I used to get nasty poison ivy as a kid. It would bubble up and itch like crazy. The worst case I ever got was on my face. My eyes were puffed nearly shut in the heat and humidity of July. It was torture. Thankfully, the doctor gave me a steroid to help heal it. You get the point. Now my son gets it bad. Last summer, he attended a survival action camp for Royal Rangers and in that camp learned something amazing. Jewelweed is a natural remedy for the poison ivy infection. The best part is that God placed the Jewelweed next to the Poison Ivy! The cure was with the poison. This is amazing and frustrating at the same time, as I never knew this and had to endure harsh Poison Ivy every summer.
I am excited to introduce my friend and YouTube superstar, Cassandra Aarssen to Solo Cleaning School. I invited her to be an expert guest in the SMART Cleaning Tribe that I lead for team cleaning companies needing accountability around goals. Cassandra was a busy mom of two small kids when she started her home organizing business. At the time, she was also running a daycare with 9 children for extra money. She saw home organizing as a way to make extra money and possibly get out of the daycare business. It did WAY more than that! Her husband recommended that she record a video with her phone and upload to YouTube. Cassandra has continued this discipline for over 7 years and 750 videos! In this interview, she shares the Clutterbug story. You may be thinking... 'Ken, she isn't a solo cleaner. Why should I care?' For one, she was a solo operator of her home service business like you and I. Secondly, she turned her local brand into a global one that now earns her hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Check out these power quotes from Cassandra!
In my last solo cleaning business update, I shared how sharing my knowledge directly lead to my local pharmacy boosting a video I made leading to over 4,500 views! Collaboration is so vital. It's what networking done right really is. Like-minded local business owners sharing with each other for the greater good of the community. Life also gets in the way. I've shared how losing my Nana caused me to slow down work to attend to family matters. The last few weeks have been difficult as I'm the family point of contact for my autistic uncle. I had at least 2 full days of phone calls, emails, and updates to my family members and his team to take care of. I only share this to be real. I had less time and had to prioritize this week and I prioritized collaboration! Here are some examples of actions I took this week:
The spider monkey is extremely hard to catch due to its speed and agility. However, you can trap the monkey with a box and a fruit. That's all it takes. Place a piece of delicious fruit inside of a box designed to fit the monkey's arm. Once he grabs the fruit, he cannot let go, even though his clenched fist will not fit through the hole. The monkey is snared by its small thinking and desire for the immediate gratification of the delicious fruit. Ultimately, this is the undoing of the spider monkey.
While on a TLF mastermind call where Bee Evans was sorting out her various business projects, Vincent said something profound because Bee had a lot going on. "It's not the overwhelm that stops people, it's the work". Bee is a super hard worker and comes from an oil & gas family in Colorado. She knows work ethic. But she is torn as she feels called to continue her family business while starting various side businesses in professional corporate coaching, winning a spot on the Denver Broncos cheerleading roster, and being a wife and mom. She's got a lot going on to say the least! Each venture requires hard work and dedication and each has a huge payoff toward her family's goals and more specifically, her desire to help women in a new platform she's creating called "Tear Out the Tags".
I've been reading a morning devotional called "Daily Readings from It's Your Time" by Pastor Joel Osteen. On page 131, I read "Be a Bounce-Back Person" in amazement. Do you know that the little palm tree can endure the worst of hurricanes, when all other trees are thrown over? I didn't! The palm tree is uniquely designed by God to bend, but not break. Then, the palm tree grows after the storm because the root system is strengthened by the bending of the tree. It's absolutely inspiring and incredible! In this episode, I encourage you to be like the palm tree. Bend and do not break. Then use the storm to grow from!
Right in the middle of the hardest emotional week of my life, I took my oldest son Kenny on day trip to Jack Frost & Big Boulder Ski Resort in the Pocono Mountains. There are two monster lessons I learned this day and wanted to share them both.
