Have you ever played an instrument? I've been playing the guitar for a few years as a hobby. I'm no Santana, Van Halen, or Hendrix, but I can play the basic chords to play the majority of songs. I don't know about your instrument, but mine falls out of tune as the weather changes. I have picked up the guitar on many occasions to play a favorite song and it was off. Personally, I can tell by the G chord. If that chord is off at all, the whole song is off. Let me take this further. I enjoy singing with the songs as I'm the rhythm guitarist for the family worship band. I know pretty much NOTHING about musical theory, but I do know this. My voice is perfect for the key of G. How do I know this? My son and other musical scholars told me. When my guitar is out of tune, I have so much trouble matching my voice key to the music. Have you ever experienced this?
I've been working on my brand new www.carfagnocleaning.com website as I have time for two weeks. I finished it this week! I'm so happy with it. Let me take you back first. I ran Carfagno Cleaning for 14 years without a website. I've always kept a company profile, but on other company sites like HomeAdvisor, Facebook, and LinkedIn. After getting back from the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in Gatlinburg, TN in October 2019, I launched my first website for my personal solo cleaning business. The first version was okay. I just wanted a place to hold my blog articles, share some basic profile information, and provide ways to connect with me. Honestly, I invested way more time into growing my Google My Business profile, acquiring reviews, and then linking viewers back to my website. It's been a solid one-two punch as I've stabilized my new solo cleaning company.
I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday that really gave me the push I needed to share this episode. I won't go into any details, but I'll just say that my daughter is 12 and she has dealt with a form of OCD that has caused her some pain. This pain has created a very special bond between father & daughter that I would never remove. We sense each other in a extra sensory sort of way. She knows when I am hurting and likewise and we each have a supernatural ability to calm each other. It's a benefit of the lifelong struggle I never thought possible when it started at 10 years old for me. She came to me with a recent struggle and instead of commiserating and allowing her to pull the victim card, I got bold with her and said "You need to get tough!" She was surprised. I went on to tell her that there are no perfect people and that God has a beautiful way of turning our greatest struggles into our greatest victories IF we allow Him to. There are tons of wonderful people with disabilities that have to work harder than we do just to get dressed and start the day, yet they recognize that they will literally have to outwork others in every area to win. They choose not to be the victim. I told her that I've struggled for 33 years, but it has made me stronger. I've had my pity parties, but for the most part, I've used my disability as fuel to win. I challenged her to change the way she thinks. "Stop coming to me with the struggle and asking how to get rid of it. Instead, embrace it and use it as fuel to turn your 'I cant's' into 'How can I's'"! She was energized after this conversation and I truly believe my 33 years of struggle lead me to that one piece of advice that will alter the trajectory of her future. I know for a fact that there are others listening to this episode struggling with the same thing. My prayer is that it gives you hope and a new resolve to embrace your disability, use it as fuel to win, and fight harder every day to achieve the God-given dreams you were put on this planet to achieve. With that, let me share my lifelong struggle with Tourette Syndrome.
I thoroughly enjoy giving these business updates. On the last update, $10,000 Watches and The Four Windows, I shared how important it is for me to have mentors and people showing me my blind spots. I attended the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in Pittsburgh, PA last week. I've been cleaning non-stop and I'm exhausted, but the sacrifice is totally worth it! I've been cleaning offices with my kids every Saturday, but this past weekend my son was on a Royal Rangers Canoeing Action Camp. I had to clean 7 offices on Saturday and Sunday after a crazy week. I've been tracking the cleaning times of every office since July and this weekend opened up my eyes. My son has been doing bathrooms, some kitchens, and mopping. My daughter does dusting and glass cleaning. I do kitchens and vacuuming. I ended up doing the work of me and my son and identified a few areas to speed up. Each time one of my kids cannot help, I notice things that can be done better or faster. I train this into my kids and ultimately we got faster at the same level of quality.
