One year ago, I had just returned from the Total Life Freedom Mastermind Retreat in Gatlinburg, TN in mid-October 2019. My arrogance and pride were exposed to 20 other entrepreneurs from around the country and I was faced with a difficult choice. Do I go all-in to building a new solo cleaning company in the Philly Area and am I courageous enough to share my weekly progress to you, my podcast audience? If you've been a listener to this show for any amount of time, you already know my answer. "YES!"
We all have that one child that we seem to teaching the same lessons to over and over. That's my middle son Kolby. He's my main man, 9-years-old and we share the same birthday. I say that the best birthday gift I ever received was him! He loves that. Kolby has a way of asserting his belief that he is always right. He also tends to talk and hear, more than listen. He will interrupt others when they are talking and not realize he's doing it (as he's in his own head). If his mom says it's warm out, he says it's hot. If she says it's hot, he'll say it's cold. You get the picture. I was teaching Kolby the difference between hearing and listening recently. Kenny overhead the lesson and thought it was a podcast episode. So here you go! I hope Kenny was right!
This personal business update will be a little different. I do have some updates and it looks like a new client is coming on board as well. I'm combining a few weeks and sharing the highlights. One of the benefits of building a profitable solo cleaning business like I have and being debt-free now is that we can take more getaways as a family. It did NOT used to be like this. We have struggled just as much if not more than many of you listening right now. At the end of last summer, our family rented a house in Ocean City, NJ right after Labor Day with the Pugliese Family. They have 3 boys, which are the same age as our oldest 3 and our families get along so well. We went to the Great Wolf Lodge with them a few winters ago as well. Last year's beach trip was so successful that we did it again last week. We rented a much larger house with 3 balconies with ocean view and a block form the sand. It was awesome. We were on vacation, but we were not idle.
Toward the end of the summer, I met for breakfast with my Chamber of Commerce friend Ken Byler. He owns Higher Ground Consulting, helping leaders and their teams to thrive. It was fun to reconnect with Ken. He's super smart and knows how to ask great questions. In fact, he hit me with 3 questions that really got me thinking.
I was having a pre-driving talk with my 15-year-old son and shared my example when I was 16. I wanted to drive a car, but my mom couldn't put me on her policy. I bought my car for $1,300. Then my monthly expenses of car insurance, maintenance, and gas cost a ton. I needed this car to get to my job at the mall, but really I wanted the car to look cool driving to high school. I felt like I was treading water and not going anywhere. Why? I was going to school all day and then working at night. My weekly paycheck after taxes was just enough to pay my car expenses. I was in an ironic situation where I was working just to drive and driving just to go to work. I could have quit the job and hitched a ride to school from my neighbor and spent my time doing something I wanted to do. It took me a few years until I learned how to earn more income with the jobs I took. I was no longer working to drive as I had extra. Thank goodness or I would not have been able to afford taking my girlfriend Teresa anywhere. I could and won her over. I told Kenny. "And now she's your mom."
I'm excited to take you backstage again into my own solo cleaning business as I work to achieve my 2020 SMART goals! Now that the school year was back for my family and for my clients, I made a shift to my new schedule. I shuffled my biweekly Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday houses to Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. My goal was to reduce driving. When you're adding new clients like I've been, it's hard to optimize for location as you go. I tend to put new ones where I have the time to do an amazing 3-part initial cleaning. Once I speed up and lock in new clients, I begin to play calendar Tetris. As a practice, I try to move clients infrequently like once per year or less. Once I had the new schedule decided, I connected via email and text with each client to let them know. They all happily agreed.
There are so many people with the words, "I can't" as a major part of their vocabulary. It's an easy answer and an easy excuse to fail. Those two words come from a society trained to be followers versus critical thinkers. I've been saying this to myself and my kids for over a decade. If we can change those 2 words to 3 words, everything changes. Do you know what the 3 words should be? You guessed it (it's in the title). "How can I?
I would like to thank a listener to this podcast for this episode. A few weeks ago, I received an email from Katie Young, sharing with me that she was in the planning phase of her new solo cleaning business. Katie was very excited to get started and thanked me for my support through this podcast. Then she asked a question that I have not directly answered yet.
