Need a new model for my cleaning business......

by umc 14 replies
I know that there are a lot of creative people here, which is why I love marketing in the first place. I'm thinking that maybe someone here can help me come up with an idea because my wife and I have an asset that kicks off leads but that we aren't 100% sure what to do with.

We clean houses, just my wife and I, and we've done so for 17 years. We have a very loyal following with a full schedule and a waiting list. Not to mention we turn people away all the time. My wife and I can only clean so many houses.

So why don't we just hire employees? Because people that do so typically trade cleaning and dealing with a set clientele daily for a job of babysitting employees and dealing with customer service and we're honestly truly happy where we are. We love what we do and the people that we do it for. Heck, we're going to three houses later this week for Thanksgiving, all people that we clean for and have become friends with as well.

We bring certain things to the table that a lot of cleaners don't. We're incredibly reliable, because it's always just the two of us doing the same thing we're very consistent in our service, we love what we do and take pride in it, always trying to better our results, and we're supremely honest. People love us as people and love our story (left a cult 2 years ago that we were both raised in and were shunned by everyone that we ever knew except, you guessed it, the families that we cleaned for, who became our new family and friends and have attended things like my wife's first ever birthday party last year).

So, clients will tell us that we should hire, but not for their house, of course, with a wink and a smile. We have a waiting list right now. We turn down probably at least one job a week without trying to get work. In fact, we've asked people to stop referring people to us because we hate telling people no. We actively avoid marketing but people can't help but tell their friends about us.

I don't want to just start selling leads to other cleaners. People want US involved in things and they trust us to get things handled for them. Is there way to use the credibility we've built over these years without having to be physically involved in everything? We could maybe sub-contract out work but the scare there is that if those subs don't show up guess who will be on the hook and we've already got a full plate as it is.

I've read the E-myth, thought it's been some time. We are where we are right now and I could make no changes and still be happy. It just seems like we have this asset in the leads we're creating, and my wife and I want to help as many people as we can get the service they deserve without literally having to clean ever house, but how can we do so and be involved without turning what we love right now upside down and essentially trading in doing the work for managing people?

I am happy doing the work. I LOVE marketing the business but can't do so because we can't handle more, so I've been itching to for years. I'd be great at getting more and more business if I wanted. I love dealing with customers. But neither my wife nor I wants to babysit other cleaners.

Is there an opportunity that we're missing out on here by not seeing some model that would fit us better? Are we just maybe not the people to grow this and should stay right where we are? It is a pretty nice place to be, knowing that we're so in demand and don't have to worry about having enough work. Any ideas, outside the box or inside?
#offline marketing #business #cleaning #model
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    I know you have struggled with this.. and you are right, expand at what expense apon you and your clients... but what if there were 2 of you? Oh wait there is... Maybe its time to consider separating the wife and hubby team and you each have a co worker... Same amount of control with twice the jobs.

    The only other option I see you having.. is doing what it is you don't want to, and that is to step away from the broom and dustpan and put on a suit, and build the business and hire the help to complete it.
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

      I know you have struggled with this.. and you are right, expand at what expense apon you and your clients... but what if there were 2 of you? Oh wait there is... Maybe its time to consider separating the wife and hubby team and you each have a co worker... Same amount of control with twice the jobs.

      The only other option I see you having.. is doing what it is you don't want to, and that is to step away from the broom and dustpan and put on a suit, and build the business and hire the help to complete it.
      That is something we've considered. It just puts us in that place though of having employees. The margins are tough to come by to make all of the work necessary to do that worth it, at least in our business. One problem is that cleaning has a low barrier of entry so those that are really good at it will just go start their own, leaving cleaning businesses in a constant churn of low quality talent.

      I haven't studied well known companies like the Merry Maids of the world, but I've talked with many out there that have companies that they've grown like we could do and it is a constant battle to find people that want to do manual work, will do so for relatively low wages, and at least in my view, will generate enough money off of the work they do to make the constant churn worth it. At least in the association I've been in online I've not seen many people make it successfully. It is hard to even get people to show up for interviews.

