The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.
Measure the Gain, Not the Pain
This is Smart Cleaning School episode 4-1-1. Do you know what that means? It means "Directory Assistance" and derives from the old days of telephone operators in the United States and Canada. 4-1-1 has been used since 1930 if you can believe that! The number has taken on a whole new identity in pop culture since the 1980's where 4-1-1 is slang for "Information" or "What's the deal?" or "What's up with that?" What's the 4-1-1 with the Smart Cleaning School Podcast? Are you enjoying it? Are there episodes you'd like me to do that I haven't. Email me at email@example.com to request topics. The 4-1-1 was a fun side path for this episode. Let's get to it!
A member of the Solo Elite asked a really good question in our community. Ian asked. "How do I deal with rejection of a prospective client and still be able to build a relationship with them?" A question often times reveals ones internal mindset. In this case, I can recognize the mindset. I'm now going to help all the Ian's out there. You believe that a client saying no is a personal rejection and a failure. You have incorrectly associated a No with failure. This incorrect association causes you to feel rejected and therefore less willing to take more positive action. I mean... why would I? They don't like me. They don't like my cleaning service. I'm not good enough. This is a slippery slope and many struggle with rejection. It's natural. We want to protect ourselves from that pain. This is where Ian's question stems. He cannot see a reason for building a relationship with someone who rejected him. Rejection is bad. How do you handle that?
Do you see why people ask this question? They want to win, but they are stuck. They believe that they have to figure out how to manage this pain in order to win. In this line of thinking, it makes total sense. But this mindset and association is incorrect. There is a great book out there called "Go for No", where the authors rewire your thinking. Yes and No are not opposite directions. In other words, a No doesn't take you farther from Yes. It brings you closer. Change the image and definition in your brain. Currently, you stand in the middle of Yes and No. Yes is to the left and is on the way to Success. No is to the right and is on the way to Failure. Move No to the left side before Yes. Put another term to the right. Quit is on the way to Failure. No is on the way to Yes. You need to get many No's before you get a Yes. Many Yes's lead to Success. Therefore, you can't succeed unless you get No's. You can't succeed unless you get rejection. Rejection is now a positive. It's not a negative. If rejection is a positive, you don't have to manage the pain of it. You measure the gain of being rejected. And if rejection is a gain, you get excited to achieve the next gain.
Read the rest of this episode at the Smart Cleaning School website
It Took a Lot of Carrots
A cleaner posted this response in a the Solo Cleaners Club free Facebook group that I manage after I asked why they were struggling to find clients as a new solo. "That’s the thing. I just started this year and have none. I used to clean for a company. They trained me and that’s when I fell in love with cleaning. I have nothing to help me gain anything, except for word of mouth, but no one is willing to give me a chance. I have a beautiful page full of everything I have to offer, before & afters, cleaning checklists, what to expect when you book with me. I have a new client welcome packet also informing of everything I offer. I include that I will occasionally gift holiday goodie bags, candles, and gift cards. I like treating people with hospitality and respect, I just can’t get in the door to show someone my quality. I feel like I’ve made the mistake of pricing myself too high." Here's my response publicly. "When your community feels your passion for cleaning half as much as you do...watch out!" Then I PM'd the company with this. "I wanted to personally reach out. It took a lot of carrots to share what you shared on the Facebook group. Would you like some help figuring this out (getting prospects to say yes to you)?"
Are wondering what that means? It took a lot of carrots? When I looked at what the voice-to-text transcribed from "It took a lot of courage", I edited it and laughed at myself. Then I said out loud in my office. "That's the podcast title. It took a lot of carrots!" Let's talk about carrots as you will be amazed how it relates to this woman wanting her business to grow.
