This episode of the original Solo Cleaning School is one of my most downloaded ones to date. I have personally heard several stories how this episode along with a few others helped someone start a solo cleaning business as a side hustle. I can't tell you how exciting that makes me! I wanted to make one update to this episode based on where I am in my personal business in 2022. If you've followed this show at all in 2021, you'd know that I made the decision after 15 years of solo cleaning to scale my business. In fact, if you'd like to learn how to scale your cleaning business, you can follow this podcast and watch me do it!
I brought Molly Moran onto the Smart Cleaning Tribe in December 2021 as the 4th expert in the 7-Figure Series. Molly started Green Sweep NM in 2009. She lives in Albuquerque, NM. She grew her business to $600k in 6 years with basic systems and a split of 50/50 commercial & residential. Molly decided to sell the commercial side of her company to focus on houses. After 2 more years, she built the residential only portion back to $450k, but she was burnt out! Her business was unsustainable because she had few systems. She was working like crazy and the thought of this business at $1M revenue made her sick as she’d have no life. Molly was scrolling late night on Indeed and Facebook when she stumbled upon Debbie Sardone and CBF. She joined Debbie's coaching program in 2017 as a last-stitch effort to salvage her company and regain her peace of mind. CBF usually helps businesses with $100-$300k businesses get to $1M. Molly was way past that, but needed help. She implemented the necessary systems in a year and turned it around. Molly grew from $450k to $1.2M in 4 years and closed 2021 closing in on $2M in annualized revenue. Molly has opted to be more top-heavy in admin, to sacrifice profit for time. Others opt to be more involved in the business (less admin) and more profit to the owner. This investment allowed Molly to step away more from her business and today she is a certified CBF Coach and helping others turn their residential cleaning companies around and on-track toward a 7-figure absentee business.
The FAA requires a runway length of 7,500 feet for a 747 airplane to take-off and land. This length adds on considerable margin for slippery surfaces from poor weather or possibly malfunction. Have you ever noticed how exact air traffic control and schedules are? Your plane has an exact take-off time. It takes a few minutes to depart from the gate and taxi to the assigned runway strip. Then it stops, awaits permission from control, and then barrels down the runway lifting off into the great blue. There are so many great analogies and metaphors that speakers and writers have used over the years to compare this airplane take-off process to some process in our lives or businesses. I was on a coaching call with Josh Melton in early November 2021 and he said this. "Ken, you need to learn how to clear the runway."
I have shared highlights and interactions from the Smart Cleaning Tribe that I facilitate every Monday. This past week's call was wide-ranging in topics, but one issue spoke to many in the Tribe. Communication. When you run a solo business under $100k, it's fairly easy to maintain all communication of email, texts, and online messages with your customers. For the most part, solos have under 30 customers and they don't have many emails to address. It does get much harder to be responsive and accountable to ALL communication as your revenue grows. In this episode, this issue comes up big time in 2021 to bite Mark's business. He doesn't ignore his emails. Mark runs a very successful janitorial company over $1 million in revenue and gets up to 50 emails per day from customers, employees, and vendors. This is not a task that Mark could or should do on his own. He has tried and it cost him 2 customers in 2021. Here's the irony. Mark (like others in the Tribe including me) are guilty of procrastinating on their communication. They respond quickly to the email, but not fully. This buys us time to come back to the email when we have time. The problem as you may have guessed it. We don't have the time to come back to it. Therefore, we drop the ball and the communication procrastination hurts our reputations and bank accounts.
We discuss a wide array of topics in this podcast episode anchored on our belief system. What is the underlying characteristic that has helped Debbie Sardone succeed in each of her businesses? It's her belief and conviction that what she is doing is right and is helping people. This conviction creates the self-confidence to take massive action and the massive action leads to massive results. It's this simple. You hear this woven all through Debbie's entrepreneurial journey that spans multiple decades. You hear this conviction rise up during the pandemic in the metaphor of the cow and buffalo and in helping cleaning company owners through the Valley of Despair. Here are some quotes from the episode
It's time for another Tim Ferriss Podcast reference. Oh my. David Blaine the magician was such an entertaining 55 minutes! There were so many actionable words of wisdom. The one that got me to stop and listen again was this one. David told the story when he was a young magician doing street magic. He was in an airport and he got some bags mixed up because they all look the same. He said I think you've got my bag to a nearby traveler. One of the guys in a business suit said, "No I think that guy over there in the in the white limo has your bag." David had no family left after his single mom passed away. He had nothing to lose, walked over to the white limousine, and knocked on the window. The window rolled down. It was Iron Mike Tyson holding up his fist in the prime of the Tyson era! Iron Mike said, "Hey man, what do you want?" Mike Tyson ended up letting David into the limo and they went back to Mike's hotel where David did a bunch of cool magic tricks. Mike was thoroughly entertained and gave him some life-changing advice. He said. "You know I wasn't supposed to be the heavyweight champion of the world. I was too short. My reach was too short as well. But you know... when you have nothing else to lose, you have everything to gain."
