Have you ever shopped at the discount racks? This episode is a companion to Blueberry Pie in helping you to understand pricing. Study this and apply it!
Teresa needed new jeans, so she went to Kohl's and shopped at the discount racks first because she didn't have much money to spend.. She's looking for a discount and she finds nothing that fits! Some are too short, too long, too tight, not for her body type. Teresa came back home after going to Kohl's and was frustrated. She thought, "Is something wrong with me, with my body? I wasted my time. I'm frustrated."
A little background... we've been cutting back, pinching pennies for many years as we've paid off debt. Teresa used to clip coupons and finding deals is her specialty. We still go to the thrift stores to find great deals on second hand clothes for our family. We're not ashamed at that one bit. However, she realized that in the case of jeans, she needed the right fit and the discount racks weren't going to work. She shifted her mindset to go out the second day to just find the jeans that fit. She went back to Kohl's, walking past the discount racks, then checked out another store until she finally found the jeans that fit and she bought 4 pairs!
"I knew that there wasn't something wrong with me. I knew that the jeans weren't right." A lot of moms feel the same with cleaning. They can't keep the house in order, clutter all over the place, not clean. They might hire someone and it doesn't work out. They hire another cleaning service and it doesn't work out. They try and try, not finding the right fit. They start to wonder, "Maybe it's me. Maybe it's my house? Maybe it's too messy and people don't want that?" It's not that at all. You just have to shop around at different stores with your eyes looking past the discount racks until you find the right pair of jeans. Solo Cleaning School, I want you to become the type of business that "fits" for your ideal client.
How do you learn how to fit your ideal client? You have to build a reputation of trust around you and your brand. Some moms are always going to shop the discount racks for cleaners and some will go to the grocery store for the generic $5 blueberry pie. Don't worry about them. They are not your ideal client. Just keep offering your $15 blueberry pie, build your trust, and keep saying "next" until enough right people try you on and realize that you're the perfect fit.
The first lesson of Blueberry Pie covers the 3 types of Buyers:
The second lesson of Blueberry Pie is the ability to separate the emotional from the logical.
Buyer #1 and #2 will NEVER buy your pie. When they say no, they are not saying no to YOU. They are saying no to your product or service. They are not offending you, judging you, or belittling you. They just don't want what you are offering. Once you accept that, you can gain the confidence to start saying "next". Beth Lane referenced that most solo cleaners (from her point of view) are introverts and empaths. This makes it extra hard for them to accept this second lesson.
Two years ago, my friend in the cleaning coaching world, Debbie Sardone, referred Marcia Davidson to me. Marcia was not ready to scale her business and needed my help in making her solo company extremely profitable. Marcia struggled as a single mom for the entire time, trying to hold onto $15/hour temp jobs to pay the bills. She desperately wanted to grow her solo cleaning business, but circumstances held her back. In this interview, you will see how Marcia turned the corner this past summer and has a totally booked calendar.
The biggest takeaway from this episode is Marcia's mindset of always giving the best. The majority of her recent new client surge had experienced sub-standard cleaning. Then they gave Marcia a try and she gave them deep cleans every time. Marcia elevated her quality to stand out and as she says, "They got hooked."
On October 2, 2014, I sat in the back of the Rose Theatre in New York City for the Business Gets Personal Conference. Seth Godin stepped to the stage to do his opening keynote and shared the story of the 5th Annual Solvay Conference in October 1927. Physicists such as Marie Curie, Niels Bohr, Max Plank, and Albert Einstein attended and were relatively unknown. Of the 29 in attendance, 17 went on to later receive the Nobel Prize. Seth explained that it wasn't the conference that caused them to be world-changers. It was the simple fact that 29 of the brightest minds in the world were together in one room, making new lifelong connections that could spark something after the conference. Seth said "Make this your Solvay Conference". After hearing this, I texted my new friend and said, "I'm glad you interrupted us. Let's make this our Solvay."