We are not out of the woods yet. Many are still under stay-at-home orders, while less-affected areas are returning to work. Wherever you are, my Believers in Business Networking Group can help. A few weeks ago, we put out a document with tips from each member's expertise and personal experience to help survive & thrive through this crisis. I think you'll find these tips useful for your business and family. My own contribution was my tips on the "9 Mistakes in Disinfecting"
"It Just Got Real" was a very tough episode to release. I shared how my own mom was in the hospital being treated for various life-threatening after effects of COVID-19. Our whole family came together over the past 2 weeks to really show our strength, unity, and love for our mom. In that episode, I was very honest about how the pandemic had only affected us financially until my mom was in the hospital. It just got real and suddenly, I didn't care about money too much.
I've watched the devastation that cleaning companies face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I've listened to all sides of the quarantine argument and I'll tell you this... when Corona hits your loved ones and you get a gut punch, your perspective changes. It's one thing to feel the pain of the financial strain and only hear of the health strain many face from Corona. It's an entirely different thing to feel the pain of a loved one fighting for their life in the hospital with the disease. That was me this week. And it's my mom. Not to mention, my step dad and 2 of my sisters have tested positive and been through torture. I am not advocating that we keep our country in lock down forever, but I am so much more empathetic to those that have dealt with this virus on a human level and understand what they've been going through. Please take a moment and be thankful that you're only problem is financial compared to what others are dealing with.
Letra was working for a large national cleaning service when her boss recognized an entrepreneur's heart inside of her. Instead of offering a promotion, Letra was offered mentorship and the opportunity to go solo. This is unheard of. Businesses don't launch other businesses unless they are franchises or financially incentivized. That's why Letra thought she was being punked.
Check out this solo cleaning story and the plan she formed recently in her marketing with a little help from yours truly. Plus, be sure to listen for these quotes during the interview!
"If I wanted to get to the next level, I had to get out of my comfort zone."
"You can't grow without taking risks."
If you're in the Houston, TX Area, make sure to check out Letra's company, Ms. Moody's Cleaning Service!
Ellen Johnston (Above & Beyond Housekeeping Services / Wyomissing, PA) - 69 News in Reading, PA on 4/24/20 headlined "Housekeeping company gives out free hand sanitizer"
"I was in the disinfectant aisle, just because I wanted to see it, and there was an older couple, say in their 80's. There was no disinfectant of any kind," recalled Ellen Johnston. She overheard the wife ask her husband a question we all have probably asked over the past couple weeks. "It was so sad," Johnston shared. "She said, 'What are we gonna do?' and he said, 'I guess we will just have to drive around and look at other places.'" So Johnston and her staff decided to create a temporary place to give out much-needed refills of hand sanitizer, even the though the company is struggling. "We are down about 95% among our clients," Johnston said. "We are trying to spread the work that we have among our employees to keep them working," Johnston said.
In a grocery store aisle or anywhere else for that matter, nobody should have to do without. "Everybody has to dig deep and see how they can help their community," Johnston said.
Your kids are home and they are driving you crazy! We've been homeschooling for 10 years and wanted to impart some wisdom on how you could spark their passions with a little curiosity! There is a lot of busy work given to your kids by their schools. They want to maintain control of what they learn and how. That's fine. Here's what I recommend. Put away the devices and turn off the TV. That's when you can make curiosity the curriculum.
I learned work ethic by working and humility by being humbled. Here's what I mean. I watched my mom and day each work very hard toward their goals, but I truly learned work ethic when I had to do house cleaning chores every week. Over time, I even learned to like it and appreciate it. I was paid for my work and always had money in my savings account. It felt good and I could buy things that I wanted. I also learned humility as cleaning toilets and taking out trash is not glamorous and can be quite nasty. I learned that excellence in my work at every level strengthened my character. I have my parents to thank for that!