1. Carrots endure – Most produce must be harvested before the winter so they remain edible. Did you know that the carrot has the power to freeze itself in the dirt? The dirt acts as an insulator. Simply cover them up with mulch for the winter. You can harvest them in the winter or in the spring and they will actually be sweeter! Carrots endure long, cold, dry seasons. Have you been through long, cold, dry seasons in your business where nothing seems to be happening? You will need the endurance character of the carrot.
2. Carrots are better cooked – Did you know that most vegetables are healthier raw? Not carrots. They actually release more beta-carotene when cooked. Beta-carotene enhances your sight, skin, and immune system. Carrots are better for you when they heated through cooking. Have you ever faced the heat and pressure of making your business work? You will need the heat-enhancing properties of the carrot.
3. Carrots enhance vision – As mentioned in the last one, cooking releases more Beta-Carotene. This enhances your vision. Have you ever gotten stuck in your business where you can't see the future? You need the enhanced vision that the carrot provides.
Reference: Simon Baynes Article
I didn't realize it at the time, but the AI of Facebook interpreted courage for carrots correctly. It does take a lot of carrots to win. You need to endure like the carrot to get through the winter. You need to release your best nutrition and results when under the hottest and hardest testing or when you're being cooked! You need to have better vision to see past this current setback to get to the ultimate goal. You need a lot of carrots. You also need a lot of courage to succeed too. No one ever said it was going to be easy. You will face challenges. You will face adversity. You will face your fears every single day.
Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School we
When a Solo Should Scale
I am excited to share this clip from the Solo Elite Membership! A few weeks ago, I ran my first Zoom call for the members to meet each other, dive into a topic, and ask questions. It was a great call. Afterwards, I pondered the idea of sharing a portion of the call with my podcast audience.
It's a 16 minute clip from a 90 minute call, where I shared my journey openly on scaling with employees. Many ask me when can I hire and scale. I firmly believe that you need time and money margin to properly scale a cleaning company. You can do this right away if you have time and money. Or you can do it the way I teach. Here you go! Enjoy!
You can optimize your solo cleaning business to earn full time income through part time cleaning without the drama of employees! When the time is right, you can scale with employees like me and they won't be as much drama! Get access to this game-changing training for only $57 per month or $597 per year in the Solo Elite Membership at smartcleaningschool.com/elite. Members get access to the full ISO Model Course to optimize your solo business, plus access to the Solo Elite Community, bonus podcast content, access to private coaching and additional courses at 50% off! You can also sample the membership with our brand new "Backstage Pass", which is found at smartcleaningschool.com.
What If They Demand Fridays?
This one is short and sweet. Would you like to see the ISO Model play out in a common question I am asked? This question comes from my brother, who is starting his own solo cleaning company. He asked me this. "Ken, what would you do if a customer is only willing to hire you if you will clean for them on Fridays?" I answered him and then said. "Thanks for the podcast episode!"
I believe there is a sliding scale or spectrum with 2 extremes depicting the Supply-Demand Principle of Ecomonics well. On one side is a business owner who has no boundaries. They will work for whoever, whenever, doing whatever is needed to seal the deal on the sale. They want the money and they don't care what they have to do (as long as it's ethical and legal). Side note, there are others that don't even care about that. This represents absolutely unlimited supply. They can definitely clean for you regardless of the question. When supply is at a max, demand is at a minimum. This also yields a minimum price. That's economics. Let's go to the other side. There is the business owner who has so many boundaries that it's nearly impossible to get on their calendar. Customers may have to wait a month or longer. Is this possible? Yup, it was me in my first optimized solo cleaning business. In this extreme, demand is at a max and supply is minimized. The corresponding price is very high. There was a reason I walked you through that first. Let's add in the ISO Model.
The high-supply owner is the new guy with nothing but time and availability. Price isn't as important. Customers won't pay much as they don't perceive they are in much demand elsewhere. They just want to learn, improve, and build a reputation for quality. With this mindset, they won't be high-supply long. They will get referred and be in greater demand. I have another term for this solo cleaner. I call them an Initializer!
