Six months ago, I met Michelle at a chamber luncheon and handed her my business card. After the luncheon, I sent a personal video message through VidYard as a follow-up to our meeting. She watched the video and replied back with gratitude. Then she told me she would keep my information on file. Then Corona hit and real estate was crushed, so I wasn't expecting anything.
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.
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:
In my last cleaning business update, I did not hoard my knowledge and it lead to opportunities to help my community. Since we're in the middle of a global pandemic, I'm doing whatever I can to serve my community in my expertise of cleaning. In part, it's actual cleaning and in part, knowledge. In this week's update, let's continue the theme of serving.
So many companies are ultra competitive, trying to dominate their local area. They hang onto proprietary information and get patents to own their knowledge. This is great and definitely needed so others don't steal your inventions and creative processes. But is it always good to keep your specialized knowledge close to the vest? I believe we are blessed with the ability to learn and comprehend and obligated to give back to help others. I'll even go so far to say that hoarding your knowledge in hopes of retaining your competitive advantage is selfish and unhealthy. My hope is that this episode opens your eyes that sharing your knowledge actually endears you to your target client and will not only increase your business, but serve your community.
The week of February 17th, 2020 started out with a little tension. My Nana was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia. She fought this 2 years prior and beat it, so it was a little tense but I felt good about her health. I captured my business week in "Top of Mind". Typically, I would cover the next week in business and share a lesson. However, I had a month that felt like 1 long week. It was all a blur.
This week started off with an excellent "Freedom Zone" in my Total Life Freedom Mastermind. The guys already knew that I landed a new client because the previous cleaner was uninsured. I gave an update how Kim was so happy with my first cleaning that she promoted me inside of a neighborhood closed group. Then I went on to explain that her neighborhood is a new development with half of the houses under construction and the builder's model home at the corner. They knew that my goal was to add 15 houses in 2020 of a certain demographic, size, location, and price. Once I mentioned one last piece of information; this house is my ideal client and the others in Kim's neighborhood are duplicates. The mastermind pounced and said, "Ken, you need to farm this neighborhood." Think of the possibility of having 10-15 new houses of the same type, demographic, and price hundreds of feet apart. I could optimize this solo business 4 houses per day at $175 per visit. That $75k in revenue on 2 days per week or $62k per year income/profit! I could add a 3rd day and earn $100k in profit on 3 days per week cleaning in one neighborhood.
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.
This week started amazing. Lead #2 Kim (from Erika's recommendation) hired me for cleaning. The story of the hire is worth sharing. They were weary of keeping their old cleaner as they were uninsured and minor property damage occurred. I educated Kim on the risk of hiring uninsured cleaners. This lead to a great in-person discussion and estimate. I sent the proposal directly after and they hesitantly agreed. The hesitancy came from her husband that I didn't speak to. He was strictly comparing prices and said I was higher. I pushed back and recommended that they don't allow the current cleaner to come back into their house without proof of insurance. Kim took the advice and her cleaner gave an excuse. They hired me right away.
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.
The week started with a text referral. I had no idea who the client was until talking to her and connecting the dots to Erika lead #5. Here's the text. "Hello Ken, my daughter got your info from FB about cleaning. Can you send me information about your services?" I could have easily called her, but I used what I learned from "70% Happens Before the Phone Call", asked for her name, and then sent her my website to learn more about our company. She responded with her name, Diane, and thanked me. By the end of the day, she had done her research and wanted to talk, so I scheduled a phone call. The phone call lead to an in-person estimate and emailed proposal by the end of the week.
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.
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".
Let's face it. You're going to mess up your communication as a business owner. You will say one thing and mean another. Or, you will think one thing and not fully communicate it. That was the case for me last week with a new client, Ellie. I was under the assumption she understood my 3-part cleaning plan because I had explained it in person. But I never wrote it out and therefore, the plan never existed. I executed the plan of part 2 and followed up with Ellie afterward to get cleaning feedback. She was very pleased with the master bathroom and other rooms I detail deep cleaned. However, she was unhappy that I "skipped" the guest bathroom when she had guests coming over in a few days. I'll let the podcast audio share the full detail of this story, but I will say that apologizing is an action verb! It's one thing to say, "I'm sorry." It's another thing to show it. I knew the right thing to do and I fixed it by going back and cleaning Ellie's bathroom for free and apologizing in person. She was so happy and it raised my trust factor big time.
