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Everything you need to know to take your maid service remote

The following article is based on presentations from Chris Schwab, Courtney Wisely, and Neel Parekh at the Maid Summit, hosted and organized by ZenMaid.

Okay, here’s the thing. Learning how to run a maid service fully remote is a HOT topic in our ZenMaid community. From our maid Maid Summit presentations to our Facebook Mastermind’s message board, everyone seems to be talking about it. So we’ve put together our best resources into one place! In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know to take your maid service remote. 

Why it’s worth going remote

If you’ve wanted to take your business remote but you haven’t mustered up the courage to take the plunge, THIS is your sign! It’s time to take the plunge. 

Running a remote cleaning business is not only helpful if you want to travel and live abroad, but it can also be economical if you want to stay at home and work from your living room.

When you run a remote business, it can cut your costs and grow your brand at the same time. I mean, who doesn’t want to experience some extra freedom financially and socially? 

Before you start, you need vision

It’s true; every success story starts with a vision

Elon Musk owns several different businesses (Tesla, SpaceX, StarLight),  but they all support his overarching vision — to work in areas that are crucial to our future and to advance human progress. 

While your vision doesn’t need to be quite as expansive as Elon Musk’s, it’s important to have an endgame that’s meaningful to you. So, what is your endgame? 

Maybe you want to retire early, leave a legacy for your kids, travel the world, or leave an imprint on society?

No matter what your vision is, it needs to resonate with you. Without a clear vision, you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel when things get tough. 

Conquer the fears that hold you back

We’ve all been here before. Starting a company from scratch or taking over a thriving company can be scary. You might constantly second-guess yourself and feel inadequate from sun-up to sun-down. 

And now that you’re thinking about how you can take your business remote, a new wave of fears crash over you. (Cue: crashing ocean waves!)

Believe it or not, your fears are one of the biggest obstacles that hold you back. So let’s address them, right here, right now. Here are the three most common fears we see many maid service owners held back by:

  1. Fear of the unknown: To overcome this fear, we need to make the unknown known. Write down a list of what scares you about going remote and what you don’t know yet. Walk through each problem as if the situation was right in front of you. Then, come up with multiple solutions to these issues. Believe that you can tackle any problem, and you will!
  2. Fear of screwing up: Are you a perfectionist? If so, this fear may come to haunt you all too often. Even if you’re not a perfectionist, no one likes to mess up. It’s a terrible feeling. But guess what? We’re all human and it’s bound to happen. Accept that mistakes will happen, own each mistake, and learn to laugh at yourself. Know that you can overcome whatever happens in the future. (Easier said than done, right? Check out this article to read more about embracing mistakes and growing from them.)
  3. Fear of your employees ruining your business and/or your reputation: The remedy for this is to hire the right people for your cleaning business. You need to vet them thoroughly (check references etc), start them slowly on the jobs that have the least amount of impact on your business, and trust your gut instinct. We’re not going to dive too far into this topic here, but we’ve got a TON of great resources about it. Head over to the ZenMaid magazine to read up on our best hiring and training practices. 

Once you’ve taken the time to address your endgame and the fears that hold you back, it’s time to take the next step toward the remote business that you want: the roadmap to success.

The roadmap to success

Taking your business remote isn’t an easy process, but it is absolutely doable. Your roadmap to success should include these steps:

  1. Put the right systems in place
  2. Automate everything you can
  3. Build your remote team and delegate tasks
  4. Make emergency plans and test the systems you’ve put into place
  5. Build your remote culture 
  6. Go through your final checklist
  7. Stay connected if you choose to travel
  8. OWN the fact that you’re remote

#1: Put the right systems in place

Your systems define how your business operates and how it will succeed. And when they’re set up well, systems can run many aspects of your maid service on auto pilot. So, it’s important to make sure you have the right systems in place before you take the leap to remote. 

These are minimum requirements:

  • Marketing: Paid promotions and reputation management 
  • Sales: Lead capture, follow-up campaigns, client retention
  • Hiring Funnel: Systems to efficiently hire new applicants
  • Operations: Team management, office administrators, and a productivity system

(Not to sound like a broken record, but we have ‘how to’s’ for each of these systems over at ZenMaid Magazine for further reading!)