At this time in my life, I was cleaning houses solo like a madman nearly every day of the week. I was tired and demotivated. I needed a change. I was working with my landlord and friend, Tom Cronin of Success Public Relations to scale my cleaning company so I could finally get out of the field and see my family more. He was so generous to offer his help and to allow me to leverage his network of small business owners in the Capital Region. However, I was still unsettled. Was this the right move? Circumstances aligned so that I could purchase a ticket for the Business Gets Personal Conference with Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I needed answers and a change. I was there by the thinnest of threads. Before the event even started, Vincent Pugliese interrupted a conversation I was having with two friends. We hit it off immediately, exchanged numbers, and texted throughout the conference.
There wasn't anything about the conference itself that changed my life, but meeting Vincent did. This episode shares my side of the story from what Vincent shares in his Total Life Freedom Podcast episode, "Crossroads".
Have you ever come to a fork in the road and you chose the road less taken? I made that choice in late 2014 and it has made all the difference.
Book Recommendation: Get the free audio book download "Freelance to Freedom" by Vincent Pugliese.
This episode highlights how important trust is to your clients. I connected in-person with each of my former NY house cleaning clients before selling my business. I am still amazed at their feedback and by far, the biggest take away was how critical the Trust Factor was in each of their decisions to hire & keep me for all of those years.
Shawn - We met while I was cleaning for Alicia from "Moms Helping Moms Helping Moms". She already knew my quality and trusted me. In my final year in NY, she reached out for me to clean her house and left a voice mail. I returned the message with some frequently asked questions and rough pricing. She called back and said these words. "The price doesn't bother me. I appreciate that you told me up front on the voice mail." This built up more trust. Then she uttered these words. "It's the trust factor, Ken. I know what I'll get with you. My friends trust you and I trust you. and I know you'll do a great job. So I don't mind paying more on price for that. The price isn't as important to me. What if I found a cheaper cleaner, but they didn't do a great job. That's a headache and time to me. I know what I'm getting with you."
Elaine - She knew her neighbors were paying $100 per visit for cleaning, yet she paid me $200. Yes, I was highly recommended by a friend and I did excellent work. This is indeed the same Elaine from the Saran Wrap Funny Papers in "Moms Helping Moms Helping Moms". Here's what Elaine told me as I was leaving NY. "Ken, we're both busy docs. We are in and out of the house. We leave the side door open so the dog walker can come and go for Katy. We have jewelry and checkbooks lying around. You are definitely an amazing cleaner, but it's the trust we have for you and the peace of mind you give us. That's why we pay $200."
David & Filicia - This is a wonderful family and 11-year cleaning story built on trust. Trust is how I got the job and it's how I kept it. I've cleaned their main home, rentals, and lake home. They referred me to their dear friend Denise who hired me in 2009. That's how Ripples of Trust work. As I was leaving NY, they shared this incredible feedback. "There aren't many 'Kens' out there. Cleaning is like 10% the other 90% is all Trust Factor. It's our home and our stuff is out in the open." Dave went on to say. "Honestly, we didn't care if you missed some dusting or other details." This is exactly what Beth Lane said in her interview."If they like you and trust you, they'll overlook a cobweb."
Lisa - She told me about her husband's trust issue with a man cleaner. "It was the consistency of knowing it would be me every time to build trust." She also agreed that trust and relationships were a huge component over the cleaning itself. The consistency of me every time was a piece of that. Oh, and Lisa told me how she got my name. "I put out a question to my neighborhood and someone recommended you." I have no idea who it was as I've never done work in that neighborhood.
If you can build a foundation of trust, you will never be looking for work. You can be an average cleaner with incredible Trust Factor and blow away the incredible cleaner with average Trust Factor EVERY time!
Book Recommendation: "Clockwork" by Mike Michalowicz.
In this episode, Beth Lane of Lavender Fields Cleaning Service joined Solo Cleaning School. She has been working in this amazing profession for 21 years and has a world of experience that she graciously shares with us today. She uncovers several key points for new solo cleaning moms to use as they grow their business.
I recently connected with Whitney Bonds of "Tried & True Mom Jobs" who helps moms venture out into the workforce to help their families. It's an awesome mission. Whitney or Max as she goes by, asked me to write up a concise blog for her on "How to Start Your Own Cleaning Business". She wanted to bring this content and example to her large blog audience of moms to show them the potential of cleaning as a mom job. Let's cover my answers to her questions in this podcast episode as I believe it's a great piece of content to cover early on. Make sure to go back to the Pros & Cons of Solo Cleaning as I covered some of these points already.