This week I also met with Doug Floro of My Father's Business Wealth Management. He is the leader of the Believer's in Business Networking Group that I attend twice per month. Anyway, we wanted to do a 1-to-1, so we could get to know each other better as I'm still a new member. The meeting was in his beautiful office and we definitely had a fantastic conversation. At the end, Doug did something unexpected. He slid a business card of another cleaning company across his desk and asked, "Ken, do you know this person?" I recognized the name and company. Although I didn't know much, I did know that she was part of a larger franchise and had recently upgraded her office as her business was growing well. My answer to this question would be a seed and I knew it. Would I say that she was an average company and that I'm way better, in hopes that he would hire me to clean his office? Or would I say share what I knew and find a way to edify her? If you know me at all, I don't even think like the first option. I edified her success and then asked why. Doug told me that she was his cleaner for their home. There wasn't anything else to say. I just said, "That's great! I hope she keeps doing a great job." It was a great meeting, for sure!
I also worked hard on my proposal for Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe with my recommendations for daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly presentation cleaning. Then I introduced Jim Hardy to the owners for a potential package deal to get all the cleaning done. I heard back from Kayla the next day and she was very grateful for the introduction to Jim and she was going to read the proposal and thanked me again. To wrap up the week. I attended a play that my kids were in at church. There was a couple behind me that I didn't recognize, so I introduced myself. He wanted my cleaning card and, OF COURSE, I had one. That's a huge tip! It turns out that the husband is the CEO of a local charity. We're going to get together for breakfast soon. You just never know!
Past Show Mention - "My Name is Kevin LaCombe"
Carfagno Cleaning is a corporation with various divisions. We have a this podcast and the Solo Cleaning School. I serve team cleaners in the SMART Cleaning Tribe. This all falls under my 'consulting' division. My main division is my own solo cleaning business that I am rebuilding in the Philly suburbs after sellling my first one to Ian Traynor of Albany Pure Cleaning. I hope you've been enjoying this podcast and the journey I've taken you on.
This week was a short one as Thanksgiving cut off 2 days and my family was traveling to New Jersey for a long weekend. I started the week with a meeting with Ken Byler of Higher Ground Consulting. I met him and really connected at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon a few weeks ago. This was a fun meeting. I am used to asking questions and listening, but I met with a greater master than I. Ken skillfully got me to talk the whole time and then asked how he could help me. I literally ran out of time to help him. You got me, Ken! Anyway, here's the answer I gave him. "How do I best use or network in the chamber?" Ken's answer floored me. He said this. "Find out the available Chamber committees and see where you can help. They meet once per month for an hour. Pour into it and show your value. This builds relationships with chamber members and raises your level of trust. From here you will Get a name for doing and contributing. Others in the chamber will want to connect 1-to-1. Set the meetings and connect more. This will lead to lasting relationships, leads, and it helps the community through your chamber leadership efforts." This was a drop the mic answer.
Outside of cleaning the usual 2 offices, playing a Thanksgiving flag football game that ended in an emergency room visit, and going to NJ for excellent family time, there was one other thing I did this week. It took me all week! I worked on the 3 proposals for Gary Volpe. This is a huge opportunity. One is for his main offices & showroom, another for the chamber offices inside of his building, and the third for his old building. This was a job much larger than I usually do, so I had to connect with a janitorial business owner for his opinion and he helped quite a bit. Gary's building is 13,000 sqft of office and showroom space. The other 25,000+ sqft is warehouse space. I estimate that I would be cleaning between 40-50% of the 13,000 sqft every week. I won't bore you with the math here, but I was able to scale his large business to a size that I am used to cleaning. This gave me a ballpark for where his building should price. Trust me, it took a long time to figure this out and hours of itemizing his large building. I was able to complete the 3 proposals and email them at 10pm on Tuesday. This barely met my promise to get it done by Tuesday. I was so happy to pour so much effort into giving well-thought out proposals and even more thrilled to be done!
I mentioned the power of the new Google My Business offering in my last update. I collected my first review this week. Yay! My goal is to get 20-25, so this is a great start! I just need to keep asking. And isn't that a great message for all business owners. Just keep asking.
