Smart Cleaning School
Smart Cleaning School
About Smart Cleaning School
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.
I have been fortunate to interview several visionaries in our industry over the past year. This interview with Ricky Regalado was different. He is such a visionary that he inspired me to do greater things in this amazing industry. Take the time to listen to this one all the way through and then listen again. You will not be disappointed. The first portion of the interview covers Ricky's upbringing and deep family ties. This is where you start to feel the deep sense of connection that he has to the blue collar workforce in America. In the second portion of the interview, we shift gears and talk about the cleaning industry and where it's going. We covered the integral values of hard work, grit, and perseverance that founded our country and is not being taught like it used to. In the final portion of the interview, Ricky shares his vision for the cleaning industry and how we can be a part of rebuilding America. Here are a few notes and quotes that stand out from this interview. "If we were going to make this work, there wasn't enough time to have a social life because we had a vision. At some point, we'll be working on this business and not in it." "Love it or hate it, you don't get a 10x return on a blue collar business. You get a 10x on a technology company or an invention." "A trend isn't a short amount of time. That's a risk, a high risk and can turn around on you as fast as it went up." Where does this generation learn grit and develop a backbone? We learned it from our baby-boomer parents and grandparents, who watched their parents and grandparents survive the Great Depression. We learned it from our immigrant parents who scrapped for everything they had. We learned it from our single moms who had no other way but up. This industry is so poised to keep growing. We're foolish not to capitalize. Ricky is getting letters from private equity firms all the time offering to buy his company. These firms see the marketplace and see commercial cleaning as recession proof and pandemic proof. For the first 5 years, Ricky didn't like being known as a cleaning service owner. It wasn't glamorous. Now, he shouts his business with confidence and excitement. It generates responses like. "Ooh, I need a cleaning company." There have been 30,000 new cleaning companies formed from 2006 to 2018. That number nearly doubled in 2020 to 52,000 and 2021 is likely more than 2020. "I feel like they need to know what it is to walk in the shoes of a cleaning technician before any other thing cause then they'll get that humility." Ricky requires every employee of the company at every level must spend their first 30 days in the field cleaning. "The greatest generals started with basic training." Ricky's Business Growth (Year to Year) 2012 $80k Coverall 2013 $250k Coverall 2014 $600k Coverall 2015 $800k Coverall Sold, $0 Rozalado 2016 $1.8M Rozalado 2017 $2.4M Rozalado 2018 $4.8M Rozalado 2019 $6M Rozalado 2020 $9M Rozalado 2021 $10M++ Rozalado Ricky's Vision for our Industry Rozalado is currently at the top 1% in our industry. 9% of the general labor (blue collar) workforce comes from cleaning & maintenance industry! Think of it this way. 9 of every 100 blue collar workers in the US are working for cleaning & maintenance companies. That is mind-blowing. Ricky believes very deeply that he can make a sizeable impact on the American labor force by strengthening cleaning companies. It goes back to the way of life he grew up in. All Ricky knew was blue collar and now he is able to raise the standard of living for the very people he represents through the most unlikely of businesses. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Clean
John Disselkamp is the owner of First Class Commercial Cleaning in Louisville, KY. John was born and raised in Louisville and had a hard-working mentality. This suited him well in his early corporate life and propelled hiim to a bank executive at a young age. John won the prestigious "40 Under 40" Award during this banking stint. In this interview, John shares his transition from corporate to starting a commercial cleaning company in 2016 and growing to six-figures per month in revenue and 50 team members in under 3 years. He then lead his company to $5 million in revenue and 230 team members 3 years later. John is an American Success Story! First Class Revenue Story Year 1 - $90k Year 2 - $350k Year 3 - $950k Year 4 - $1.4M Year 5 - $2M Year 6 - $2.4M Year 7 - $4.8M Year 8 projected- $9-$10M John has accomplished all of this with mental illness. Since childhood, he struggled with mental depression and anxiety. "We were in growth mode and growth sucks cash. We had intentional moves to make sure we could scale a company." John believes that investing into your business is more than just the supplies to fill an office cleaning location. It's in people and in culture. He made sure to keep relationships first, which he learned in corporate, to fuel First Class's culture. John believes that the culture he created is why First Class excelled through Covid and a labor crisis since 2020. He joined the Strategic Coach Program to up his leadership game. John was challenged with the concept of the 4 boxes that is taught in that program. John early career was spent in the box that represents something that you're