Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by The ZenMaid Team
WHY TRUST US? The ZenMaid team has eight current and past cleaning business owners, including our CEO and founder Amar, who know the ins and outs of the maid service industry like the back of their hands. They share their expertise with us in product development, with the customer success team, and content, which includes the article you’re about to read. We also partner with some amazing leaders in the cleaning industry, like Debbie Sardone, Angela Brown, Courtney Wisely, Chris Schwab, and more, to provide you with the latest industry insights. The tips and advice you’ll find on our blog have helped our team grow their maid services, and we’re excited to share them with you to help you grow your business too.
How to Build a Profitable Cleaning Business
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If you’re a cleaning business owner looking for real, actionable steps to grow your venture, you’ve hit the jackpot. This article is based on a presentation from Alonzo Adams, a big shot in the cleaning industry, known for his ‘big thinking.’ You’re about to get a peek into his playbook. From making sense of past failures, building a rock-solid business foundation to smartly managing your cash flow, these are the 13 foundational pillars to building your profitable cleaning business. Ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work? Let’s dive in.
- How to Build a Profitable Cleaning Business
- 1. Embrace Big Thinking
- 2. Learn from Failures
- 3. Building a Sustainable Business
- 4. People Matter
- 5. Execution Is Key
- 6. The Importance of Meetings in Business
- 7. Strategizing for Success
- 8. Playing Offense and Defense in Business
- 9. Cash is King
- 10. Funding for Growth
- 11. Getting the Most from Your Team and Customers
- 12. Investing Back Into Your Business
- 13. Mastering the Money Game
- Final Thoughts
- Your Next Step
1. Embrace Big Thinking
The driving force behind any thriving cleaning business is the concept of ‘big thinking.’ Alonzo Adams, renowned within the cleaning industry for his innovative approach, has often been identified as a ‘big thinker.’ He believes in constantly challenging the status quo, reminding us of Daymond John’s words: “If you reach the top, there’s always room to keep climbing.” No matter your business size or industry, there’s always potential for growth.
2. Learn from Failures
Examining the failure of the once-promising startup Homejoy can provide valuable insights. Despite raising $40 million and achieving a $150 million valuation, the cleaning business crumbled. The allure of growth led to a focus on sales and marketing, but neglecting fundamental issues like training, cash flow, and profitability resulted in their downfall. No matter how big or small our failures in business might be, we can learn from them.
3. Building a Sustainable Business
Developing a sustainable business requires a robust foundation. Similar to the construction of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building in Dubai, businesses also need a strong core or ‘scale core.’ This includes focusing on four key areas: people, execution, strategy, and cash.
Building a strong ‘scale core’ is not a one-time event, but rather, an ongoing process. As your cleaning business grows, your ‘scale core’ should evolve along with it. Alonzo’s wisdom holds, “You have to keep climbing. No matter how high you reach, there’s always room to go higher.”
This principle is applicable to every facet of your business. For instance, as you grow, you may need to update your customer and employee profiles, modify your business strategy, refine your execution methods, and manage your cash flow differently.
4. People Matter
Your stakeholders play a crucial role in your business. This includes your customers, employees, and business partners like accountants, consultants, and suppliers. The people you engage with should align with your company’s core values and contribute to its growth.
Similarly, as you scale, consider your existing customer base. Are there customers who are draining resources? Be willing to let go of those who do not fit into your vision. Similarly, your team should consist of ‘A players’ who are committed to your cause, not just those doing the fieldwork, but also those managing administrative tasks. If any of your stakeholders don’t match your growth trajectory, don’t hesitate to move on.
5. Execution Is Key
Proper execution of strategies is critical for success. One effective way to ensure this is through regular meetings. These provide a platform to discuss and resolve issues, analyze performance, and align everyone toward the company’s goals.
From a quick five-minute daily huddle to weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings, these check-ins offer a pulse check on your operations. They help track key performance indicators and give an overview of the company’s health.
6. The Importance of Meetings in Business
Meetings often have a bad reputation, but they’re far from a waste of time if handled correctly. Consider them an investment of time. Effective meetings provide clarity, align your team, and maintain focus on necessary execution tasks.