The past 12 months have been a whirlwind of emotion from COVID-19, shutdowns, almost losing my mom, losing my Nana (who was my 2nd mom), getting out of debt, helping my autistic uncle through multiple ICU and mental hospital visits, growing my cleaning business, and so on. Recently, I re-listened to my episode from a year ago called "Free Donuts". I had just returned from the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in Gatlinburg, TN and I was convicted big-time to put my pride aside and really crank up my new solo cleaning business. It was also the genesis for what this podcast has become. Make sure to listen to this "Best Of" rewind along with my final comments updating you with 1-year later after returning from the TLF Retreat in Pittsburgh.
One year later, we increased our solo cleaning business from 3 offices, 0 houses, and $35,000 in revenue to 8 offices, 7 houses, and $85,000 in revenues!
Many ask me how and when to raise prices. In this episode, you'll learn how NOT to. The story I am going to tell in this episode is real and happened recently. I am protecting the identity of the solo cleaner by calling them "Jen". Thankfully, this story ends well. Take heart and do NOT copy Jen's mistake
I'm so thankful for a conversation I had with Patty in 2006. Let me set the scene. She was an executive for an apartment property management company with 13 complexes. I was cleaning for two of them and wanted to grow my solo business to as many as I could. During early to mid-2006, I drove all over the Capital District of NY to knock on the doors of small offices, apartment complexes, and builders to drum up more business. I had information packs with testimonials that I'd hand out at each. All in all, I visited over 300 businesses and dropped off over 50 info packs. This lead to 1 more apartment complex, 1 builder, and 1 new office. It seems like a waste unless you tally up the lifetime value of just that one office. I cleaned for this law firm from 2006 to 2018 and earned over $80,000 in revenue from that client. Yes, it was worth it. I wanted you to see the mode of growth I was in. We were struggling big-time with money and I was willing to do whatever it took.
Do you know why books, mentors, and being curious are so vital to your future? I loved the "Rule of Thumb" that my friend Jon Appino uses. It's a joke, but exposes a truth. People do not like reading books because they were forced to in school. I was EXACTLY the same leaving college and working at GE as an engineer. But then I started my first side hustle as an Amway IBO and was encouraged to start reading personal growth books. I learned this right away, understood it, and decided to embrace it. "You will be in 5 years based on the books you read and the people you associate with." Then it all connected when I learned about the Four Windows from Amway legend John Crowe. This knowledge has served me well for over a decade and I hope it hits the nail on the head for you. Here's a word of warning. This episode will cut you open and expose some truths about you that you do not like.
One year ago, I had just returned from the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in Gatlinburg, TN in mid-October 2019. My arrogance and pride were exposed to 20 other entrepreneurs from around the country and I was faced with a difficult choice. Do I go all-in to building a new solo cleaning company in the Philly Area and am I courageous enough to share my weekly progress to you, my podcast audience? If you've been a listener to this show for any amount of time, you already know my answer. "YES!"
We all have that one child that we seem to teaching the same lessons to over and over. That's my middle son Kolby. He's my main man, 9-years-old and we share the same birthday. I say that the best birthday gift I ever received was him! He loves that. Kolby has a way of asserting his belief that he is always right. He also tends to talk and hear, more than listen. He will interrupt others when they are talking and not realize he's doing it (as he's in his own head). If his mom says it's warm out, he says it's hot. If she says it's hot, he'll say it's cold. You get the picture. I was teaching Kolby the difference between hearing and listening recently. Kenny overhead the lesson and thought it was a podcast episode. So here you go! I hope Kenny was right!
This personal business update will be a little different. I do have some updates and it looks like a new client is coming on board as well. I'm combining a few weeks and sharing the highlights. One of the benefits of building a profitable solo cleaning business like I have and being debt-free now is that we can take more getaways as a family. It did NOT used to be like this. We have struggled just as much if not more than many of you listening right now. At the end of last summer, our family rented a house in Ocean City, NJ right after Labor Day with the Pugliese Family. They have 3 boys, which are the same age as our oldest 3 and our families get along so well. We went to the Great Wolf Lodge with them a few winters ago as well. Last year's beach trip was so successful that we did it again last week. We rented a much larger house with 3 balconies with ocean view and a block form the sand. It was awesome. We were on vacation, but we were not idle.
Toward the end of the summer, I met for breakfast with my Chamber of Commerce friend Ken Byler. He owns Higher Ground Consulting, helping leaders and their teams to thrive. It was fun to reconnect with Ken. He's super smart and knows how to ask great questions. In fact, he hit me with 3 questions that really got me thinking.