After you’ve implemented these trustworthy systems, take a look at how your business could benefit from systems like bookkeeping, emergency protocols, and personal productivity — like a to-do list. 

The systems you put in place will help with the flow of the workday. For instance, your employees should know who handles phone calls and emails, how to retain clients, and the responsibilities of everyone during an emergency situation. 

#2: Automate everything you can

We can’t stress this one enough: Automate, automate, automate! No matter what tasks you need to do, ask yourself if you can automate it. (Chances are, the answer is a resounding YES.) 

Technology and automation are critical if you want to scale your business. 

New technology can seem daunting at first, but software companies have customer service representatives for a reason — to help you seamlessly add more automation to your day. 

If you haven’t already, automate these daily tasks:

Policies and guidelines –  Almost all customer guidelines and policies can be signed and stored digitally.

Try: SignRequest or Adobe Sign

Hiring pipeline and application filtering – Your employees are one of your greatest assets, which is why it is crucial that you set up an efficient hiring pipeline and application system. With the right automation, you let the software filter crummy candidates from great ones. 

Try: Typeform, Trello

Quote or booking requests – Your favorite clients and prospective clients need a quick and easy option to book a cleaning appointment or get a quote. The easier this process is, the happier your clients will be. Plus, it saves you a ton of hassle.

Try: ZenMaid for FREE

Recurring tasks and organization – For a whole week, take a look at what you do every day. Make a list of what you notice. What patterns do you see? Anything that doesn’t directly make you money should be digitally outsourced so that you can spend more of your valuable time on things that DO make you money (like marketing and advertising.)

Try: ZenMaid, Zapier

Client and lead follow-ups – You need to do two things to scale your business: retain the clients that you love and regularly gain new clients. To maintain healthy relationships with your existing clients, send them surveys after each cleaning. For potential clients, send them emails with new offers and promotions.

Try: Quality Driven Software, Mailchimp, FollowUp, and Click-Up.

Social media – You don’t have to manually enter and upload a social media post every time you want to reach your audience. Instead, consider using a social media scheduling tool to save you time.

Try: Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer

Office staff training – If you’re not careful, your training and onboarding sessions can eat away at your day. When you use training automation tools, you cut the training time down, ensure that all of your employees receive an equal level of training, and nothing falls between the cracks.

Try: Loom, ZenMaid, Google Meet

Autoresponders – An autoresponder doesn’t need to be dull and stiff. You can automate emails and text messages with a personal touch. If you find yourself personally responding to most or all messages, then you need to look toward automation.

Try: Active Campaign, Twilio

Quality check requests and time off – Communication with your cleaners is one of the most important things you can focus on. Your hard-working cleaners deserve to know that you care about their work, well-being, and concerns. 

Try: Slack, ZenMaid

Outsourcing and freelancers – You and your team may run a great business, but that doesn’t mean you have the fine writing skills you need to write your blogs or maximize your SEO. What we’re saying is, it’s okay to outsource your weaknesses. Let someone else step in for ten hours a week and help you fill in the gaps.

Try: A freelancer in your network, post into Facebook groups for writers, or post on Upwork or Fiverr

Calendars – This one is often overlooked, but we don’t think it should be! A good calendar can keep your things organized and easy to find. You need a system that schedules interviews, meetings, and events with little oversight. Plus, these tools allow you to delete schedules you no longer use, update new schedules, and make copies of existing schedules. Easy peasy! You definitely don’t need to use that physical calendar that’s been hanging on the wall.

Try: ZenMaid or Calendly

Video and Screen Sharing – In this day and age, you need to optimize your video capabilities to keep up with the times. Even if you didn’t take your business remote, it would be a good idea to keep up with the new ways to record and share videos. Apps designed for this can help you record and share presentations, create onboarding videos, and chat with other team members.

Try: Vidyard, Loom, and Zoom.

More on automation

A lot of these tools we mentioned are either free or only a couple bucks a month. If you took a look around at other successful businesses then you’d see that they use as many automation tools as they possibly can. For more articles on automation, start here

#3: Build your remote team and delegate tasks

Once you’ve mastered some of your automation tools, you’re one step closer to that six-digit business and your vacation to the south of France. Now, you need to find stellar team members!