It was GO-TIME for Bridgett and I this week! We met on Monday at a coffee shop to connect and to prepare our double showcase presentation to our MCBA group. Once we made the connection that we were both in the same business, the "business of first impressions", our presentation was like riding a bike going downhill. We selected fellow member Vernessa Hopkins and discussed how we could help her in a way that was engaging to the meeting for 40 minutes. There would be NO call-to-action to the other members except for Vernessa to incorporate the recommendations we gave her. Bridgett and I had an opening, relevant stories, and the word congruency. We both agreed that the first impression that Vernessa's written content provided had to be congruent with the first impression that her office environment provided. This set the stage for each of us to share for 10 minutes on 3-5 recommendations Vernessa could incorporate to strengthen her first impressions. The double showcase was set and it went amazing! The others were fully engaged, leaning forward, nodding their heads, and asking great questions afterward. Vernessa was very thankful. Bridgett and I were the first to ever create a showcase 'alliance' to help another. And that's what the 'A' in MCBA stands for. Other members were talking at the end of the meeting and starting to form their own strategic alliances.
Gary Volpe couldn't make our showcase as he was taking care of his president's role in the Rotary. We met right after at his office for an estimate. I can't share details of individual estimates for privacy sake. I can say this. I was so impressed with the 15 foot high mural of the Volpe Family business through it's 50 years of operation. Gary took me on a tour of his 40,000 sqft office building and told me great stories and introduced me to associates. I wasn't expecting this, but we also went to his old building for a second estimate. This is where the title of this episode comes from. We walked into a bathroom. There was some toilet paper on the ground by the trash can. He saw me going to pick it up and he stopped me because he wanted his employees to 'see it' and do it. I said. "You knew I was going to pick it up, didn't you?" He responded. "Yep, you're a cleaning guy. I know you would." This was a great meeting and I am so grateful for Gary's time and friendship. It's amazing how this is working. I already set myself apart by being a business man who happens to clean (from Andrea Szlavic). I am an introvert who has read books to be better with people and not afraid to network and try new things. I go to new network groups on faith and knew no one. A month later, they all know me. I'm a giver in the group and now Gary is giving me a huge opportunity.
This week was a BIB group meeting as well. We meet for breakfast in a local diner, open in prayer, discuss an educational piece, do two short 5 minute mini showcases, and connect. The group is small, but I enjoy the fellowship and you never know what will come from it! During the 30-second commercials, I used my time to help another member (just like Bridgett and I did at MCBA) and it went over really well. Another member said to me afterward, "I really appreciate how you used your time to talk about someone else. I need to get you to my house for a cleaning estimate". Are you starting to see that people hire people that they know, like, and trust!?
In my last update, I shared how we got our first two house cleaning clients. I had already cleaned for Ellie and now it was time to start at Erika's house. Normally, I wrap my initial cleaning into the first 2-3 visits of a new biweekly client. Most really appreciate this as it saves them from the big $500+ initial cleaning. A few items of interest occurred by I was cleaning. To set the table, Erika and her husband work out of the house and her parents are temporarily living there as their new home is built. Erika's mom is the nanny. She was watching me clean and on multiple occasions said this. "Ooh, the other girl didn't do that." It felt good and Erika should be thrilled. I also got a call from Marci at Edward Jones. They chose another company. I could tell that Marci was disappointed as the current partner didn't see the value of my presentation cleaning. I hope it works out for them and if not, I'll be ready to come off the bench and hit a home run for their company!
I also facilitate the SMART Cleaning Tribe, that I affectionately call 'our cleaning family'. We are close to 20 cleaning company owners from around the U.S. and Canada who needed a tribe to belong to, set SMART goals each month, and be held accountable to achieving them. I run 5 live video conference calls per month with one an expert call. This month's expert call was on Wednesday afternoon and we all got a dose of millionaire mindset as Crystal Hamm of the Go-2-Girls in Raleigh, NC put on a clinic of how to grow a 7-figure cleaning company in under 3 years. She loves her people and her people love her. One of the takeaways I got was this. Her marketing is a machine with over 300 leads coming in every month. Of the 300, 50 are coming in totally free through a new offering by Google called 'My Business'. Crystal has a strong profile and over 100 reviews. This is generating incredible free SEO for her company. I've had this on my list to do since coming back from Gatlinburg, TN and the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat. But, I wasn't there yet. I strengthened my profile after the call and asked for 3 reviews.
