Smart Cleaning School
About Smart Cleaning School
A cleaner posted this response in a the Solo Cleaners Club free Facebook group that I manage after I asked why they were struggling to find clients as a new solo. "That’s the thing. I just started this year and have none. I used to clean for a company. They trained me and that’s when I fell in love with cleaning. I have nothing to help me gain anything, except for word of mouth, but no one is willing to give me a chance. I have a beautiful page full of everything I have to offer, before & afters, cleaning checklists, what to expect when you book with me. I have a new client welcome packet also informing of everything I offer. I include that I will occasionally gift holiday goodie bags, candles, and gift cards. I like treating people with hospitality and respect, I just can’t get in the door to show someone my quality. I feel like I’ve made the mistake of pricing myself too high." Here's my response publicly. "When your community feels your passion for cleaning half as much as you do...watch out!" Then I PM'd the company with this. "I wanted to personally reach out. It took a lot of carrots to share what you shared on the Facebook group. Would you like some help figuring this out (getting prospects to say yes to you)?" Are wondering what that means? It took a lot of carrots? When I looked at what the voice-to-text transcribed from "It took a lot of courage", I edited it and laughed at myself. Then I said out loud in my office. "That's the podcast title. It took a lot of carrots!" Let's talk about carrots as you will be amazed how it relates to this woman wanting her business to grow. 1. Carrots endure – Most produce must be harvested before the winter so they remain edible. Did you know that the carrot has the power to freeze itself in the dirt? The dirt acts as an insulator. Simply cover them up with mulch for the winter. You can harvest them in the winter or in the spring and they will actually be sweeter! Carrots endure long, cold, dry seasons. Have you been through long, cold, dry seasons in your business where nothing seems to be happening? You will need the endurance character of the carrot. 2. Carrots are better cooked – Did you know that most vegetables are healthier raw? Not carrots. They actually release more beta-carotene when cooked. Beta-carotene enhances your sight, skin, and immune system. Carrots are better for you when they heated through cooking. Have you ever faced the heat and pressure of making your business work? You will need the heat-enhancing properties of the carrot. 3. Carrots enhance vision – As mentioned in the last one, cooking releases more Beta-Carotene. This enhances your vision. Have you ever gotten stuck in your business where you can't see the future? You need the enhanced vision that the carrot provides. Reference: Simon Baynes Article I didn't realize it at the time, but the AI of Facebook interpreted courage for carrots correctly. It does take a lot of carrots to win. You need to endure like the carrot to get through the winter. You need to release your best nutrition and results when under the hottest and hardest testing or when you're being cooked! You need to have better vision to see past this current setback to get to the ultimate goal. You need a lot of carrots. You also need a lot of courage to succeed too. No one ever said it was going to be easy. You will face challenges. You will face adversity. You will face your fears every single day. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School we
I am excited to share this clip from the Solo Elite Membership! A few weeks ago, I ran my first Zoom call for the members to meet each other, dive into a topic, and ask questions. It was a great call. Afterwards, I pondered the idea of sharing a portion of the call with my podcast audience. It's a 16 minute clip from a 90 minute call, where I shared my journey openly on scaling with employees. Many ask me when can I hire and scale. I firmly believe that you need time and money margin to properly scale a cleaning company. You can do this right away if you have time and money. Or you can do it the way I teach. Here you go! Enjoy! You can optimize your solo cleaning business to earn full time income through part time cleaning without the drama of employees! When the time is right, you can scale with employees like me and they won't be as much drama! Get access to this game-changing training for only $57 per month or $597 per year in the Solo Elite Membership at smartcleaningschool.com/elite. Members get access to the full ISO Model Course to optimize your solo business, plus access to the Solo Elite Community, bonus podcast content, access to private coaching and additional courses at 50% off! You can also sample the membership with our brand new "Backstage Pass", which is found at smartcleaningschool.com.
This one is short and sweet. Would you like to see the ISO Model play out in a common question I am asked? This question comes from my brother, who is starting his own solo cleaning company. He asked me this. "Ken, what would you do if a customer is only willing to hire you if you will clean for them on Fridays?" I answered him and then said. "Thanks for the podcast episode!" I believe there is a sliding scale or spectrum with 2 extremes depicting the Supply-Demand Principle of Ecomonics well. On one side is a business owner who has no boundaries. They will work for whoever, whenever, doing whatever is needed to seal the deal on the sale. They want the money and they don't care what they have to do (as long as it's ethical and legal). Side note, there are others that don't even care about that. This represents absolutely unlimited supply. They can definitely clean for you regardless of the question. When supply is at a max, demand is at a minimum. This also yields a minimum price. That's economics. Let's go to the other side. There is the business owner who has so many boundaries that it's nearly impossible to get on their calendar. Customers may have to wait a month or longer. Is this possible? Yup, it was me in my first optimized solo cleaning business. In this extreme, demand is at a max and supply is minimized. The corresponding price is very high. There was a reason I walked you through that first. Let's add in the ISO Model. The high-supply owner is the new guy with nothing but time and availability. Price isn't as important. Customers won't pay much as they don't perceive they are in much demand elsewhere. They just want to learn, improve, and build a reputation for quality. With this mindset, they won't be high-supply long. They will get referred and be in greater demand. I have another term for this solo cleaner. I call them an Initializer! With this increased demand, they intentionally reduce the supply. How? They go from zero boundaries to a window that they conduct business through. Maybe they create business hours or niche down in what they clean. Maybe they select a specific zip code or geographic area. Maybe they decide to eliminate vacation rentals and post-construction. Maybe they have boundaries on the