good at, but don't enjoy. This is where most careers go to die. John wanted fulfillment and has found it in his cleaning company. He's good at it and enjoys it, a rare combination for adults in the working world. "What makes a smart person smart or an intelligent person intelligent? It's not knowing what they know. It's knowing what they don't know. And that's always been something that I've taken to heart." "It's a pretty simple business. If you treat people well, you work hard, you do what you say you're gonna do, you're halfway decent at communicating and building relationships... You're better than most and I've still found that to be true 6 1/2 to 7 years later." John had a playbook for how to start a cleaning company and couldn't find it. He was going to St. Loius with his future wife and decided to cold call a local company to see if he could learn from then. He called Spencer Commercial Cleaning and a guy named Scott Bader answered the phone. Scott met with John for over two hours to mentor him. John is so grateful to Scott for helping to launch First Class Commercial Cleaning. John still uses the contract templates, pricing strategy, and a few other systems that Scott has taught him. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
Michael Brown is the founder of Swept Janitorial Software, which is an all-in-one app that integrates employee scheduling, tracking, customer supplies, and quality control. As many of you know, Josh Melton has coached me from solo to a team of commercial cleaners over the past two years. Josh personally uses Swept and introduced me to Michael a few years ago. I've been following his journey and had to get him on the show. Michael is brilliant and I couldn't wait to listen to his mindset. I also have to mention this. We've now used Swept personally since 2021 and there is NO way we would have been able to to take 2 month-long family trips to Florida in the middle of winter without this amazing tool. As of the time of this interview, Swept had over 40,000 users in a market of 1 million janitorial companies. They have a lot of space to grow and they will! In the first portion of this interview, Ken and Michael dig into training up our kids to be life-long learners and critical thinkers. Michael shares a story of a local friend with a large security guard company that designed a program to "give them their brains back". He found out the unique talents and skills of his workforce and utilized them. This made the employees enjoy their work more and it saved the company from investing in specific job functions and roles. Michael encourages other employers to look outside of the typical roles to find gold on your team. "People will overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten." - Dan Martell "Dream Manager" book is a favorite of ours. Michael says it was based on Mary Miller's janitorial company Jancoa out of Cincinnati. This company has an incredible culture that the book was based on. Michael grew up in rural Nova Scotia with no money in the family, so he sought to earn through his own businesses at age 8. He has been a life-long entrepreneur. His dad was a government worker with an incredible work ethic. He was work-oriented and that really shaped young Michael. "If you have nothing to lose, you can take risks." "People will give you the advice they would take." His first business was a rain gutter business in college that he built a million dollars and sold it. He started a commercial cleaning company in 2014 and struggled as we struggle. Michael started Swept for his own cleaning company as an internal tool to support the growth of the company. The software grew from there to where it is now at over 40,000 users worldwide. "Everything that we want to do is already in us." Michael finds his big ideas and plans while out in nature without devices. Being away unlocks these ideas. "We, as humans, have the ability to figure it out." "There is a difference between a Leadership Mindset and a Survival Mindset. One is scalable and the other is not." "I'm fascinated by people. They want the end state, but don't want to do the pre-work. Some would rather risk the money than take the time to validate it before they spend the money." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
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. "That's when I realized that there is a solution for everything. But you do have to go find it, you need to invest in it, and you need to follow it. And that's what I did. I'm a very good student." "The fear was always worse than the reality. You can borrow my confidence until you have it." "If you believed you could do it, you would pursue it." At the end of the episode, Debbie and I referenced a mutual friend, "It's Grace for a Reason with Kevin Smith". Debbie Sardone is the Founder of several companies including Buckets & Bows Maid Service, Debbie Sardone Consulting, and her non-profit Cleaning for a Reason. Debbie and her team at CBF are offering an incredible deal to listeners of the Smart Cleaning School. Are you scaling a residential cleaning company to $1 million or would you like to learn how? CBF Live is the largest residential cleaning training conference and will give you the boost you want. This event on April 12th, 2023 in Dallas is $697. Go to CBFLive and enter the code "KENHALF" during registration to get half-off the ticket price!
