I shared in previous episodes that marketing is layered. You add one at a time. Well, I began to use the free Google My Business listing in November 2019. It's a simple tool and totally allows me to showcase my strengths. I call this in my ISO Model Course, a "Profile to Win". Here's the gist. What can I display about me and my company to create trust and credibility before they ever call me? In my 15 years, I have learned that before & after pictures, professional credentials, and recommendations are essential. This is what I love about Google my Business. You can collect 5-star reviews, add posts and credentials to show off your level of specialization, and post before & after pictures. Google has internal analytics that I can easily track called "insights", allowing me to see the impact of these updates. I currently have 21 5-star reviews, tons of pictures, and a weekly blog with links to my website. Google uses this information to boost me for free up their search algorithms. In fact, when you search "House Cleaning Harleysville", you'll find my company highly ranked in the map pack on page 1. I've been wondering if this effort was going to pay off as no leads have come yet (at least that I knew about). Please understand. I ran my solo cleaning company for 14 of 15 years with NO website. I didn't have a Google My Business listing until last year and started my Facebook business page 2 years ago. You may be asking yourself how in world I ever got any leads! I grinded it out and was referred by word of mouth and I had a ton of success in earlier years with ServiceMagic (presently HomeAdvisor). However, some marketing channels that worked in prior years may not today. I ditched HomeAdvisor for Facebook, Google, and a website. It's so cost effective as I only pay like $20 per year for the website and the others are free. Anyway, it goes without saying that I've never received a lead through my website until this week! Thank you Google!
This episode is completely different from others! I made a mistake in my industry, owned it, and it turned out really well! I'm a member of various cleaning groups on Facebook. One of them is called Professional House Cleaners, run by my friend Angela Brown of Savvy Cleaner. There are over 10,000 cleaning service owners active in this group to share lessons and best practices for the benefit of our industry. That's how it's supposed to work. We are all a part of the same industry and we understand that a rising tide, rises all ships.
Let's start this Carfagno Cleaning solo business with a WIN! Last week, I got 5 referrals through my local network (listen to Play Powerball with your Business). The lead from my friend and carpet cleaner, James Hardy, converted to a new office cleaning client! Since this new client is a school, I had to jump through a few more hoops. First of all, I needed to go beyond adding them as a 'Certificate Holder' on my general liability policy. I needed to increase my insurance for this additional customer. This is called 'Additionally Insured'. My current policy provides $2 million of coverage per year at $500 in annual premium. This new client cost me an additional $50, which I count as an expense. I also had to coordinate a cleaning time with the school and their weekend janitor to let me into the building. The school is not in the habit of handing out keys to outside contractors. Spoiler alert: I prayed over this situation as I desire to have offices with the flexibility to clean anytime over the weekend. A few days later, the school made an exception for me and gave me a set of keys! Lastly, this new client is a school for autistic children. I know autism and realize that these students will be on the floor a lot, touching things, and likely touching their faces. Thus, disinfecting of the classrooms and floors was vital. They already had a food & skin safe disinfectant and asked me my opinion for the floors. I researched it and immediately determined it was a bad choice. Why? The title of this episode is "Art Trumps Science". Let's talk science first. The pH was slightly alkaline at 9. The floors are VCT (vinyl composition tile). VCT is commonly used in schools and supermarkets. They are also waxed & buffed on a regular basis to keep a beautiful finish and to protect the tile. My friend James Hardy did the job, so we conferred with him and he agreed. This ph 9 disinfectant had just enough alkalinity to eat away at the wax finish, which would dull it and cause James to come back sooner. Therefore, their disinfectant was a wonderful choice for the refrigerators, microwaves, table tops, door knobs, and light switches, but NOT the floors. I connected with my good friend Mark Lineberry at Universal Janitorial and he recommended the perfect solution. It's called MatPro. The school purchased it and now uses my recommendations for disinfecting and protecting their students and staff. This raised my expertise and trust with the school big time. See! Understanding science is vital. It sets you apart from the basic cleaning service!
This episode is completely my son's idea. Kenny jammed his finger a couple months ago. I noticed that he was dragging his feet with household chores because his finger hurt. He wasn't shooting the basketball well and losing in PIG because his finger was hurt. It seemed like everything Kenny did that first week, he was looking for empathy and wanting everyone to see him suffering. It also gave him a built in excuse why he wasn't performing in multiple tasks.
As we emerge out of the pandemic, people are wanting their homes and offices cleaned again. This week alone, I got 5 opportunities to quote! Before I share the 5 leads, I want to explain a principle. Are you familiar with the lotto machine?
My son was getting frustrated with cutting the grass. We have an acre and he'd take 2 days to complete it. His total time was 2 hr 45 min (30 min prep, filling up grass, picking up large sticks, cleaning up yard toys and moving furniture) and 2 hr 15 min to mow over 2 days. He wanted a riding mower because it was taking too long.
This was a breakthrough week for the Big Picture of what I'm doing. I have business SMART goals that I set for my solo cleaning business on 1/1/20. I share this mindset in my goal-setting series (What is Your Why, Why Set Goals, Make Your Goals SMART, The Accountability Roadmap, and Kill Parkinson). The lessons and reminders from this week in business forced my hand to create a 6th installment to this series.