      So if my wife and I split and took a person each with us the amount of extra money it would bring in doesn't seem worth blowing up what we've got to do that for people that will likely either use us as a stepping stone to their own business or just flake out. It is difficult to find steady employees from what I've seen.
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  • Profile picture of the author animal44
    Well, if you don't want to become an employer, you could research who the best cleaners are in your area and pass the leads to them, preferably in return for something, cash or barter. I mean being actively involved, ensuring their standards and values align with yours, so it's not just selling leads to any old somebody.

    It would be wise to have such relationships, so you have cover for yourselves in case of illness or holidays or whatever.

    A little bit off topic, but do you have an exit plan...? What will you do when you want to retire or you just get tired of cleaning...?
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Originally Posted by animal44 View Post

      Well, if you don't want to become an employer, you could research who the best cleaners are in your area and pass the leads to them, preferably in return for something, cash or barter. I mean being actively involved, ensuring their standards and values align with yours, so it's not just selling leads to any old somebody.

      It would be wise to have such relationships, so you have cover for yourselves in case of illness or holidays or whatever.

      A little bit off topic, but do you have an exit plan...? What will you do when you want to retire or you just get tired of cleaning...?
      Some great questions here!

      I've been thinking recently along the lines of your first paragraph. Find good cleaners, maybe even interview them and form relationships, and pass leads along. I am happy to be actively involved, I just need to make it worth my while on either a cut of the recurring revenues to be active or in some sort of barter from them that works. I like this idea, I think, I just haven't figured out the specifics.

      I also agree with your assertion that it would be good to have such relationships. At one time I kind of did. Jehovah's Witnesses are known for cleaning as we were discouraged from going to college (I turned down an engineering scholarship due to pressure) and cleaning allowed us to make more than minimum wage with the lack of professional skills that we had. Cleaning jobs can be done at night (commercial) or flexible days (residential) so that we could devote more time to the cult activities of knocking on doors or doing other things for the organization. I had other cleaners at my disposal, even helped a single mom set up her own business, but now they all shun me so I'm starting over in that respect.

      It would be good to have someone out there that has my back in the business and that I could help too. As it is we work through everything, something we've just always done. Holidays, illness, etc. We just work. It's what we do. I do realize that at some point something will happen. We do keep a large emergency fund in case of such occurrences because we don't have family or fall backs anymore. It's all on us, though we probably have friends that we've made that would step up and help in some way if they could.

      The exit plan question is a GREAT one. That's something I've fretted over for a long time. Physically the grind can be very taxing. A lot of cleaning businesses don't even hire people full time because they burn out, and we've been going full time (or more) for 17 years. I came here, to the Warrior Forum, to prepare for that day when I needed a backup plan, to figure out what it would be. I've bought lots of WSO's, read a ton, and I've got a couple of plans that could work. To be honest I'd be happy doing a bit of both, cleaning on a reduced schedule because I like physical work and it keeps me physically fit to some extent, and doing something that lets my brain get out for a run as well (marketing). I've loved marketing since I ran a million dollar a month phone room back 20 years ago. I loved it in my own business and did well enough but have had to stop doing so with our predicament.

      I don't want to clean forever. I actually never wanted to in the first place but it was what I could do to make more money so I always fell back to it because we needed it at the time. It has been good to us, and I learned to love it over time, finding that it was an outlet for my somewhat OCD tendencies and once I learned that people on the outside of our cult weren't evil as I had been taught (yeah, really) I found relationships that were very genuine through cleaning. Cleaning saved my life in many ways. It gave us a soft place to land after leaving the cult, woke me up to the realities of it as I saw that I had been lied to as to what outsiders were like, and gave me freedom to listen to podcasts and books that expanded my perspectives that eventually woke me up to the realities of what I had been raised in. Still, as part of this continued growth, I'm open to where life takes me. I never thought I'd have left the religion that my entire life revolved around and find true happiness. I'm there now.