Recently, a listener to the podcast took me up on my free coaching call option on my website. Niki Kempf of Custom Cleaning in Dyersburg, TN had some pretty big questions. Niki was close to pulling the trigger on a coaching program for $10,000+ and decided to hold off. She left that situation discouraged as her family has big dreams and no idea how to get there. Our call was awesome. I didn't ask her about her business or what she wanted her business to look like. Instead, I asked her about her dream. She shared an awesome vision. First of all, she is recently married and Niki and her husband want to grow their personal ministry to help people coming out of rehabilitation programs. She wants to mentor them, possibly hire them, and definitely donate to organizations that support them. She wants to get her husband out of his job to help her in the cleaning business. This lit her up! Then she told me something amazing. They have a dream to give away 80% of their income. Whoa! I shared the JC Penney story and how he was known for giving away 90% and living off 10%. This is the opposite model of the church/tithing model where the Christian tithes 10% and lives off 90%. Niki loved this. Then I built her dream as I shared a story of a cleaning friend doing something similar. Jessica comes from a rough situation where she dealt with abuse. She has a huge dream to help battered women in her area. She wants to hire woman coming out of the shelters to get them back on their feet. Then she wants to start a non-profit where her cleaning business funds a portion and both the cleaning business and non-profit could be in a commercial building that she buys. Jessica would have a building for everything she wanted to do and the income to do it. Niki LOVED this even more. That's when I shared the Home Depot story. "Niki, let's say you wanted to hang a picture in your living room. You walk into Home Depot and find a worker. You ask him where the tools are for hanging pictures. Instead of telling you, he asks you a question back. In fact, he asks several questions. How large is the picture frame? How much does it weigh? Is it fragile, made of glass? What type of wall are you hanging it on? Is it plaster or dry wall? If it's plaster, how thick is the plaster and is there brick behind it? If it's drywall, can you locate the studs or will you be able to use studs? You would look at this Home Depot employee like he had two heads. You'd wonder why that all mattered as you simply want to hang the picture frame and need the tools." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
I want to thank a listener of this show and new friend, Megan Combs of Combs Commercial Cleaning in Las Vegas, NV. She had fantastic questions to ask me and even more outstanding takeaways about my podcast. I can't wait to share them. Thank you Megan! You have a bright future in this business! She extracted something out of me that I used the phrase, "a dime a dozen". This is used to reference something very common. For example, people graduating with a degree in business are a dime a dozen. Out of 12 people, a dozen, 10 have business degrees. Those numbers are not actual but the connotation or meaning is that the business degree is very common. It's not specialized. They're not set apart. Those candidates are going to have to work harder to get a good job. Megan stated that she was a good cleaner. I thought about this and said that being a good cleaner in a solo cleaning business is a dime a dozen. Here's what I mean by that. Most people starting cleaning companies do it because they like cleaning or think cleaning would be a fun business for them because they've done cleaning. Maybe they love cleaning. From my experience, most cleaners enter like this. It's common to either be good at it or like it. That makes sense. But what makes you succeed in a cleaning business? Is it how good you are cleaning? The answer is no. Cleaning business owners that have a entrepreneur's mind or a business owner's mindset set themselves apart at a high level. They understand people and can communicate well. They know their Why and have dreams. They are self-motivated and inspired. They understand business goal-setting and strategy. They understand investing over spending. They understand delayed gratification. They are disciplined and understand that no is on the path of yes. There are so many business mindset factors that contribute to a winning business. This is what I explained to Megan. Then I thought about it more and realized something extremely exciting. This podcast, the Smart Cleaning School is 175 episodes and growing of business owner mindset and it's ALL FREE to you! In fact, this podcast is my free course on how to acquire the entrepreneur's mind to set yourself apart from the "good cleaners" to become a "great cleaner". How do you like my course so far? Are there topics that you'd like added? Please email me at email@example.com to let me know. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
Welcome back to Solo Saturday! Hey solos, what do you think of this new monthly feature? What do you think of the new vibe of the podcast? I'd love your feedback. Please connect with me through my website or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In this month's edition of Solo Saturday, I will provide a sequel to the popular "Excellence Vs. Perfection". Are you a perfectionist? Do you take way too long cleaning a single house? If so, please go back and learn the difference between excellence and perfection. It may set you free! In that episode, I touched on the mental illness of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I didn't address it much, but trust me. I know all about it. I am diagnosed with Tourette's and OCD. Most of my mom's family has some form of OCD, eating disorders, tics, etc. I have seen and experienced this and don't take it lightly. If you heard my first episode and still can't get over your perfectionism, I want you to listen to this one. Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or mental illness professional. Nor do I guarantee that ERP will help your OCD. I'm a regular guy that has dealt with this illness my whole life. And now, I have someone very close to me that is struggling with OCD. It breaks my heart to see the struggle. I will keep the name anonymous, but this person could not control their OCD and suffered tremendously. They needed real help and it was found in the form of Exposure Response Prevention (ERP). This is a form of therapy that wasn't around for me in the 80's and 90's, but it has shown tremendous results in tic disorders and OCD patients without the need for medication. This individual didn't want meds. They wanted to solve the problem, not band-aid it. In ERP, the counselor and/or psychiatrist goes through a 20-week program to identify the sources of OCD, address each one, and replace the habit with something better. It's grueling, but life-changing and freeing for so many. I have learned a lot about ERP. It's fascinating. One thing that I learned is that the OCD patient has to accept the uncertainty. I learned this from an ERP counselor. She told me this. People with OCD struggle because the compulsions never seem to stop the obsessions. There is no closure, thus the cycle repeats over and over again. One of the first things they have to teach themselves is that it's okay to accept the uncertainty. As an example, I don't know is a full answer. It's uncertain, but final. A person with OCD will want I don't know to become a yes or no. They will obsess on something out of their control. However, when they train themselves that I don't know is a complete answer, they can move on. ERP teaches them how to do this. Once they get comfortable with uncertainty, they experience a reduction in their OCD. As I said, I'm no doctor. I'm just fascinated about this breakthrough therapy and wanted anyone listening to this episode to have hope. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
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.
