How to Build and Grow a Home Cleaning Business: A Day in the Life of The Cleaning Girl Founder

the cleaning girl

1. Please describe your job. What does an owner do?
I am the president of the company. It’s a full-service residential cleaning service company. Currently, we are present in 3 states on the East coast. We provide online booking, house cleaning plans, same-day service so on.

We’ve been in business for 20 years. First I had a company for 10 years, which I sold and then I had a construction company, sold that as well and now I have been running the cleaning business for over 6 years.

Since I already had experience running service businesses so I could set this up really quickly, but 20 years ago we didn’t have email, social etc and hence it took some time to cope up with the technology. I had to learn setting up the website, payments, emails. Setting up these systems has allowed us to grow as per track and meet our goals as well.

My role is to grow the company which includes research and to stay on top of all the technology and marketing. I take care of all the marketing efforts at The Cleaning Lady. The bigger goal is to sell in the next 3 years. Hence, I want to make it as efficient as possible.

2. Tell us about a typical working day in detail. How does it start and end? What do you use VA’s for the most .  
We have 2 VA’s. 1 for morning and 1 for the afternoon. Our office hours are 9-5.

7 AM – 9 AM – there are a lot of conversations about concerns, questions, customer issues etc.

8 AM – the girls head out for cleaning services.

9 AM – phones turn on for new customers, new enquires, any email, any other questions.

During the day – My role is to make sure everything is fine, answer any phones that come in, manage payroll, billing, follow-ups and so on.

We are planning to change the timings to two different shifts: 7 AM -12 Noon and 12 Noon – 5 PM. These are also the slots for the VAs.

3. What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Initially, the goal was to franchise. It was overwhelming and we started to lose control. It started to feel like we had to be responsible for all of them. As a result, we took all the research and the lessons we learnt and started an academy which talks about objective examples about how to start, run and build a profitable cleaning company.

Part of the academy is a course that is offered through the department of labor throughout the United States. (cleaninggirlacademy.com). We plan to launch it at the beginning of the next year.

Bigger Company Goal: Get acquired in 3 years and focus 100% on the Academy. Apart from that we also track:
– Email Engagement Rates
– Customer behavior: No. of booking, No. of coupons used.
– Customer Lifecycle Value
– Housekeeping staff retention

4. What problems do you face in your daily routine related to work and how do you tackle it or plan to tackle it?
With the services business, you are always going to have issues because you are dealing with people and today people want everything cheaper and faster. If there is any gap, you will hear about it on social media first.

Its been very challenging to move to a technology focussed business. We have different crisis management (911). What this means is that for each issue, we have a solution. e.g. If A is the issue: then A1 is the solution or if B is the issue, then B1 is the solution. It’s an evolving checklist.

Similarly, with the staff, not everyone is designed to work for you. Sometimes you just need to make a decision and let people go if we are both not aligned. This helps us cut costs as well. In general, anytime something breaks, you build a process to ensure it does not break again. Given our scale, its obviously easy to let things slide, so we try to make sure we are not overloaded and that the process handles things.

One clear challenge is fake reviews: We reply to all the reviews. We have an entire review system to make sure everything is in place.

5. What do you love about your job?
Love: Helping people. We work with numerous women. We are a complete women-oriented company. We have created a flexible business model that helps me and other women spend time with family and focus on things that they need to sustain their households. 

As a business, we let them determine how much they need to work for their families. We let them work 2 days, 5 days or whatever works for them financially. This has allowed them to be more independent of their schedule, lifestyle.

6. How do you keep yourself updated with what’s new in this business? Do you read or watch any content that is related to your business?
It’s constant researching. For example, right now we have learned that texting is way better than email to reach customers. This happened just in the past 3 months. Text messages are by far the best solution for contacting customers because everything on the phone. As a result, we are now testing texting for recruiting as well.

Apart from that, I do read a few cleaning blogs. More than cleaning blogs, I read business blogs and podcasts like Mashable, Reddit. The reason is that most tech information first reaches these blogs and then industry-specific blogs and I want to get the information first as an early adopter.

7. What is your take on voice as a channel to make a booking or schedule an appointment? 
I was introduced to voice last year. It could potentially change the way people book services. But i have not heard or don’t know how that works right now. I would definitely love to do more research and figure out how this could impact our business.

8. Any advice for people getting into this business?

  • It’s a great business to be in but getting more and more saturated. You are always going to have a person who can do the work for less to nothing and then people who are just going to survive but never grow. So no. 1 thing is to pick a vertical: is it constructions, residential, office space. Don’t go after everything, it doesn’t work.
  • It’s not about what everybody is charging. It’s about what you can afford. It’s not just about cleaning, it’s about running a profitable business. These are very different things. It is a business at the end of the day.
  • Hustles equal hastle. Its 2019, there is a better way. So know your vertical, know your number. If you don’t know something, find someone who can do this faster otherwise you will fail.

About Kelly
Kelly Jones is the President of The Cleaning Girl, Inc., an on demand and award winning Residential cleaning company servicing Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. As a 100% woman owned and operated company, The Cleaning Girl proudly connects homeowners with housekeepers by offering same day, online domestic solutions homeowners an on demand offering through innovative package pricing and convenient online booking through the company’s Mobile App…providing the perfect solution for any family, home or lifestyle. 

At the early age of 22, Kelly recognized her passion for cleaning and through her skills and expertise, acquired another cleaning company within the first year of business, doubling her revenue stream and quickly gaining attention as the “IT” girl for cleaning with her sneakers and a smile.  After selling her first cleaning company to a local competitor, she was met with a lucrative city post construction cleaning contract that she reluctantly agreed to take on. After receiving numerous calls for additional referred opportunities, she chose to return to the cleaning industry and build a new business and create a power brand. 

Through 18 years of experience in cleaning, organization, and leadership, Kelly has guided her team to professionally cleaning over 10,000 homes while winning the following awards: 

2019 NAWBO Business Woman of the Year

2019 Delaware Business Times Fastest 50 growing company

2018 Delaware Small Business Administration “Woman Business of the Year”

2017 Delaware Business Times 40 under 40

2016 & 2017 News Journal Reader’s Choice Award

Kelly’s new adventure includes The Cleaning Girl Academy, a digital resource center for All Things Clean, as well as a Training Program slated for the Department of Labor, an Amazon store and The Cleaning Girl Watch show launching in 2020.  
The flexibility of business ownership has enhanced a life and work balance which includes maintaining a household, three kids, one dog and a husband of 20 years. Through non profit committees and numerous affiliations including The Women’s Business Center, YWCA “Mind Your Business” Program, and the University of Delaware Lerner Executive Mentoring Program, Kelly continues to empower women in business and support their success. Her power team includes local business women who support her vision for this 100% female company and continue to guide her through this entrepreneurial journey