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:
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".
Have you ever had a dream that kept you up at night? I have. In March 2010, I was making up creative adventure stories with my 5-year-old son Kenny at bedtime where he was the main character in the stories. We were connecting so much as father & son, that my wife encouraged me to record them. I listened. By the end of the summer of 2010, I had a complete 10-book adventure, fantasy series filling up 22 hours of mp3. As I searched for the next step, a deep desire welled inside of me to not only convert the stories into a book for my son but to get them published. 'What if these stories could help other families?' This thought and desire was confirmed when I was given a bible verse as a mission statement - Luke 1:17 - He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
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.
This episode is for my US-based solo cleaners only. President Trump signed the CARES Act into law on Friday, March 27th. In this 900 page, $2 trillion bill, congress has earmarked $350 billion in personal stimulus to American families and $350 billion to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to disperse to small businesses across the fruited plain. The personal stimulus is automatic and requires no action. If the Treasury already has your bank's direct deposit on file, you'll receive your money in April 2020. Otherwise, it may take a few months. If you're like me, you just assumed you didn't qualify for any of the other $350 billion. Well, you're wrong. This episode covers the 4 main portions of the CARES Act that the self-employed can take advantage of. Some of the money is first-come, first-serve, so get applying!
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.
In my last two Carfagno Cleaning updates, I shared the story of Doug Floro and how a seed turned into an opportunity. I started this week by completing his house cleaning proposal with 6 options and hit send! Like I always say, you never know! Right after the proposal, I wrote, published, and repurposed (to social media) a new cleaning newsletter.
I also sent out my monthly invoices and something amazing happened. One of my office clients asked if I would be willing to bill ahead for 6 months instead of one. That was an easy answer... "YES!" I read three things into this request:
Now, let's get to the meat of this week's episode. In 18 Gutter Balls, I shared the story of my infamous bowling game of 12 when I was 12. My 83-year-old Pop-Pop still heckles me about that day! The final question I posed was this. "Have you learned yet?" I was doing the same thing, over-and-over again, and expecting a different result. This is the definition of insanity by the late, great Albert Einstein. I was guilty of it that day with my engraved bowling ball and now I get to answer the question.
I shared a detailed account of how to wrap up your year in review. It's called Think Week. I have followed this process every year and even published the podcast episode ahead of my 2019 version. Let me get real and transparent. "I haven't learned yet, Pop-Pop." I started to do Think Week by reflecting of my 2019 goals and comparing them to what I accomplished. I achieved about 67%. Not bad. But I dug deeper and saw something that demanded explanation. So I pulled out my 2018 notebook for Think Week and saw the same pattern. To make matters worse, I pulled out every year back to 2012. This revealed that I have been a broken record.
I've been doing the same thing over and over and over, expecting my end-of-year results to change. But at the end of each year, I threw a 6 instead of a strike (using the bowling analogy). Some years, I did throw a gutter ball. Here's what I realized. I am a dreamer, an optimist. I love working on my passion projects and I've always had one. Early on, it was an Amway business with Teresa. Then it was writing a novel for dads to read to their kids, followed by coaching & consulting cleaning company owners. The mistake I repeated was setting my SMART goals to grow my passionate side-hustle, while setting the mark for my main business for "just enough". Whether I was an engineer or a solo cleaning owner, I have not set SMART growth goals to raise our level of income past 'just making it' to 'prospering'. I chose to set my SMART growth goals on my side-hustle, that I WANTED to do, yet had no proof of concept! My optimism kicked in as well because I made many assumptions that weren't realistic or attainable. So I'd complete a year with the same main business income and a side income that barely increased. But I was happy and rationalized that I did good because I loved doing it.
If you remember from my Make Your Goals SMART episode, an unattainable goal is SMRT. Sure, I figured out how to stabilize and optimize my solo cleaning business. I had SMART goals every 90 days, but they weren't for more income. I set them to have MORE TIME at the SAME INCOME. I looked at 8 Think Week notebooks and fell into a short term depression and frustration. I couldn't believe that after 30 years, I was still throwing gutter balls. Why would I NOT set growth goals on my main business that was tried and tested? I could have doubled my income so much faster. These are the questions I was left pondering and quite frankly, sobbing about on that hardwood floor with 8 notebooks.
This was so visceral that I was forced to make a change. Coming out of Think Week was different this time. 2020 was going to be different. I have labeled it VISION 20/20. "I have learned, Pop-Pop." I made the change and set my growth SMART goals on my new solo cleaning business and activity SMART goals on my side passion projects. I am super excited to see where this year ends up compared to last.
How about you?
