Friday, April 24, 2009

The Typical $1000 Cleaning Business News Article

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- With the nation's economy in disarray, people around the country are searching for ways to supplement and earn additional income.

While many may consider starting a home based business an interesting solution, the thought of sinking tens of thousands of dollars into a start-up is scary.

But some people have found a less expensive solution. When Lawrence Yancy retired as a food inspector he decided to start his own business, and he did for less than $1,000. "It cost me $529," said Yancy.

These are some other potential businesses that cost $1,000 or less:

E-Commerce Consultant:
Use your computer smarts to help others grow their online businesses.

Theft Prevention: Many people don't know how vulnerable they are. If you have police or a security background you can teach other business owners how to prevent thefts.

Residential Cleaning: Secure a number of clients, whether for homes or apartments and go to work. On average a cleaning company will charge $15-to-$25 an hour.

And there you have it. Just like I've been telling you for years now. Starting a housecleaning company takes little money. It takes little initiative. It takes little education. And it takes little courage. After all, it's only a few hundred bucks down the drain if your new company goes belly up.

Of course, a real professional cleaning company costs much more than $1,000 to start.

A real cleaning company has to provide its customers maximum protection such as general liability insurance, workers' compensation and bonding. Maximum protection will cost a real cleaning company at least $5,000 annually.

A real cleaning company also provides cleaning supplies and equipment. Professional cleaning supplies cost about $500 for each cleaning crew.

A real cleaning company also has to follow the law. Following the law means paying payroll taxes, paying local licensing fees and paying federal income taxes. The amount of this cost is based on two things; 1) How busy you are - and 2) How honest you are. A conservative estimate is for all three taxes to cost a cleaning company somewhere between $5,000 - $15,000 annually.
The costs continue to build as the legitimacy of your business increases. But that's not the point of this story anyway. The point is this:

If you started a housecleaning business and it costs you less than $1,000, what will you do when:

1. One of your employees steals from one of your customers?
2. One of your employees breaks a customer's expensive vase?
3. One of your employees breaks her ankle while cleaning your stairway?
4. Your customer base suddenly drops off?
5. Your husband gets a new job in another town?
6. You get the flu?
7. You find a stable job?

The answer should be obvious. You'll quit. You'll quit for the very same reason you started. Because starting a housecleaning business takes little money. Little initiative. Little education. And little courage.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Virgin Housecleaning Customer

There's a story like this everyday in at least one newspaper in this country. The story goes a little something like this. A couple hires a housecleaner. The couple hires the housecleaner primarily because her rates are sooo good. The housecleaner starts out pretty good. The couple laughs at their neighbors who hire the more expensive professional housecleaning company. The housecleaner gets comfortable and one of three things occurs:

1. She starts slacking off. And in some cases, she just starts showing up whenever she wants to show up. And quite often, she's just stops for no apparent reason at all.

2. She steals money from you.

3. She gets injured while in your home.

If you're lucky, your housecleaner will just stop showing up. Because your individual housecleaner isn't going to return the stolen money or goods. And if you're just plain unlucky, then your housecleaner will sue you for thousands simply because she can. After all, you're the employer and she's the employee.

Of course, none of this will happen to you.

That's exactly what one of my good friends said about three months ago. We're buddies and he wanted to hire my company because - well - we're buddies. But my rate was about $50 more than the two Columbian ladies that cleaned his neighbor's home. So I told him to hire the other "company" and then report back to me in a few months.

That report was filed today. And while he didn't give me the authority to reprint his email, just assume that hiring the two Columbian ladies didn't work out so well for him. And yes, he's now one of our customers.

Unfortunately, getting burned is the best formula for hiring Two Maids & A Mop. The virgin housecleaning customer just doesn't get it. You have to live it to understand it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dirty Maids Strike Again

HOUSTON, TX - Could your housekeeper be cleaning you out? It happened to a Houston woman-- her identity, stolen, by a couple of "dirty maids."

Now, two years later--she's got big tax troubles, over something she didn't do.

Shannon Lackey hired them to clean her house. “I said, wonderful job and then asked them to come back,” Lackey said. But Lackey had no idea her housekeepers were sweeping up more than dust.

“They were going around and cleaning people's houses and helping themselves to the identity and checks of their unsuspecting victims who thought they were just getting their house cleaned,” Assistant DA Mike Elliot said.

Joyce Butler and Harrison Johnson are the "dirty maids" who owned a company they called Afford-A-Maid. Butler and Johnson both pled guilty and were convicted of felony theft and money laundering. Johnson's now doing 18 months in a Texas state jail. Butler got 4 years probation, with 90 days in jail.

Lackey felt relief. “I thought it was behind me,” Lackey said. But she got the phone call last week from the IRS saying she has a $21,000 tax lien. Someone had filed a phony tax return-- in her name—and at the same time her housekeepers were busy doing their dirty deeds..

No one knows for sure who's behind that bogus tax return, but one thing is for sure: Lackey's troubles are far from over. “I just balled. I just balled! I thought it was over with,” she said.

And ironically, Butler still works as a maid but cleaning commercial businesses instead of homes.

Lessons To Be Learned
1. Just because someone calls themselves a "company" doesn't mean that they're really a company. Anybody can create a professional sounding business name. It takes about five seconds and zero dollars. Don't be fooled.

2. Do some research on your new cleaning company. Ask for references. Ask for proof of insurance. Ask for proof of the bond. And don't just hire someone because they're affordable. Would you hire a dentist simply because he's affordable? Better yet, would you let a dentist use a needle in your mouth if his business name was Afford-A-Dentist?

3. If you've hired a real cleaning company, make them prove to you that their employees are safe and secure. No reputable cleaning company will hire anyone that has a criminal background. And if you're bound and determined to hire an individual, do your own nationwide criminal background search. It costs about $50, but it could save you lots of heartache and money down the road. In this particular case, a simple background check would have shown that one of the maids had been an outstanding warrant for credit card abuse!

4. In a nutshell, treat your house the same way you treat everything else. Saving a few bucks is important - especially in today's economy. But seriously, would you hire just anyone to file your taxes? Would you hire just anyone to photograph your wedding? Would you hire just anyone to clean your teeth? Then why would you hire just anyone to clean your house?

Yes, we clean your toilets. And yes, we scrub your baseboards on our hands and knees. But that doesn't mean you should expect any less professionalism from us as you do from your accountant or dentist. In the end, you're still a customer. And no matter if we cleaning your kitchen sink or filing your taxes, it's our job to make you happy.

Start acting like a customer and these kind of news clippings will disappear.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Testimonial From Gulf Breeze

"As always they are wonderful. They treat my home as if it was theirs. Unexpected tasks are done that are a big help to me. I know they don't have to play with the baby or make my bed but they always do. I am so thankful for their hard work."

Kimberly of Gulf Breeze