Have you picked up on my marketing strategy? It's not one thing and one thing only. I am doing everything and assessing what is working.
In my last solo cleaning business update, I was thrilled to report two successful house cleaning estimates. I had cleaned for Ellie last week and verbally, she agreed to a recurring service starting in December. The other estimate was with Erika, whom my wife connected with through the local Facebook mom's group. I felt great about the estimate and expected a second yes, but heard nothing all weekend. Of course, doubts trickle in and you wonder if she changed her mind. Here's what I did. I texted Erika on Monday morning and said this. "How was your weekend? I just wanted to check in..." I didn't even mention cleaning and she replied with "I'm so sorry, so much going on. I meant to call you. When can we get on your schedule?" I was able to schedule her family on biweekly Thursdays along with Ellie. There's a lesson here. I could have been more direct and said. "Hi Erika, were you interested in cleaning services?" I could have been less direct. "Erika, did you have any other questions about my cleaning options?" I'm sure many of you would do this and I'm NOT saying it's wrong. I just had a gut feeling that Erika is a busy, working mom and my all-important cleaning proposal got looked at and forgotten in the chaos of her weekend. Therefore, I opted to be a human and ask how her weekend was. She may have responded with something short. "Fine." There is an emotional intelligence component required here. In my experience, this type of response shows disinterest or they just had a bad weekend. Either way, I'd give them time and follow up again in a week. Erika did not do that. She responded with enthusiasm. That's always a great sign. The result was expected. I asked about her weekend and she booked our cleaning service.
My networking meetings were lively as always. I shared last time that I was voluntold to do a 20-minute business showcase along with Bridgett. I had an idea that I wanted to pitch and it went great. What if we used our showcase time together to help another member AS we showcase what we each do in our businesses? Bridgett loved it and so did Vernessa, who was the member we were going to help. We had an educational piece during this meeting where we watched a TED talk and discussed how it related to us. I had a chance to wrap up with my comments and then casually mentioned that I was going to interview James Hardy from the group on a future podcast. Several members said. "You have a podcast!" "What is it called?" Before I could answer, Eva Finlan piped up and said. "Oh, it's a really good show!" I had promoted Eva on a prior episode and shared it to my Facebook friends. She was so grateful and listened. I told them the name of this show and a handful wrote it down. After the meeting, I set up a time to meet with Eva for a 1-to-1 to connect more. I also had a quick word with Gary Volpe about his office cleaning. He had tried to get me in there, but the timing wasn't right yet. I was grateful that he was considering me. As a quick note, I also attended my first Chamber of Commerce luncheon as a new member. It was an honor to speak in front of the members and all 3 of our county commissioners to introduce myself.
In parallel with my in-person networking, I've been connecting online as well using LinkedIn, NextDoor, and Facebook. I have already invested the time to build stellar profiles on each platform and introduced myself. I've even commented to help others, so they know, like, and trust me. My aim this week was to be more direct. I searched "clean" on NextDoor and found 3 neighbors looking for cleaners over the past 3 months. Many cleaners just replied with "Me. I do it." I answered with tips on how to find your next cleaner. I will repurpose that answer into a future Newsletter. My guess is that using this approach will create curiosity and possibly interest in my company. On LinkedIn, I answered messages, thanked all new local 1st connections for accepting, and reconnected with Tom at Edward Jones. I did NOT ask about the proposal. I thanked him for trusting me enough to let me into his office for an estimate. His response was, "Us Penn Staters need to stick together and that we're evaluating our proposals next week." I didn't have to ask about my proposal, but I got my answer. Lastly, I wanted to connect with new friends from the Chamber meeting. Instead of basic emails, I used the VidYard plugin and recorded personal messages and sent the video links out. Each responded and were impressed.
As the week winded down and I prepared for my Thursday night cleaning with my son, I got a voicemail from Gary Volpe. He was talking to his sons and they do want me to come over for an estimate. Here's the takeaway! Gary has gotten to know me from seeing me every week consistently for 5 weeks. He likes me, knows I'm a fellow believer, and share the same political bend (as we met at the polls on election day). I have positioned myself over the past 6 weeks as the cleaner he knows, likes, and trusts. We'll see what happens next. We have an estimate for next Tuesday!
