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.
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.
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.
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
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'm not sharing as many of my own solo cleaning business updates as my own personal goals are beginning to shift. I am following my own ISO Model System. I am almost through the Stabilizer Phase of the plan, which focuses on growth and earning enough profit and experience to remove ALL financial stress from your family. In 2021, I'll be optimizing my company to $6,000 per month profit on 2 cleaning days per week without employees. Here are a few updates from the past week.
There are so many questions that clients and prospects have asked me over the years. As a consultant in the cleaning industry, I get asked even more. My cleaning company website has an in-depth Learning Library that I'm very proud of. Several of these articles are FAQs that I've pulled to the home page of my website. From time to time, I'll bring you one of these articles. Today is such a time as I wanted to mentally equip you, the solo cleaner, with how to answer the naysayers that believe solo cleaning is not possible, not worth it, or not professional. Here's a link to my article, "How Can You Possibly Clean Alone, Ken?". For the purposes of this podcast, I'm going to read it! There are 6 misconceptions that I highlight in this article and I encourage you to remember them as you connect with potential clients. As a side note, I added a 7th misconception for this podcast for solo cleaners directly.
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.