We are in a challenging time as we navigate the devastating effects of the Coronavirus. We need to be wise, use caution, and protect ourselves and families. But we also need to control our emotions and try to view things optimistically. A great example emerged a few weeks before the corona outbreak with my daughter. She was struggling as a pre-teen and allowing a small irritant to throw off her whole day. I told her the beautiful story of the oyster and the pearl. First, an irritant enters the oyster. It usually opens it's shell to eat and stays closed to not be eaten. Sometimes sand or small organisms enter. The oyster feels threatened and secretes a substance called Meka (or mother of pearl) to fight the intruder. This is the same substance that the mantle or inside of the shell is made of. The oyster also secretes a protein to act as glue to continue covering this intruder layer after layer. In the end is a pearl. To the oyster, it just transformed something irritating into something that is safe. To mankind, the pearl is of significant value. One such pearl from the Australian South Seas was recently sold for $1.5M. I shifted gears with my daughter and told her to be like the oyster. Turn your irritants into something beautiful. I now say the same to everyone reading this or listening to my podcast.
I alluded to this story in "There is a Huge Difference". If you'd like to hear this full story, listen to the episode. The quick version is this. I was working from home and noticed a car in our driveway. They were upset and waiting for something. After a half hour, I knew action needed to happen. But what would I do? I chose to assume the best in this person and it paid off big time. The stranded motorist was the owner of a local chocolate factory. Six months later, they remembered me when they needed cleaning. This week, I was able to get the estimate done for Asher's Chocolate. It was a blast! The best part was meeting the 4th, 5th, and 6th generation owners. Great people. Great culture.
In Marcus Sheridan's "They Ask You Answer", the author makes a powerful statement. "On average, 70% of the buying decision is made before the prospect talks to the company." This is amazing news.
I had so many quality influences growing up, but not many in the entrepreneurial path until my mom remarried Paul Tibbitts when I was 10 years old. Paul grew up with entrepreneur parents who owned multiple businesses, held real estate, owned an airplane, and understood excellence in all they put their hands to. I didn't understand this until later in life and this episode shares my journey.
In 15 years of solo cleaning, over 75 families have hired me to clean for them. However, I sold my business with 17. What happened to the others? It's simple. This is a seasonal service for some and a lifetime for others. I never tried to figure that out. I just served. I have lots of experience getting "let go", "moved on", "fired", etc. Some let me know face-to-face with a month's notice. Some stopped immediately through email, phone, or text. Others just disappeared (literally a UFO got 'em)! There was only one time that I fired myself. For the sake of privacy, we'll call this customer "Bob".
I break down the numbers in this episode. If you remember, I was at a low point in "Broken Record", making the connection between average SMART goals and average results. I wanted 2020 to connect great SMART goals to great results. Therefore, I had to make a critical change. For the previous 10 years, I've been creating ACTIVITY & OPTIMIZATION SMART goals on my main business and GROWTH SMART goals on my side passion project. This wasn't fruitless as I optimized my solo cleaning business big time, sold it, and we got debt free. However, I left a lot on the table. What could have happened to both my main cleaning business and side business if I reversed the way I set up goals? That's what 2020 would be.
The week started off great. In my last podcast update on my own solo cleaning business, I shared the story of Doug sliding another cleaning business's card across his desk and asking me what I thought of her. I spoke highly of her, even after he told me that he used her company for his own house. Well, I got an email from Doug on Monday asking if I would be willing to do a cleaning estimate for his house. I was amazed, scheduled an appointment, and completed it by the end of the week. It just goes to show that you never go wrong by sowing good seeds about others.
I share the full story in the episode, but I was torched on my mastermind call this week. The guys weren't impressed with my goals and how I was approaching the next 12 months. I tried defending myself, but they called me on it. Overall, it was a great call and I was challenged to do what I preach and get an accountability partner (see the Accountability Roadmap). John VanderMuelen. John is a good friend and MASTER of selling on Amazon. He runs a group holding other Amazon Sellers accountable and trains them.
I set up electronic payments for the first time after 15 years of running a cleaning business. I did my research and for now, chose Stripe. It's about 3% cost but it's easier for my new house cleaning clients and possibly an office or two. This gives me a new option for collecting money and not waiting or worrying about checks and bank deposits. It's streamlined.