On August 4th, 2017, I was running my first optimized solo cleaning business in Upstate New York. I was earning over $50,000 profit on 2 days per week without employees. This is when I dove into the world of online courses and coaching in our industry. I was working on the ISO Model Course while I was in the midst of finalizing the optimization of that first solo biz. I also started a YouTube channel called Smart Cleaning Biz and released weekly video blogs to help cleaning company owners. They didn't get many views and I didn't do much in the way of promoting them. I was learning, just figuring out how to help others in the industry. On August 4th, 2017 I was happy and content to be a solo cleaning forever working a few days per week. Little did I know that only 3 months later, the Lord would open the door for us to sell the cleaning business and move back to our hometown in Montgomery County, PA. I dug deep into the archives to find this gem I will share others from this era of the Smart Cleaning Biz circa 2017- 2019. It's a short message, I was teaching solo cleaners that wanted what I had. They were looking for all of my optimizing tricks. I was still developing the ISO Model and used this lesson to teach solos that they are doing it all wrong. They need to initialize and stabilize before they could optimize. Stabilizing requires people skills and business savvy and cleaning science knowledge. I was encouraging them to follow the I-S-O Model. Many that I encountered were doing it backwards. They would start by initializing. You have to start there. They would try to optimize what they had and then attempt to stabilize it. This doesn't work. They were doing the I-O-S Model, which I called Apple. We're not Apple. Don't follow their operating system. Follow mine to do what I've done. That message has grown over the years, but is fundamentally the same. It is taught in the Solo Elite Membership powered by the ISO Model Course. I encourage you to check it out.
I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Show again and found another amazing clip... again. This one is from Episode #638: Seth Godin on The Game of Life, The Value of Hacks, and Overcoming Anxiety (Repost). At the 20:00 minute mark of this conversation, Seth shares a teaching strategy on learning how to juggle. I listened and then listened again. It is profound and yet so simple. How do jugglers learn how to juggle multiple balls? Here's that portion of the conversation in transcript form from Tim's website. "Seth Godin: So I’ve taught more people to juggle than most. I’m not a great juggler, but we’re not talking about figuratively. I’m talking about actually juggling. So let’s talk this through, because I think it’s a useful lesson. If you’ve ever seen a juggler on television or on video or in person, what you notice is that they don’t drop the ball. Not dropping the ball is perhaps the driving force of what makes someone a juggler and, if you are enjoying the show, you are willing and wishing the balls not to drop. So if someone says, “You want to learn how to juggle?” you might say “Yes.” This is what always happens when I teach people to juggle. They grab three balls. I say, “No, no.” They grab three balls and they throw the first one. This is easy. They throw the second one, and then they go to catch it because they know catching is the key to juggling. By the time they get to the second ball, they have to lunge for it. Once you lunge for the second ball, you’re out of position for the third one, and then you’re done. It’s all on the ground and you give up on juggling because, if juggling is about catching, you’re terrible at it. What’s the alternative? Well, the way I’ve taught people how to juggle is simple. I give them one ball and we spend between 20 minutes and 30 minutes throwing the ball and letting it hit the ground, no catching. Then we add the second ball. Throw, throw, drop, drop. No catching. Throw, throw, drop, drop. If you do that for 40 minutes total, you’re going to be really good at throwing. If you get really good at throwing, the catching takes care of itself. This is the part about divorce from the outcome because all we care about, if we want to learn to juggle, is to learn to throw. The metaphor I cannot escape which is, getting better at throwing is what we have to do to build resilience, and it’s what we have to do to live in a world that’s changing ever faster." "If we try to anchor on outcomes and control results, we’re in the catching business and then we’re really in bad trouble." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
Let's continue the Control Series! My first episode was "You Must Let Go of Your Control", where I shared a few major breakthroughs in my recent ability to let go and trust others. It was an important therapy session. I continued this recently with another breakthrough about your business is not you and viewing trust and control like a rope. Check out part 2 of the series called "The Trust Rope". This is the 3rd part that goes the complete opposite direction! Are you ready? I shared a Facebook post in early January that got a lot of comments and it wasn't because I did a good job. It was because I did a bad job and owned it. One of our largest customers dropped us. They accounted for 10% of our monthly revenue. It was painful. Their reason for dropping us was quality. Apparently, one of their bathrooms developed an orange film on the sink and our company left it there for weeks. There are so many angles I could take this. I could tell you about the onion principle, but I'll save that for another time. Instead, I want to take their reason at face value. They cancelled service because we didn't meet the quality specifications they required. In the first 2 episodes of this series, I honed in on breaking the control and perfectionism I had over me for years. It didn't bother me when I was a solo cleaner, but it reared its ugly head when we tried to grow a team. I had to change and I did! I gave some rope and then some more and then some more. I was checking the quality of each of our locations each month to maintain quality and keep our customers happy. But something happened that is scary. I got careless and allowed some buildings to go unchecked for more than a month because I had other things I had to do. Somehow, I pulled a total one-eighty going from an obsessive need to check every building every time to not checking at all. This wasn't true for all of our buildings, but it was for this one. After getting fired, I realized that it had been 3 months since I inspected the quality. 