Chest freezers are super-hard to get right now with the COVID pandemic. They are back ordered by manufacturers and the used market is dry. So when Teresa came across one on Facebook Marketplace, she jumped at the opportunity as she really wants one. It was a great deal and the seller was going above and beyond to save it for us. He assured me that it worked and I trusted him. He's a business person and had a solid story for why he was selling it. I'm usually a very good judge of trust.
We watched "Hamilton" as a family and loved it! Lin-Manual Miranda is genius and so talented. We can't stop singing the songs and I keep finding myself singing, "You'll be back" or "I am Alexander Hamilton". There was an incredible lesson in leadership that was introduced in the earliest scenes of the play and played out in the Election of 1800. Aaron Burr was portrayed as an excellent politician, but held no definite position. In the play, here's Burr's advice to Hamilton in the opening. "Talk less. Smile more. Don't let them know what you're against of what you're for." Hamilton's response was, "you can't be serious." Burr simply stated as a politician would. "You wanna get ahead? Fools who run their mouth off wind up dead." Burr followed his own advice and climbed the political ranks.
In the first year of my cleaning business, we were struggling big time! Every house was a chore and every dollar was spent before I even earned it. I'll never forget the house at Lake George. It taught me so much.
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 past episodes during COVID-19, I have shared at nauseum how I've educated my local community on the "9 Mistakes in Disinfecting". I have shared it in every group that would allow with several others upcoming! In my latest edition to my BIB networking group, I blazed through the 9 mistakes in 5 minutes. Since we were all on Zoom, some members had spouses in the background listening. I just wanted to get this information out there. My friend Bill Downs called me after the meeting. "Ken, my wife was listening to the call and said that we need to have Ken over here!" I scheduled the estimate, completed it the following day, and sent the proposal email by Saturday morning!
I am excited to introduce my friend and YouTube superstar, Cassandra Aarssen to Solo Cleaning School. I invited her to be an expert guest in the SMART Cleaning Tribe that I lead for team cleaning companies needing accountability around goals. Cassandra was a busy mom of two small kids when she started her home organizing business. At the time, she was also running a daycare with 9 children for extra money. She saw home organizing as a way to make extra money and possibly get out of the daycare business. It did WAY more than that! Her husband recommended that she record a video with her phone and upload to YouTube. Cassandra has continued this discipline for over 7 years and 750 videos! In this interview, she shares the Clutterbug story. You may be thinking... 'Ken, she isn't a solo cleaner. Why should I care?' For one, she was a solo operator of her home service business like you and I. Secondly, she turned her local brand into a global one that now earns her hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Check out these power quotes from Cassandra!
In my last solo cleaning business update, I shared how sharing my knowledge directly lead to my local pharmacy boosting a video I made leading to over 4,500 views! Collaboration is so vital. It's what networking done right really is. Like-minded local business owners sharing with each other for the greater good of the community. Life also gets in the way. I've shared how losing my Nana caused me to slow down work to attend to family matters. The last few weeks have been difficult as I'm the family point of contact for my autistic uncle. I had at least 2 full days of phone calls, emails, and updates to my family members and his team to take care of. I only share this to be real. I had less time and had to prioritize this week and I prioritized collaboration! Here are some examples of actions I took this week:
The spider monkey is extremely hard to catch due to its speed and agility. However, you can trap the monkey with a box and a fruit. That's all it takes. Place a piece of delicious fruit inside of a box designed to fit the monkey's arm. Once he grabs the fruit, he cannot let go, even though his clenched fist will not fit through the hole. The monkey is snared by its small thinking and desire for the immediate gratification of the delicious fruit. Ultimately, this is the undoing of the spider monkey.
In this podcast, I share an incredible case study from my friend Hugh Gbewonyo from Foot Solutions in Norristown, PA. Before I go into Hugh's case study, it's important to understand his industry and how he chose to niche. The shoe industry has been growing year-after-year from the 1-to-1 shoe salesman model to the box store. My dad was a shoe salesman in small private owned mall store who knew shoes, was great with people, and took the time with each. I sold shoes years later in a box store where I was trained to help as many as I could and how to properly greet and "sell" them. This is the retail model that took over every industry for the past 40 years. Hugh didn't want that kind of shoe store. He wanted to set himself apart and really help people with every day life by becoming a certified pedorthist. Although he's not a medical doctor for feet, he can analyze feet & gait to recommend custom shoes for people. Thus, his shoe store is a sub-niche from shoe stores.
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".
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.
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."
I host an accountability & mastermind call every Monday for the SMART Cleaning Tribe. We are a family of cleaning service owners with teams (that used to be solo). I'm the architect of this group of amazing people, always looking for the 1% that desires to set monthly SMART goals and be held accountable to their achievement. Check out the episode "The Accountability Roadmap" to learn more about the 1% club.
I've been reading a morning devotional called "Daily Readings from It's Your Time" by Pastor Joel Osteen. On page 131, I read "Be a Bounce-Back Person" in amazement. Do you know that the little palm tree can endure the worst of hurricanes, when all other trees are thrown over? I didn't! The palm tree is uniquely designed by God to bend, but not break. Then, the palm tree grows after the storm because the root system is strengthened by the bending of the tree. It's absolutely inspiring and incredible! In this episode, I encourage you to be like the palm tree. Bend and do not break. Then use the storm to grow from!
Right in the middle of the hardest emotional week of my life, I took my oldest son Kenny on day trip to Jack Frost & Big Boulder Ski Resort in the Pocono Mountains. There are two monster lessons I learned this day and wanted to share them both.
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.
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!