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!
I published the article, "Did you Know Cleaning has a Specialist Too?" for Carfagno Cleaning and sent it out as my weekly newsletter. I want to read you this article as it will help you understand WHY I earn more per client than others.
I also want to thank my fellow BIB member and insurance agent, Andew Rumbold of the R.A. Fraser Group for asking me the follow-up question "What is a Level 4 Specialist"? Andrew, that's an amazing question and here's my answer. I believe that the highest level one can attain in a craft or discipline is one of the teacher. You cannot teach what you haven't done. Thus, the teacher is higher than the doer. I labeled Level 2 and 3 as the experts in the science and art of cleaning and therefore labeled myself a Level 3 Cleaning Specialist. But thanks to Andrew, I am changing my label to the teacher and Level 4 Cleaning Specialist. I teach the science and art of cleaning to you listening to this podcast, to my students in the Solo Cleaning School Elite Membership, and my local community through newsletters, network meeting presentations, and webinars. I am a Level 4 Cleaning Specialist and like the doctors and surgeons from the medical field earn the most... so do I!
There is a Level 0 Cleaner too! I call them "Aunt Sally" cleaners. They are sweet ladies who live down the street or clean part-time while in college or raising kids. They are uninsured, under-the-table & non-compliant on taxes, and come with HIGH-risk of getting you in trouble if something goes wrong.
This is a follow up to "Top of Mind" as I walk through 3 examples of how I get my name out there. Also, make sure to listen to the "Go for No" episode before this one! If you didn't listen yet, stop, and go back! It's hard in the beginning to do this as you fear what others will think of your new cleaning business. I promise you. It gets easier the more you do it. The next mindset you need is one of service and helping others. Getting your name out isn't greedy or self-serving. There are people right now that need exactly what you offer. You would be selfish to hold it back. Therefore, have courage and overcome the fear. Share your knowledge and your business and let God work out the rest. That's what I do. Here's the examples that happened my solo cleaning business over the past 2 weeks.
You need to read the book, "Go for No". It's recommended on my 'Resources' page! I first read this book in 2007.
It taught me that No is not the opposite direction from Yes. In fact, it's on the way to it! Once I got that, my brain shifted 180 degrees. I was still fearful to talk to people as an introvert, but I lost the biggest reason for the fear. This book lays this out. Most people assume that getting a No to your offer is failure and Yes is success. That's wrong! Getting No's is a part of the process to get Yes's. If I got 1 Yes every 10 times, it meant that it took me 9 No's to get 1 Yes. Thus, No (and many of them) was on the way to Yes and success. I also learned that failure was not trying at all or giving up. This totally gave me freedom and removed a lot of my fear!
We need to stop trying to rush everything. I do have a goal and teach optimizing and getting faster at cleaning. However, I DO NOT rush the marketing and new client process. I take a lot of time to connect with potential clients. This pays off as I understand the trust building process. I have a few examples from this week in my own solo cleaning business. Let me paint the picture first. I was gone all day cleaning houses. While I cleaned, two messages came through for cleaning inquiries. I could have answered them, but it would hurt my optimizing times as the distraction would cause me to lose momentum. Plus, I wouldn't be on top of my game to give full attention to the prospects. I took voicemails. When I got home, I stayed in my car for 45 minutes. My wife and kids wanted me to come in and see them. Teresa didn't know why I was sitting in my car for so long, but she gave me the space. I was making an investment. During this 45 minutes, I returned 2 phone calls and took my time.
I've been cleaning homes since 2006 and have noticed a dramatic increase in home security as technology improves. Alarms have gone from wired to wireless. Cameras surveil various angles and locations of the home. Garages have keypads. Families are more secure than ever and they can do so at an expense less than it used to cost. This happens so predictively that economists give it a name.
McDonald's is largest fast food restaurant chain in the world. There are nearly 40,000 stores worldwide totaling $21 billion in annual sales. I used to eat at McD's a lot as a kid and young adult. My favorite meal was the breakfast combo Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin, hash brown, and juice. Ray Kroc founded McDonald's on April 15th, 1955. He was a big thinker from the beginning and pioneered the franchise model, where you have a system for each new store empowering the spirit of the entrepreneur and leveraging the success of duplication. The company knows how to advertise with their jingles being some of the most well-known on the planet. They know how to entertain, bringing playgrounds inside their restaurants to get more kids to bring their parents. The company knows how to grow and scale. If you ever study this, you will be impressed. So many cleaning companies adopt franchise models as well for the same reasons. Like McDonald's, they can scale to incredible proportions.
