Last Updated on October 21, 2022 by The ZenMaid Team
About the presenter
Debbie Sardone turned a cleaning job into a four-million-dollar cleaning empire. After building one of the largest maid services in the country, Buckets & Bows Maid Service, Inc., she began speaking and training other cleaning business owners around the world. Debbie owns speedcleaning.com and manufactures her own line of non-toxic cleaning products. She also founded the nonprofit, Cleaning For A Reason, which has risen to national prominence and has provided free house cleaning services to over 50,000 families with cancer. Debbie’s been featured on Fox & Friends, Oprah, Reader’s Digest, Today.com, Yahoo! News, as well as dozens of other local and national media.
Over 40 cleaning industry experts, including Debbie, gave presentations surrounding many aspects of the field at this Summit. Check out the full replays of each of the talks.
Do you want to achieve extraordinary success in your cleaning business?
Did you know that 93% of all cleaning businesses never achieve revenues of $500,000 a year? Less than 10% ever reach a million dollars in annual sales. Why is success in the cleaning business so hard to reach? It’s not complicated; it’s just not obvious. If it were obvious, everyone would be successful.
Today we’re going to walk you through the seven steps to reach a seven-figure business. Let’s dive in!
Step One: Define the Future
Many entrepreneurs struggle to define their future of success, but they have no trouble defining what they don’t want. For instance: I’m tired of cleaning, I don’t want to be working this much, I don’t want to keep managing employees who don’t want to be here – the list goes on.
Instead, your focus should be on defining your future of success. Start by asking yourself these questions:
What does your successful business look like?
Do you want to be a million-dollar maid service? A two million dollar maid service?
Do you have time for your family? For yourself?
It’s good to define the future you want in ten years, but at the very least, start with three to five years from now. Dream of what you want your success to look like – not what you don’t want.
Step Two: Scale With Systems, Not Grit
Building a seven-figure business requires scaling with systems, not grit. To scale with systems means to create a predictable, repeatable environment to grow in. If you grow by sheer grit, you’ll hit a glass ceiling of how much time you can contribute to your business.
This is where business owners – especially in the cleaning industry – hit a burnout mark where they know they want to grow more, but there’s not enough of them to go around. They’re growing their business through grit, demanding an endless amount of their time and resources.
Scaling with systems is the only way to get to six figures. As we mentioned before, the average residential cleaning business never reaches $500,000 in sales. This is because most cleaning businesses are growing through grit. They run out of steam, burn out, and decide to walk away for good.
Step Three: Focus On Who, Not How
The third step to your seven-figure cleaning business is to focus on who, not how. This is based on a book by Dan Sullivan, Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork.
There are so many courses and programs that want to teach you how to do more of everything and how to do it yourself. It feels overwhelming! Focusing on who, not how, means you have to shift from “how to” do things to “who should” do things.
When you focus on “how to” instead of “who should” do it, you’ll burn out and quickly reach a max capacity in your business. You’ll end up cluttering up your plate with more tasks than you can keep up with.
Instead, ask, “Who should I shift these activities, tasks, or responsibilities to?” It’s an incredibly freeing strategy to follow and will help lead you to a successful, seven-figure business.
After Debbie had been running her cleaning business for years, her biggest struggle was hiring and shifting all of her cleaning jobs. She didn’t want to learn how to clean more houses. She wanted to learn who she should hire at every stage of business growth. Debbie had to learn who to hire instead of how to take on more tasks.
Whether it’s through automation or technologies, the first question is never “how to do it?” The first question is, “who should do it?” By shifting your focus to who, you’ll be freed up to focus on the right things in your business.
Step Four: Leverage Your Time By Building a Self-Managing Team
Now, this seems to be unheard of in the residential cleaning industry. People don’t believe that they can build a team to run their business. However, self-managing teams love what they do, show up every day, do a good job, and stay long-term.
Building a self-managing team is the only way you’ll be able to leverage your time to do CEO-level tasks and responsibilities. There is nothing worse than trying to grow a residential cleaning business with the wrong people.
We see so many people try to grow their business with who we call, “C Players.” A “C Player” is an employee who doesn’t care about their work. They cut corners when you’re not looking. They have to be micromanaged, call in sick for no reason, and quit without notice.
Too often, cleaning business owners tolerate bad employees because they clean well. But here’s the problem: being a good cleaner doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good employee.