The good news is, you’re not alone when you need to find remote workers, so you don’t need to go at this blindly. Obviously, your cleaning staff can’t be remote. But your office staff can.

The allure of working in their pajamas, no city traffic commute, or the opportunity to work from their spare room means that you’ll have plenty of people who want to work for you — if you know where to look. 

There are lots of places you can look for remote office staff. Try posting your remote jobs on WeWorkRemotely or UpWork to help you hire online. Or try hiring through a VA agency that can send you a trained and ready-to-work admin person. Try Task Away VA or InoVa Local.

You can also find a diverse group of workers if you’re willing to job search in other countries. Just make sure you have a reliable accountant who can help you navigate the different payroll laws across the globe. 

Outsourcing to other countries: prosOutsourcing to other countries: cons
Fun accents that Americans love (such as South African)
Workers love the stability that the US dollar provides
Talent pool that is already trained to work in call centers (Honduras, Southeast Asia etc)
Political and social instability
Different work culture
Timezone issues
Wifi reliability 
Power issues (do they have a backup power source)

For more resources and advice on how to incorporate a VA into your maid service, check these out:

How to Use a Virtual Assistant in Your Maid Service

Virtual Assistants: How They Can Transform Your Maid Service

5 Steps for Hiring an Overseas Virtual Assistant

While you should thoroughly vet your employees before you hire them, it’s also important to conduct a three-month trial period. In this trial you’ll learn their capabilities, demeanor, and reliability. 

Now that you’re leaning toward remote work, practice your interviews completely online. Be sure to keep a few things in mind:

  • Do they show up to the interview on time? (Yes, they need to show up on time even if it’s not in person)
  • How do they look? Are they trying to look as professional as possible?
  • How’s their wifi connection? (This is huge when hiring remote — don’t overlook it.)
  • Test them. For instance, have them email someone to schedule a second interview? This shows you if they’re reliable. 

As you start to delegate responsibilities to your new remote staff, be realistic with your expectations. These should be your key milestones as you go on your remote journey:

  1. Hire a virtual assistant or office manager 
  2. Learn how and what to delegate
  3. Gradually give up your daily admin tasks
  4. Establish a daily and weekly routine

Start slow with your delegation. You and your VA need to be on the same page about everything, and it can take time. Think quality over quantity at first. Your assistants are often juggling multiple tasks at once. Give them a little bit of a break. 

You may be used to doing these tasks day in and day out—but they aren’t. They can’t read your mind! The biggest mistake we see are business owners dumping all of their work on their VA in 1-2 weeks and then getting angry with them when the VA can’t keep up. 

Assign your tasks with a letter grade using the ABCDE method. A= urgent/critical, B= very important, C=important, D = moderately important, E= nice if it’s done, but not necessary. This way, your VA knows how to categorize each task.

Interested to learn more about hiring a remote VA? Save this article to read next.

Whew! Hiring and building a reliable and competent team can really take the wind out of you. But how do you know that your systems will work? Test them.

#4: Make emergency plans and test the systems you’ve put into place

The only way to truly know if you’ve reached your goals is to test it. Do a 1-1-1 “Dry Run.” First, start with one day operating remotely. How’d your team do? Okay? Great, now try it for a week. Next, try it for a month. Notice a few hiccups? That’s okay. Go in, iron out the kinks, and get back at it. Then try it for another month after you fix these flaws. 

The 1-1-1 test also applies if you want your business to self-run itself. Start with one day away from your business and follow the same dry run test. 

Have a backup person (maybe a lead cleaner you trust) in place who can take over for emergencies if your VA is indisposed. If your VA is sick with the flu or has a family member in the hospital, you need someone who can step in and get things done. Because the reality is, emergencies are bound to happen. Make sure that you have the systems and people in place for things to run smoothly. 

Your backup person should be able to handle the core essentials like:

  1. Phone calls
  2. Team emergencies
  3. Customer questions

And we can’t stress this one enough: Establish a clear method of communication for your:

  1. Daily communication and tasks
  2. Emergencies

Slack is a great platform for general communication, but your employees may need to use text messages or a direct call for emergencies. Take a few days to determine exactly how you want to communicate and then start to think about the culture you want for your team.

#5: Build your remote culture

At first glance, the thought of a company culture for your business that runs remotely sounds absurd. How can your company have a distinct culture if your employees never or hardly ever see each other in-person?