I've been writing newsletters for my consulting role for a few years, but never for my cleaning network. I knew this needed to chance in 2019 and 2020. Thanksgiving was quickly approaching, so I wrote an article entitled, "Cleaning Tips to De-STRESS the Holidays". I added new names to my mailing list that gave me permission to add them and sent the newsletter out to 50 people through my free MailChimp account. I also repurposed the article to my website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google My Business, and NextDoor. My strategy was simple. Write one article and put it on every channel as you never know how people will consume your content.
I started this week with a presentation cleaning assessment for Tom and Marci at Edward Jones. As you may remember, this lead came through connecting with new friends's friends on LinkedIn (2nd Connections). I was able to point out several cleaning & presentation changes that could "present" their office better on first impressions to their target client. They were grateful for the time and free consulting I suggested. Plus, it was really great to meet my new LinkedIn friend Tom McKee in person! I promised to email the proposal by Wednesday and delivered. I was very pleased with myself because I was able to cut my office cleaning proposal time by 2 hours with a better template. This will save me time in the future!
At MCBA, I shared my Edward Jones story to show what I do. It connected with the group. I also voluntold that it was my turn to do a 20-minute showcase at an upcoming meeting. This opportunity gave me an idea. What if I could use my time to help another member and let everyone know what I do? I talked to another member, Vernessa Hopkins of H3 Business Services, who also rents the meeting space to our group. She was totally game! We chatted for a few minutes and she told me her ideal client and gave me permission to walk around to do my presentation cleaning assessment. After the meeting, I chatted with member Gary Volpe of Volpe Enterprises. He said. "Your name came up yesterday. We've had our cleaner for a couple years and their quality has been declining. We're not ready to switch, but I wanted to talk to you." I offered to do a free presentation on assessment to give my impression of the condition and what the current cleaner should change. Gary was very kind to think of me when cleaning came up at his company. I look forward to setting up an estimate. He said one other thing that really made me feel special. "I had a good feeling about you when I first met. You can just tell about people. Then, I met your wife and I got a better feeling." My takeaway is this. I am networking to establish myself in the community, build relationships, and grow our business. It's so cool that I could introduce Teresa to a friend, successful businessman, and potential future client.
1-on-1 meetings are very productive. I have tried to meet with other members of my 2 networking groups at least once per week and certainly 2 per month. I met with James Hardy (a fellow MCBA member) for breakfast and had a fabulous conversation about how each of us are in the business of first impressions. James owns the Carpet Guys and has been in restoration carpet cleaning for over 20 years. He shared some stories of how vital trust and excellence are in his company. One story in particular, James shared how his company maintained a consistency and excellence from the first phone call to the estimate, clean uniforms and work truck, to the initial cleaning excellence of his equipment and the work he did. I was SO impressed with his mindset for excellence that I asked if I could interview him for my podcast at some point and call the show "Presentation is Everything". He thought it would be a great idea to get the word out on what he does and help others. I also did a 1-on-1 Mary Ann Alig of Fox Roach Realtors. She's a fellow member in my BIB meeting. I really liked the niche she serves of first-time home buyers and how she educates them fully. She also goes to church with James Hardy and they didn't know each other. I connected them with an email introduction afterward. Mary Ann was very interested to get me to visit her office to give a presentation on Presentation Cleaning for realtors.
A few weeks ago, I shared about a lead I got to clean an entire grocery story. I followed up on that lead a few times without much success. Since I was at the grocery store with James Hardy, I stopped over to the customer service desk and asked for Sean He was there and the two of us chatted in his office for 10 minutes. He needs a better cleaner to contract out to clean 3 hours per day, 7 nights per week, and a crew of 6 guys in the kitchens, bathrooms, and mezzanine. I didn't want to embarrass myself, but I knew that I had to answer honestly. I declined the opportunity and thanked him and said I'd refer a company if I come across one that I trust. He thanked me. Here's the lesson of this meeting and the title of this episode. I could have said, "I can do that." It would have placed me on a new focus to hire 6 commercial cleaners and then train them. I could have, but it's not in my lane. When you drive outside of your lane, you slow down and cause damage. I didn't want the distraction. And yes, I have said "I can do that" before. In 2007, a commercial GC found me and wanted me to deep clean a school. I said yes and then panicked. This lead to me cleaning a school, a library, a pool, stipping & waxing a gym. These stories ended up in the Funny Papers for a reason. I was out of my lane. Oh, and after my meeting with Sean, I stopped at a chiropractor's office next to the Gehman building that I clean. I had reached out to this chiropractor on LinkedIn to introduce myself and he gave me permission to stop by and say hello. Therefore, I wasn't stopping over cold. He was expecting me. When I got there, my timing was good and Mike immediately recognized me from my LinkedIn profile picture. We chatted for a few minutes. I offered to add him to my cleaning tips newsletter and he was very grateful to be added.