      I see the flaws in other service businesses. I've learned the value of story in my own life and business. I did a podcast and told my story recently in a 9 part series and have had over 15,500 downloads so far in a few months. I'm helping others to tell their stories now about the cult. I think I'd like to help local businesses to tell their stories, to not just be another plumber or roofer or caterer or whatever in the crowd, because people ultimately do business with other people, not just a business name. I'd like to help other service businesses to tell their story in a vulnerable and real way so as to generate leads and grow. I'd like to help businesses do what you've told me to do, to network with other similar businesses and to JV at times. There are so many opportunities that I see. I always get stuck on the execution of my ideas. I'm not only entrepreneurially ADD, I'm kind of ADD period.

      Then I noticed that I'm turning away so much work, and the referrals that could be generated off of that work, and the exponential value of it as it grows, and it struck me that I might not be doing right by my cleaning experience by just letting it go. Unfortunately although I see my ability to market and get customers as exponential, I don't see employees in that way. I see them as a constant churn struggling to grow. So I'm looking for something creative, and I think you hit on the option we had been talking about in your post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    I thought about this overnight. The most challenging thing is that you and your wife want to keep doing what you're doing and not take on any different challenges, which is fine. Every path I went down involved hiring employees, though, so those were out.

    What I came up with is this:

    You could package your expertise as a manual for running the perfect cleaning business clients love.

    Figure out what it is you do and how you do it that makes for the great experience. What you're selling here is the idea, how to execute, a proven method. SOPs, the little things other people don't think of. You have a good USP built right in because of the results you've gotten.

    I would put this together as a high intensity bizopp package not as a franchise or licensing idea (which you could do with the same processes written down). Franchising or licensing takes you in the direction of having to observe and control what others are doing and you don't want that. Just give them the steps and the specific info and let them go to do whatever they want with it, and not be connected to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

      I thought about this overnight. The most challenging thing is that you and your wife want to keep doing what you're doing and not take on any different challenges, which is fine. Every path I went down involved hiring employees, though, so those were out.

      What I came up with is this:

      You could package your expertise as a manual for running the perfect cleaning business clients love.

      Figure out what it is you do and how you do it that makes for the great experience. What you're selling here is the idea, how to execute, a proven method. SOPs, the little things other people don't think of. You have a good USP built right in because of the results you've gotten.

      I would put this together as a high intensity bizopp package not as a franchise or licensing idea (which you could do with the same processes written down). Franchising or licensing takes you in the direction of having to observe and control what others are doing and you don't want that. Just give them the steps and the specific info and let them go to do whatever they want with it, and not be connected to you.
      I am currently working on this. I have a domain and basic site where I've been putting information to create a course on how to do what we do. I love the idea of selling the idea. I'm not exactly sure how to create a "high intensity bizopp package" out of it, but I like the thought. I've got a lot of written text already. I can see the need to do some videos as well. I've even thought that I could spin some content into a training manual or course that other companies could use in their cleaning businesses and I could sell it to them. You get where I'm coming from here. Thanks Jason.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by umc View Post

        I am currently working on this. I have a domain and basic site where I've been putting information to create a course on how to do what we do. I love the idea of selling the idea. I'm not exactly sure how to create a "high intensity bizopp package" out of it, but I like the thought. I've got a lot of written text already. I can see the need to do some videos as well. I've even thought that I could spin some content into a training manual or course that other companies could use in their cleaning businesses and I could sell it to them. You get where I'm coming from here. Thanks Jason.
        Well, this isn't for someone who "ho hum" wants to have a cleaning business.

        This is for the person who wants to commit, do the right things year in and year out to have the end result!

        Anyone can say they're in a business. I looked at a photographer's site yesterday who wanted an upgrade and their photos were AWFUL! Lens flares, washed out backgrounds (wrong exposure), poor framing...I'm a much better photographer than they are.