Throw those lies out the window and focus on the truth. YOU CAN CREATE A GREAT REMOTE BUSINESS CULTURE. 

  • Something funny happens at work? Post it on Slack.
  • Find a great playlist on Spotify? Share it with your co-workers.
  • Lost some communication throughout the day? Schedule a Google Meet video conference to get on the same page.
  • Host regular staff meetings or 1-2-1 catch-ups on Zoom or another video platform.

When building a great remote business culture, remember this: if you want to build a loyal, happy, and effective team, then they must work beside you, not under you.

Ask your employees their opinion, get to know their hobbies, and take note of the things they love and hate during the work day. Ultimately, your team should be an extension of your family. If you give your employees a little extra freedom, you’ll be the first to see their creativity soar. 

By now you should feel plenty prepared for remote work. But just to be sure, let’s take a look at our checklist. 

#6: Go through your final checklist

If you haven’t already, make sure that you’ve checked off your final to-do list. Hopefully fulfilled all of these steps:

  • Informed your team that you’ll be fully remote at least three months before the change
  • Considered how you can be supportive from afar
  • Supplied your team with your emergency contact information
  • Written your tasks in an overly blunt and specific form so that everything is clear
  • Built a SOP database for different tasks and guidelines in your company
  • Created a set of efficient remote systems so that you only work two hours a day

Were you able to check off a lot of that list? You’re already on a path to success. Keep going! 

Although some business owners want to operate their businesses for convenience and to cut costs, others want to travel while they work. If you’re in the latter category, we’ve got what you need. 

#7: Stay connected if you choose to travel

Your employees should have a handle on things without you always present, but it’s important for them to know that you haven’t left them in the dust. 

If you choose to travel while you run your business remotely, make sure that you’ve got your bases covered.

When you convert your traditional in-person business with a physical location to a remote business, you need to stay well connected at the beginning. Only when you’ve had stable systems in place for a while should you start to stray a bit. 

Now you’re ready for a bit of traveling. Do you love new cities, food, and culture? Great! We do too. Pick a city or region where there are other “nomads” like you. 

If you can find a co-working space to work alongside other like-minded individuals — even better. Keep in mind that it may take a little while to get in a steady work rhythm. Also, time zone differences are no joke. Try to pick a location and culture that makes sense for you and your body’s rhythms. 

#8: Own the fact that you’re remote

So you’ve made it this far? You’re living the life you want — now own it!

You don’t need to be scared when you tell people your maid service is fully remote. After all, more and more people realize that remote businesses are the future of the workforce. In fact, more people may gravitate toward your business when they hear your unique story. 

So take a deep breath, look around you, and enjoy your remote business to the fullest. 

Before you go

Wow, we’ve covered a lot of steps to help you go remote! We want to give you these final tips to wrap things up.

Although these aren’t requirements, take a look at our recommendations to implement before you go remote. 

  • Run your cleaning company for at least six months (preferably 1 year)
  • Consistently bring in $10,000 per month (preferably $15,000)
  • Successfully implement as many automation systems and processes as possible
  • Have these three conversations with your staff:
    • What will I handle, and what you will handle
    • How we both communicate our best
    • How we should handle tough situations 

And believe it or not, we’ve got even MORE content to help you take your maid service to the next level. That’s right — we care about your success! Queue up these articles to read next, or send them to yourself in an email to read later:

  1. How to Run a Fully Remote Cleaning Business from Anywhere
  2. How to set up a remote cleaning business in one year
  3. How to run your maid service from anywhere in the world
  4. Scale Your Cleaning Business: Save 30+ Hours a Week on Marketing, Scheduling and Hiring
  5. How to use automations to create a 7-figure business – and find work-life balance
  6. How to manage your maid service for free

You and your maid service deserve a little peace and quiet. Try ZenMaid for free today!

ZenMaid

About the author: Amar is the founder and CEO of ZenMaid Software, Inc (www.zenmaid.com). He previously started and ran Fast Friendly Spotless, a maid service in Orange County, CA. With the help of customized software to automate work he successfully operated the service in under 30 minutes per day. His goal with the maid service software at ZenMaid is to help other maid service owners do the same.

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