3 months! I could have seen the orange film if I simply would have done 1 measly inspection. 45 minutes of my time could have prevented the loss of 10% of our income. This was a tough pill to swallow. I gave away all of the rope and it cost me. Let's talk about two words. Quality and control. Quality is simply the level of performance or service that meets spec. It's not perfect, but it does meet expectations. That's quality. Control is the process or system of maintaining something. Put these two words together and you get a vital component of running a successful cleaning company. Quality control is the active feedback loop that maintains the expectations of the customer and keeps them happy. I used to be obsessive on QC, ensuring 100% compliance to every detail, every time. This was unscalable. In late 2022, I went to the other side where I nearly stopped all forms of QC, which is a slow death to any company. Here's the simple lesson. Don't operate on the extremes. Define quality in your organization. Train it. Inspect it. Maintain and work to exceed it. This will give you the balance to keep your rope light, burden-free, so your cleaning business can grow. I offer free coaching calls to listeners of this podcast. Do you struggle with quality control or perfectionism? Book a free coaching call on the Smart Cleaning School website at www.smartcleaningschool.com to talk about it! You can also check out the many free & paid resources available on the website as well. I look forward to helping you!
I was asked to share a business showcase in my local networking group a few weeks ago so others knew more about the cleaning services I offered. On the day of the showcase, I didn't have a presentation or notes or handout or sales material. All I had was a picture of my family, a slide of our 5 Levels of the C3 Experience, and my full story. I recorded this showcase and wanted to share it with you. Thanks to my new Google Pixel 7, I have a transcription which I am also sharing in the show notes. After I was done, I received the greatest compliment possible from fellow member Shelby Leight of Keller Williams Realty. "Great job. This type of presentation guys, and how Tom had done it. You need to know who you're referring and you need to feel a comfort level of what your integrity is. And I thought that this was a phenomenal presentation because we now know what your passion is and what makes you tick. We say it all the time. How many freaking realtors do you know? But at the end of the day by knowing a true story, you can match those people accordingly to who they are. So I'm really glad that you did this presentation." Shelby is stating a known fact in human relationships. We only refer people that we know, like, and trust. This business showcase increased my know, like, and trust! I am not sharing this to brag on my ability to tell a story. I am sharing it to encourage you to do likewise in your community. Are you enjoying the Smart Cleaning School Podcast? For the last 3+ years, I have released 2 new episodes every week in hopes that you would implement what you've learned and grow. It's a free course and that's the beauty of podcasting. Thank you for listening! I LOVE doing it. It's a labor of love and it helps so many. But it isn't free to do and it does take a lot of my time. That's why I brought on advertisers last year that I personally endorse and I'll continue adding more. My biggest struggle going forward in 2023 is that I have TOO much content! I have been trying to figure out HOW I can share the extra hours of amazing teaching from each interview guest and entire unreleased interviews and bonus content from Smart Cleaning Tribe Expert Calls and clips from my ISO Model Course and other resources that I discover along the way. I have enough for a second podcast! I would love to share this with you ad-free, but I can't do it for free. I believe this firmly. Those that want to level-up must have skin in the game. To play at a higher level, you have to pay a higher level. That's where the idea of the Smart Cleaning School Premium Podcast came from. What if I took this premium content and offered it for $10 per month? Would this be valuable to you? What content would you be most interested to listen to? Would you pay for something like this? I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Please go towww.smartcleaningschool.com/premium to submit your feedback and potential interest for this new learning track in the Smart Cleaning School. Again, thank you so much for listening. I look forward to hearing from you. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
I have held this story for several months. I am going to share the story of a young man that applied for a part-time job at C3 last summer that had all the signs of a potential leader. Let's call him Larry. One of our core values is ownership. I look for this quality in our applicants. Are they reliable, dependable, trustworthy? This is the foundation of the second core value of excellence. If they take ownership, they will work with excellence. The final core value is safety. If they are a person who takes ownership and works with excellence, they will not let safety slip. I look for this and have a strict filtering process for C3 hiring. It's obvious when an applicant is lazy or not willing to work. My dad was the hardest worker in his gas utility crew. But there was a guy named Hector that always managed to do the least amount to not get fired. He never pulled his weight. Others in the crew including my dad had to do his work. Hector was overweight and lazy. No one liked Hector, but Hector was just fine because he had a cushy job that paid well and others did his work. By the way, that guy managed to retire from the utility company. It's incredible that the leadership of this company allowed 'Hectors' to survive. They kill morale. It's obvious when a Hector shows up in your applicant pool. They stand out. But what about the other extreme? Larry applied to C3 and completed all of the steps to earn an interview. He was enthusiastic about cleaning. He has been working in cleaning for years part-time with his family. He was passionate about our company's mission and values. He was off-the-charts ambitious. He had young kids and had big goals and dreams. He listened to several of my podcasts and was excited to work for me and get mentored. He wanted to grow his own cleaning company. Larry had an aura around him that rang the bell I was looking for. As quoted in one of my favorite movies of all time (you can guess it)... "That brings us to Larry. Oh yeah. I had to chance to speak with Larry today. That guy is a straight-shooter with upper management written all over him." I saw the potential in him to not just become a cleaning team member. I saw him rising quickly to become my first supervising team leader. I saw him rising beyond that to join the leadership team I will build. I saw all kinds of potential. Have you ever met a Larry? He stands out just as much! Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