        Someone could say they're in the cleaning business. But they ain't doing it like you! And if they want the substantial upgrade...here's where they get it and what they have to do. Not for the weak, not for the timid :-)

        ADDITION:

        You need more than one thing for them to buy. Ongoing continuity. Have them be a member of your group, maybe even annual events. Claude should be able to describe some of these kinds of things from his GKIC experience.

        You could have a paid newsletter, affiliate sales on related products and services you believe in, maybe even a membership site with ongoing coaching. One thing I know for sure from sales training is salespeople forget their job over the weekend and need to be retrained the following Monday (DK said this and I fully agree ha ha). Your peeps will need ongoing reminders of technique to stay at the top of their game. They say they know it...but they aren't doing it. "Oh yeah, I remember that." Well are you using it?!
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        • Profile picture of the author umc
          Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

          Well, this isn't for someone who "ho hum" wants to have a cleaning business.

          This is for the person who wants to commit, do the right things year in and year out to have the end result!

          Anyone can say they're in a business. I looked at a photographer's site yesterday who wanted an upgrade and their photos were AWFUL! Lens flares, washed out backgrounds (wrong exposure), poor framing...I'm a much better photographer than they are.

          Someone could say they're in the cleaning business. But they ain't doing it like you! And if they want the substantial upgrade...here's where they get it and what they have to do. Not for the weak, not for the timid :-)

          ADDITION:

          You need more than one thing for them to buy. Ongoing continuity. Have them be a member of your group, maybe even annual events. Claude should be able to describe some of these kinds of things from his GKIC experience.

          You could have a paid newsletter, affiliate sales on related products and services you believe in, maybe even a membership site with ongoing coaching. One thing I know for sure from sales training is salespeople forget their job over the weekend and need to be retrained the following Monday (DK said this and I fully agree ha ha). Your peeps will need ongoing reminders of technique to stay at the top of their game. They say they know it...but they aren't doing it. "Oh yeah, I remember that." Well are you using it?!
          Awesome! This is one of the reasons I came here. I love the passion and creativity. The average person that I speak to doesn't have those things. Marketers, at least good marketers, do.

          Now, this doesn't necessarily take care of the leads that I currently generate but it gives me great ideas for how to take my knowledge and experience into my own products. I don't just know house cleaning, I know apartment cleaning (how we cut our teeth, a great way to fill an empty schedule fast for new cleaners), carpet cleaning, window washing, and we had a mobile auto detailing business that I started up during the transition from rental cleaning to steady residential cleaning. We even set up car washes at office complexes. I know how to make money cleaning, how to offer more than one service, and how to cross promote to help build them both. So I'm sure that I could develop an array of products that would build off of one another.

          We do some unique things in our cleaning business. We also position ourselves a certain way. I can see what you're talking about now with a biz opp and I like the idea. Going to have to flesh it out but I like the direction.
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          • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
            Originally Posted by umc View Post

            Awesome! This is one of the reasons I came here. I love the passion and creativity. The average person that I speak to doesn't have those things. Marketers, at least good marketers, do.

            Now, this doesn't necessarily take care of the leads that I currently generate but it gives me great ideas for how to take my knowledge and experience into my own products. I don't just know house cleaning, I know apartment cleaning (how we cut our teeth, a great way to fill an empty schedule fast for new cleaners), carpet cleaning, window washing, and we had a mobile auto detailing business that I started up during the transition from rental cleaning to steady residential cleaning. We even set up car washes at office complexes. I know how to make money cleaning, how to offer more than one service, and how to cross promote to help build them both. So I'm sure that I could develop an array of products that would build off of one another.

            We do some unique things in our cleaning business. We also position ourselves a certain way. I can see what you're talking about now with a biz opp and I like the idea. Going to have to flesh it out but I like the direction.
            Each one of those things (eg. the car wash idea) can be a separate product.

            The idea here is for you to do the work ONCE on these things and then make money off them in perpetuity. There are plenty of people who will buy everything you put out just because it came from you.