drama they will accept from clients around scheduling, payment, and terms. There are many maybes or boundaries. This cleaner is getting better and accumulating more specialized knowledge. As their demand increases, so do their prices. In supply/demand economics, they've reached the crossing point of the curve. It's called the Equilibrium Point or Market-Clearing Price where supply and demand are equal. At this point, you have a cleaning service and price that has just enough supply to match the demand in the market. You will be able to grow fast at this level! I have another term for this solo cleaner. I call them a Stabilizer! The solo cleaner is building a great reputation through referral, cleaning excellence, and community engagement. They are being perceived with more and more value. They are being viewed more as a Specialist and Expert. Their demand is increasing. They can now tighten their boundaries and window to the other extreme. They can pinch their supply so low that the demand hits the ceiling and so does price. Customers will fight to get you. They will wait months on your waiting list. They will pay whatever you charge. They will adhere to all of your boundaries. Why? You are the best and those that want the best will go for it. This creates optimal value and optimized price. I have another term for this solo cleaner. I call them an Optimizer! Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
There is an emerging Mindset Series that started with my interview with Coach Josh called "The Value of Coaching" and followed up recently with "Are You Truly Coachable". I spoke from the position of being coached for over 20 years and being a coach myself for the past 7 years. The topic today is a major pet peeve and a classic tell-tale of someone UNcoachable and UNteachable. It's when I hear the words "Yeah, BUT..." I know I've been guilty of it in the past but when I recognize it today it just irritates me. This is a major fundamental to overcome. It falls under our mindset. Are you coachable? Many say they are. But few really are. I did a coaching call recently. This cleaning company owner was operating solo to do houses during the week and was growing a team to do commercial cleaning nights and weekends. I dug and dug until I understood the why behind the goal of wanting to grow commercial with a team. The goals and the why were awesome. The strategy was not and during the call I realized that the mindset was not either. Here's what I discovered. This solo cleaning mom with a full-time job dad had to pay a certain amount of money for daycare. Many listening to this podcast can relate to that right now. She did not know her numbers, so there's the next fundamental flaw. I helped her figure out her numbers because I'm really good at this. Her solo house cleaning profit was basically covering the cost of daycare give or take. The commercial was not bringing in much because the revenue was just big enough to pay for the cost of a team. The hope was to grow commercial but maintain the residential to pay for daycare. This made absolutely no sense to me. Her goal was to earn $40,000 as a second income in the family. That's an awesome goal! I showed her how she could do that as a residential solo cleaner. Then I heard it. "Yeah, BUT..." Then she had a reason why she can't do that. I told her how she could hit her goal as a commercial solo cleaner and I got another "Yeah, BUT..." and another reason why. There's always a reason why you can't. There's also always a reason why you can. If you look for an excuse, you will find it. And if you look for a solution, you will find one. In "The Magic of Thinking Big", Excusitis is listed as one of the failure diseases. In this case it was very clear to me. She could easily increase her solo house cleaning to $3,000 per month profit. This would net $1,000 after daycare and might be worth it. $2,000 or $3,000 net after daycare would be better! By the way, if she was earning $1,500 and daycare costs $2,000 no one would take that deal. I don't think daycare is worth it for a mom unless the thing she does to create income creates at least $500 per month over and above the TOTAL cost of daycare. This is daycare expenses, plus gas, food prep, lost time, etc. That was the direction I was taking her. She could build up the solo house cleaning profit herself, hit the $40,000 income goal and forget about commercial cleaning. When I sensed the desire to grow commercial with a team, I switched to different coaching to help her achieve the $40,000 goal. Her strategy was to continue farming out her kids to daycare for another 1-2 years. My coaching and experience would have her stay home with her kids and hit the goal in 6 months! Her answer each time was "Yeah, BUT..." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
This may be one of the most significant episodes of the Smart Cleaning School Podcast. Let's recap for the newer listeners. I have run cleaning companies for the last 18 years in both Upstate New York and the Indian Valley of Pennsylvania. I struggled like you in my first solo cleaning business from 2005 to 2008 as an Initializer. I worked like a madman like you as a Stabilizer from 2009 to 2014. Then I OPTIMIZED my solo cleaning company into a business that provided my family full-time income through part-time cleaning without the drama of employees. I was cleaning 2 days per week and keeping $60,000 profit per year. 90% of our clients were residential. This 13-year period created the ISO Model, which stands for Initialize, Stabilize, and Optimize. I was the boss and could control my schedule. I had freedom and it was awesome! But I had no roadmap for others to also follow! Our family wanted to go back home to the Philly Area. We sold that optimized solo cleaning company in 2018 for $80,000 with a 2-year owner-finance payback contract. This provided around $2,000 per month income from a business we sold to get us up and running in the Philly Area. I had freedom and it was awesome! But I had no roadmap for others to also follow! I started the second solo cleaning company before the pandemic in 2019. I got involved in local networking and joined the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce. I also launched this podcast in October of 2019. We grew through the pandemic as my business model moved from 90% residential in NY to a 50/50 split in PA with commercial. I cruised through the ISO Model in 18 months to $70,000 profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week. I did it again and much, much faster! I had freedom and it was awesome! But I had no roadmap, just a podcast for others to follow! I rebranded in the September 2021 to Carfagno Commercial Cleaning and the C3 Experience! I had the mental, time, and money margin to invest into the proper systems for hiring and building a team. I made a ton of mistakes. I studied leadership as my primary role shifted from cleaner/salesman to leader. The C3 Team has grown to 10 part-time team members 18 commercial locations. We are about to cross $200k in revenue for the first time. Our next goal is 32 