I was having a pre-driving talk with my 15-year-old son and shared my example when I was 16. I wanted to drive a car, but my mom couldn't put me on her policy. I bought my car for $1,300. Then my monthly expenses of car insurance, maintenance, and gas cost a ton. I needed this car to get to my job at the mall, but really I wanted the car to look cool driving to high school. I felt like I was treading water and not going anywhere. Why? I was going to school all day and then working at night. My weekly paycheck after taxes was just enough to pay my car expenses. I was in an ironic situation where I was working just to drive and driving just to go to work. I could have quit the job and hitched a ride to school from my neighbor and spent my time doing something I wanted to do. It took me a few years until I learned how to earn more income with the jobs I took. I was no longer working to drive as I had extra. Thank goodness or I would not have been able to afford taking my girlfriend Teresa anywhere. I could and won her over. I told Kenny. "And now she's your mom."
I'm excited to take you backstage again into my own solo cleaning business as I work to achieve my 2020 SMART goals! Now that the school year was back for my family and for my clients, I made a shift to my new schedule. I shuffled my biweekly Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday houses to Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. My goal was to reduce driving. When you're adding new clients like I've been, it's hard to optimize for location as you go. I tend to put new ones where I have the time to do an amazing 3-part initial cleaning. Once I speed up and lock in new clients, I begin to play calendar Tetris. As a practice, I try to move clients infrequently like once per year or less. Once I had the new schedule decided, I connected via email and text with each client to let them know. They all happily agreed.
There are so many people with the words, "I can't" as a major part of their vocabulary. It's an easy answer and an easy excuse to fail. Those two words come from a society trained to be followers versus critical thinkers. I've been saying this to myself and my kids for over a decade. If we can change those 2 words to 3 words, everything changes. Do you know what the 3 words should be? You guessed it (it's in the title). "How can I?
I would like to thank a listener to this podcast for this episode. A few weeks ago, I received an email from Katie Young, sharing with me that she was in the planning phase of her new solo cleaning business. Katie was very excited to get started and thanked me for my support through this podcast. Then she asked a question that I have not directly answered yet.
This week started with content batching. Batching is an optimizer's tool for ultra productivity. Every month, I create blogs, podcasts, and videos for Carfagno Cleaning and Solo Cleaning School. It takes a ton of time to do each week. I used batching in my cleaning business and in other areas of business over the years. When Teresa's mom was available to watch the kids overnight, we jumped on the opportunity and grabbed a hotel for the night. I got so much done as I batched blog after blog after blog. We also enjoyed time together, so it was a win-win. The following day, I rented an office from my MCBA friend Vernessa Hopkins. Vernessa owns H3 Business Services in Harleysville, PA. The office was perfect and I was able to record all of my podcasts for the upcoming month. My batching goal was to invest a few days and dollars to complete all of my content for a month. I accomplished that! Please keep this in mind. The portion of my batching that related to my solo cleaning business was a small part, so it may not be necessary for you to batch your content. However, you may start sending out newsletters a few times per month, maintain your website, and repurpose content to Facebook and Google My Business. Batching would be a great idea for you at that point.
Building a business is a privilege we have as free people in America. Patriots have bled and died to give and preserve this freedom and I never want to forget it. I also don't want to take it for granted. Kathy Barnette is the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress for the 4th District of Pennsylvania. This is the district I live in. She was a guest speaker in our church prior to the election and I was so moved with her talk that I asked her permission, her campaign, and our church for the right to take an excerpt from her talk and share it to my podcast audience. They agreed that this was a powerful message about preserving liberty and should be shared.
This episode is in the same mindset of "Top of Mind" and "Get your Name Out There ". My solo cleaning business grew this week with a new client, but first I want to share about Tom and Andrew and how they each helped me. I wasn't afraid to ask for feedback.