What are the steps to setting up your own cleaning business? It’s important to first understand the various models available to you. There are many “Aunt Sallie” cleaners out there. They take great risk as do the homeowners hiring them as they are uninsured and not paying taxes. Do not do this! The risk is too great and the income is low. A solo cleaning company is insured, registered in their state, and pays all necessary taxes. They work as owner-operators. I did this for the majority of my New York business. The final model are the team cleaning independant and franchise businesses. In all cases, the simplest way to set up your cleaning business is to do the following:
How do you decide how much you should charge? Do not charge by the hour! That is the most critical first decision. You need to choose a starting rate for houses (or offices) at a price reasonable to your experience. I suggest $100-$125 per house as a beginner. Then track your time to calculate your hourly rates. Strive to get to at least $30/hour to start. If you are not at $30, it means you are either undercharging or taking too long. Over time, increase prices to the $40-$50/hour range. In some cases, like in my business, you can optimize to $80-$120/hour. This requires specialized training in my ISO Model Signature Solution.
How much money do you need to start a cleaning business? This answer depends on the business model you select. If you follow my advice and start as a solo DBA, you can legally be cleaning houses for under $1,000 in startup. At the rates I mentioned in #3, you can pay this initial investment back with 8 houses.
Can this be done part-time and still lucrative? Oh, yes you can! I was able to build a flexible company earning $55k profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week and no employees or subcontractors. I worked around 20 hours per week for over $1,000 per week in profit. This gave me 5 days per week to enjoy my family and work on other projects. This is a PERFECT business for moms to start. How do I know? Because over 90% of house cleaning owners are moms! They love this business because it’s simple, profitable, flexible, and rewarding. Check out the podcast episode, “Moms Helping Moms Helping Moms”.
How do you find clients or what are the best ways to get clients and retain them? This age-old question isn’t so much about the tactics, rather the strategy. You have to understand the nature of being a “Go-Giver” and then apply it. But in general, here’s how you find clients.
Do you have to set up any business requirements before getting started? This is a simple business with low barrier to entry. I have already over complicated it with my list of getting started in #2! Go and clean, make some money! That’s the only requirement. Stop talking about doing this amazing business and go do it! If you need help, I have free & paid resources to help you.
What supplies do you recommend to start with? For a housecleaning business, you need a vacuum cleaner & attachments, microfiber cloths for cleaning & dusting, a tote bin, spray bottles, sponges & scouring pads, toilet brush, and the basic cleaning supplies (all purpose, glass, kitchen & disinfectant). You can start with what you already have in your house to bootstrap or invest in your own cleaning system I recommend studying the science of cleaning, so you understand why to use what you use! I have this training available in my Solo Cleaning School.
How can you scale this business? Let’s not overcomplicate. I personally advise that you become proficient as a solo cleaner first. When you are profitable and ready to hire, you can take a few approaches.
In Sept 2019, I started phase II of my new marketing mindset that I learned from Steve Hanson of the Janitorial Store. In this episode, I share how one new client turned into a friend and gateway to local business networking meetings and building the momentum needed to grow my new solo cleaning company to our next goal. There is power in connecting in-person at meetings and then online with LinkedIn, Facebook, and email. You'll see that play out in this episode.
In part I of this podcast series, I shared my door-to-door office marketing strategy from the past year. Although it worked by adding 3 new office cleaning clients, something was missing. I found the answer quickly from my new friend Eva Finlan of State Farm in Skippack, PA. I met her once COLD after knocking on her door and introducing myself. The second time we met was in person at a local business networking event. Once she got to know me, she referred me to other local business owners. This allowed me to go back to the same offices I had visited prior and add a simple phrase. "Hi, I'm Ken Carfagno and my friend Eva Finlan at State Farm told me to stop by and introduce myself." Trust was the missing ingredient and my good friend Vincent Pugliese of Total Life Freedom teaches this.
"87% of jobs come from referrals and people only refer people they know, like & trust."
I found this to be SO true.
Make sure to check out the "Go-Giver" book that I recommended as well. This is a game-changer!
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!