This next meeting with my realtor friend, Denise Simone, is where the title for today's episode came from. Denise has a passion for the elderly and helping them downsize to fully enjoy the twilight of their lives. She told me a beautiful story of a former client. Betty is a widow that Denise helped downsize through crazy issues with mold, a broken septic, obtaining permits, and just 45 years of a lived-in home. Denise was her hero and did work way beyond real estate to help her client and friend to a better life. She even helped her clean the house a bit. Denise had a great line. "An old unkept house is like a broken down car." This was in reply to houses over time with neglect fall into disrepair. I shared an analogy about the brain and personal development. Our brains, businesses, and relationships don't stay the same. They also fall into disrepair with neglect. I was so impressed with Denise and was grateful for the time and for allowing me to share her story of Betty!
Previous Show Mentioned: "Blueberry Pie"
TLF Mastermind friends I mention: Andy Storch, Gustavo Fernandez, Jon Appino, John VanderMuelen,
Listen to this episode to hear the backstory and how our game of Giant Jenga went. I want to share the vital part and message in the show notes. We were at the critical point where there were no more potential blocks to pull. My daughter was faced with a critical decision. Does she go for the best option and face a 99% chance of failure? Or does she CREATE a new option?
I've literally never seen anyone do this in Jenga. Christianna lifted up the top half of the building and rotated it 90 degrees so that it fit together like Tetris. This created a loose block that she slid out and sat down to escape losing. My mouth dropped in awe as my initial reaction was, 'That is literally the most creative solution I've ever seen in Jenga'. We did wonder as a family if the move was legal, but we played on. Ultimately, Christianna did not lose.
I posted the video clip on Facebook with a question and the video? "I need a Jenga ruling! This is a the most creative solution I've ever seen in this game. But... is it legal?!" I got a lot of comments, but two back-to-back contrasting views really stood out. I won't mention names. One said, "If you're not going to play by the rules, don't play the game." The other said that she loved the out of the box creative thinking and that she will go far in life. I was so thrilled to see these two comments as they show the stark differences between the employee and entrepreneur's mindset.
Employees are trained to always follow the rules and stay inside the box. I mean no disrespect to the first commentor or to employees in general. I was an employee for over a decade and have great memories. I'm just stating that employees have been trained to be excellent direction followers. The better they follow directions, the better they do on the test and in the job. Now granted, those that are in leadership do think bigger. However, there is always someone giving them instructions.
In stark contrast, entrepreneurs are always stretching and redefining the new box. In fact, great entrepreneurs just say, "What box?" They are creative, curious, and think critically to solve difficult problems. It's what our awesome nation was built on! After reading this comment, I was so excited about my daughter's future as we train our kids in entrepreneur thinking! Way to go Christianna! I'm so proud of you!
If you like or identify with this level of thinking, check out the work of Seth Godin as it inspired so much of what I wrote and talked about here!he
Everything is NOT all flowers and sunshine in a solo cleaning business. I have shared solid mindset to grow and so many pros to this amazing business as I've grown my own solo business a second time. But it's not always great. There are Cons of Solo Cleaning. In this episode, I wanted to be REAL and share when I reached my "February of Cleaning" and wanted to quit! Essesntially, I had a pity party and needed the encouragement of my wife to get me through.
I shared the story of Ian Traynor of Albany Pure Cleaning. He was so excited to start his new solo cleaning business. It was summer time, warm, sunny, and didn't get dark until 9 pm. I warned him about February, saying "Ian, February is coming. I know you're excited now but a time is coming when you will question everything. You'll be leaving the house in the dark and cold and snow of Upstate New York and coming back home to the dark and cold and ice. Your supplies will be frozen as well as your car every morning.You'll wonder why you're doing this. But remember that spring and summer are coming again." I meant this in a literal and metaphorical sense. Spring and summer are literally more fun and tolerable for cleaning. However, in a metaphorical sense, Ian's business will go through seasons. The first season is shiny and new, which leads to the emotion of excitement. The last season is optimizing and great profit and great mindset, leading to the emotion of excitement. But the middle season, the "February of Cleaning", will be old and boring and cold, leading to the natural emotions of depression and frustration.