Previous Show Mentioned: "Think Week"
January 2008 was a very busy time in my cleaning business as I was cleaning all the time, managing employees, and trying to spend time with my wife, 3 year-old-son Kenny, and newborn daughter Christianna. By late 2008, I changed my cleaning model to solo cleaning and never went back. I cleaned for years alone and got quite used to the lifestyle of listening to audio books, podcasts, music, and talk radio while I cleaned, then came home to play with my kids.
Never in a million years could I have ever imagined that one day I'd have those two little kids working alongside me in the family business. My mind was blown when Kenny (15) and Christianna (12) cleaned a few offices with me Thursday night. I'm not sure why adding Christianna gave me the wake up call as Kenny has been cleaning offices with me for 3 years. Maybe it's because I wasn't cleaning when Kenny was born, but I was in full swing during Christianna's birth. Maybe it's because she's a Daddy's girl. I don't know. I can say this. We teach our children how to think like an entrepreneur and help them start businesses. We believe in developing a great work ethic in ourselves and kids. Our family cleaning business is an excellent resource to give real-life experience to our kids in both of those goals.
In the Pros of Solo Cleaning, I forgot to add this pro. You own a family business and cleaning is a worthy trade to teach your kids. There are no guarantees in the workplace with college degrees. The trades are dying as young people want to pursue the glamorous digital marketplace. This is a tremendous opportunity for us. I encourage each of you to think long-term about your cleaning business. If you are in the "February of Cleaning" and you Don't Want to Do This Anymore, listen to this podcast episode to inspire you to push through!
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.
I'm calling an audible to my original plan. We started this now 5-part series with Goal Setting I "What is Your Why" and talked about the most important aspect of goal-setting. It's your reason for getting up and doing what you do. The "5 Why's" exercise is an effective way to peel back the layers of your reasons to get to the core of what makes you tick. We are not robots, but emotional creatures. Mike Michalowicz, in his epic book "Profit First", shares why rational accounting doesn't work. He uses an example of plate sizes. Do you know that the average size has grown from 9" to 13" in diameter. That's DOUBLE! Over the same time period, the average American male's weight increased from 160 lbs to 190 lbs! Why? Mike goes to say that humans consume everything they are given. It's human behavior. They also use every available amount of time to finish a project and every dollar to fill their budgets. This is why Americans don't have 'extra' savings on hand or 'spare' time or 'uneaten' calories. There is a name for this. It's called Parkinson's Law.
Parkinson's Law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." We have to fight against this human behavior to win and learn how to Kill Parkinson!
Our SMART goals are subject to Parkinson's Law too. If you set a SMART goal with a 'T' of 3 months, you will either miss the goal or make it just in time even if you could have done it faster. This is human behavior. I want to encourage you to set goals so that you can complete them in the beginning and get the wins. However, you need to get more aggressive as you progress. I'm going to use this example. I interviewed my friend Courtney Wisely of Rescue My Maid Service on a FB Live to help her set a SMART goal. She wanted to complete a technology course for cleaning service owners to help them be more productive and automated. I asked her if she could get it done by December (12 months away). Her answer was "Heck, yeah!" Then I asked if she could have it done this month. She said, "Heck, no!" I asked about June, which was 6 months away. "Um... yes." She wasn't as confident, but knew she could. Then I said April or 4 months away. She was very uncomfortable, but believed it was possible. I encouraged her to set her SMART goal for April. Here's the psychology behind this and it looks at the 'A' in SMART or 'Attainable'. I pressed Courtney and discovered she could achieve this massive goal in 4 months. However if she set the goal like most people for 12 months, Parkinson's Law would kick in and she'd allow the work to expand to fit the time. That would waste 8 months of potential goals or create a huge Opportunity Cost. Courtney won't do this. She will set the goal for 4 months and kill it this year. Just keep in mind that Courtney is a hyper-focused goal-achiever. We're not all there. So start where you are. The 'A' in the SMART goal has to be defined by YOU depending on where you are in your goal-setting journey. What's barely attainable now will be a joke in a year, so you cannot continue to set the same goals.
The reason I added a 5th part to this Goal-Setting series was to show that human behavior drives your completion of goals. You need to have an emotional 'Why' which determines the 'R' in your SMART goal. You need behavioral 'A' in your SMART goal to kill Parkinson. And you need an accountability partner to ride with you along the journey to point out when you are veering off the path or taking too long to get something done. Face it. Goal-setting is 80% emotional and 20% rational.