            What I would do is this:

            1. Map out the basics of how you want to start--products & funnel

            2. Set a time limit each day to work on it: an hour is fine. Throttle the limit and stick to it. You'll experience progress each day and not get burned out

            3. Outsource as much as you can. Let's say you want to create a product describing one of your spin-off business ideas. Record yourself describing the details...the stuff you do that makes the service stand out, how you position and sell it...and give that to a writer who can put it together in a report form all nicely formatted. Then work is going on to build your programs while you're doing your regular role--or sleeping heh heh.

            Divide the work into bite-sized chucks and batch it to a certain specific, consistent time of day...an hour or two in the evening or morning that you can stick to. It doesn't matter how much progress you make on an individual day: it matters that you show up consistently and have the big idea in your head.

            You do not need to come up with "everything" all at once. Just the core of the thing. Make progress. You can add other products and services later as you go. Avoid overwhelm by limiting the access this project has into your regular day, and by being clear on what you're accomplishing. After six months of this you have no idea now how much progress you'll have made--I know it'll be massive.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
    You sound like you are pretty content with the status of your cleaning business.

    There's a lot to be said for low overhead, low exposure, and hassle free.

    You go home at night, and your time is your own. The business doesn't own you.

    An acquaintance sold his business for a quarter of a billion dollars.

    When asked about his most pressing issue as the owner of the company, he answered without hesitation, "cashflow".

    Securing operating capital was a daily struggle. From the time he woke up, til the time his head hit the pillow.

    It ate at him and it wore him out. You have something he never found as a business owner. Peace of mind.
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

      You sound like you are pretty content with the status of your cleaning business.

      There's a lot to be said for low overhead, low exposure, and hassle free.

      You go home at night, and your time is your own. The business doesn't own you.

      An acquaintance sold his business for a quarter of a billion dollars.

      When asked about his most pressing issue as the owner of the company, he answered without hesitation, "cashflow".

      Securing operating capital was a daily struggle. From the time he woke up, til the time his head hit the pillow.

      It ate at him and it wore him out. You have something he never found as a business owner. Peace of mind.

      You're absolutely right Ron. I'm quite comfortable and happy with where I am. I do hope to add things that fit me to what I have. In fact, since I'm in a good place, I have less risk in adding things. It's a good place to be. This summer we had three clients move away out of the city and we lost them. We had them all replaced with new families happy to have us work with them within a few days each. We have no worries and have that peace that you mentioned. That's why we don't want to change and hire employees or anything that would disturb that peace.
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    • Profile picture of the author Linda McWilliams
      I agree with you.. thanks for that.

      Linda McWilliams PhD
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  • Profile picture of the author LevelUp
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    • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
      Originally Posted by LevelUp View Post

      I'm new here to the site, my first post...I think I may have a model that could work but I would need more information to be sure....

      I sent you a message because I didn't want to ask too many invasive questions on a public forum.
      This is your only post, too. And you're already soliciting business
      My, oh my...what a coincidence.
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      • Profile picture of the author umc
        Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

        This is your only post, too. And you're already soliciting business
        My, oh my...what a coincidence.
        He asked all kinds of questions about my financials. Just jumped right in wanting to know the numbers. I've given him a chance to present his model first if he's not just another spammer or scammer.

        I got an email saying that my post was featured as post of the day or something on the WF feed. So far it got me an obvious spam private message and Mr. LevelUp above that thinks I'm handing over my numbers to a noob via private message without establishing any credibility first.

        I posted here in this section because I knew I'd hear from people I respected. It's a shame that everything here also attracts so many shady people too.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
          Post of the day, eh?

          Lucky you.

          Regarding what to do next, follow your instincts.

          That seems to have worked real well for you, up to this point, hasn't it?

          Money can be made doing just about anything.

          Find something that makes you feel real good inside and expand on it.

          I'm betting you already know what that is.

          Ron
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