7. Strategizing for Success
Having a strategy is crucial in business. However, the important question is whether your strategy aligns with your vision and assists you in achieving your business objectives. Alonzo illustrated a dual approach to strategy, known as ‘playing offense’ and ‘playing defense’, which brings us to the next tactic:
8. Playing Offense and Defense in Business
When ‘playing offense’, activities such as marketing and sales are emphasized. These actions aim at growing your business, and they are certainly fun and exciting. However, while making these offensive moves, the importance of ‘playing defense’ should not be overlooked.
The ‘defense’ in business refers to tasks like managing cash flow, maintaining profit margins, ensuring employee retention, and delivering consistent quality. Even though these actions might not be as thrilling as the offensive moves, it’s the defensive strategy that keeps your business sustainable.
A balanced business strategy involves both offensive and defensive plays. Homejoy, for instance, failed largely because they overemphasized the offensive play (rapid expansion, chasing numbers) and neglected the defensive play (training, employee retention, cash flow management). Remember, while a great offense might win you a few games, it’s a solid defense that wins championships.
9. Cash is King
Cash flow is a key element, especially in the cleaning business. Numerous businesses in our industry grapple with cash flow management. They are obsessed with the bigger picture – the revenues, the customer count – but they often neglect monitoring their cash flow.
What’s the consequence? They expand rapidly, but they burn through cash even faster. In the worst-case scenario, they end up like Homejoy: a highly valued company that, despite raising millions in funding, had to shut down because they ran out of cash. The golden rule here is always to keep a close eye on your cash flow. Understand where your money is coming from, where it’s going, and how much of it you’re retaining.
10. Funding for Growth
If you’re aiming for big growth in your cleaning business, you need to have a good amount of cash for that expansion. Growth is an expense, and it requires substantial capital on hand. Often, businesses don’t save enough, leading to inadequate cash flow. For some context, a large chunk of this money usually goes towards marketing, which can be costly. Whether you’re investing in SEO, online advertising, or offline promotions, marketing can eat into your budget.
11. Getting the Most from Your Team and Customers
Be mindful of your payroll. It’s better to have a smaller, well-paid team that delivers excellent work than a large, underpaid one that underperforms. This principle applies to your customer base too. Aim to cultivate profitable customers. If you have monthly clients who aren’t paying a premium for your services, it might be time to rethink your business model.
There’s also the issue of collecting payments. In a service industry like cleaning, you should be getting paid as soon as a job is completed. If you’re struggling with collections, consider adopting systems like accepting credit cards or collecting cash on completion of a job. Avoid falling into a collection agent role; you’re in the business to get paid promptly.
12. Investing Back Into Your Business
Ensuring you have enough cash on hand isn’t only about survival – it’s also about making strategic investments back into your business. This could be purchasing new equipment or even a company vehicle. Alonzo highlights the importance of eliminating debt as part of this strategy. For example, when his company acquires vehicles or properties, they are bought outright. Adopting a mindset of minimizing debt is crucial for long-term profitability and stability.
13. Mastering the Money Game
In the money game, you need to make money, keep it, figure out how to grow it, and protect it. This means avoiding bad investments and unnecessary expenses. For example, Alonzo cautions against purchasing equipment or supplies that you won’t immediately use. Too often, businesses fall into the trap of buying things only for them to end up unused in a storage room.
And there you have it — practical, no-nonsense tactics guide to building a profitable cleaning business, straight from the mind of industry expert Alonzo Adams. Remember, running a successful cleaning business isn’t rocket science. It’s about doing the basics right, keeping an eye on the numbers, and constantly adapting.
That’s where ZenMaid comes in. We’re not just here to provide you with helpful insights and resources like these, we’re also here to offer a helping hand whenever you need it. So, as you go out and apply these tips, remember you’ve got a whole community rooting for your success. With Alonzo Adams’s blueprint and ZenMaid by your side, a more profitable cleaning business isn’t just a dream — it’s a real possibility.
Your Next Step
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This talk first aired at the 2019 Maid Service Success Summit.
This talk first aired at the 2019 Maid Service Success Summit. The Maid Summit is an annual online event that brings together the most successful leaders in the cleaning industry, like Debbie Sardone, Angela Brown, Courtney Wisely, Amy Caris, Chris Schwab, and more. Get free access to masterclasses and workshops to help you grow, scale, and automate your cleaning business to get more leads and profit. Make sure you’re on our email list to find out how to get free tickets to the next event.