This week started with content batching. Batching is an optimizer's tool for ultra productivity. Every month, I create blogs, podcasts, and videos for Carfagno Cleaning and Solo Cleaning School. It takes a ton of time to do each week. I used batching in my cleaning business and in other areas of business over the years. When Teresa's mom was available to watch the kids overnight, we jumped on the opportunity and grabbed a hotel for the night. I got so much done as I batched blog after blog after blog. We also enjoyed time together, so it was a win-win. The following day, I rented an office from my MCBA friend Vernessa Hopkins. Vernessa owns H3 Business Services in Harleysville, PA. The office was perfect and I was able to record all of my podcasts for the upcoming month. My batching goal was to invest a few days and dollars to complete all of my content for a month. I accomplished that! Please keep this in mind. The portion of my batching that related to my solo cleaning business was a small part, so it may not be necessary for you to batch your content. However, you may start sending out newsletters a few times per month, maintain your website, and repurpose content to Facebook and Google My Business. Batching would be a great idea for you at that point.
Building a business is a privilege we have as free people in America. Patriots have bled and died to give and preserve this freedom and I never want to forget it. I also don't want to take it for granted. Kathy Barnette is the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress for the 4th District of Pennsylvania. This is the district I live in. She was a guest speaker in our church prior to the election and I was so moved with her talk that I asked her permission, her campaign, and our church for the right to take an excerpt from her talk and share it to my podcast audience. They agreed that this was a powerful message about preserving liberty and should be shared.
This episode is in the same mindset of "Top of Mind" and "Get your Name Out There ". My solo cleaning business grew this week with a new client, but first I want to share about Tom and Andrew and how they each helped me. I wasn't afraid to ask for feedback.
Tom and graduated high school together. We haven't talked in 25 years, with the exception of a few Facebook likes. Last week, I got a private message from Tom. "Hey Ken I tagged you on a comment from Ryan Nyce. He went to MHS a few years younger than us. He's a realtor in our hometown area. He was looking for a cleaner for Trooper. If that's in your sandbox, then feel free to comment to him as well. Good luck man! I listened to a few episodes of your podcast. I'm not a cleaner, but some of the business-related stuff I enjoyed! Keep up the good work!" I had no idea that Tom was paying any attention to what I've been working on. I was honored to be honest. I always liked Tom. We had our jokes and goofed off as seniors, but he's done very well in life and I respect him. This message was so encouraging. I did connect with Ryan and friended him. He added me to his cleaning list and we'll connect sometime and I'll share with him my 3 levels of cleaning so he understands what I do.
There are two stories I'd like to share to prove that mastery comes with strategic practice. The first story is cute. While making a secret Santa with my son Kye in the basement, I was painting meticulously. Kye marveled and said. "Wow, Dad. You're really good at that. When I get bigger, I'll be able to do it too." I said. "Kye, it's not getting bigger that will make you better. It's a lot of practice. I've been painting for 35 years." He got it right away. It's not how many years you've been alive. It's how many reps you put in. Do you follow this simple mindset?
I've broken a lot over 15 years, but it's all relative. I have two mindsets to discuss before I share my cleaning misdeeds.
I've told this story for years. Teresa and I were in the Amway business from 2002 to 2012. While we were there, we were blessed with incredible friends and mentors. One of those men is Herb Eplee. He build his Amway business to 6-figures and residual income in the early 90's and retired from corporate America at 37 years old. Herb is a self-acclaimed Kentucky redneck. He had a retirement party that literally made the Spartanburg, SC newspapers as he set 5 alarm clocks in a field. He labeled them Monday through Friday and blew them up one by one with a shotgun. All of his friends in the Amway business celebrated with American flags as he quit his job. I met Herb 10 years later. He was my Amway Upline and helped Teresa and I in so many ways along with our other upline mentor Joe Schirripa. These two men, whom I'll share more about in future podcasts taught us business owner mentality and mentored us in business, marriage, and faith.
