Wondering how to franchise your business? Do you want your small mom and pop type business to turn into a multi-million dollar franchise? It can happen, but it’s next to impossible without systems. Most small business owners have dreams to grow and reach millions in annual revenues, but they’re so tied up in the day-to-day tasks that there is no time to focus on systems.
Owen: Hi. My name is Owen McGab Enaohwo and welcome to Process Breakdown. This is a podcast where I bring on successful entrepreneurs to come on here and reveal how they will be able to create systems and processes for their businesses which now enable them to literally run their business on autopilot without their constant involvement and my guest today is Ron Holt. He’s the CEO and founder of Two Maids & a Mop. Ron, welcome to the show.
Ron: Thank you, Owen. Thanks for inviting me.
Owen: So Ron, let’s get started. What exactly does your company do and what big pain you solve for your customers?
Ron: Well obviously, we’re a residential house cleaning company. We started our company almost or just over 10 years ago now and at the time we were trying to solve a pretty simple need, to clean a house and make some money doing it and had no idea that we would grow into the company we are today. So we’re still doing the same trying to clean houses and make money.
Owen: So Ron, one of the things that I try to do is always tell our listeners so they understand the scale of the level in which your kind of business that you’re running in terms of the scale of the business. So how many full-time employees you have right now?
Ron: We have just under 20, roughly 18 full-time employees. Company-wide, we have almost a 150 total employees. We have a home office that provides a lot of administrative and marketing support and then of course the bulk of our staff is in the local level in the form of a house cleaner so we do have what we called managers who are in place and in some cases, even franchises who are in place too.
Owen: Okay. So basically, eighteen full-time staff but then you have quite a lot of them who are more on the part-time basis kind of, right?
Ron: Correct. The average team member, “professional house” cleaner we call them work somewhere roughly around 30-35 hours a week, so not quite 40 hours a week.
Owen: Okay. And so let’s get the numbers like what was the last year’s revenue and maybe what you expect this year?
Ron: Yeah. Last year was a really great cool year for us. In fact, the last few years have been amazing for us. We’ve really change in terms of being a small business into a real business all of a sudden. Last year, we did just under $3 million in annual revenues. Roughly $2.7 and in this year we’re expecting to top $3.5 million and all of that is organic. It’s not sinister of these.
Owen: Wow, that’s nice. And so what would you say has been the lowest point of the business and maybe describe how bad it got.
Ron: Yeah. Well, that’s funny because there are some distinct low point in our business that I can recall. Roughly 4 or 4.5 years ago but it turned out to be a tremendous blessing and disguise. At the time it was extremely scary because we had a lot of problems. We got a lot of internal issues. We were still trying to grow at that time but really didn’t understand how to do it. We just had this big dream and big vision and we thought to get from A to Z would kind of take care of itself and so we started opening up offices, expecting good things to happen because it was happening at a local level with our original pilot store but the systems really work in place for that type of aggressive growth and that hit home pretty quickly once we started expanding because it started costing us money. So that was certainly the low point.
Owen: You mentioned in the pre-interview how like you basically always run the main business like the “mom and pop store” and then you wanted to apply the idea as you grew the business and then one of the things you found out was like that each of your day was office managers always coming back to you to ask questions so let’s talk about that because I want to listen so I’ll understand the problem with that.
Ron: Sure. So yeah, like I said we started our original location was down in Pensacola, Florida and we were doing great. We actually own, we still own, good news, the Pensacola market and we thought we really could replicate that scale in it so we opened our second location in the neighboring city in Florida and subsequently a third. So what we discovered pretty quickly is that, well the “mom and pop” environment has its advantages. The disadvantage is if you don’t have real system in place, if you don’t have real big infrastructure to handle support then you’re going to get a whole lot of questions that really are things that shouldn’t be handled within a systems process or manual.
So I was literally receiving calls every day, in some cases the same exact question over and over and over again. How do you buy this cleaning product? What do you do when this situation occurs? At the time and still to this day, I will pick-up the phone and answer any question but it was overwhelming and it was really dragging us down internally because instead of focusing on future growth, I was dealing with just day-to-day issues that really could have been dealt with real systems.
Owen: And there was another thing you mentioned during the pre-interview about how as you guys started getting more and more successful, people started asking about “Are you still in the franchise?” And then you wanted to get into that as well. Talk about the challenge you have when that became an issue of say you wanted to start a franchise?
Ron: The one thing that remained consistent even with our internal issues was marketing. We’re blowing another one, we’re killing in terms of sales but the infrastructure was lacking. So since we have those increasing sales, we were receiving calls and e-mails on a regular basis asking “Hey, how can I franchise this?” and at the time we didn’t have the ability to franchise. So we said “Well, gosh. Let’s just don’t turn these folks away let’s see what we can do to scale this and really grow the business.” And once we really dug deep into franchising, I actually joined the International Franchise Association. They said that one word over and over and over again and the word of course was “systems” and at the time we didn’t really know that man. We just assumed everybody operated like we operate.
If an employee has a question, you answer it and we didn’t know there was a way or a process that actually answer those questions without you physically answering it. So we dug deep once we heard that “systems” was the lifeline of every successful business and that without “systems” not only could we not succeed with our internal operation, there is no way to scale this and franchise the business either.
Owen: And what I got from you during the pre-interview is that you went to conferences, seminars, trade shows just so you could learn more about these whole franchising thing and that one word everybody we got as a way kept saying was “systems, systems, systems”. So you say, “You know what, let me jump into this.” And you have decided that you wanted to go about in a different way. So solved trying to figure it out yourself, you said you wanted to go ahead and bring in system consultants which I also call “process designers” to come in and help you figure that out. Let’s talk about that. How did that happen? What you got started with I guess?