We're at part 4 of our goal-setting series. You should have a great handle on your Why, why you set goals, and how to create a SMART goal. These are all vital steps in getting traction and achieving. However, there is more to the equation. Let's talk about an accountability roadmap. Think about a huge map of the country. There's a car off on the side of the map. Where do you want to go? Well, that's a silly question. We first need to know where you are now on the map.
Step 1: Know Your Numbers! You have to know your business numbers, which includes your key performance indicators (KPIs) or scorecard, profit & loss, and where you want to go. This will help you assess exactly where you now compared to your goals and allow you to have the measurables to set solid SMART goals.
Step 2: Know Your WHY! Now that you're car is off the side and on the map in the location of where YOU are, you can pour the fuel into the vehicle and set the direction you would like to travel.
Step 3: Determine Your Route! You will need a series of milestones every 90 days in the form of SMART goals to create the dotted line on your map to get you from where you are to where you want to be.
Step 4: Put on Your Wheel! You need wheels to make your gassed-up car to roll to its destination. My friend Courtney Wisely of Rescue My Maid Service uses these 5 areas to measure the health of your cleaning company: Human Resources, Operations, Marketing, Administration, Finances. I added a 6th area and that is Goal Setting & Accountability. We can place these 6 criteria as 'spokes' on a wheel. Simply segment the spokes with 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Then grade yourself on each to start your journey and connect the dots. You can see this exercise done on my FREE SMART Goals Masterclass. You will need to create a circle so your 'wheel' can get you to your destination.
Step 4: Get a Passenger! We are human and therefore emotional creatures who get distracted easily. It sounds so logical to set the goals and simply drive your car from point A to point B. I wish it were that easy. You will likely get distracted with shiny objects or in some cases, personal struggles may attempt to derail your plans. This is why you can't drive this journey alone. You need a passenger. They are called an accountability partner. Their job is to keep you on the dotted line by monitoring your 'Wheel' and making sure you are not getting distracted. They can become your lifeline, especially if your route takes you over or winding through the Rocky Mountains! What is an accountability partner? I like the Wikipedia defintion: "An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment." Who do you choose? I recommend you create 1-way and 2-way accountability with people you admire and respect. In 1-way accountability, someone is holding you accountable only. They are someone ahead of you and you greatly admire and respect them. You don't want to let them down. They stretch you. This creates respect accountability. You become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Don't choose someone that isn't in life where you want to go. In 2-way accountability, you are buddied up with someone like-minded with similar goals. You are moving in the same direction and can help each other get to your destination. They will have strengths that help you and vice versa. This creates competitive accountability. You still will not want to let them down. The irony is that you will work harder NOT to let your accountability partner down than you will work for you. It's human nature.
Other References and Resources:
Goal-setting is a science and an art. We covered some of the art and the emotion of why to set goals. Now it's time to dive into some science. The S.M.A.R.T. Framework is a methodology of setting goals that allows you to measure and track your progress. Without a system like this, your goals are likely just wishes. Check out my free "SMART Goals Masterclass" to get a great recap on the Why of goals and for an in-depth explanation of the SMART Framework.
In this episode, I want you to grasp that each letter in SMART has a greater purpose. However, I don't think the letters are in the right order. For the purpose of an acronym, SMART makes sense. The true order should be RASMT.
This is our second lesson on goal-setting. The first was "What is Your Why", where we saw the importance of finding what makes you tick and use that to keep you inspired. In this lesson, I want to prove to you why you need to set goals if you want to succeed. In fact, I'll let the well-known Harvard Business Review study tell you why!
This is a remarkable finding. Out of 100 people, only 3 write down their goals and less than 2 (on average) write them down and review them on a regular basis. Furthermore, it is my guess that 1 out of 100 write down their goals, review them on a regular basis, and are held accountable to someone they respect to complete them.
Which of these 100 people would you like to be? If the goal-setters succeed 10 times more than non-goal-setters and the goal writers succeed 30 times more, how much more successful are the 1% that go all-in?!
I want to be a 1%'er. How about you?
Reference: The verse I quoted from the bible is Habakkuk 2:2-3
Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
e are starting 2020 with a 4-part podcast series on Goal Setting. Recently, I was asked by Courtney Wisely of Rescue My Maid Service to be an expert on this topic. I did a live training through Zoom to 8 growing cleaning business owners in St. Louis to identify what topics connected the most. Then I refined my presentation to record a 60-minute masterclass on Goals & Accountability for Courtney's Maidivation subscription boxes. Since this content has been received so well by cleaning companies with large teams and growing businesses, I knew it would connect with my solo cleaning family! Surely, you can go to my website and watch my free 60-min masterclass or just listen to all 4 parts of this podcast series.
