oyster feels threatened and secretes a substance called Meka (or mother of pearl) to fight the intruder. This is the same substance that the mantle or inside of the shell is made of. The oyster also secretes a protein to act as glue to continue covering this intruder layer after layer. In the end is a pearl. To the oyster, it just transformed something irritating into something that is safe. To mankind, the pearl is of significant value. One such pearl from the Australian South Seas was recently sold for $1.5M. I shifted gears with my daughter and told her to be like the oyster. Turn your irritants into something beautiful. I now say the same to everyone reading this or listening to my podcast.
I begin this episode with a real estate investing story from my brilliant cousin Seth. He is not a big time cash buyer in the real estate world. Every time he tries to compete on their level and get to the houses at the pre-foreclosure or auction stage, he is beaten because he cannot compete with cash. Seth had to find another way. Make sure to listen to this podcast to see the shear brilliance of Seth's advantage and how he is buying properties in his area.
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.
In Marcus Sheridan's "They Ask You Answer", the author makes a powerful statement. "On average, 70% of the buying decision is made before the prospect talks to the company." This is amazing news.
Have you ever shopped at the discount racks? This episode is a companion to Blueberry Pie in helping you to understand pricing. Study this and apply it!
Teresa needed new jeans, so she went to Kohl's and shopped at the discount racks first because she didn't have much money to spend.. She's looking for a discount and she finds nothing that fits! Some are too short, too long, too tight, not for her body type. Teresa came back home after going to Kohl's and was frustrated. She thought, "Is something wrong with me, with my body? I wasted my time. I'm frustrated."
A little background... we've been cutting back, pinching pennies for many years as we've paid off debt. Teresa used to clip coupons and finding deals is her specialty. We still go to the thrift stores to find great deals on second hand clothes for our family. We're not ashamed at that one bit. However, she realized that in the case of jeans, she needed the right fit and the discount racks weren't going to work. She shifted her mindset to go out the second day to just find the jeans that fit. She went back to Kohl's, walking past the discount racks, then checked out another store until she finally found the jeans that fit and she bought 4 pairs!
"I knew that there wasn't something wrong with me. I knew that the jeans weren't right." A lot of moms feel the same with cleaning. They can't keep the house in order, clutter all over the place, not clean. They might hire someone and it doesn't work out. They hire another cleaning service and it doesn't work out. They try and try, not finding the right fit. They start to wonder, "Maybe it's me. Maybe it's my house? Maybe it's too messy and people don't want that?" It's not that at all. You just have to shop around at different stores with your eyes looking past the discount racks until you find the right pair of jeans. Solo Cleaning School, I want you to become the type of business that "fits" for your ideal client.
How do you learn how to fit your ideal client? You have to build a reputation of trust around you and your brand. Some moms are always going to shop the discount racks for cleaners and some will go to the grocery store for the generic $5 blueberry pie. Don't worry about them. They are not your ideal client. Just keep offering your $15 blueberry pie, build your trust, and keep saying "next" until enough right people try you on and realize that you're the perfect fit.
The first lesson of Blueberry Pie covers the 3 types of Buyers:
The second lesson of Blueberry Pie is the ability to separate the emotional from the logical.
Buyer #1 and #2 will NEVER buy your pie. When they say no, they are not saying no to YOU. They are saying no to your product or service. They are not offending you, judging you, or belittling you. They just don't want what you are offering. Once you accept that, you can gain the confidence to start saying "next". Beth Lane referenced that most solo cleaners (from her point of view) are introverts and empaths. This makes it extra hard for them to accept this second lesson.
In this episode, Beth Lane of Lavender Fields Cleaning Service joined Solo Cleaning School. She has been working in this amazing profession for 21 years and has a world of experience that she graciously shares with us today. She uncovers several key points for new solo cleaning moms to use as they grow their business.
I recently connected with Whitney Bonds of "Tried & True Mom Jobs" who helps moms venture out into the workforce to help their families. It's an awesome mission. Whitney or Max as she goes by, asked me to write up a concise blog for her on "How to Start Your Own Cleaning Business". She wanted to bring this content and example to her large blog audience of moms to show them the potential of cleaning as a mom job. Let's cover my answers to her questions in this podcast episode as I believe it's a great piece of content to cover early on. Make sure to go back to the Pros & Cons of Solo Cleaning as I covered some of these points already.
What are the steps to setting up your own cleaning business? It’s important to first understand the various models available to you. There are many “Aunt Sallie” cleaners out there. They take great risk as do the homeowners hiring them as they are uninsured and not paying taxes. Do not do this! The risk is too great and the income is low. A solo cleaning company is insured, registered in their state, and pays all necessary taxes. They work as owner-operators. I did this for the majority of my New York business. The final model are the team cleaning independant and franchise businesses. In all cases, the simplest way to set up your cleaning business is to do the following:
How do you decide how much you should charge? Do not charge by the hour! That is the most critical first decision. You need to choose a starting rate for houses (or offices) at a price reasonable to your experience. I suggest $100-$125 per house as a beginner. Then track your time to calculate your hourly rates. Strive to get to at least $30/hour to start. If you are not at $30, it means you are either undercharging or taking too long. Over time, increase prices to the $40-$50/hour range. In some cases, like in my business, you can optimize to $80-$120/hour. This requires specialized training in my ISO Model Signature Solution.
How much money do you need to start a cleaning business? This answer depends on the business model you select. If you follow my advice and start as a solo DBA, you can legally be cleaning houses for under $1,000 in startup. At the rates I mentioned in #3, you can pay this initial investment back with 8 houses.
Can this be done part-time and still lucrative? Oh, yes you can! I was able to build a flexible company earning $55k profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week and no employees or subcontractors. I worked around 20 hours per week for over $1,000 per week in profit. This gave me 5 days per week to enjoy my family and work on other projects. This is a PERFECT business for moms to start. How do I know? Because over 90% of house cleaning owners are moms! They love this business because it’s simple, profitable, flexible, and rewarding. Check out the podcast episode, “Moms Helping Moms Helping Moms”.
How do you find clients or what are the best ways to get clients and retain them? This age-old question isn’t so much about the tactics, rather the strategy. You have to understand the nature of being a “Go-Giver” and then apply it. But in general, here’s how you find clients.
Do you have to set up any business requirements before getting started? This is a simple business with low barrier to entry. I have already over complicated it with my list of getting started in #2! Go and clean, make some money! That’s the only requirement. Stop talking about doing this amazing business and go do it! If you need help, I have free & paid resources to help you.
What supplies do you recommend to start with? For a housecleaning business, you need a vacuum cleaner & attachments, microfiber cloths for cleaning & dusting, a tote bin, spray bottles, sponges & scouring pads, toilet brush, and the basic cleaning supplies (all purpose, glass, kitchen & disinfectant). You can start with what you already have in your house to bootstrap or invest in your own cleaning system I recommend studying the science of cleaning, so you understand why to use what you use! I have this training available in my Solo Cleaning School.
How can you scale this business? Let’s not overcomplicate. I personally advise that you become proficient as a solo cleaner first. When you are profitable and ready to hire, you can take a few approaches.
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.