Launch & Learn Week Six: Interview with a Maid Service Expert
By now, if you’ve launched your maid service business, and followed the Launch & Learn posts, you know what struggle and uncertainty feel like. You’re familiar with that “how in the world am I going to do this?” feeling. It can be a steep learning curve at times, no? Sometimes it helps to think about why you started this venture in the first place.
Remember that list of questions we posed in the very first post about what success looks like for you?
Let’s press ‘pause’ this week and hear from someone who has been where you are and gone on to develop a successful maid service. She was also one of our first Launch27 maid service software users. Her name is Kelly Jones and she’s the founder of The Cleaning Girl, which is pretty much the big kid girl on the block when it comes to maid service in Wilmington, Delaware.
Kelly has learned a thing or two since she set out to build a business twenty years ago. And she’s developed some powerful strategies for riding the wave of change and creating a business that no longer consumes her every waking moment. A business that was recognized as Delaware’s Fastest Growing Company in 2019.
Having transformed herself from an uncertain struggler to a competent business owner, she offers a glimpse of what it looks like on the other side. Three recurring themes reflect her major areas of focus: planning, processes, and people.
Plan to differentiate
Honest and transparency are two qualities that Kelly exudes. She doesn’t gloss over the fact that the maid service industry has become very competitive. In her words, “We live in the Amazon world now. Everyone is accustomed to fast and cheap. Consumers rule. To differentiate yourself, you have to plan. Most folks don’t put enough focus on this part.”
She and her team reserve January and February for planning. During this time they evaluate the previous year’s efforts and map out a path forward. For example, advertising campaigns are a priority. This season of planning is when they organize time and resources for the year ahead. The busy seasons, such as spring cleaning, and back to school in the Fall, are especially important.
Getting clear about the big goals, helps you create the schedules, and tweak the processes to accomplish them.
Remember: Most businesses fail for lack of clear planning. Be the exception!
Be passionate about processes
Kelly is the self-proclaimed “Process Poster Girl.” She’s quick to admit that if it weren’t for the processes she’s created and implemented, she could not have the lifestyle business she set out to build. Currently, there are twelve maids, three support people, and 150 customers.
“I’m a mom first. A lot of people want to build a million-dollar business, but I wanted to build a lifestyle business. It all depends on what your priorities are. Family is my priority. My husband works nights, so for me to be able to drive kids to sporting events or drop everything for a doctor visit, I couldn’t afford to have a job in a cubicle. I have a healthy weekly income and it also provides capital for other ventures such as The Cleaning Girl Academy we’re launching next year.”
None of this would have been possible without creating and maintaining solid business processes.
Creating a sellable business
Though she may not be selling it any time soon, creating a sell-able business requires a process-driven mindset. And it’s paid off. Kelly works about 3 to 4 hours a week on the business – not in the business.
Among the processes implemented are the 20 FAQ questions created for customers, employees, and homeowners. These aren’t the FAQ’s you read on a website, but more the internal operational FAQ’s that answer questions like, “What’s the first thing you do when you enter a house? It’s the “When X happens, you do Y” kind of stuff.
Another example is Kelly’s 7 point checklist for monitoring the pulse on the major pieces of the business. Here’s that checklist for you in no particular order:
The power of the 7 points is not just in having a list, but having a process for using it consistently to keep the business on track.
Similarly, The Cleaning Girl has an onboarding process and a reference handbook for the “How to” side of the business.
Remember: Processes are key to building a business that eliminates the need for your ongoing involvement. Create a sell-able business.
People create possibilities
One of the recurring themes in our conversation with Kelly is her commitment to her customers, her maids and support team, and her community. That commitment has paid off.
For example, when COVID hit, she took it upon herself to put together cleaning kits for her maids so they didn’t have to fight the crowds at the stores. Kelly made sure that any of her maids that wanted to work were able to do so. She created an Amazon store for replenishing their cleaning supplies. As a result, not one of her maids declined a cleaning schedule.
She opened a constant communication channel with her cleaners and customers and assured them that she was on her game concerning safety. New protocols were created. For example, she stopped accepting Airbnb assignments. New boundaries were created for existing customers such as not changing sheets. Being open and honest about the risks helped reinforce her concerns for both her customers and her cleaners.
Build those community ties!
Kelly has made it a point to build strong ties in her community. She speaks at local events, and networks relentlessly. Also, she won the 2019 Delaware Business Owner of the Year Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).
But along with giving generously to the community, Kelly has also learned to be willing to ask for help.
“I could have built my business much faster if I’d been willing to ask for advice from people smarter than me. Instead, I tried to figure it all out on my own. Don’t make that mistake! I now have no hesitation about calling someone smarter than me and asking for help.”
One never knows where these community connections can lead. In Kelly’s case, her business is being considered for an episode on the TV series, The Profit, with Marcus Lemonis!
Remember: Be deliberate about tapping into the magic of your community. Don’t try to go it alone!
On that note, you’ve just read some great insight from someone who has built a successful business. How can you use it to help you?
Time for some homework!
Is it time to step back and make a few plans for Q4? Maybe consider using January and February to plan 2021?
Does Kelly’s 7 point checklist bring to mind any opportunities to create new processes? Can you see yourself making that kind of analysis a process in itself?
After you’ve considered your planning and processes, think of one action you could take this next week to deepen relationships with your customers, cleaners, or community.
Keep going! You’re on your way to becoming a maid service expert!