You'll have to listen to my account on this podcast, but I share what I was feeling after cleaning Erika's house for the second time. I worked so hard to get two new clients and I was excited to start rebuilding my company. Then, I started the actual cleaning and realized it was going to be hard work. I realized that I needed to get my mind back into "Cleaning Mode". That's why podcasts like this can be so beneficial. I had my pity party as I was tired after cleaning two houses. That's when my wife stepped in and encouraged me. I told Teresa. "I don't want to do this anymore." I was questioning my career and if I would have to clean solo the rest of my life. Then I talked to Rachel Hicks of Slightly OCD Cleaning while doing an office later that night and came up with a plan that excited me again. I have fully trained Ian, who was an entrepreneur looking for an opportunity. She reminded me that I trained her to double her hourly rate as a cleaning owner. That's what I'm great at and what I love doing. Rachel helped me to dig out of my season of pity and also encouraged me. I started to see and visualize the spring and it excited me again.
Once I got my mind straight, I noticed an email in my box. Kayla from Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe asked if I could come in to meet with Sammy to discuss cleaning. I set up the estimate and met with Sammy while the restaurant was closed. It was very productive and I sent a proposal out a few days later to serve Sammy. I offered a comprehensive plan to cleaning the cafe with their existing staff, an outsourced cleaning service (me), and carpet & floor company (my friend Jim). They were thankful and we'll see, maybe they'll be a new client!
We are all going to face our "February of Cleaning". The strong ones will endure through determination and disciplined thought. It's totally amazing how our emotions follow our thoughts.
My Pop-Pop has been the man I've wanted to perform for my whole life. My father and I are both named after him. My son is named after him. For most of my life, Pop-Pop has been an encourager... except for this one time!
When I was 12-years-old, I was competing in a Saturday morning bowling league where I was one of the best in my league for my age. I carried an average around 135. But on one occasion, I defied all sense and threw a low-game of 12. There are only 10 frames in a game of bowling and if you don't mark in the 10th, you only get 20 throws of the ball down the lane. In this game, I threw 18 / 20 gutter balls. My score was embarrassment enough. But not on this day, nor the 30 years since.
My Pop-Pop watched every throw. He could see what I was doing wrong and had the answer. He was in the right perspective to help me make the adjustments, but I was too dang stubborn to accept his help. So what did he do?
He heckled me like the Volkswagon guy in Happy Gilmore. I'll let you listen to the episode to get the gist of it
My Pop-Pop reminds me over and over again about this epic failure of a bowling game. I reply. "Pop, that was 30 years ago!" His response is powerful. "Have you learned yet?" What about you? Are you throwing gutter balls over and over again? Do you have a mentor or coach that sees a broader perspective of your game, but you are too stubborn? Get over yourself and adjust! Change your approach and increase your score.
Dionne was a struggling single mom. She was willing to do anything to make it, including moving to a different state and trying out a crazy business... cleaning houses. If you're a mom listening to Dionne's interview, I fully believe you will be encouraged to know it's not easy but you can do it!
Dionne shares how surprised and honored she was when I invited her to join the Solo Cleaning School as a founding member. The idea of paying for a membership forced her to take personal leadership for her future and she dropped this insane metaphor -
"Don't worry about how much the shovel is going to cost if you have a gold mine."
It's a great message as cost and investment have completely different meanings. Cost implies consumption. You buy and use it up and it's gone. On the other hand, investment implies growth. You buy and use it to get more of what you need. Dionne illustrates this perfectly as to why she decided to join our School!
Ken Carfagno optimized his first solo cleaning business to $55,000 profit working 2 days per week without employees and then sold it for close to 6-figures! This podcast is designed to show you how to duplicate Ken's ISO Model as he does it again.