The topic of letting go is universal across all business and family and relationships. Have you ever heard the rope metaphor in parenting? We use this with our kids. "Hey son, I'm giving you a rope. In the beginning, it's very short so I can pull you back in quick. As you take responsibility and ownership and make good decisions, I will give you more rope or trust. When you make poor decisions that put yourself or others in harm, I take away some rope. When you blame others and shirk responsibility, I take away some rope. My goal is to eventually give you the rope so you can pull me whenever you need me." As I just read this, I get a little emotional as my oldest son is 18 now and is close to getting his rope. This concept of the rope has helped us raise our kids and I fully believe it helps with our employees as well. In "You Must Let Go of Your Control", I shared the breakthroughs that allowed me to emotionally let go of perfectionism and control. It was a therapy session for me. I have a follow-up episode to further help you breakthrough your deep, dark emotional control over your business. I solo cleaned for 16 years. I was my business and my business was me. If I got a new customer or made one happy, it made me feel great and raised my confidence. If I lost a customer or broke something, I took it personally. I was an emotional yo-yo at times. Can you relate? My business rises and falls on my effort, performance, and abilities. Therefore, I needed to control every aspect of my business. I also profited over 85% from the revenue my business created, so obviously more control equaled more money! Do you see the danger in the solo mindset that I had? I believe this is a cause for many solos struggling with perfectionism. At this time in our entrepreneurial journey, I couldn't conceive of a company where others would clean and I'd manage or even step away. Why not? Here's my therapy session, part 2. I used to work for GE, which was at the time one of the 5 most admired companies in the world with over 300,000 global employees. Thomas Edison wasn't running the business. He was dead. Yet his creation outlasted his life. I worked for an entity (GE) and earned an income based on my contribution to that entity. If GE had a bad year, I didn't get upset as I was just a small piece in a large machine. But I also knew that if I messed up, I'd be out! GE had a high-performance culture and my mess up would impact my contribution to the entity. I did, in fact, mess up and was fired in 2005. I've already covered that story. GE's culture created a need to do perfect because I was fearful of making a negative contribution and losing my job. I was unable to trust others and preferred to do every aspect of the engineering job myself as only I could do it right. I brought this into solo cleaning in 2005 and it remained until last year. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
One year ago today, we arrived back in Pennsylvania after the most epic month-long family trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida. It was a dream and we actually achieved it. Our family lived a full month in another location while the family business operated back home. In this "best-of" replay, I wanted to convey the mindset Teresa and I had when we left Florida. We didn't want to leave, but we knew we had to. Listen all the way through. I said this statement toward the end. "We both moved from sad to leave to excited to come back." Here's that episode replay. Are you new to the Smart Cleaning School Podcast? If not, please bare with me. I started as a solo apartment cleaner in 2005 and moved into real estate presentation cleaning in 2006. This opened up the doors for solo house and small office cleaning in late 2006. I grew and optimized my first solo cleaning business through 2017 to a 2-day per week cleaning job earning over $50,000 per year in profit. I loved having 5-day weekends to spend time with my family. Check out the introduction episode to hear more of my story. We sold that business in 2018 for $80,000 so our family could move back to our hometown closer to family. I have fully detailed my selling process in the double episode, "How I Sold My Cleaning Business I & 2". We started and grew a new business in the Indian Valley of PA from 2018 to another optimized solo business working 2 days per week and earning $70,000 per year in profit by early 2021. This podcast documents that entire process if you'd like to learn how to do it yourself. Everything changed when we got our "New Freedom Vision", which was followed by numerous monthly calls with Coach Josh, and culiminating with the victory episode called "The Fight was Worth It". Here's the short version. We desired as a family to take the ultimate trip. We wanted to go to Florida for a month in the middle of the Pennsylvania winter. It was a fight, but it was worth it. I encourage you to to back and listen to the episodes I've mentioned. I believe it's important to walk beside me as we scraped and struggled to build the team that would allow us a month away. In this episode, I want to hone in on one statement my wife Teresa said to me as we were packing up on the last day in Florida. Read the rest of this episode at the Smart Cleaning School website
I originally started this podcast for solo cleaners because I was a solo cleaner. I was the solo cleaner's champion to show that you don't have to scale to win. I had optimized 2 solo cleaning companies to $60,000 profit on 2 cleaning days per week without employees. I was also mainly in the residential cleaning world. At the time of this episode, I was growing my second company and really felt that the vision of moms helping moms helping moms would connect with so many women in the industry. But Ken, you're not a woman. That's quite obvious. But I was in an industry dominated by women, so I wanted to relate more. I have been married for 20 years. I have a daughter and 3 sisters. I'm not totally clueless. Would you like to talk about anything in your business. I am here to help. Book a free coaching call on the Smart Cleaning School website at www.smartcleaningschool.com. Make sure to check out the many free & paid resources available on the website as well. I look forward to helping you!