Tom and graduated high school together. We haven't talked in 25 years, with the exception of a few Facebook likes. Last week, I got a private message from Tom. "Hey Ken I tagged you on a comment from Ryan Nyce. He went to MHS a few years younger than us. He's a realtor in our hometown area. He was looking for a cleaner for Trooper. If that's in your sandbox, then feel free to comment to him as well. Good luck man! I listened to a few episodes of your podcast. I'm not a cleaner, but some of the business-related stuff I enjoyed! Keep up the good work!" I had no idea that Tom was paying any attention to what I've been working on. I was honored to be honest. I always liked Tom. We had our jokes and goofed off as seniors, but he's done very well in life and I respect him. This message was so encouraging. I did connect with Ryan and friended him. He added me to his cleaning list and we'll connect sometime and I'll share with him my 3 levels of cleaning so he understands what I do.
There are two stories I'd like to share to prove that mastery comes with strategic practice. The first story is cute. While making a secret Santa with my son Kye in the basement, I was painting meticulously. Kye marveled and said. "Wow, Dad. You're really good at that. When I get bigger, I'll be able to do it too." I said. "Kye, it's not getting bigger that will make you better. It's a lot of practice. I've been painting for 35 years." He got it right away. It's not how many years you've been alive. It's how many reps you put in. Do you follow this simple mindset?
I've broken a lot over 15 years, but it's all relative. I have two mindsets to discuss before I share my cleaning misdeeds.
I've told this story for years. Teresa and I were in the Amway business from 2002 to 2012. While we were there, we were blessed with incredible friends and mentors. One of those men is Herb Eplee. He build his Amway business to 6-figures and residual income in the early 90's and retired from corporate America at 37 years old. Herb is a self-acclaimed Kentucky redneck. He had a retirement party that literally made the Spartanburg, SC newspapers as he set 5 alarm clocks in a field. He labeled them Monday through Friday and blew them up one by one with a shotgun. All of his friends in the Amway business celebrated with American flags as he quit his job. I met Herb 10 years later. He was my Amway Upline and helped Teresa and I in so many ways along with our other upline mentor Joe Schirripa. These two men, whom I'll share more about in future podcasts taught us business owner mentality and mentored us in business, marriage, and faith.
Do you know how the tea kettle works? It's simple. You fill up the kettle, leaving some room at the top. There is a small pour spout on top with a hinged lid. The water slowly heats up as pressure increases inside this closed pressure vessel. Once critical mass is achieved and the water is boiling, the pressure inside causes the kettle lid to crack and whistle. The water is ready for making tea. I won't mention the person, but I heard a story this week that got me thinking about the tea kettle. This person has a long commute to work, a mentally demanding job, an elderly parent to care for, and children in high school and college in this post-COVID world. This person is constantly in a state of work, like Vincent Pugliese mentioned in the previous episode, "My Greatest Ideas have Never Come from Being Busy " As this person was talking, I could feel the tension, stress, and internal pressure like the water in the heating tea kettle. I felt terrible, but also realized that once a person is in this state, they won't believe they can get out. They feel trapped because they are under so much pressure, with no mental margin, and no quieting time to get new ideas to change things. The image of that tea kettle kept coming to mind.
I brought my friend Vincent Pugliese into the SMART Cleaning Tribe that I facilitate in July as an expert to share mindset on building a life of Total Life Freedom. We covered many topics, but one connected more than any other. It was the concept of quieting your brain. Listen to the podcast for the full discussion. I'll share a few points he made while talking with Lizzie Strohl of Lebanon Cleaning Crew out of Lebanon, MO.
In a recent solo cleaning business update, "Slow Down to Speed Up ", I invested 45 minutes in the driveway talking to potential clients. I answered all of their questions and even walked one through a series of questions to use to interview other cleaning services. Her name is Meghann. She hired me for an initial cleaning last week and it went splendid. Meghann was very impressed and wanted to get quotes for a recurring service either biweekly or monthly. I provided those prices within a day. By the end of last week, we agreed on a monthly recurring service for $160. Yay! It pays to slow down. I invested 30 minutes on the phone and it turned into $2,200 in revenue over the first 12 months!
Ken Carfagno optimized his first solo cleaning business to $60,000 annual profit working 2 days per week without employees, sold it for close to 6-figures, and is currently following his ISO Model to do it again in a different state! This podcast will equip you to do the same!