Do you know how the tea kettle works? It's simple. You fill up the kettle, leaving some room at the top. There is a small pour spout on top with a hinged lid. The water slowly heats up as pressure increases inside this closed pressure vessel. Once critical mass is achieved and the water is boiling, the pressure inside causes the kettle lid to crack and whistle. The water is ready for making tea. I won't mention the person, but I heard a story this week that got me thinking about the tea kettle. This person has a long commute to work, a mentally demanding job, an elderly parent to care for, and children in high school and college in this post-COVID world. This person is constantly in a state of work, like Vincent Pugliese mentioned in the previous episode, "My Greatest Ideas have Never Come from Being Busy " As this person was talking, I could feel the tension, stress, and internal pressure like the water in the heating tea kettle. I felt terrible, but also realized that once a person is in this state, they won't believe they can get out. They feel trapped because they are under so much pressure, with no mental margin, and no quieting time to get new ideas to change things. The image of that tea kettle kept coming to mind.
I brought my friend Vincent Pugliese into the SMART Cleaning Tribe that I facilitate in July as an expert to share mindset on building a life of Total Life Freedom. We covered many topics, but one connected more than any other. It was the concept of quieting your brain. Listen to the podcast for the full discussion. I'll share a few points he made while talking with Lizzie Strohl of Lebanon Cleaning Crew out of Lebanon, MO.
In a recent solo cleaning business update, "Slow Down to Speed Up ", I invested 45 minutes in the driveway talking to potential clients. I answered all of their questions and even walked one through a series of questions to use to interview other cleaning services. Her name is Meghann. She hired me for an initial cleaning last week and it went splendid. Meghann was very impressed and wanted to get quotes for a recurring service either biweekly or monthly. I provided those prices within a day. By the end of last week, we agreed on a monthly recurring service for $160. Yay! It pays to slow down. I invested 30 minutes on the phone and it turned into $2,200 in revenue over the first 12 months!
I published the article, "Did you Know Cleaning has a Specialist Too?" for Carfagno Cleaning and sent it out as my weekly newsletter. I want to read you this article as it will help you understand WHY I earn more per client than others.
I also want to thank my fellow BIB member and insurance agent, Andew Rumbold of the R.A. Fraser Group for asking me the follow-up question "What is a Level 4 Specialist"? Andrew, that's an amazing question and here's my answer. I believe that the highest level one can attain in a craft or discipline is one of the teacher. You cannot teach what you haven't done. Thus, the teacher is higher than the doer. I labeled Level 2 and 3 as the experts in the science and art of cleaning and therefore labeled myself a Level 3 Cleaning Specialist. But thanks to Andrew, I am changing my label to the teacher and Level 4 Cleaning Specialist. I teach the science and art of cleaning to you listening to this podcast, to my students in the Solo Cleaning School Elite Membership, and my local community through newsletters, network meeting presentations, and webinars. I am a Level 4 Cleaning Specialist and like the doctors and surgeons from the medical field earn the most... so do I!
There is a Level 0 Cleaner too! I call them "Aunt Sally" cleaners. They are sweet ladies who live down the street or clean part-time while in college or raising kids. They are uninsured, under-the-table & non-compliant on taxes, and come with HIGH-risk of getting you in trouble if something goes wrong.
This is a follow up to "Top of Mind" as I walk through 3 examples of how I get my name out there. Also, make sure to listen to the "Go for No" episode before this one! If you didn't listen yet, stop, and go back! It's hard in the beginning to do this as you fear what others will think of your new cleaning business. I promise you. It gets easier the more you do it. The next mindset you need is one of service and helping others. Getting your name out isn't greedy or self-serving. There are people right now that need exactly what you offer. You would be selfish to hold it back. Therefore, have courage and overcome the fear. Share your knowledge and your business and let God work out the rest. That's what I do. Here's the examples that happened my solo cleaning business over the past 2 weeks.
You need to read the book, "Go for No". It's recommended on my 'Resources' page! I first read this book in 2007.
It taught me that No is not the opposite direction from Yes. In fact, it's on the way to it! Once I got that, my brain shifted 180 degrees. I was still fearful to talk to people as an introvert, but I lost the biggest reason for the fear. This book lays this out. Most people assume that getting a No to your offer is failure and Yes is success. That's wrong! Getting No's is a part of the process to get Yes's. If I got 1 Yes every 10 times, it meant that it took me 9 No's to get 1 Yes. Thus, No (and many of them) was on the way to Yes and success. I also learned that failure was not trying at all or giving up. This totally gave me freedom and removed a lot of my fear!
