I have a heart to help everyone who wants to start a cleaning business and optimize as a solo. I have found this to be a great strength and weakness. In two recent scenarios, I have learned that while helping one I'm hurting another. I'm going to teach the destructive mindset in each of my two recent scenarios.
A lady found my podcast, loved it, and emailed me some questions. I answered her and started coaching her only to find out that she was currently working for another cleaning company and wanted to go on her own. I don't know her current boss. I advised her to be ethical and not poach any clients. She didn't want to hire, so poaching her coworkers wasn't a concern... now. I did not deter her from starting a business or from quitting her job. I had the mindset that there is plenty to go around and there is still more work than workers. I do believe this still. However, there is a major flaw to my advise. It hurt the current cleaning company she is working for. This company owner paid the price to start her own company. I know what it takes to win a cleaning company. I know how hard it is to find good people and to train them and keep them. This cleaner that contacted me had benefitted tremendously from the work and training that her boss provided. Like so many cleaning employees, they perceive that the boss isn't doing any of the cleaning, yet making so much more than the cleaner. It's not fair. It's entitlement and scarcity mindset. They don't yet know how hard it is. They think erringly that being a good cleaner (which they only know because of their boss) will make them a good cleaning business owner. We know from the previous podcasts that this is not true. They don't yet have the 4 fundamentals of Financial, Mindset, Strategic, and People conquered. So many cleaners perceive the easy street it appears to change from employee to owner. They quit and then call on the houses or offices they were cleaning and steal them. And that's exactly what it is. Theft. Then they call their former co- workers and offer them a better deal.
What happens next? The cleaner turned owner doesn't know to get any insurance or to become legit and professional. They put themselves and their stolen customers at risk. They have very shallow roots and the new business is scorched by the hot sun and pressures of being in business for yourself and the business dies. The customers are hurt as they lose their cleaner. The original cleaning company is hurt as it lost customers and employees. The new cleaning business is done and begging for their old job back. The employees that jumped ship don't know what to do. This is destructive to all. If I would have helped this cleaner, I would have helped them succeed in their business for sure. But I would have helped the other cleaning company lose a good employee and potentially customers and employees. I would have helped one to hurt another. I will NOT do this! It's not ethical for me. Plus, if there is a non-compete in place, it's possible that I'd be complicit in helping a cleaning employee illegally break their binding contract. This is a potential legal liability for me. Again, I won't do this. And I didn't help this cleaner once I realized the potential destructive downstream path.
I don't want to be all doom and gloom. In limited cases, this works out. For example, there are cleaners that inform their bosses that they want to start their own company. These company owners are Dream Managers and mentors and actually help them do it. They ensure that there is win-win and more than enough to go around.
One of my family members in a different state builds a close relationship with her cleaner. She is an employee of a large company. I know the owner well. In conversation, my family member learns of the cleaner's interest to have their own business. She naturally tells her about me. This cleaner doesn't know about my podcast, but she finds my website and books a free coaching call. I start helping her because I enjoy it. This scenario is different. She doesn't work for my friend anymore. By the way, I didn't know the connection between my family member and my friend until late in my coaching call. I just presumed to help this woman that my family member recommended. I advised her how to start a cleaning company and even sent her free resources. I told her not to poach any customers including the family member she was cleaning for and friends with. I told her not to poach any employees. She wanted to market in the same neighborhoods as her former boss without taking any customers directly. I gave this advice. Don't market your business there. Market away from where your old boss markets. But you cannot prevent people from finding you as you enter social media. You can decide if it's ethical to do estimates for those that request you. I thought that was safe still believing that there was plenty to go around. At the end of the call, I finally asked who she worked for prior and discovered it was my friend.
I called my friend after and wanted to let them know. They were not happy with my news, nor my advise to them. I quickly realized my error. This cleaner signed a strict non-compete which carried fines for poaching employees and customers, plus geographic restrictions of where she could operate her own business. She had also signed this non-compete to apply for a year after leaving the old company. I have a non-compete for our commercial cleaning company. It doesn't carry fines, but it does lay out terms not to poach. Here's the point. I already helped my family member's cleaner to start her own business during my short 20 minute call. I didn't know about the non-compete that was legally in place. I was risking a lot just so I could help someone. I emailed the cleaner back and let them know that I cannot help them and that they should ensure they comply with all documents they may have signed. I later found out that had I helped this former cleaning employee, I would have created legally enforcable fines upon the cleaner, my family member, and potentially myself. I declined to help this cleaner and I will not help cleaners quit their job to start a business. It's unethical!
These two scenarios have helped me define two boundaries in Smart Cleaning School.
Ken, these are hard lines you're drawing! Yes, they are. I will not be a part of harming any cleaning company. I want to help. I want to continue training and I will. I will do so with more wisdom and selection. My goal is always to find the win-win like Mr. Covey teaches.
Before I end this podcast, I want to provide some encouragement for current and former cleaning employees listening to this podcast. First of all, thank you for listening. This is a great industry. One day, this could be the right business for you. Make sure you know what you signed. Declare any intentions you have about starting a cleaning business to your boss. It's possible they will help you win. You will likely have to start your business in a different area, but who knows. Just put yourself in their shoes. What if you had endured the struggle, the risk, the stress of building a successful company and one of your employees did this to you. How would you want to be treated. Treat others as you would like to be treated. It's the Golden Rule.
If you're a solo cleaning owner and none of this applies to you and you do want my training, we'd love to have you in the Solo Elite Membership! You can optimize your solo cleaning business to earn over $50,000 profit cleaning less than 20 hours per week without employees or subs or drama! Get access to this game-changing training for only $57 per month or $597 per year in the Solo Elite Membership at smartcleaningschool.com/elite. Members get access to the full ISO Model Course to optimize your solo business, plus access to the Solo Elite Community, bonus podcast content, access to private coaching and additional courses at 50% off! You can also sample the membership with our brand new "Backstage Pass", which is found at smartcleaningschool.com.
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