Welcome to the next Solo Saturday! I'm here for you solo cleaners. Have you enjoyed these bonus episodes just for you? We're just coming off the Christmas Season, New Year's, and now we're hard at work setting 2022 goals. I want to share a scene from one of my favorite movies, "It's a Wonderful Life". This scene is a turning point in George Bailey's life as he decides to follow his calling into the great unknown to help people rather than bowing to the almighty dollar that Mr. Potter was offering. See if you recognize this scene. I'll act it out!
After a networking meeting, I was out in the parking lot chatting with my friend Gary Volpe as we were both making our way to our vehicles. The topic of telling our story came up and Gary lit up!
I ended the November Freedom Report with peace. We had brought our plan to go to Florida to God and asked Him to show us the way. We had over 20 job applications come in with no new hires. I personally connected and made initial connection to 240 local office cleaning prospects and followed up with close to 100 phone calls to find out if they had a cleaner in house or outsourced and if they were happy. This lead to 7 interested prospects and 4 proposals sent. But the net result of all of this effort was 0 new team members and $0 in new revenue with 65 days left before Florida. Josh gave me a challenge. "1 & 1 and we're having fun." Can I add 1 new office and 1 new team member by the end of November. I recorded the November Freedom Report just prior to month end. Let me just say this. God answered our prayers and broke the dam loose! A lot has changed in 30 days!
This episode was the turning point of my 2021, where I publicly announced that I was changing my business model from solo cleaning to building a team. If you're new to this podcast, here's why this is so significant. Around the cleaning industry, I have been known as the solo cleaning expert. I have built 2 solo cleaning businesses to $60,000 income per year on 2 cleaning days per week without employees or subcontractors. I started the Solo Cleaning School Podcast and Elite Membership in 2019. I have followed 2 of the 3 paths of the Optimized Solo Cleaner. I have "Stayed" a solo. I have "Sold" my solo business in 2018. This podcast was the announcement that it was time to complete the trio and "Scale" my solo business. We had a New Freedom Vision to be in Florida for a month as a family and I would need a team to complete this vision.
At this point in the podcast, I stopped my weekly updates in my solo cleaning business and moved to a monthly Freedom Report with Coach Josh so you could follow me toward this vision. Please take the time to listen to this Best-Of episode to go back in time to last summer. This will set the next episode really, really well.
I have to come right out in the open and make a confession. I have been chronically late my whole life. I overslept and missed the school bus in middle and high school at least 20 times. I was late to my SAT exam. I was late to many of my college classes. I was late to my job at GE and it got worse the longer I was there. I have been late to cleaning appointments and estimates. I have been late just about every Sunday for church. Why am I always late? It's my mom's fault! You didn't see that one coming from the podcast host! All of the admissions of lateness were the ones in my control. Let's turn the clock back to elementary school. I missed the bus several times because my mom couldn't get out of the house in time as she had to drive me. Not only did I miss the bus, but my mom would follow the bus to the next stop to put me on. That was humiliating to have 15+ gawking kids waving and laughing at me from the back of the bus. My mom was RIGHT behind it! I was late to Kindergarten and this was double lateness. My mom dropped me off at my Aunt Donna's apartment on her way to work. Aunt Donna was supposed to take me to school an hour later. However, Aunt Donna liked to sleep and I got to watch a lot of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. That's when I knew I'd be really late to Kindergarten as it was only a half day. Then there were the days that I got to watch the Price is Right while Aunt Donna slept. Those were the days that we'd pull into school and my friends were being dismissed. I have no idea how I passed Kindergarten! I was late to every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other family get together with my mom's side. We'd typically show up 2-3 hours late. It got to the point that my grandfather (mom's dad) would tell his daughter (my mom) that the gathering was 2 hours earlier to get her there on time. He affectionately called this "Lynn Time" (my mom's first name). We'd still be an hour late. I was early once. The story is told that my mom gave birth to me in the hallway while my dad was getting his hospital gown on.