We need to stop trying to rush everything. I do have a goal and teach optimizing and getting faster at cleaning. However, I DO NOT rush the marketing and new client process. I take a lot of time to connect with potential clients. This pays off as I understand the trust building process. I have a few examples from this week in my own solo cleaning business. Let me paint the picture first. I was gone all day cleaning houses. While I cleaned, two messages came through for cleaning inquiries. I could have answered them, but it would hurt my optimizing times as the distraction would cause me to lose momentum. Plus, I wouldn't be on top of my game to give full attention to the prospects. I took voicemails. When I got home, I stayed in my car for 45 minutes. My wife and kids wanted me to come in and see them. Teresa didn't know why I was sitting in my car for so long, but she gave me the space. I was making an investment. During this 45 minutes, I returned 2 phone calls and took my time.
I've been cleaning homes since 2006 and have noticed a dramatic increase in home security as technology improves. Alarms have gone from wired to wireless. Cameras surveil various angles and locations of the home. Garages have keypads. Families are more secure than ever and they can do so at an expense less than it used to cost. This happens so predictively that economists give it a name.
McDonald's is largest fast food restaurant chain in the world. There are nearly 40,000 stores worldwide totaling $21 billion in annual sales. I used to eat at McD's a lot as a kid and young adult. My favorite meal was the breakfast combo Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin, hash brown, and juice. Ray Kroc founded McDonald's on April 15th, 1955. He was a big thinker from the beginning and pioneered the franchise model, where you have a system for each new store empowering the spirit of the entrepreneur and leveraging the success of duplication. The company knows how to advertise with their jingles being some of the most well-known on the planet. They know how to entertain, bringing playgrounds inside their restaurants to get more kids to bring their parents. The company knows how to grow and scale. If you ever study this, you will be impressed. So many cleaning companies adopt franchise models as well for the same reasons. Like McDonald's, they can scale to incredible proportions.
When I was 13, I got a job with the Movie Exchange. It was the company owned bye buy step-grandparents Monty and Shelly Tibbitts, whom I've talked about in prior episodes. They were the only entrepreneurs in my teen years, but I never had the courage to ask them real questions on business mindset. I wish that I had! However, I did learn a ton from them by watching the way the they lived and the way others treated them. First of all, they had money! There were always two Jags in the driveway. They owned a private plane, a boat, a beach house, wave runners. Secondly, they had beautiful decor and they entertained first rate. Check out "Eat with your Eyes First". The Tibbitts' were all about serving and mingling family with business. They made their business deals and built relationships with employees and their families at the dinner table in their home. Their imprint is definitely on me as an adult entrepreneur. I just didn't recognize it until Pop-Pop Monty passed away a few years ago.
I met Tom while living with my mother in-law. He was so nice and gave recycled computers to Kenny from his computer repair store. It started Kenny on a path to do computer flipping as a side business. We stayed in touch with Tom, with a possibility of Kenny doing some interning for him. I bumped into Tom again when he was on the Chamber webinar where I taught the "9 Mistakes in Disinfecting". Tom was really impressed and wanted to have me speak on the topic in a local business owner's group. We stayed in touch as COVID slowed. He invited us over as he had more recycled computers for Kenny. I've been very grateful that Tom thought of my son and helping a budding computer entrepreneur. I showed up with my son a few days later during a podcast recording day. I was dressed in shorts and a tank top. While Kenny was rummaging through computers, Tom mentioned that he was interested in getting a cleaning quote down the road. Of course, I told him we could set it up. But as Kenny took his time, Tom said. "Would you like to see it now?" I was not in professional dress and told Tom that I felt funny. He laughed and took me around the building. I took notes and promised to get some quotes out to him. When I saw the bathroom, I felt challenged by the rings in the sink. I knew Kenny wasn't done yet, so I said to Tom. "I'll be right back. I'm going to get the big guns and make this sink look awesome." He didn't argue at all. By the time Kenny was ready, the sink was glistening and Tom was amazed.
Ken Carfagno optimized his first solo cleaning business to $60,000 annual profit working 2 days per week without employees, sold it for close to 6-figures, and is currently following his ISO Model to do it again in a different state! This podcast will equip you to do the same!