I attended my chamber's Fall Forum event at a local theater with four business leaders sharing on the state of the economy and business. For the purposes of this podcast, I'll keep the panelists nameless, but will share their backgrounds. Their backgrounds were the following: an analyst from the FED, a chief lending officer from a local bank, a machine shop owner, and the owner of a construction engineering company. I listened to each of the men talk on the state of the economy and business and the lessons they've learned and implemented. A theme emerged in my mind. The construction engineer noticed that customers in residential real estate were more interested in energy efficient homes than ever as they wanted less expenses to operate the home. In past years, people didn't care about this as much. The machine shop owner struggled to get good tradesman to work for him. He was reluctant to take on new work. Therefore, instead of growing the bottom line, he focused on taking care of what he already had. He focused on his existing team and doing the work he could handle. He gave increased compensation and benefits and intangibles. He focused on relationships with his team and his vendors. I thought this was incredible as his culture is now booming and morale is way up and it's more desirable to work for him than ever before. All of this happened because he couldn't grow. The loan officer shared the point of view from his customers that he lends to. He notices that businesses are doing more tightening of the budget and watching their expense lines. They are watching their cash flows also to make sure they can handle what's coming next with increasing interest rates. He mentioned one customer that normally would do a single projection for the next 12-24 months. That same business owner is doing 3-5 projections at any point similar to a meteorologist tracking a hurricane on weather.com. I really love how businesses are tightening up and getting efficient in their finances. I love how businesses are placing high value on building relationships and culture in their teams. Obviously this was triggered by the tightening of the economy and the inflation and rising prices. As I pondered these answers, I asked myself the questions. Will the lender observe his customers still doing multiple projections and managing cash flows when the economy is booming? Will the machine shop abandon the culture growth when hiring is easy again? Will the construction engineer be doing energy-efficient homes when energy is abundant again? I stood up and asked this question when I had the opportunity to the end. The answers were awesome, especially from the loan officer. He shared an example about his grandparents in the Great Depression. "Those that experienced the Great depression continued to operate as if they were in the Great Depression, even when things got booming again. Those that went through it, don't forget it. That mindset continued. But then the next generation who didn't experience the Great Depression had no idea. And therefore took no precautions when things were good. And these are the ones that got wiped out when it got bad." Our chamber director had a great answer. "A week economy makes businesses stronger and a strong economy can make businesses weaker." The loan officer continued by saying, "the businesses that have gone through these last 2-3 years will not forget and will continue to operate as they've been . They will stay efficient even as they grow in a better economy." He gave a warning. "It's the next generation that concerns me. These are the businesses that never experienced the pandemic like we have." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
The Smart Cleaning Tribe has been a fun membership to run these last 4+ years. Our founding members have grown significantly as they set goals and hold each other accountable each month. Every month, I bring a subject-matter expert into the Tribe to resource the members. Our very own, Kate Sloan of Chicka Chicka Broom in Montgomery, MN, stepped up to lead the call in September 2022. She has a superpower of utilizing standard operating procedures (SOPs) so well in her business. Kate has been such a resource to the other members. We were all grateful for her sharing so much that day with us. This clip is the first 25 minutes of the 100 minute call where Kate describes her business at the different stages. It's very helpful and encouraging. It's sort of like the 45-year-old without a retirement plan yet that suddenly puts it all together at 50. That's me by the way! Ha! That was Kate as well with SOPs in her business. This 25-minute clip is a SOP story with Kate Sloan. If you're interested in leveling up your goals each month and having a tribe to hold you accountable as you achieve them, the Smart Cleaning Tribe is for you. Check out the videos and testimonials on our Tribe page and apply to join the 1% Club! You can also book a free coaching call on the Smart Cleaning School website at www.smartcleaningschool.com. Make sure to check out the many free & paid resources available on the website as well.