Why does the Why matter so much? Let's just say it this way. Simon Sinek has built an entire company, platform, and brand on helping people and companies figure out their why. In his book, "Start With Why", Simon shares the concept of the Golden Circle where the WHY is in the center and the How and What flows outward from it. His experience with thousands of individuals and companies show that those that truly start with why, achieve the most success and significance. The ones that just go for the details, tend to lose their way. Without the Why, the How and the What doesn't matter.
I learned a great exercise in San Diego at Social Media Marketing World. It's called the "5 Why's". In this exercise, you peel back the onion until you get to the real & true heart of your why. This is the vulnerable and most cherished part of you. It will create the fuel of inspiration verses the outside need for motivation, which is more of an air pump. This concept really connected with Courtney's Rescue Retreat attendees. In fact, let me share an example from the retreat.
As you can see, the responses got deeper and more personal. This woman wants her cleaning business to provide the income and time freedom so she can live her Why. By the time you get 5 Why's deep, you should have something that is highly emotional to the person and is highly likely to light their own pilot light for inspiration verses outside motivation. The light of inspiration will never go out.
Go to my Resources page to see my recommended book list including "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek. I also referenced my good friend Josh Melton of Athens Cleaning Company in Athens, GA in the Funny Papers. He co-owns this commercial cleaning company and helps other commercial cleaners nationwide get to the 6-figure income mark.
John Maxwell is internationally acclaimed and sought after for his gifting in the instruction of leadership development. He has spawned thousands of leaders through his system. I may never physically meet him in person, but his books and talks have mentored me for over a decade. There is one specific annual exercise that I would like to wrap up 2019 and I hope you'll join me. Check out John's blog article first!
Here's what John is doing right now and I'll quote him directly from the blog.
"I steal off to my study while everyone else is watching television or napping. There on my desk waiting for me is my appointment calendar from the preceding year and a yellow legal pad. Starting that afternoon and continuing that week up until New Year’s Eve, I spend time reviewing my calendar. I review every appointment, meeting, commitment, and activity—hour by hour—from the previous 359 days. And I evaluate each of them.
Right now, I’m in the midst of this process.
With this annual process, I try to account for every waking hour I had the previous year. What’s the value of that? It helps me to develop strategies for the coming year. Because I do this every year (and have for decades), I’m continually becoming more focused, strategic, and effective. Even if I have a difficult time or relatively unproductive year compared to what I desired, it’s never a loss, because I learn from it and improve upon it in the coming year."
Most people allow their lives to simply happen to them. They float along. They wait. They react. And by the time a large portion of their life is behind them, they realize they should have been more proactive and strategic. My yearly process is just one method that I use to be strategic and intentional.
I’ve found that this is a perfect time of year for reflecting and setting goals."
Here's John's advice for us for 2020 -
"Start by sitting down with your calendar for 2019, along with any to-do lists or journals from the past 12 months. Make note of each event, appointment, and activity. Then evaluate every item on your list.
The key to this exercise is to use what you discover about your past year to inform and guide you in the coming year. This type of reflective thinking can help you discover what worked and what didn’t, and what needs to change for you to become more effective."
Here's my conclusion. Modify this process for YOU. The goal is to start a new discipline in your life. That discipline is called "THINKING". Invest a whole week doing it so you can audit your 2019 and purposely plan 2020 to be a breakthrough year. Lastly, I recommend listing out all of your daily tasks, projects, clients, commitments. Run them through John's questionnaire and place them into 4 boxes! BONE
We explore the cons of solo cleaning in this episode so you know it's not all rainbows and unicorns. If you truly evaluate this business with the pros and cons in proper perspective, you can make an informed decision whether this is the right business for you and your family.
Cons of Solo Cleaning
Group 1: Moms Know How to Clean
95% of current solo cleaners are women and 90% of them are moms. Moms are already the ones doing the solo cleaning. They will continue. Why? Moms are the perfect people to start a solo house cleaning business and the potential is so great!
Group 2: You Need a Mentor
If you're a mom at home, want to start a cleaning company, but you're fearful, you can learn and get mentored by current solo cleaning moms. Your mentors will reach down to help you as they reach side-to-side to help each other. Everyone can reach upward to Ken for instruction and accountability.
Group 3: Alicia & Emily
Alicia is a mom of 3, school teacher, husband in sales. kids in middle & high school, late 40's. No time and cleaning would take up their whole Sunday. Cleaning gave her time & peace of mind. Emily is a late 30's mom with three kids, husband working, she works from home for corporate america. Emily shared the three things that a cleaning service does to help moms.
These 3 Mom Groups all help each other forming a beautiful symbiotic symmetry, or in other words, a Win-Win-Win!
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.