When I was 13, I got a job with the Movie Exchange. It was the company owned bye buy step-grandparents Monty and Shelly Tibbitts, whom I've talked about in prior episodes. They were the only entrepreneurs in my teen years, but I never had the courage to ask them real questions on business mindset. I wish that I had! However, I did learn a ton from them by watching the way the they lived and the way others treated them. First of all, they had money! There were always two Jags in the driveway. They owned a private plane, a boat, a beach house, wave runners. Secondly, they had beautiful decor and they entertained first rate. Check out "Eat with your Eyes First". The Tibbitts' were all about serving and mingling family with business. They made their business deals and built relationships with employees and their families at the dinner table in their home. Their imprint is definitely on me as an adult entrepreneur. I just didn't recognize it until Pop-Pop Monty passed away a few years ago.
I met Tom while living with my mother in-law. He was so nice and gave recycled computers to Kenny from his computer repair store. It started Kenny on a path to do computer flipping as a side business. We stayed in touch with Tom, with a possibility of Kenny doing some interning for him. I bumped into Tom again when he was on the Chamber webinar where I taught the "9 Mistakes in Disinfecting". Tom was really impressed and wanted to have me speak on the topic in a local business owner's group. We stayed in touch as COVID slowed. He invited us over as he had more recycled computers for Kenny. I've been very grateful that Tom thought of my son and helping a budding computer entrepreneur. I showed up with my son a few days later during a podcast recording day. I was dressed in shorts and a tank top. While Kenny was rummaging through computers, Tom mentioned that he was interested in getting a cleaning quote down the road. Of course, I told him we could set it up. But as Kenny took his time, Tom said. "Would you like to see it now?" I was not in professional dress and told Tom that I felt funny. He laughed and took me around the building. I took notes and promised to get some quotes out to him. When I saw the bathroom, I felt challenged by the rings in the sink. I knew Kenny wasn't done yet, so I said to Tom. "I'll be right back. I'm going to get the big guns and make this sink look awesome." He didn't argue at all. By the time Kenny was ready, the sink was glistening and Tom was amazed.
I loved and hated the movie "Patch Adams" when it came out in the late 90's. There is one scene that is burned into my mind and unfortunately, I'll never forget it. Patch and his girlfriend Carin Fisher were serving the community with a medical clinic. A man named Larry enters the clinic and they take him in. He is mentally ill and disturbed, but seems harmless. One night, Larry calls Carin and asks her to come over and help him. She is so trusting and willingly comes over. She enters Larry's house with a smile, says his name, then sees his face. The scene ends as my heart fell into the pit of my stomach. I knew what happened and it was confirmed when the scene ends and goes to Patch receiving the news that Carin was murdered by Larry, who then killed himself with a shotgun. Years after this movie, I still think of this scene for my wife, my daughter, and even myself as I enter homes and offices to clean by myself. What could Carin could have done differently? Are there steps that solo cleaners can take to protect ourselves? I admit that I don't worry as much as a guy cleaning, but I've still had my doubts from time to time. The majority of solo cleaners are female, so I've asked a solo cleaning community that I lead for suggestions. Here's what they said...
I shared in previous episodes that marketing is layered. You add one at a time. Well, I began to use the free Google My Business listing in November 2019. It's a simple tool and totally allows me to showcase my strengths. I call this in my ISO Model Course, a "Profile to Win". Here's the gist. What can I display about me and my company to create trust and credibility before they ever call me? In my 15 years, I have learned that before & after pictures, professional credentials, and recommendations are essential. This is what I love about Google my Business. You can collect 5-star reviews, add posts and credentials to show off your level of specialization, and post before & after pictures. Google has internal analytics that I can easily track called "insights", allowing me to see the impact of these updates. I currently have 21 5-star reviews, tons of pictures, and a weekly blog with links to my website. Google uses this information to boost me for free up their search algorithms. In fact, when you search "House Cleaning Harleysville", you'll find my company highly ranked in the map pack on page 1. I've been wondering if this effort was going to pay off as no leads have come yet (at least that I knew about). Please understand. I ran my solo cleaning company for 14 of 15 years with NO website. I didn't have a Google My Business listing until last year and started my Facebook business page 2 years ago. You may be asking yourself how in world I ever got any leads! I grinded it out and was referred by word of mouth and I had a ton of success in earlier years with ServiceMagic (presently HomeAdvisor). However, some marketing channels that worked in prior years may not today. I ditched HomeAdvisor for Facebook, Google, and a website. It's so cost effective as I only pay like $20 per year for the website and the others are free. Anyway, it goes without saying that I've never received a lead through my website until this week! Thank you Google!