With this increased demand, they intentionally reduce the supply. How? They go from zero boundaries to a window that they conduct business through. Maybe they create business hours or niche down in what they clean. Maybe they select a specific zip code or geographic area. Maybe they decide to eliminate vacation rentals and post-construction. Maybe they have boundaries on the drama they will accept from clients around scheduling, payment, and terms. There are many maybes or boundaries. This cleaner is getting better and accumulating more specialized knowledge. As their demand increases, so do their prices. In supply/demand economics, they've reached the crossing point of the curve. It's called the Equilibrium Point or Market-Clearing Price where supply and demand are equal. At this point, you have a cleaning service and price that has just enough supply to match the demand in the market. You will be able to grow fast at this level! I have another term for this solo cleaner. I call them a Stabilizer!
The solo cleaner is building a great reputation through referral, cleaning excellence, and community engagement. They are being perceived with more and more value. They are being viewed more as a Specialist and Expert. Their demand is increasing. They can now tighten their boundaries and window to the other extreme. They can pinch their supply so low that the demand hits the ceiling and so does price. Customers will fight to get you. They will wait months on your waiting list. They will pay whatever you charge. They will adhere to all of your boundaries. Why? You are the best and those that want the best will go for it. This creates optimal value and optimized price. I have another term for this solo cleaner. I call them an Optimizer!
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There is an emerging Mindset Series that started with my interview with Coach Josh called "The Value of Coaching" and followed up recently with "Are You Truly Coachable". I spoke from the position of being coached for over 20 years and being a coach myself for the past 7 years. The topic today is a major pet peeve and a classic tell-tale of someone UNcoachable and UNteachable. It's when I hear the words "Yeah, BUT..."
I know I've been guilty of it in the past but when I recognize it today it just irritates me. This is a major fundamental to overcome. It falls under our mindset. Are you coachable? Many say they are. But few really are. I did a coaching call recently. This cleaning company owner was operating solo to do houses during the week and was growing a team to do commercial cleaning nights and weekends. I dug and dug until I understood the why behind the goal of wanting to grow commercial with a team. The goals and the why were awesome. The strategy was not and during the call I realized that the mindset was not either. Here's what I discovered. This solo cleaning mom with a full-time job dad had to pay a certain amount of money for daycare. Many listening to this podcast can relate to that right now. She did not know her numbers, so there's the next fundamental flaw. I helped her figure out her numbers because I'm really good at this. Her solo house cleaning profit was basically covering the cost of daycare give or take. The commercial was not bringing in much because the revenue was just big enough to pay for the cost of a team. The hope was to grow commercial but maintain the residential to pay for daycare. This made absolutely no sense to me. Her goal was to earn $40,000 as a second income in the family. That's an awesome goal! I showed her how she could do that as a residential solo cleaner. Then I heard it. "Yeah, BUT..." Then she had a reason why she can't do that. I told her how she could hit her goal as a commercial solo cleaner and I got another "Yeah, BUT..." and another reason why.
There's always a reason why you can't. There's also always a reason why you can. If you look for an excuse, you will find it. And if you look for a solution, you will find one. In "The Magic of Thinking Big", Excusitis is listed as one of the failure diseases. In this case it was very clear to me. She could easily increase her solo house cleaning to $3,000 per month profit. This would net $1,000 after daycare and might be worth it. $2,000 or $3,000 net after daycare would be better! By the way, if she was earning $1,500 and daycare costs $2,000 no one would take that deal. I don't think daycare is worth it for a mom unless the thing she does to create income creates at least $500 per month over and above the TOTAL cost of daycare. This is daycare expenses, plus gas, food prep, lost time, etc. That was the direction I was taking her. She could build up the solo house cleaning profit herself, hit the $40,000 income goal and forget about commercial cleaning. When I sensed the desire to grow commercial with a team, I switched to different coaching to help her achieve the $40,000 goal. Her strategy was to continue farming out her kids to daycare for another 1-2 years. My coaching and experience would have her stay home with her kids and hit the goal in 6 months! Her answer each time was "Yeah, BUT..."
Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
The Solo Cleaner's Roadmap to Freedom
This may be one of the most significant episodes of the Smart Cleaning School Podcast. Let's recap for the newer listeners. I have run cleaning companies for the last 18 years in both Upstate New York and the Indian Valley of Pennsylvania. I struggled like you in my first solo cleaning business from 2005 to 2008 as an Initializer. I worked like a madman like you as a Stabilizer from 2009 to 2014. Then I OPTIMIZED my solo cleaning company into a business that provided my family full-time income through part-time cleaning without the drama of employees. I was cleaning 2 days per week and keeping $60,000 profit per year. 90% of our clients were residential. This 13-year period created the ISO Model, which stands for Initialize, Stabilize, and Optimize. I was the boss and could control my schedule. I had freedom and it was awesome! But I had no roadmap for others to also follow!
Our family wanted to go back home to the Philly Area. We sold that optimized solo cleaning company in 2018 for $80,000 with a 2-year owner-finance payback contract. This provided around $2,000 per month income from a business we sold to get us up and running in the Philly Area. I had freedom and it was awesome! But I had no roadmap for others to also follow!
I started the second solo cleaning company before the pandemic in 2019. I got involved in local networking and joined the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce. I also launched this podcast in October of 2019. We grew through the pandemic as my business model moved from 90% residential in NY to a 50/50 split in PA with commercial. I cruised through the ISO Model in 18 months to $70,000 profit per year on 2 cleaning days per week. I did it again and much, much faster! I had freedom and it was awesome! But I had no roadmap, just a podcast for others to follow!
I rebranded in the September 2021 to Carfagno Commercial Cleaning and the C3 Experience! I had the mental, time, and money margin to invest into the proper systems for hiring and building a team. I made a ton of mistakes. I studied leadership as my primary role shifted from cleaner/salesman to leader. The C3 Team has grown to 10 part-time team members 18 commercial locations. We are about to cross $200k in revenue for the first time. Our next goal is 32 locations in the niche of professional, financial, and medical office spaces under 25,000 square feet in the Indian Valley. This will likely be around $350k revenue with around 20 total team members, 2 field supervisors, and a field leader (operations). I work from home and barely clean except to cover or onboard a new office. We went to Florida the past 2 Februarys as a family. This is a new level of freedom and it is awesome!
I recently recorded podcast episode #400! And guess what?! I have a roadmap now! It took me 18 years, 2 optimized solo companies, selling 1 and scaling 1 to extract the path to success and freedom for a solo cleaner. In my experience coaching solos over the past 7 years, I have noticed that solos feel so low. You struggle with the 2 UNDERS and 2 OVERS. You feel Underpaid, Underappreciated, Overworked, and Overwhelmed! Does that sum it up pretty well?! It doesn't have to be that way. You can have freedom as an optimized solo cleaner. In other words, you too can earn full-time income through part-time cleaning without the drama of employees. You just need a roadmap to get there! It's called the Solo Elite Membership Roadmap.
Read the rest of this article at the Smart Cleaning School website
Grateful for this guy!
I can’t possibly put into words how helpful Ken has been to both myself and business. I find he touches on every issue I have faced or will face in my cleaning business. I’ve relied on his knowledge and used his moral values as a compass to guide the direction of my own business. If you’re a solo cleaner, entrepreneur, growing business-anyone can benefit from his podcasts!!
Helpful and informative
Love this podcast! Every episode is packed with new ways to think outside of the box and help you grow your company!
This podcast episodes are great, not only because of the valuable information that is shared, but the stories are also great and entertaining. This podcast had help me a lot with mindset that not only relates to my cleaning business but also helps in different areas of my life. I definitely recommend listening to the podcast. Ken’s voice is also very calm and pleasant to listen.