Coach Josh and I use Marco Polo to communicate during the week. He allows me to send questions as I have them. He listens and responds when he gets the chance. I'm very grateful to have Josh Melton in my corner as we grow C3 to the next level in 2023, which is to add the second building block and earn over $100,000 income from the cleaning business. Josh and I had an exchange on November 8th and 9th of 2022 that was so interesting to me. I've never heard it talked about before in the cleaning groups or other podcasts. I had to cover it here. Cleaning is a business, but a business is not merely a ledger with a list of transactions. It's easy to pull up a profit and loss report and see all of the income and expense transactions. It's easy to see the text and numbers printed on the screen or page and assume you're looking at the cleaning business. I don't believe a business merely consists of transactions. A business is relationships. A cleaning business is a group of humans cleaning for other humans, all of which have personalities, beliefs, families, interests. It's easy to measure a business in transactions. That's what our accountants do. It's not easy to measure the relational strength of our business. Josh poses an interesting point in his Marco Polo to me. "I believe that you can trust someone that you don't respect. But I don't believe you can respect someone you don't trust." I agree with him. I can think of people right now that I could allow into my house around my family, but I don't respect them. Therefore, respect is greater than trust. How do you earn trust? I've talked about this a ton. On the "Optimizer's Workshop with Dave Reeks", I defined the 3 C's to build trust as a cleaner. You've got to have excellent character and be the type of person that others can trust. You've got to provide an amazing cleaning service. In other words, you've got to handle the transactions of cleaning with excellence. This includes the cleaning itself and surely the transaction of invoices and payments. You've got to be consistent in your cleaning service and everything you do in dealing with your customers. If you show up with great cleaning and character over a long time, you will develop trust. Another way to build trust is to give it. Others won't trust you if you don't trust them. Trust is mutual. I'm going to add a fourth C. You've got to have compassion for other people and not be selfish. This is so foundational. Show love for your fellow human. When you put this all together. Start with compassion and character. Become a great cleaner and cleaning service. Handle your transactions with excellence and trust. Give trust. Do this over time. This will earn your trust from your customers. Keep doing it consistently over time and that trust will turn into something greater. It's respect. When your customers respect you, they will want to do business with you for a long time. Most clients will grow with you as you grow mutual respect. However, some clients will only ever think of you as "just the cleaner". Become a person of trust and respect and you'll attract the right ones I absolutely love this mindset and it thrills me to build this type of cleaning business in my community. Everything hinges on relationships, not transactions. I hope you enjoy this interaction between Josh an I on Marco Polo.
Have you ever had a customer or an employee that ghosted you and you didn't know why it happened? When this happens early in your business, it really affects your confidence and your heart. Some of you may have had this happen with a first girlfriend or boyfriend. It makes you question whether you should be doing what you're doing. It's natural. Rejection is very difficult. By 2016, I had optimized my solo cleaning company after 13 hard years. I was very confident in what I did. Later that year, I started coaching others how to do the same. Rachel was my first coaching client. I helped her every week and it felt great to help someone else. Andrea was my second coaching client. I coached her every week and it also felt great. I was really on to something. Maybe I had found a niche that I loved and also way to create a secondary income from anywhere in the country. That was very exciting! My third coaching client... Let's call him Ron... That's not his real name. I want to keep him anonymous. I coached him two times. Ron was working at a factory and had started a side-hustle cleaning company that he wanted to use to get out of his job. I saw some issues with the way he was building it and gave him some hard advice. After our second call, Ron ghosted me. He never gave a reason and he never responded to any of my follow-ups. I emailed him or messaged him probably 10 times over the next 6 to 12 months. I didn't understand what happened. Since this happened, have moved on and added more coaching clients. I met Debbie Sardone who encouraged me to create a course. That course is called the ISO Model Course which is included in the Solo Elite Membership still today. We sold that first solo business, moved to PA and did it again. I added a podcast and memberships through the Smart Cleaning School. I scaled the second cleaning company with a team and took my family to Florida for a month. We're growing and striving to help as many people as possible. But that third customer named Ron ghosting me really affected me early on. I questioned whether I was doing the right thing, or if I was too hard on people, or if I was too easy, or if I was really qualified to be coaching at all? I had to work things out internally and emotionally build my confidence back up. Thankfully, I was able to help Rachel and Andrea quite a bit, which boosted my confidence. This infamous ghosting happened in March 2017. About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to reach out to every former customer I've had in the coaching business and anything related to Smart Cleaning School memberships. I just sent a simple email checking in with everyone and thanking them for their trust in me and wanting to see how they were doing in their life, family, and business. I sent any email to Ron as well. It was the first contact or follow-up I had done in probably 4-5 years. A month later, I got a free coaching call set up on my calendar. I offer these on my website and mentioned this on my podcast. A guy named Ron booked a call. I looked at the answers to his reasonings for booking the call and it said this. "I just wanted to call and apologize to you." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
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