locations in the niche of professional, financial, and medical office spaces under 25,000 square feet in the Indian Valley. This will likely be around $350k revenue with around 20 total team members, 2 field supervisors, and a field leader (operations). I work from home and barely clean except to cover or onboard a new office. We went to Florida the past 2 Februarys as a family. This is a new level of freedom and it is awesome! I recently recorded podcast episode #400! And guess what?! I have a roadmap now! It took me 18 years, 2 optimized solo companies, selling 1 and scaling 1 to extract the path to success and freedom for a solo cleaner. In my experience coaching solos over the past 7 years, I have noticed that solos feel so low. You struggle with the 2 UNDERS and 2 OVERS. You feel Underpaid, Underappreciated, Overworked, and Overwhelmed! Does that sum it up pretty well?! It doesn't have to be that way. You can have freedom as an optimized solo cleaner. In other words, you too can earn full-time income through part-time cleaning without the drama of employees. You just need a roadmap to get there! It's called the Solo Elite Membership Roadmap. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
This is a great follow up to "The Value of Coaching with Josh Melton". Josh has been coaching me through Marco Polo in 2023. I ask him questions and he responds. I am very coachable, so the content of my questions evolves over time from basic how-to questions to leadership and how my coach thinks questions. My goal is understand the Mind of Josh. How would Josh handle this situation? I have learned and grown as a student because I apply and take action on what Josh teaches me. I take notes on how the situation went and what I could have done better. The business improves. Do you see what I've done. I never have to ask Josh the same question twice. Here is the value of the coaching. Josh has the experience that I don't. He has the revenue and the team that I don't. He has the leadership that I don't. What do I have? I have the humility to submit, to be teachable and coachable, to take action on the advice from my coach. I learn from the coaching and action that I take. I take ownership and therefore grow to the next level of leadership, coachability, teachability, accountability. I grow and get closer to winning. My mindset takes a step closer to my coach's. Meanwhile, my coach continues to grow so he always has plenty to teach. This is music to any coach's ears. We all want our students and mentees to succeed. Here's the problem. Many of you are UN-teachable. You are UN-coachable. You won't take action or you won't take right action with the right resistance as Josh would say. You make the same mistakes over and over again. We try harder to help you get it and in the process, we get frustrated and give up. Do you know why? We want success for you more than you want it for yourself. "That's not true, Ken!" I do want to succeed. Answer me this. How many books have you read on leadership, business development, or people skills? How active and involved are you in your community through business networking, chamber events, and community service? How helpful are you and how good is your name in your community? How many social media posts, phone calls, and emails have you made to attract your ideal customer? How well do you know your numbers? How many times have you asked the same question on how to clean this or how to price that in a Facebook group? How much time do you spend growing and learning from a coach or mentor? How much action do you take and how fast do you take it? How eager are you to Go for No to get to Yes's faster? Do you see the level of ownership it takes to truly be coachable and teachable? How would you grade yourself? I will be transparent. I would grade myself at a 7 for the majority of my entrepreneurial journey. There is one reason it was this low. I was too slow to take action. I spent too much time overthinking. I thought that I was learning how my coach thought, but how could I? I wasn't taking much action and action is the only way to acquire the knowledge. Napoleon Hill calls it Applied Knowledge. This allows you to get feedback from what you applied, which yields new questions. I grade myself much higher now. I 'm a 9. That's why we've grown so fast and I never ask Josh the same questions twice. That's why my questions have moved from HOWs to leadership questions. This is what it takes to truly be coachable. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
"If you ever see someone standing alone, go over and talk to them." Steven learned this from his grandmother and it has helped him become a great people person and networker. "Superpowers are things that we just do that we don't realize make such a difference to others." Steven is a certified financial planner by trade. He found two ways to utilize his skills. He could help people build their wealth or he could help them give away their wealth. Steven found so much more joy in the second. "You've gotta put yourself into those spaces where we are uncomfortable because that's where we grow." Being the executive director of the chamber is the first time I've been in the leader role versus an employee. This has been the hardest career change for Steven over his career. "Why do we network? So we can build relationships with people we know, like, and trust." "We receive about 4 – 5,000 marketing messages per day." "If you've seen one chamber, you've seen one chamber." This is joke in the chamber world because each one is SO different. "Not all businesses should be in the chamber. You have to have a sense of community. A chamber is a membership organization. I'm going to join because there are things I want to give and gain. Some business owners don't understand that you have to give before you get. There's not many of these types of owners. They ask 'Why would I want to do that?'" "Generous people are happy people." "The trick to leadership is that a good leader is helping others succeed." "Jesus says that our heart is where our treasure is, not the other way around. We've got to put our treasure in the right place and then our heart will follow it." "The more they have given away, the more they have been entrusted with." "Leadership...It's all about being self-aware. Most of time is showing up, being 10 minutes early to whatever it is they are doing, and being intentional, you're on your way to being 75% of the most successful people in the United States." You can optimize your solo cleaning business to earn full time income through part time cleaning without the drama of employees! Get access to this game-changing training for only $57 per month or $597 per year in the Solo Elite Membership at smartcleaningschool.com/elite. Members get access to the full ISO Model Course to optimize your solo business, plus access to the Solo Elite Community, bonus podcast content, access to private coaching and additional courses at 50% off! You can also sample the membership with our brand new "Backstage Pass", which is found at smartcleaningschool.com.