That article was funny for sure! My family got a few chuckles as I read it to them. Let's step back and think about it for a minute. Why was it funny? The answer will hit you like a ton of bricks. The author in each headline or instruction was trying to communicate a message. In some cases, they were trying to warn others of danger. Unfortunately, the authors didn't edit their own writing or have others review. Had they done some basic editing, they could have ensured their communication was delivered in the way it was meant. Instead, we are left with double meanings and funny emails. How are you doing this in your communication to others? How do you communicate with your spouse, your kids, your parents, siblings, relatives, friends? How do you communicate in the board rooms, conference rooms, and Zoom rooms to co-workers or your team? How do you communicate in your texts/IMs/emails to customers, team members, vendors? We live in a world of auto-correct, where we trust a computer to edit for us. This is dangerous. Be honest. How many times have you sent something that auto-corrected to something totally out there? What happened next? Shame, embarrassment, and a follow up text with the correction. Why do we get so lazy and allow ourselves to trust the editing of a computer?
This is an unintentional third part to the Perfection Series. In the first episode, "Excellence Vs. Perfection", I share some stories from struggling solo cleaners as they clean. The takeaway is this. Perfection is selfish. You are trying to make something so clean to scratch the itch you have. You are doing it to please you, not the customer. Here's an example. If perfection represents a 10 in cleaning, excellence is around 8. You can get to an 8 quickly and efficiently. But taking an 8 to a 10 may add hours. These extra hours costs you money and inconvenience for the customer. The irony is that you'll never get to 10 anyway. Go for excellence, which is learning what makes the customer happy and accomplish it every time.
Nobody predicted 2020 or what would happen in the world. As I take a step back, I notice things particularly in the working world. First, let me go back 20 years! I started my career in 2000 as an engineer for a large corporation. I had to wake up at 6am, get ready, and be in a cubicle by 8am. I would stay in my cubicle farm until 5pm and do it 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year. I had 2 weeks off, which I would typically reserve for the Christmas break. I would dream of owning my own business and not being stuck in this cubicle. That's when I saw the Amway business and jumped at the opportunity to earn my freedom from the corporate world. I learned about this new way of commerce called e-commerce and the Law of the Power Curve. This law plots all major technologies on X-Y axes of time and market penetration. Here's how it works. Any new technology has early adopters who try it out. It takes a long time for a new technology to gain momentum as it steadily climbs to 10% market penetration. In other words, 10% of the market has or is using this technology. This is called Critical Mass because it takes the same amount of time to get from 10 - 90% market penetration as it took to get from 0 - 10%. Then the curve levels off again as it takes just as long to get from 90 - 100% and in theory, never gets to 100%. The curve from start to finish looks like a "S", hence the name of S-Curve Economics. This was mind-blowing to me when I learned about it in 2002. I then studied the major technologies like the phonograph, the telephone, the TV, the PC, the internet, etc. They all followed this curve exactly, except for one difference. Each successive technology was building on the last, so the duration from 0 - 10% was getting shorter and shorter. This gave me the confidence that e-Commerce would be the next Power Curve even though I couldn't in my wildest dreams imagine a world where I would not be shopping in stores. I heard these visionary future thinkers that came to Amway events talking about this new thing called e-commerce. They said stuff like this. There's this new company called Amazon and they're losing a ton of money right now because they are spending way more than they are making to get people to shop there. I heard this. "In 10 years, people won't be shopping in malls or stores anymore. They'll be buying everything on the internet." This was preposterous. When you needed things, you go to a store for it. I went to the bank in person, the pharmacy for odds and ends, Walmart was huge. Auto parts store, electronic store, malls because they had tons of stores. You went to stores to get things you need. An entire industry had built around the need for people to go places in person for over 100 years. I believed the S-Curve would happen because history repeats and good technologies follows this curve. Therefore, I didn't totally reject the idea. I simply believed that internet shopping would increase and it would be good to own an e-Commerce site. That was what Amway was to me in 2002.
In the last episode, I shared 2 new blind spots that hold me back. Here's a direct quote from "Counting Your Chickens Before they Hatch". "These 2 new blind spots explain why I take my foot off the gas pedal. It's why my pipeline of marketing prospects has run out time and time again over my 20-year entrepreneurial journey. I'm not consistent and it's not because I'm afraid of doing the work. I am a hard worker. I simply get in my own way and stunt my own growth."