This episode is completely different from others! I made a mistake in my industry, owned it, and it turned out really well! I'm a member of various cleaning groups on Facebook. One of them is called Professional House Cleaners, run by my friend Angela Brown of Savvy Cleaner. There are over 10,000 cleaning service owners active in this group to share lessons and best practices for the benefit of our industry. That's how it's supposed to work. We are all a part of the same industry and we understand that a rising tide, rises all ships.
Let's start this Carfagno Cleaning solo business with a WIN! Last week, I got 5 referrals through my local network (listen to Play Powerball with your Business). The lead from my friend and carpet cleaner, James Hardy, converted to a new office cleaning client! Since this new client is a school, I had to jump through a few more hoops. First of all, I needed to go beyond adding them as a 'Certificate Holder' on my general liability policy. I needed to increase my insurance for this additional customer. This is called 'Additionally Insured'. My current policy provides $2 million of coverage per year at $500 in annual premium. This new client cost me an additional $50, which I count as an expense. I also had to coordinate a cleaning time with the school and their weekend janitor to let me into the building. The school is not in the habit of handing out keys to outside contractors. Spoiler alert: I prayed over this situation as I desire to have offices with the flexibility to clean anytime over the weekend. A few days later, the school made an exception for me and gave me a set of keys! Lastly, this new client is a school for autistic children. I know autism and realize that these students will be on the floor a lot, touching things, and likely touching their faces. Thus, disinfecting of the classrooms and floors was vital. They already had a food & skin safe disinfectant and asked me my opinion for the floors. I researched it and immediately determined it was a bad choice. Why? The title of this episode is "Art Trumps Science". Let's talk science first. The pH was slightly alkaline at 9. The floors are VCT (vinyl composition tile). VCT is commonly used in schools and supermarkets. They are also waxed & buffed on a regular basis to keep a beautiful finish and to protect the tile. My friend James Hardy did the job, so we conferred with him and he agreed. This ph 9 disinfectant had just enough alkalinity to eat away at the wax finish, which would dull it and cause James to come back sooner. Therefore, their disinfectant was a wonderful choice for the refrigerators, microwaves, table tops, door knobs, and light switches, but NOT the floors. I connected with my good friend Mark Lineberry at Universal Janitorial and he recommended the perfect solution. It's called MatPro. The school purchased it and now uses my recommendations for disinfecting and protecting their students and staff. This raised my expertise and trust with the school big time. See! Understanding science is vital. It sets you apart from the basic cleaning service!
This episode is completely my son's idea. Kenny jammed his finger a couple months ago. I noticed that he was dragging his feet with household chores because his finger hurt. He wasn't shooting the basketball well and losing in PIG because his finger was hurt. It seemed like everything Kenny did that first week, he was looking for empathy and wanting everyone to see him suffering. It also gave him a built in excuse why he wasn't performing in multiple tasks.
As we emerge out of the pandemic, people are wanting their homes and offices cleaned again. This week alone, I got 5 opportunities to quote! Before I share the 5 leads, I want to explain a principle. Are you familiar with the lotto machine?
My son was getting frustrated with cutting the grass. We have an acre and he'd take 2 days to complete it. His total time was 2 hr 45 min (30 min prep, filling up grass, picking up large sticks, cleaning up yard toys and moving furniture) and 2 hr 15 min to mow over 2 days. He wanted a riding mower because it was taking too long.
This was a breakthrough week for the Big Picture of what I'm doing. I have business SMART goals that I set for my solo cleaning business on 1/1/20. I share this mindset in my goal-setting series (What is Your Why, Why Set Goals, Make Your Goals SMART, The Accountability Roadmap, and Kill Parkinson). The lessons and reminders from this week in business forced my hand to create a 6th installment to this series.
Chest freezers are super-hard to get right now with the COVID pandemic. They are back ordered by manufacturers and the used market is dry. So when Teresa came across one on Facebook Marketplace, she jumped at the opportunity as she really wants one. It was a great deal and the seller was going above and beyond to save it for us. He assured me that it worked and I trusted him. He's a business person and had a solid story for why he was selling it. I'm usually a very good judge of trust.
We watched "Hamilton" as a family and loved it! Lin-Manual Miranda is genius and so talented. We can't stop singing the songs and I keep finding myself singing, "You'll be back" or "I am Alexander Hamilton". There was an incredible lesson in leadership that was introduced in the earliest scenes of the play and played out in the Election of 1800. Aaron Burr was portrayed as an excellent politician, but held no definite position. In the play, here's Burr's advice to Hamilton in the opening. "Talk less. Smile more. Don't let them know what you're against of what you're for." Hamilton's response was, "you can't be serious." Burr simply stated as a politician would. "You wanna get ahead? Fools who run their mouth off wind up dead." Burr followed his own advice and climbed the political ranks.
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!