I want to start by giving credit where credit is due. I had the opportunity to connect with my friend Cristal Bosser of Mommy Maids 24-7 serving the North Port / Sarasota Areas of the Gulf Coast of Florida. She was giving me feedback on the Solo Elite Membership that I'm constantly improving and drove home a point that I needed to share! Thank you Cristal! I was walking her through my Solo Elite Membership Roadmap and asked the question. "Should I target specific revenue and profit numbers at each level of my roadmap?" Christal has built a solo cleaning business once and lost it in Hurricane Ian. She is rebuilding. Plus, she runs a Facebook group with 2 other residential cleaners called "3 Cleaning Queens", where she interacts with hundreds of other solo cleaners. She took my question in a different direction. "Ken, we get to the $1,000 per month mark and get overwhelmed fast. The pressure makes us want to hire someone. It's okay not to hire someone. It's okay to say no to new clients and get our solo business under control." She was talking out of experience. The light bulb went off for me. I followed up. "You nailed it Christal! I read a study that nearly 70% of the general population are people-pleasers. It's called the Steadiness Personality on DISC and I bet 75% of all solos are S's and therefore people-pleasers. S's cannot say no to new clients. They feel bad. They start out and want new clients. Then they grow by saying yes to new clients. Yay! But at some point, they cannot handle any more clients. One more will handicap them. They still say Yes, when they should have said No 3 customers ago. They should have paused for a strategy break to lock in the ones they had and wait-listed the others. Instead, they can't say no and get to the point where they are overwhelmed like you felt. Their emotions make the decision to bring on a helper or two, or possibly start hiring. They hire out of a position of weakness not strength. There are no policies, procedures, or systems to hire correctly. They are doing it under the table, illegally, and most likely incorrectly. This destroys their business. Plus, the people they bring on feel the pressure from the boss. It's very evident! How do I know?! I lived it in 2008, when my coach told me that I can't afford employees." I was on a roll and continued. "They can't say no. They get overwhelmed. They freak out and panic. They hire out of fear. They don't develop the business strategy to win with employees. They need a pressure relief valve!" I'll exaggerate Christal's response. "Ken, that was amazing. You are the best solo cleaner teacher in the world." Okay, here's what she really said. "Ken, that's right. Totally! What do you mean by a safety relief valve?" I'm going to explain the rest to you now. I looked up "Pressure Relief Valve" on Dr. Google. "A pressure relief valve (PRV) is a type of safety-related component used in the pipeline or with vessels in pneumatics. Relief valves are used to limit the amount of compressed air pressure in a system so that it doesn't build up above a pre-set level and cause damage to machinery or people." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
This episode released almost 2 years ago to the day! I was still doing house cleaning and transitioning Carfagno Cleaning to Carfagno Commercial Cleaning and the C3 Experience! We were preparing for our maiden journey to Florida for the month of February 2022. I am not wired to have trouble saying no. But many have that challenge. It's in their personality. In this Best-Of episode, I share a conversation between my daughter and I. I had just turned down a residential client and she couldn't believe it. "How could you say no? I couldn't do that!" I taught her about the 4 personalities in the DISC Assessment. I am a mix of 'C' for Conscientiousness and 'D' for Dominance. Neither of these personalities struggle with saying no. We struggle with a host of other things, but not that. I explained to my daughter that she is a 'S' for Steadiness. S's are people-pleasers and have a hard time saying no. DISC puts out statistics that 69% of the general population are S's! Furthermore, I collect applications and DISC assessments for prospective solo cleaners to work for our company. 75% of my applicants are S's! I know for a fact that saying no is a big problem. I want you to listen to this episode and the follow-up to move your business forward big time! Are you a solo struggling like my daughter in saying no? You need to see why this is hurting your business. You need the ISO Model and the Solo Elite Membership! You can optimize your solo cleaning business to earn full time income through part time cleaning without the drama of employees! Get access to this game-changing training for only $57 per month or $597 per year in the Solo Elite Membership at smartcleaningschool.com/elite. Members get access to the full ISO Model Course to optimize your solo business, plus access to the Solo Elite Community, bonus podcast content, access to private coaching and additional courses at 50% off! You can also sample the membership with our brand new "Backstage Pass", which is found at smartcleaningschool.com.
Learning how to deal effectively with other people is one of the Solo Elite 4 Fundamentals. People skills is a broad term tossed around. What does it mean? In my opinion, it's the ability and skill to effectively build relationships with other people so that they know, like, and trust you. I want to focus on one people skill today. It's responsiveness. How responsive are you to customer inquiries and complaints? If you have employees, how responsive are you to their questions? What about your personal relationships? How responsive are you with your spouse, children, parents, siblings, close friends, church and other acquaintances? What boundaries do you have? What standards do you have? I'm going to focus this episode on helping you develop a single boundary in your communication and responsiveness. Are you always available in your business 24/7? Do you have an off switch or a boundary for personal time? What is an appropriate reply time? Let's dig in! I need to first take you back in time. I found this article from a staffing company that is very interesting about business-as-usual before the advent of email. The article references two old-timers in corporate America. The lawyer said this. "The difference between the 1990s and today is that things move more quickly, the primary advantage being the ability to attach documents. Here today, there today. Fax machines suck, have always sucked, and will always suck. But I see the Federal Express driver a whole lot less these days." A business consultant shares her perspective. "Then, in our prior email-less world (gasp!). Mornings consisted of riffling through your inbox of hand-scribbled notes from your colleagues and phone messages from callers interpreted by an assistant. Can you imagine it? You responded by scribbling the responses and dropping them off in everyone else’s inbox. You wrote lengthy letters to clients, dropped them in the U.S. mail, and waited 7-10 days for a response. All letters were official, on letterhead, so everything was written formally. No mistakes. No sentence fragments. At this pace, the quick decisions we are accustomed to today were more than hard to come by. Modern workers, especially those who have never lived in an email-less workplace, could not imagine functioning like this. Still, just as email has solved a lot of our problems, it has undoubtedly created some as well. Messages from clients and colleagues come by email, but they are sent and opened around the clock. You are on 24/7! You write to clients as quickly, briefly, and often as informally as you do colleagues.” The lack of technology and universally understood business hours provided built-in boundaries on our expectation of responsiveness. Everything back then was 7-10 business days when mail was concerned. This is up to 2 weeks! Can you imagine having to wait that long for a response now?! Most business communication was done formally and at much longer response times. That was normal. That allowed workers to be off the clock after they left the office. There were other forms of communication back then too. There was something called a phone and an assistant. The boundary and expectation was simple. You make a business call to the assistant of the business person you need a reply. They took a message and you would hear back within a few days. 48 hours was a reasonable expectation. If you waited longer, you'd consider it poor responsiveness. If the written communication took longer than 7-10 business days, you'd again consider this poor responsiveness. Both are bad. Read the rest of this episode on the Smart Cleaning School website
