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.
Two weeks later Ian and I were in Dallas together. I introduced him to many people in the cleaning industry and he got more excited about the opportunity. He kept me up at night for 2 hours asking questions on everything about the industry and my business. I also learned from Debbie Sardone at that conference her 5-day training system for speed cleaning. I borrowed elements of it and made my own called the TIC Model or Training, Inspecting, Consulting. This would be the path that I could train someone who had never cleaned before to running an optimized solo cleaning business. The last night we were there, Ian and I were hanging out in the pool area and were even talking in the hot tub. We struck the first hot tub deal. I agreed to hold the deal for him if he signed a Letter of Intent that he was going to buy it. He agreed with no negotiation as he saw the profound value of this purchase in his life. John VanderMeulen gave me his business sale templates! Thank you John! Once he signed and notarized the document I no longer shop the business around. This is now February 2018 and I'm leaving in mid-june. The first part of this process started from November to January.
Ian spent all February trying to get loans. Obviously, he started with the small business administration, but over time they rejected him as he never owned a business before. His credit and cash didn't matter. He had no prior experience he was unlendable. I even tried to call on his behalf and they explained the same thing. He tried business loans from his credit union and another bank, both rejected him. It was getting to be crunch time. Meanwhile, we didn't tell any of our clients or any of our friends that we were leaving as we needed to get the deal done. In late March, we went to a Royal Rangers conference. On the last night again we're hanging out at the pool and in the hot tub again. We shook hands on the 2nd hot tub deal. I said. "Ian could you just get some personal loans and scrap together the money you need for a down payment? If you can I'll work up a deal and I'll do a seller's agreement we can pay me the rest. It's called owner finance." He said yes!
He spent three weeks in early April going to banks and got approved for loans for $25,000. These were personal loans. I worked up the next documents which I also got help from John and LegalZoom. These documents were the Purchase Agreement and Promissory Note. On April 27th, 2018 we met at the credit union. Ian handed me $25,000 and the banker witnessed as we signed the documents. We each got a signed and notarized copy. Since I already had a business account there, it was easy to set up monthly direct deposits from Ian's account to mine. The deal is done. I got $25,000. Besides the price of the business, I had an interest rate of 6% built-in for payments of which we agreed to two years. that the clock would start once the down payment of 50% was met. He would pay me over the course of the next 6 months until we hit that 50%.
In early May, I went around to every one of my client's homes and shared my heart. "It was Hard to Leave." I learned so much. Out of 17 clients, 15 went with Ian. Two new ones came in during the process, so we ended up with a net loss of zero. I had an agreement also with Ian that if any clients declined I would reduce half of the value of that one client from the cost of the business. It was a good act of faith but wasn't required by me. And as a good act of faith, Ian never negotiated a price with me. He trusted me and knew I gave a good and fair price for the business. He could have haggled me down $20,000 and we could have still done it. But he also was grateful for me as a friend. And likewise to him, we became great friends. he wanted to pay me the full price because he knew it would help him and it would help us. This goes back to "Call Ian" on that car ride and how God ordained this for me. I started bringing Ian to my clients to introduce him and by late May we started the TIC Model.
For two weeks I did all the cleaning everywhere and he watched me (the Training phase), made video, ask questions as I explained everything I did. I took him to a few estimates and he saw how I did estimates and learned for me. I taught him how to do proposals. The next two weeks and early June were the Inspecting phase. He cleaned everything and I watched and asked him questions about why he did certain things. He studied the videos at night to get the training system down. Ian was pretty choppy at first but got better. By the end of 2 weeks, he was pretty good. then I went to Pittsburgh for a TLF Mastermind Retreat and let him clean his first three houses without me present. This was the Consulting phase where I wasn't physically there, but I visualized and talked him through each house at the beginning and the end of each one. This was how I consulted him. I billed consulting into my final price.
Ian kept working his full-time job at night and did the cleaning business during the day. He gave me all the profits of the cleaning business and the consulting fees all the way through the end of September 2018. I left New York at the end of June and did one month of consulting for every house from Pennsylvania. I then switched my consulting to every couple of weeks, down to once a month, and then I stopped by September. We signed the final Promissory Note for $2,025/mo payments for two years on the 25th of each month. Ian called me with questions when he had them. I never charged him more for consulting.
By December of 2018, I was cleaning in Pennsylvania. Ian had tripled his income during the day and was able to quit his job that was killing his body. Ian had the most freedom and flexibility in a job he's ever had and he could serve the boys. He had nights and weekends free. Plus he was able to take on more cleaning clients and make more money. $80,000 was a lot of money but it gave him a better life and it was only two more years of payments. Ian never missed a payment. The last payment was on September 25th, 2020. These payments floated me when I moved to Pennsylvania for 2 years. I'm so thankful that this worked out and so is Ian.
Was this a risky deal? Of course! There were no lawyers or bankers so to speak or SBA people. It was essentially two guys that were friends and trusted each other that had each other's best interests in mind that shook hands twice in a hot tub. And then each of us honored our agreements. Now, Ian is running my old business and owns it 100%. He's 29 years old and his life is so much better. He has the time to take care of his brother who was injured recently in an accident. He has the time to serve the boys in Royal Rangers. He can take on more cleaning jobs and he makes great money as a solo cleaner. Maybe one day he'll hire? That's how I sold my business. It's a lot and I don't expect anyone here to approach this lightly. It's a major commitment. But I want you to take this away. Don't listen to what other people tell you can or cannot be done. People told me I couldn't sell my solo cleaning business because it had no employees except for me. People told me it wasn't a real business and it wasn't sellable. I would agree to some extent as the 3 cleaning companies I shopped thought that. That's why they offered me nothing. But I also knew that I wasn't selling a business. I was selling an opportunity for a better lifestyle. That's the dream I spun and that's the dream I sold. I also had a system to make it happen. I had also built up incredible trust with 17 clients that went with whoever I recommended knowing that I was personally training them. In the end, you could take your solo cleaning business and sell it for $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, who knows?!. Check this out I've rebuilt a second company in Pennsylvania. I make more on the same amount of time that I did for the business I sold for $80,000. My value would not be that high yet because it hasn't been in operation long enough. But in another year or two, my current business is probably going to be worth over $150,000. And if I decided to hire as I have many offices, which are more valuable by the way. I could sell it for even more. This is an exit strategy that solo cleaners could do. You've got to have the emotional and intellectual fortitude, the mindset, the belief, the perseverance, and you got to know your numbers. I hope this was a help to you!
I want to thank Ian Traynor or Albany Pure Cleaning for his trust in me and the process. If you're in the Albany, NY area looking for a trustworthy, reliable cleaner, give Ian a call.
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.