Focus on growing your company with “A Players.” These are partners who are committed cleaners who want to be there, who love what they do, and who are not going anywhere.
Step Five: Focus On the Right Thing
You’re wearing different hats all the time as a cleaning business owner. One day you’re wearing the cleaner’s hat, picking up the mop to clean. The next day, you’re the accountant invoicing and processing payments. Sometimes you’re a secretary, and often, you’re a salesperson.
We wear a lot of hats, but to focus on the right things, think about the tasks that you perform on three different levels.
Level One Tasks
Think of level one tasks as ten dollars an hour work. They’re the lowest level tasks you perform; maybe it’s buying supplies or maybe going out and cleaning a house.
Level Two Tasks
Level two tasks are what you might value as $100 an hour work. For instance, marketing your services or training a new group of employees. They’re higher-level tasks than level one, but you’re usually not the only person who can do them. Level two tasks are the middle tasks that you have to do until you grow big enough to hire a team to do it for you.
Level Three Tasks
Level three tasks are the ones you do as the CEO, otherwise known as $1,000 an hour tasks. When you’re focusing on the right things, you’re spending most of your time on what we call $1,000 an hour tasks.
For instance, a $1,000 an hour task could be spending an hour on the phone, winning over a new client who will be your next recurring customer. If you think about the value of that hour, you’ve just earned thousands of dollars a year, assuming that client stays with you. Now, that is worth your time as a CEO!
On the other hand, if you had let all the calls go to voicemail because you had to run out to cover a cleaning job, you would’ve traded your time for money. Instead of spending that hour doing $1,000 an hour work, you’ve completed a $10 an hour task.
Right now, what are you spending the most time doing? Are you scrambling to do level one tasks, or are you prioritizing level three tasks as the CEO? If you want to scale to a seven-figure cleaning business, you need to spend your time doing things that bring high dollars in the door and growth to your business.
Step Six: Avoid Distractions
Step six is a hard one for entrepreneurs! More often than not, entrepreneurs are creative people at their core. We have new ideas every minute and end up chasing distractions instead of avoiding them. We’re signing up for new programs all the time. We’re attending conferences, webinars, events, reading books – you name it. Does this sound familiar to you?
Now, these are not bad things; however, when you don’t even give yourself the time to implement what you’ve learned, you’re wasting your time chasing distractions. You’ll never reach a seven-figure level if you’re chasing the next sparkly object.
You need to avoid distractions intentionally. To reach seven figures in your cleaning business, you need to slow down and focus on what matters most to move the needle forward.
Step Seven: Simplify As You Grow
The last step to reach your seven-figure business might surprise you: simplify as you grow.
Have you ever noticed how as your business grows, the more complicated it becomes? It’s not uncommon. In fact, we like to say, “there’s a new devil at every level.”
There’s a new level of complexity that shows up at every stage of growth. That’s why it’s important to be intentional about simplifying as you grow. While it seems counterintuitive, the reality is that if your business is complicated, it can’t grow sustainably.
Commit to analyzing every piece of your business at each stage of growth. Ask yourself, “have I made this harder than it has to be?”
Some signs you might be over-complicating your cleaning business:
- You feel like you have to micromanage everything for it to get done well.
- Your cleaning training is too difficult, so you have to re-explain many things to your employees.
- All of your processes are so complicated that only you can keep things running smoothly.
- You’re answering calls on weekends and vacations because your team needs you all the time.
If any of these things are true for you, it’s time to simplify your cleaning business. Having a ‘sophisticated’ business doesn’t mean it needs to be complex. In a successful business model, simplicity is what works. Simplicity is what will grow your business better.
Your next step
You’ve made it to the end of our seven steps to a seven-figure cleaning business – way to go! New information can feel overwhelming at first; we encourage you to take this one step at a time. Save this post in your toolkit to refer back to while you’re working through each step!
To hear Debbie’s full talk from the Maid Summit, click here.
Step Seven Bonus: You can try the ZenMaid Free Plan here to help simplify your business as you grow!
For more resources on how to grow and perfect your cleaning business, check out the replays from the 2021 Maid Summit, hosted by ZenMaid. The summit featured more than 63 presentations from other maid service owners who shared tools and strategies to help you achieve the highest levels of success in your business.
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