I teased this episode in the previous one, so here it is! Did you know that your good name can be good marketing? I want you to think about this. How many companies do you buy from on the name alone? Have you ever hired a babysitter or other service provider in your home because they come from a good family name? How many times have you done the opposite when the company or person in question has a poor name and reputation? I work very hard to add value everyday to our good name. The Carfagno name means something to me. We are disciples of Jesus. We are hard workers. We are honest. I could go on and on. What are the values you add to your good name? I encourage you to develop these in your home and with your family. Transfer these values to your kids. I get inbound leads through my website and Google every month. This is so cool to me. We've followed Jesus. We've worked hard. We've been honest. This has earned my name and our company a great local reputation. Our Google profile has 34 5-Star reviews, an article showing us winning the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year for 2022, and many other helpful insights for prospects to learn about us. When I receive an inbound lead, my policy is to call within 1 business day. It's a boundary. I chit-chat and learn about the job. I always ask how they find me. Usually, I hear. "I searched online and found you highly rated in the area." That means so much to me. I desire a good name and this is showing it. The Carfagno Name in my area is respected and I'm so thankful for that. A lead came in recently that seemed like any other. I returned the message within 1 business day. It was a local accounting firm. The office manager and I chit-chatted about the job and then I asked the question. "So, how did you find me?" I expected the same thing. She said. "I searched online and saw the name Carfagno. I'm a Carfagno on my mother's side. I wondered if we were related. I just went to our Carfagno Family Reunion. Maybe you were there? Your name got me to click on the Google profile and I saw the big award you won and your reviews. It felt right." We spent 5 minutes on geneology trying to find out if we were related. This is a side note. I live in Harleysville, PA but grew up in Norristown, PA. When I was a kid, I used to joke that although our name was obscure and uncommon, there's a half page of Carfagnos in the Norristown phone book. After college, we moved to Greenville, SC. There wasn't a single southerner that could pronounce my last name. I was the only Carfagno down there. We moved to Upstate New York for 16 years where plenty of Italians lived. More could pronounce our name, but I still phonetically spelled C, A, R as in Ralph, F as in Frank, A-G as in Gary, N as in Nancy, O to just about everyone. There were no Carfagnos in the New York phone book. We moved back to Montgomery County, PA in 2018 and I felt like I was in Cheers. Everybody knew my name. They could say Carfagno. They could spell Carfagno. Heck, many of them knew a Carfagno. Here's a funny one. My uncle Bob Carfagno married Patty Carfagno. Her name was actually Carfagno when they met and they weren't related! She married a Carfagno in her first marriage, kept the name, and married Bob! In my area, the name Carfagno is more known. It's a marketing niche of its own. I know this won't apply to all of you or perhaps not many of you at all. But imagine you have a name that is less popular or common. You go out and make a name for yourself and add value to your name. Then when prospects come across your Google profile and see your name, they feel good about hiring you. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
This was one of my favorite episodes to create. It gave me a chance to research more of my family lineage and share one of my favorite bible verses. This teaching is foundational in my home and I wanted you to all hear it. This replay is intentional. The next episode takes the good name to another level. Did you know your good name is good marketing? You will. Re-listen to this one first!
I shared this exact post in a free Facebook cleaning group and thought it valuable enough to include on the podcast. Here's the post. I'm new to this group but not to cleaning. I love this industry and helping newbies. I see pricing posts all the time and wanted to share some insights that I just shared with another member on her private question. The question goes something like this... "Is this price too high, too low? "People are so cheap. How do I get them to value what I do as a professional cleaner?" Here's my response that will help you overcome these pricing objections. It's not your price. It's your process. When people ask for price first and quibble over price first, one of two things is happening psychologically. They don't trust you yet. SOLUTION - Remove your price list first. Don't lead with that. Lead with YOU. Lead with your unique solution to the community. Lead with your personality. Lead with how your service will make their lives better. This builds trust. The price question will come up, but not right away. In my experience, my best and highest-paying clients didn't even ask about price until the end of a phone call or in-person meeting. They were so excited to get their problem solved through my service. They don't respect cleaning as a craft or field of expertise and are treating it like shopping around for the cheapest widget. SOLUTION - Either EDUCATE these people through your content (Google, FB, website, blog, in-person presentations) or AVOID them to find better clients. They are easy to identify! There is an abundance of potential clients that want a professional cleaning service that solves their problems. It's nice to be here. I pray that speaks to you. This is good for solos to hear as they consider scaling or those already doing it. This post was well received with many exclamation points in agreement. I want you to study the 2 reasons you are struggling with cheap prospects. Have you dealt with each scenario? How did you deal with them? Did you try to appease or lower your prices? Did you get mad and complain to someone on Facebook? Did you learn what you could from the scenarios and become a stronger business owner? Do you realize that knowing who you don't want is many times more valuable than knowing who you do want? Are you struggling with pricing and cheap clients? Would you like to find the best ones that appreciate you and pay your prices? You need the ISO Model and the Solo Elite Membership! You can optimize your solo cleaning business to earn over $50,000 profit cleaning less than 20 hours per week without employees or subs or drama! Get access to this game-changing training for only $57 per month or $597 per year in the Solo Elite Membership at smartcleaningschool.com/elite. Members get access to the full ISO Model Course to optimize your solo business, plus access to the Solo Elite Community, bonus podcast content, access to private coaching and additional courses at 50% off! You can also sample the membership with our brand new "Backstage Pass", which is found at smartcleaningschool.com. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