Now, let's get to some house cleaning! I've been cleaning for an office in Perkasie for over a year. Recently, the owner asked if I could stop over for a house cleaning estimate. It took some time to coordinate, but we got it done this week. The estimate went well. She was very impressed with my ability to fit her in for a pre-party cleaning this week and how I do the house priority zoning in my quoting process. She hired me to do the 1-time deep cleaning for the next day and I absolutely performed with excellence. She was very happy. Afterward, she hired me for ongoing biweekly services. Yay! I got a new house cleaning client!
Teresa had been connecting with other moms on the local Facebook Mom's group. One mom needed help with cleaning, so Teresa connected the two of us. I talked with this mom for 20 minutes about her needs and made sure to answer all of her questions. She had previously hired a mom that was there once, but cancelled 3 times. She needed someone reliable. I shared my price range and she invited me over for an estimate the next day. The estimate went really well. I delivered the proposal as promised and she said yes to one of my options! Yay! I got a second new house cleaning client!
I've been sharing my marketing journey for a few months now. This week I had 3 estimates and sent 3 proposals. It lead to 2 new clients! It felt great!
This is the last business update on my new solo cleaning business for 2019. What a way to go out! Andrea Szlavik of A2Z Realtor Pa assures Ken that he is not a cleaner who happens to do business. He is a business person that happens to clean. This is a big difference. Let's dive into this week in my business!
We had a business showcase presentation from Laney Landis this week at MCBA. She is the 5th generation owner (over 200 years in the family) of Old Village Paint. I was mesmerized at the history of this American Pre-Civil War paint company. I happened to record this meeting as I wanted to learn each member's business better. This was very fortuitous as Laney was sad she didn't have a recording of her showcase on her family company. Afterward, I told her of my bootleg recording and sold it on the black market for a can of paint. Just kidding. I sent it to her after the meeting and she was so pleased and thankful. As I've shared many times, always look to sow good seeds.
I also connected with a few other members after this meeting. James wanted to set up a 1-to-1 breakfast meeting to get to know each other's stories better. Charley wanted me to start sending me cleaning referrals. Paul wanted to connect. I am becoming a trusted face & member and others recognize that and want to get to know me better to refer me.
I met Andrea Szlavic on NextDoor last week and she added me to her realtor preferred vendor list. I was very thankful and asked if she would like to grab a coffee and connect. She opted for breakfast at a brand new local spot called Sammy's Bullfrog Cafe in Harleysville, It was a productive meeting where we shared our business stories with each other while enjoying the new flavor in town. We discovered a common connection as well. I had attended the Growth Now Movement LIVE! Conference in Reading, PA with Justin Schenck. While at this conference, I met another Keller Williams realtor at the same office as Andrea. It's a small world, after all. At the end of the meeting, I asked her this question. "Why did you add me to your preferred vendor list without meeting me or seeing my work quality first?" Her answer floored me and became the title to this episode.
"Because you set yourself apart by reaching out to me first on NextDoor. That told me that you were a business person that did cleaning verses a cleaning person that tried to do business. Most cleaners don't take that initiative."
As we parted, she assured me that she would get me out to her team's office in the spring for a real estate cleaning presentation. Then instead of getting in my car, I went back into the cafe and asked to speak to the owner. They were hesitant as they assumed I wanted to complain. Then I told them that I enjoyed the experience and would like to leave the cafe a 5-star review on Google. The hostess introduced me to my breakfast waitress, who was also part owner in the brand new cafe! She was very grateful and told me where to leave these reviews and asked for my cleaning business card. I left one on the cafe's bulletin board and went home.