This podcast episode is a follow up of "We All Need a Coach". I shared in a recent Freedom report how Josh revealed two blind spots to me. One was that I took my hand off building my pipeline and it dried up. I was living off past work. The other blind spot was that my prices were too high. But they weren't too high as a solo optimizer. They were too high as a team building initializer. These two blind spot recognitions by Josh literally saved me 3 to 6 months of pain. Both of these blind spots were killing my sales funnel. I'm so thankful for great coaches in my life. Wait, did I say I'm thankful? On a mastermind call in Total Life Freedom in October, the guys found two more blind spots. I'm collecting blind spots like my kids collect Easter eggs. The only difference is that I'm carrying a basket and my coaches are putting more eggs in it. I don't mind. I have realized that I need to know these things about myself that I don't see and others do. It is painful, but it makes me stronger. How about you? Would your pride or ego be hurt by knowing your blind spots? Don't say yes unless you mean it.
I have talked about my involvement in my local Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce at nauseum in this podcast over the past 2 years. I am a HUGE believer in membership at your chamber, no matter what size your cleaning business. Check out this clip from a recent call in the Smart Cleaning Tribe that I facilitate, where we highlighted best practices and tips on effectively utilizing our chamber. This was in response to a question of newer member, Sunny, who wanted to know if she should join her chamber.
Would you like to discuss a chamber strategy or see if it's right for you? Make sure to check out the many free & paid resources available at the Smart Cleaning School website. Also, do you have questions for me? Book a free coaching call on my website!
I used to go shopping at Aldi for Teresa after work during the pandemic. Aldi is a small store, but that didn't help me find anything. I would have a texted list. Inevitably, I'd spend 15 minutes finding the first item and then call my wife. She would literally help me find everything else on the list from memory. I was the arms, legs, and eyes. She was the brains. Men, do you relate? Ladies, do you do this for your men? Here's where it gets better. A few times, I went to Aldi with my oldest son. We were like Tweetle-Dee and Tweetle-Dumb. I would never want to see the surveillance tapes of us wandering the isles.
I recorded "A New Freedom Vision" in May, just 6 months ago. It was a bold proclamation. I could not go to Florida for a month, while scheduled to clean 2 days per week. I had to grow a team. I interviewed Josh Melton for my podcast in June ("The Cleaning Road to Nineveh with Josh Melton") and immediately asked him to coach me. I was ready for the challenge and I was ready to show you all that I could do it. Let me cut right to it. It's 6 months later and we have 0 new clients and 0 new employees. In fact, we have at least $1,000 per month less in cash flow because our expenses went up as we've been building to scale. There are 3 topics to discuss on this episode and unfortunately, I don't have a clip from Coach Josh. His best stuff was on the final coaching call before Thanksgiving and it wasn't recorded. His call-out was tough and I'll share that first.
In this 'Best Of' episode, I share an opening story of a landscaper who didn't care how they drove. They didn't consider their actions behind the wheel to matter toward their job. In the recent episode, "Get Out of the Car", I share a chilling story of my conduct behind the wheel of my car in between cleaning jobs. I encourage you to listen to both of these episodes and them them challenge your ego. Are you potentially harming your business reputation or worse, putting your safety in harm's way?
Have you ever organized a conference, ceremony, wedding, or performance? It is a ton of work. The guests simply show up and observe the show. A Master of Ceremony (MC) steps forward with the microphone into the spotlight to lead the guests through a journey. They orchestrate multiple speakers to the climax of the ceremony or performance, where the biggest moment takes center stage. I was that MC recently at my church for a Royal Rangers Gold Medal of Achievement Ceremony. The Royal Rangers is a Christian ministry raising up boys to become godly men. They develop outdoor, survival, leadership, and spiritual maturity over a decade-long path. The Gold Medal of Achievement (GMA) is the highest award and equivalent to the Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Award. To put this into perspective, there are over 10,000 Royal Rangers nationally and less than 1% ever earn their GMA. Therefore, we celebrate this accomplishment with as much pageantry, formality, and fanfare as we can create to honor the recipients, their parents, their mentors, their church, and Jesus, their Master Ranger. On November 13th, 2021, Logan and my son Kenny Carfagno were recognized for this high honor. It was an emotional day. I've been preparing my first born son for this day for 10 long years in Rangers. Both young men crushed it! Feel free to watch the GMA Ceremony and hear the keynote testimonies of Logan and my son, Kenny.
I'm recording this episode a few days before Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for. For one, listen to my last episode "Get Out of the Car". I am thankful to be here and able to tell the story. It's sobering. If you haven't heard that episode, stop now, and go back! I am thankful for my health, my amazing wife and 5 kids that all love their Daddy. I am thankful that my dad is picking up the pieces and fighting to get his life back after years of addiction. I am thankful that my mom survived Covid and still has years of life left. I am thankful that I had 44 years with my paternal grandparents, Nana and Pop-Pop Carfagno, who co-raised me. They are very responsible for the man, husband, father, and leader that I've become. I am thankful to have 5 siblings that I'm close with and the 2 little boys and girls that call me Uncle Ken. I am thankful for the house we rent with 2 acres and a creek for our kids to play outside. I am thankful for our church and church family that loves and supports. I am thankful for my friends and the relationships that pour into me. If you've listened to this podcast for a while, you've heard me mention those friends by name. I'm thankful for my business and the amount of time I have at home with my family. I am thankful that we are debt-free. I am thankful to have the assurance of a relationship with the Maker of heaven and earth after I pass away. I could go on and on.