I have a heart to help everyone who wants to start a cleaning business and optimize as a solo. I have found this to be a great strength and weakness. In two recent scenarios, I have learned that while helping one I'm hurting another. I'm going to teach the destructive mindset in each of my two recent scenarios. Scenario #1: A lady found my podcast, loved it, and emailed me some questions. I answered her and started coaching her only to find out that she was currently working for another cleaning company and wanted to go on her own. I don't know her current boss. I advised her to be ethical and not poach any clients. She didn't want to hire, so poaching her coworkers wasn't a concern... now. I did not deter her from starting a business or from quitting her job. I had the mindset that there is plenty to go around and there is still more work than workers. I do believe this still. However, there is a major flaw to my advise. It hurt the current cleaning company she is working for. This company owner paid the price to start her own company. I know what it takes to win a cleaning company. I know how hard it is to find good people and to train them and keep them. This cleaner that contacted me had benefitted tremendously from the work and training that her boss provided. Like so many cleaning employees, they perceive that the boss isn't doing any of the cleaning, yet making so much more than the cleaner. It's not fair. It's entitlement and scarcity mindset. They don't yet know how hard it is. They think erringly that being a good cleaner (which they only know because of their boss) will make them a good cleaning business owner. We know from the previous podcasts that this is not true. They don't yet have the 4 fundamentals of Financial, Mindset, Strategic, and People conquered. So many cleaners perceive the easy street it appears to change from employee to owner. They quit and then call on the houses or offices they were cleaning and steal them. And that's exactly what it is. Theft. Then they call their former co- workers and offer them a better deal. What happens next? The cleaner turned owner doesn't know to get any insurance or to become legit and professional. They put themselves and their stolen customers at risk. They have very shallow roots and the new business is scorched by the hot sun and pressures of being in business for yourself and the business dies. The customers are hurt as they lose their cleaner. The original cleaning company is hurt as it lost customers and employees. The new cleaning business is done and begging for their old job back. The employees that jumped ship don't know what to do. This is destructive to all. If I would have helped this cleaner, I would have helped them succeed in their business for sure. But I would have helped the other cleaning company lose a good employee and potentially customers and employees. I would have helped one to hurt another. I will NOT do this! It's not ethical for me. Plus, if there is a non-compete in place, it's possible that I'd be complicit in helping a cleaning employee illegally break their binding contract. This is a potential legal liability for me. Again, I won't do this. And I didn't help this cleaner once I realized the potential destructive downstream path. I don't want to be all doom and gloom. In limited cases, this works out. For example, there are cleaners that inform their bosses that they want to start their own company. These company owners are Dream Managers and mentors and actually help them do it. They ensure that there is win-win and more than enough to go around. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
If you've been following this podcast for any duration of time, you should have noticed a major shift in how I am teaching. I have organized my content for helping side hustlers, startups, and solos around 4 basic fundamentals of success: Financial, Mindset, Strategic, and People. I highly recommend that you check out the previous episode to gain the perspective I've learned on why so many of you are struggling. It's called "Why Side Hustlers, Startups, and Solos Struggle". Armed with the basic understanding that these 4 are essential, I wanted to compare and contrast a few business opportunities out there. The first one is the multi-level marketing business. I was an Amway IBO for 10 years. I am thankful for my time and mentorship in this business opportunity. We didn't make it. Many don't. Why? Well, let's look at the 4 fundamentals. Financial – It's less than $100 to start! This is why so many can join. There really aren't any P&L's to study. Mindset – You can invest in books, weekly audio lessons, quarterly in-person conferences, and 1-on-1 mentoring sessions to grow your mindset. Coaching and mentoring and personal development in MLMs are second-to-none. Strategy – I was provided with a strategy and game plan for success from Day 1. The MLM strategy falls under the category of a business system or franchise. They know what works. You just have to follow the proven system and do the work. People – This is the most difficult part of the MLM. There is a tremendous momentum to overcome with people. You have to become an amazing people person. You have to learn to handle objections, stay positive, win people to your cause, and lead people. It's such a simple business model, but extremely hard to get buy-in from people. People is the biggest barrier and struggle in this business opportunity. The second business opportunity is a manufacturing company producing widgets that everybody needs. The 4 fundamentals are different here. There are no objections to overcome with people. You mainly deal with larger B2B situations where what you sell is needed. Strategy can be challenging, but the simplicity is this. Just scale and grow your operation to handle the demand. Mindset is also challenging as scaling is taxing and stressful. Dealing with complaints and legal and regulations can be difficult. The biggest barrier to this business opportunity is Financial. It may require $1 million to even start! That wipes out most of us right there. You also need to be incredible with your numbers as the margins are small in most cases and you better know how to guarantee profits at every level. Financial is the biggest barrier and struggle in this business opportunity. Read the rest of this episode at the Smart Cleaning School website
I recorded this training for the 2023 Maid Service Success Summit Fundamental #1: Financial Start with the Stats! 90% don't know their numbers (Life After Sale YT) 98% don't know the value of their business (cnbc.com) 72% don't know their credit score (smallbiztrends.com) 73.6% of all statistics are made up (businessinsider.com) Notes from the Talk! Me – I knew my numbers and optimized every 90 days with SMART goals from 2014-2017 to go from 5-6 days solo cleaning per week to 2 days all while earning the same profit! We started at $60k profit and ended at $60k profit. This is the ISO Model. Kate – I was helping a friend running a $1.2M residential cleaning company. She has 375 clients. We analyzed her business with numbers and calculated that her average biweekly client is paying $130/visit. She recognized an opportunity to grow that average to $160/visit. I coached her to use the 80/20 rule and assume 20% of her clients are leading to 80% of the high drama and low profit costing her business money. This amounts to 75 clients. We used numbers to determine the potential of her business with the SAME number of clients (375) but replacing the 75 with great ones. It was an additional $50k-$100k per year in profit! When we increased every client from $130 to $160/visit, it added an additional $150k-$250k per year in profit! Same business, same size, better numbers! Mind-blowing. Fundamental #2: Mindset Start with the Stats! 