Once I got home, I followed up by giving 5-star reviews on Google, NextDoor, and Facebook for Andrea and the Bullfrog Cafe. Andrea and Kayla (my breakfast waitress) were so thankful. Again, these are good seeds!
After leaving the reviews, I checked my phone and had a missed call and voicemail from Sean at the grocery store. Do you remember in "I'm the Only Cleaner" when Vernessa gave me the lead for her common areas cleaning? This was Sean's follow up. Unfortunately, he is looking for a company to service the entire grocery store! This is way out of my league, but I'll still connect with Sean and see if I can help.
Do you remember Eva Finlan from "Building My New Cleaning Network II" and the referrals she gave me. I heard back from one of them this week and added him to my cleaning newsletter. His local company is evaluating their cleaner soon and my name will be top of mind if he happens to see my newsletter. I also followed up with my friend Dexter from "Free Donuts" as we still need to get together for breakfast.
I completed my first house cleaning estimate this week from Bill's referral and emailed out her proposal. It looks pretty good, but you just never know. Shortly after sending this proposal, Kayla from the Bullfrog Cafe emailed me back asking if I'd come in for a cleaning estimate. I love this! It's so fun to sow good seeds and start to see the harvest.
I continued to market from home as well. Teresa connected with moms on our local Facebook Mom's group. I started conversations and build relationships on LinkedIn and NextDoor. One of my conversations from last week made it to the next level. Tom was one of my new LinkedIn friends. We had a lot in common. We both graduated Penn State, knew some of the same people, and were the same age. He is a financial planner and worked under a mentor at a local Edward Jones office. Last week, cleaning came up and he stated that they had a cleaning service and were happy. Everything changed. He shared over LinkedIn that "they were now looking for a new cleaner and thought of me." I connected with Tom's office manager Marci and set up an estimate for next week. You just never know! Oh, and I added Tom to my cleaning newsletter email list.
Here is my LinkedIn takeaway. My first approach was to target office managers on LinkedIn. This produced not results because there was no trust. Then I changed my strategy to connect with mutual connections for the trust factor and look to grow those new connections with more trust. I did this with Tom and it lead me to his office manager for an office cleaning estimate. I have no idea how this will go next, but the opportunity was created solely due to trust.
I don't have any new clients yet, but you will absolutely start to see the seeds being planted and my expectation of future harvest. This episode starts with my meeting with Indian Valley Chamber President, Steven Hunsberger. Steven loved my approach to meeting the other members. Although I had no intention of joining the chamber right away, Steven uttered these words. "Ken, you'd be the only cleaner." My next words were, "Steve, can I have an application?"
I also attended my first Montgomery County Business Alliance (MCBA) meeting as a member. Gary Volpe of Volpe Enterprises was the man in the middle as he shared a current situation and asked the other members to help him group solve it. I felt like I was back in Gatlinburg at the Mastermind Retreat.
Prior to the meeting, I used the common area restroom outside of Vernessa's office and MCBA location. The restrooms were maintained, but not to my standards. After the meeting, I asked Vernessa about these common areas and she connected me with Sean from the grocery store that did that cleaning work. This was my first lead for the week. I went directly to the grocery and asked for Sean. He wasn't available, but I left my business card and said I was referred by Vernessa. This is exactly like "Building My New Cleaning Network II" and "I'm a friend of Eva Finlan and she told me I should connect with you."
I was also networking at home as well. This is a big part of my strategy - 50% in-person networking meetings and 50% social media / email marketing. It was my last week of my free LinkedIn Sales Navigator trial. Since my target for new small office clients are the office managers, I tried connecting with OMs directly by friending 100 through LinkedIn. This approach was a failure as very few responded. I'm not sure if it's because they don't use LinkedIn much or they don't know me! Either way, I needed a new approach, so I shifted to something new. Over the past month, I've met over 50 local business people in the various networking groups I've attended. I added as many as I could to LinkedIn. They are now 1st connections. I did a search of 2nd connections in Harleysville, Telford, Souderton, and Lansdale. These represent the 1st connections of the new friends I've just made locally. I used a simple script, "Good morning Bill, we're new in the Harleysville area and saw we have mutual connections. Thought I'd reach out and introduce myself." I am getting excellent response from this approach as they trust me more with the mutual connection. I immediately say, "Thank you for accepting my connection request, Bill." Some would respond and message me back. I would glance at their profile and ask a question about their work, which would hopefully initiate conversation and a new business relationship. This new approach lead to two new friends this week. One was an old high school friend that connected me with a lead for commercial post-construction cleaning. Of course, I chased this lead right away! This LinkedIn approach will change once I cancel my premium trial, but the concept is solid for growing my local network.