This episode has nothing to do with cleaning, but it may save your life. I'm going to share a story that happened to me recently while I was driving in between houses. Some of you will hear this story and just say, "Ken, that was dumb! I would never do that." Others will say, "Ken, I needed to hear that. Thank you." In the moment, I felt in the right. But for the rest of the night and week, I felt an unbelievable amount of gratitude. I could have been killed in broad daylight at a stop sign in a safe, suburban area and left my wife a widow at 40 and 5 kids fatherless. And for what? My ego!? I hope this story helps you to view the potential dangers other pose at all times. Don't provoke others to anger. Don't get puffed up that you are in the right. We have NO idea what is going on in other people's heads. It's not worth it. I have shared that safety is one of my 3 core values. Excellence, Ownership, and Safety. On this occasion, I failed miserably at my own core value and learned a tremendous lesson. I've heard it said that experience is learning from your own mistakes and wisdom is learning from others. Please gain wisdom from my mistake as a result of this podcast episode.
I started this podcast for many reasons in October 2019. I love creating and expressing ideas to others. I'm a natural teacher and the podcast platform has allowed me to get my ideas out of my head and do an audio journal for myself and for anyone that wants to follow. When I started, I was struggling to get my second solo cleaning business off the ground. The struggle wasn't tactical. I knew how to build a company. I just didn't want to. I was challenged by close friends and a new friend I met at a podcasting conference to start. I used this show as a public accountability to the world that I could and would build a second business. I did. For 175 episodes, I built my company and shared my weekly progress with anyone that would listen. Over time, I've added new features like the "Funny Papers" to entertain you with silly stories. I shared clips of membership and expert calls that I facilitate in the Smart Cleaning Tribe. At the end of 2020, I changed the name of the podcast from the Solo Cleaning School to the Smart Cleaning School, which brought the new tag line of "helping visionaries make the impact they were meant to make." This branding change opened the door to add a monthly long-form, hour-long interview with visionaries from the cleaning industry. I literally did nothing by the book. Normal interviews are organized and questions are sent out ahead of time. I didn't want that at all! I wanted to have a conversation with great people and ask them deeper questions than others in their spheres ask. And I wanted these amazing guests to feel comfortable enough with me to answer them. Therefore, I have no structure to my interviews. In fact, the average 60-minute interview that you hear edited is actually a 90 to 120-minute recorded conversation. I also didn't want to leave my solo cleaning friends high and dry. I added a 10th monthly episode called "Solo Saturday" just for this incredible tribe of cleaning owners that work by themself with no employees. I have simply kept this in front of me. I am creating shows for cleaning business owners all over the world to entertain them and to educate them on leadership, business owner's mindset, efficiency and optimization, and how to live a balanced, healthy life.
I have shared multiple times my network marketing background with the Amway business. Teresa and I were active IBOs in the Britt Worldwide team and then shifted over to Larry Winter's LTD organization between 2002 and 2012. We are still IBO's but only to buy products because I still love and use Amway cleaning products in my house and office cleaning business. We have credited so many good things in our life as a direct result of our affiliation with Amway. For starters, we become Christians at an Amway event as crazy as that sounds. Teresa and I are happily married after 18 years as a direct result of the mentors we both had in Amway. Special thanks to our upline Herb & Susie Eplee and Joe & Julie Schirripa out of Spartanburg and Greenville, South Carolina. We learned business owner mentality from hundreds of personal development CDs, weekly open meetings, late-night counseling calls with our upline, and in-person team meetings, conferences, and attitude sessions. Teresa and I sold out and worked together on our marriage and business. We never achieved the level we had hoped for, but that is not because Amway doesn't work. It's because I never truly worked it. I want you to hear this quote by Crown Ambassador Bill Britt. He is one of the most successful Amway IBO's in their 70-year history. This is the highest level an IBO can reach and it earned Bill and his wife Peggy millions and millions of dollars over his 50+ year MLM career. Sadly, Bill passed away in 2013, the year after we stepped away from actively building our Amway business. Bill's legacy to thousands and probably millions of people around the world is humongous. Here's the quote.
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.