60% have a fixed mindset (Dweck). 98% don't pursue their dreams with confidence and excitment (2% Mindset). 33% are held back by fear (Smallbiztrends.com). Notes from the Talk! Fixed vs Growth Mindset – "This is the idea behind a growth mindset: we believe our intelligence and abilities can be developed over time. Growth mindsets are one end of the spectrum of how we think about ourselves, with fixed mindsets on the opposite end. Having a growth mindset means we are eager to learn, adaptive, find value in embracing challenges, and believe that being effortful can improve certain skills, compared to the fixed mindset’s belief that our abilities are unchangeable." A fixed mind sees limited opportunity and the cards they were dealt are the ones they must keep. A growth mind can change and must change as nothing in life ever stays the same. It either grows or dies. So the irony of the fixed mindset is that it is decaying or dying over time. You have to grow a little to "stay the same". (Carol Dweck, "Mindset") A growth and business-owners mindset sees investment, not cost. They see delayed gratification vs immediate. They see long-term thinking and planning vs. immediate. They seek mentors, coaches, and value life-long learning. If you don't believe you can grow your mind, you're right. And if you are fixed in your mindset, you better know your numbers because you'll be holding onto whatever you've got as the only way to grow your income in to grow your mind. How do you acquire a Growth Mindset? First, you must believe it for you. Second, become a reader of personal development books and NEVER stop. Get around those that stretch you. Stretching your mind shows you the gap and forces you to want to grow to fill the gap. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
I have a friend, whom will remain anonymous. I won't share their full story, just the high level. Let's call her Jill. Jill ran a very successful and profitable solo cleaning business in Florida. Hurricane Ian pummeled her area and completely wiped out everything Jill had. Thankfully, her family was okay. But not her house. Not her vehicles. Not her business. Jill invested years to build and it took a few days for a natural disaster to destroy. What could Jill have done differently? Not live in Florida? I suppose. But that's her home. Here's the good news. Jill has a great mindset to grow her cleaning company. She is resilient and determined. She grew it back. What would you do if you lost it all? Would you be like Jill or would you give up? My goal here was to dial this podcast back a bit and get you to stop and take inventory of your life, your family, your health, your business, and your eternal future. My goal was for you to pause and be grateful for what you already have and sure up the things you don't. Like Jill, many of you live in areas with natural disasters. A tornado or earthquake or forest fire could take it all away in an instant. What happens when you work hard to build something and then lose it all from something totally out of your control? Like a once in a decade category 4 hurricane that wipes out Southern Florida? On the other side of a disaster like that, how do you pick yourself back up and start over? The words for this are called grit and perseverance and hope and faith. What gives Jill and some of you out there the courage to build when the Big Bad Wolf might come and blow your house down again? I'm going to share this amazing quote from Jesus. "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." (Matthew 7:24-25) The answer is simple. We need to all build a company with a strong foundation. What are some ingredients of a strong foundation? As a follower of Christ, I put a relationship with Jesus as my rock as number one! This may not be true of you as you listen to this. That is absolutely okay. For me though, having a firm foundation that God owns it all and I am a steward to manage what is already His. This allows me to go with the flow more and trust that God's in control. It doesn't mean I don't work hard. I do. I just have faith that God has a greater plan and purpose for me. So if a major storm would have wiped everything away, I still have Jesus and that's all I really need. That may not be what you believe. That's okay. We're not clones. What are some other ingredients of a successful foundation? I believe being out of debt and having cash and a solid financial plan is super vital for your foundation. I believe if you're married, that you and your spouse are on the same page and walking in unity. I believe trust and amazing relationships with your customers, your team, and your community is a vital ingredient. If you have these ingredients in place and another storm hits and wipes you out, you have hope. The community binds together to fix it. The relationships you have in the community are strong and you get involved even if you have nothing. On the other side, the community rallies around you and your business grows again. The point is this. Regardless of where you live and the natural disasters that may surround you, nobody has a certain future. Jesus declares it plainly. The wind and the waves are going to hit. It's not a matter of if, but when. And like the third pig who built the house out of brick, will you be prepared when it does? Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
I recently revealed the "The 4 ISO Model Fundamentals " as Financial, Strategic, Mindset, and People. It doesn't matter whether you own a solo cleaning business or a catering company. If you want to grow your company to create the life you've dreamed of, you'll need to master these fundamentals. I am not a caterer... obviously. I can't coach caterers. I can't coach photographers or digital agencies or doctors. I'm a 16-year solo cleaner that has optimized 2 solo cleaning companies to over $50,000 profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week without employees, subs, or drama. I've successfully sold one solo cleaning business for $80,000 and I've successfully scaled another solo cleaning business to allow my family to go to Florida for the month of February the past two years. I have mastered these 4 fundamentals for winning with a solo cleaning business and therefore, I am highly qualified to be your coach if you're looking to master your solo cleaning company. In that podcast episode, I stated that I wanted to lay out the 4 fundamentals in simple terms first. Then, I promised to follow-up with episodes adding more depth to each. Today, we start with the first one called FINANCIAL. There are thousands of cleaning business owners in Facebook cleaning groups. I have interacted with hundreds and personally coached dozens over the years. The ones I've coached have been side-hustlers, startups, solos, and striving to 7-figures. I have enough data to make this bold statement. Of the 4 fundamentals of a successful solo cleaning company or any cleaning company, the most lacking skill is Financial Fluency. In my experience (and the combined experience of other reputable coaches in the industry), over 95% of cleaning business owners do NOT know their numbers. They are Financially Illiterate. This is scary as these cleaning business owners go year-to-year making jokes about "sucking at math" or "not knowing where they are". It's not funny. It's sad. 95% of you RIGHT NOW are literally treading water and about to drown. You are one bad wave or rip current from financial bankruptcy and you don't even know it. 90% of you are anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed because you don't know where you