I was invited to do a real estate presentation for Jeff Silva's Keller Williams Team in September 2018 and made a great impression. Some of his realtors have kept in touch. In fact, Jeff wanted me to stay connected through email so I added his whole team to my cleaning newsletter to keep my name in front of them each month. One of his agents reached out this week and wanted to get me over to his girlfriend's house as she needed a cleaning service like mine. I chased this lead and set up an estimate this week. Side note... the cleaning newsletter is one more example of how you can market your business by keeping your name at the top of people's list. My newsletters shares cleaning tips for homeowners, office managers, and realtors. Click HERE if you'd like to be added to my newsletter.
There are two other avenues I am pursuing from home. One is NextDoor and the other is Facebook groups. Thankfully, we have a thriving moms group with 2,000 members locally that my wife has agreed to start connecting. It's a long-term strategy with both of these online communities. Once I get a client in one of these communities, I need to impress them big time and then ask if they could promote me. This would open the door to more house cleaning clients. Teresa is helping with Facebook and I'm being a giver on NextDoor. This has lead to an opportunity to meet with a local realtor who agreed to add me to her preferred vendor list.
This episode closes with some other tidbits like doing GEMS for Dennis Gehman's office. A GEM is Going the Extra Mile and has always served me well. I also updated my website to better target my ideal client, one that truly appreciates the art of Presentation Cleaning. Teresa and I had a coffee shop date at a new upscale cafe and I decided to leave some business cards on the bulletin board. The guests who visit here are not discount shoppers from "The Jeans Don't Fit".
Other friends I mentioned:
This episode continues to follow Ken's path to building a brand new solo cleaning company. If you haven't heard the two introductory episodes, check out Building "My New Cleaning Network I and II".
Teresa and I attended the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in early October 2019 in Gatlinburg, TN. We left our scarcity mindset in Tennessee, resolving to become the givers we have always wanted to be. We also renewed our commitment to build this new solo cleaning business and share our progress with the listeners of this show. I hope you like this new segment. I'll be updating you on my own business progress from week to week in hopes that you glean inspiration and encouragement to grow your own.
There is one comment from Vincent Pugliese that I really took to heart in TN. "Come here with questions and be curious verses coming here with the answers. This leads to change and growth."
Also, the giving mindset that we left with was this. You give where you are. That's how you advance to the next level of giving. The Go-Giver tells that.
When we returned, I had a new resolve to make this process fun. I got a few big things accomplished the week following Gatlinburg:
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 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!
The Solo Cleaning School draws on the lessons I learned in my first solo cleaning company, which I shared in my "Introduction to the Solo Cleaning School" episode. I hope you had a chance to listen and understand my heart for starting this podcast. If you want the short version, here it is. We started Carfagno Cleaning in 2005 in Upstate New York and sold it in 2018 to move back to Philly. During this 14-year run, I gained national recognition as the solo cleaning expert, having optimized a company to $55,000 annual profit on 2 days per week of cleaning by myself. I invite you to join me as I rebuild a new solo cleaning company in the Philly Area. Over the next two episodes, I will share my new business from the June 2018 sale to Sept 2019. I hope to inspire you by proving that what worked for me in one area, works in another. Therefore, I will be updating you on a regular basis with the my progress & lessons learned from the trenches as I build my new cleaning network and solo cleaning company.
Part 1 of "Building My New Cleaning Network" covers our first full year in the Philly Area. I was tired of cleaning and did not pursue much. However, I did enough to build a $2,000/month part-time solo cleaning income. You'll hear how I used the Kevin LaCombe strategy for small offices and how this discipline gained 3 small office clients. I'll also share how my entire marketing mindset was challenged and changed after befriending my 3rd new client, Dennis Gehman of Gehman Design Remodeling. This marketing shift took shape, thanks to a mentor and friend in my industry, Steve Hanson of the Janitorial Store. Lastly, I would like to recognize the contribution of my mastermind buddy, Gustavo Fernandez, who taught me how to separate my business in a busy world.
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.