stand. When you are Financially Illiterate, you are standing on sinking and shifting sand. You have literally nothing firm to build on. So what do you do? You continue to work harder and harder and hope that the money works out. Enter geniuses like Mike Michaelowicz and his book "Profit First". Mike was Financially Illiterate until he took the first step. He went from not-knowing his numbers to knowing his numbers. This didn't make the business any better. But it did allow Mike to place his feet on something firm and something he could build from. His stated mission is to help the millions of us in the same place and to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. My friend Ellen was once in this position. She ran a successful cleaning company with 20 team members and close to a half-million in revenue. She did not know her numbers at all and she was the first to admit it. I helped her set goals to over a 3-month period to learn her business through a Profit and Loss Statement or a P&L. Once she understood her P&L, she was able to set financial goals and track her business through a financial dashboard. Ellen has grown quite a bit since this major change. There are thousands of Ellens' out there, so don't feel bad if that's you. We will address all 4 fundamentals over time. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
Pricing questions are one of the most commonly-asked in Facebook cleaning groups. The post usually goes like this. There's an image of a house or details of the house or office. It is followed by "How much should I charge for this?" The only question I have seen more often in the last 7 years on Facebook is this one. "How do you clean this?" and there's a picture of something. I visited Angela Brown's Professional House Cleaners private group on June 5th, 2023 and answered multiple questions with the same response. I noticed there was a common struggle with pricing that I wanted to address, so I posted this the same day to the group. Watch out for Watch-Watchers! Don't Charge by the Hour! I've seen this play out so many times in the cleaning industry and quite honestly, in many industries. Many of you are still charging by-the-hour. You can do what you want. You can make a case for it early on if you're terrible at numbers and estimates. But it will only attract "Watch-Watchers" and drama. These customers will time your every cleaning and you'll be penalized for taking longer ("Why am I paying so much?") or taking shorter ("Why were you so quick, what didn't you do?"). It sets you up to never earn more per hour unless you raise your hourly rates. It sets you up to have customers watching your every move and watching their watches. This is not good for you or your customers. Don't do this! Solution: Learn how to price. Know your numbers and stop making the excuse! You need to price badly in the beginning and learn through experience how long every part of cleaning a house or office takes. You'll never price badly again. You'll even learn how to set buffers on different types of jobs so you'll stop underestimating jobs, which we all do. The good news is that we underestimate less with more experience. Set by-the-job pricing, get your rhythms for each house, and speed it up over time with high quality. Your hourly rate that you calculate internally will skyrocket. I got mine to the $80-$120/hour range when I was solo for many years and this was pre-pandemic before prices shot up. I still average above my competitors locally as we build our team. By-the-job pricing is a Win-Win for you and your customers. The customer simply wants excellence and quality. They also want you in their house or office less. Minimizing our times minimizes our footprint into a homeowner's or office's schedule. The less we are there, the less they think about cleaning. The less they thing about cleaning, the happier they are. As long as the quality is amazing as usual, they win. We make more per hour and per day and we are happy. We win. I ended the post with this call to action. Feel free to discuss. I think this will have a lot of passionate responses. It's always fun to hear the feedback of others. Some agreed with me. Some did not. I want to share some points of view from both sides. Victor Jaramillo, Jr. – "Agree 100%. The only issue I transitioned to by-the-hour for initial cleans while I trained new staff but now that they’ve been with me for a few it’s time to switch to a flat rate as I calculate in my head. My staff will either maximize or minimize their hourly earnings based on their following our system." Bert Sloan – "Charging by the hour opens up a plethora of problems." Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
My sister Jenna is doing amazing in her career so far. She just finished a few rotations as a traveling nurse and is currently working on her Nurse Practitioner license. She just got back from a 2 week trip to Europe and has saved a ton of money. I'm such a proud big bro. She visited our family in Sarasota, FL this February when we were escaping the cold Northeast winter along with my mom and step-dad. It was a great visit where we checked out multiple Gulf Coast beaches, sunsets, kayaking in the mangroves, and Jake's amazing ice cream (shout out to Jake in Siesta Key)! Jenna asked me an awesome question one night after all the kids were sleeping. "I want to start my Roth IRA, but I'm leery of hiring a financial advisor. They cost a lot, right... and I'd have to pay them a commission out of my investments?" She was asking a great question that was a 25 mile per hour, high-arcing softball pitch that I had a wide-barreled aluminum bat ready for! I pulled up a quick Google search to teach her with an example from real estate. "Jenna, there are many homeowners that ask the same question. Why should I hire a realtor? I can sell it myself and keep more of the money. Yes, this is true. You do keep a higher percentage of the sale price when you do a 'For-Sale By Owner' or FSBO. However, FSBO stats online show that only 11% of FSBO sellers actually succeed at selling their home. And to make it worse, the 11% sell their homes for 26% less than their professional realtor counterparts." I let this sink in. Jenna is very sharp. I continued. "These stats suck! Let's say you own a $300,000 home. Let's say you actually figure out how to sell it and that's a BIG IF! This is an example. You sell it for $300k! Yay... and you save 3% on realtor fees. You saved $9,000 and walk away with potentially $292k. That's amazing. What if you sold through a professional, marketing machine realtor like my friend John Schuchman (host of the Real Estate Survival Guide)? Using the 26% upsell average, John sells your house for $378,000! John splits the $22,700 commission with the buying agent. John makes $11,350. He is motivated to sell your home! You pay the same closing cost plus the realtor commission. You keep $357k! That's $65,000 more when you hired the professional." That pretty much put the whole topic to bed. Jenna simply said. "Okay, I'll hire a financial advisor." Now, I want to talk to you, listeners of the Smart Cleaning School Podcast. What are you skimping on, trying to save money on and do yourself? Jenna had a SPENDING MINDSET, which literally cost her $65,000! My big-brotherly talk changed her thinking to an INVESTING MINDSET. It's so ironic too. Jenna is highly educated. She has invested over $100,000 in her overall college education to soon become a Nurse Practitioner. This investment allowed her to make serious bank as a traveling nurse, go to Europe for 2 weeks, and have the cash in the bank to even ask me the Roth IRA question. Mic drop for Jenna! I'm so proud and love my baby sister. By the way, I was 14 when she was born so I've been a big brother and fatherly role to her. Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website