Ron: Yeah. Once we decided that we have to have systems to just survive and to grow as well as for our franchising goes. We said “Why don’t we do it?” It seemed extremely overwhelming. We reached that initially to partners within similar industries or businesses and we just said “How do you do it?” and so they simply would say “Here’s a 500 to 600-page manual. This is what we do.” And our eyes were just this big thinking “Wow, where do we start?” because at that time everything was here in my head. I’m the founder and the president so everything was here.
So I said “How do I get everything that’s in my head into an actual How-To manual?” So once we’ve realized there was no way we could do that by ourselves, we then said “What’s the easiest way to do that?” and consultants are everywhere honestly but we’ve been in the systems world where a lot of process designers and systems consultant so we really felt like our business was comprised of three components—marketing because we actually have a fairly innovative and creative way to market a little bit different in a lot of our industry peers. So we wanted to document that. Secondly, obviously cleaning and that’s just we are a cleaning company and then three, administrative concerns because that was one thing. Our administrative staff consisted 4 years ago of one person, me.
Owen: So you are handling administration, cleaning and the marketing, all three of them.
Ron: Pretty much. I was the small business owner who all of a sudden grew into a real business.
Owen: And so you said you wanted to go ahead and hire consultant but one thing I like about what you didn’t is you didn’t hire one consultant come in and help you map out and create system for all of different parts of the business. You said you wanted to specialize and get three consultants who are going to handle each of the individual part—the administration, cleaning and marketing. I’m curious, why did you just get one person to come in and systemize everything? Why did you exactly go specialized?
Ron: Well, the cleaning aspect of what we do is there are not many people that really specialize in that and the honest truth is while I’m on a cleaning business my heart is inside the business. I never really picked up a broom and pushed it or cleaned dust off at night staying. I was on a desk trying to make that happen. So I felt like that we needed bring in an expert within the cleaning industry so that we could do two things. Obviously document the systems but also make sure that our current systems were accurate. That they were refined in a way that we could scale and that we could produce quality results.
So we felt like we needed a cleaning expert. Since marketing is a little bit different for us, we don’t use any print advertising. We spend zero dollars on print other than a business card. So everything is online, new-aged media, social media, search engine optimization, you name it. This new age, we’re going to give it a shot and since that was so far out on that field, we thought we need to bring in a marketing expert as well.
And then the third is as far as administration goes again, we operated at the time of fairly large business in an extremely small “mom and pop environment” and then I never really grind a legitimate million plus dollar business. So I wanted to bring someone in that had lived that life. In fact, the cool thing is we actually hire one of the former COO’s of the Gerber Institute, Michael Gerber’s Institute. So he’s systems sort of guru.
Owen: The E-Myth? Is that the E-Myth?
Ron: From the E-Myth. Yeah. He worked with Michael on a day to day basis for years and we brought Tony and he came in and in fact all of his consultants spent one full week, one five day period. We closed the doors and we just went system-per-system by system and wow, it was not good, that’s nice. I had no idea how detailed you needed to be for some of the things we were doing.
Owen: Yeah. And so just so the listeners understand or maybe know, for each of the different category, the administration, cleaning and for marketing…
Ron: And marketing. We actually brought a fourth but it was really more of smaller nature. We actually brought an image consultant as well to make sure that our uniforms and our professional image was where it needed to be as well.
Owen: Okay. I guess, because the person listening to this now may realize that creating systems is not their strong point but they realize that people actually out there that consultants, like I call them “process designers” that do this for living for people and I’m trying to get from you the very thing you did in terms of finding the right person because you have so many options out there that you could have gone out in choosing one person for each of those different categories you mentioned but how did you make the decision? What criteria did you use to make the decision to choose the right person?
Ron: The decision to reach out externally was pretty simple. The first day that myself and our corporate staff sat down and try to build the first system, about four hours later we built one system and we said there’s no way that we can do this for the next 2 years. So we said we need some experts. We can’t do this ourselves. On top of that we have day-to-day issues we were still dealing with, with the business. So the decision to go outside was obvious.
As far as how, we wanted the best of the best. We didn’t just want another consultant. Again, we wanted to align ourselves with experts within each of those fields. So reached out to people we didn’t know. We didn’t know any of these people initially and we interviewed them and we said “What can you bring to the table? What’s your process? What’s your system for creating our systems?” and we interviewed dozens of people.
Owen: Maybe I could stop you before you want to talk about what you did when you found them and I guess the first thing to do is that I’m thinking like the mind of the person listening to this, “I know I need a process designer, how do I find them?” I think let’s go through that sequentially. How did you find the process designers that you use or system consultants, whatever you want to call it, how did you find each of them for each of the categories that you’re going at?
Ron: Sure. Well, the first step was like you mentioned, trade shows and conferences and seminars, we attended all of those things and each of the week we learn lots of things but probably the biggest we learned was contacts. We network to people. We said, “You need to talk with this person. You need to talk with that person.” So that’s really how we got the leads to some of the people. For instance, our cleaning consultant, her name is Debbie Sardone. She calls herself the “Queen of Cleaning”.
Ron: So we didn’t know Debbie at all up to this point. So we referred to her to an industry association. We were attendant of the conference and they said “There’s no other person you need to talk to other than Debbie.” So we took that in a pretty big way and we picked up the phone the next week and we told her and we told her our story and a few weeks later we’re looking in Birmingham. She was in Birmingham, Alabama and we’re working one-on-one with her. She actually, physically went into each one of our homes with our employees at our home-based in Birmingham and in some cases picked up her broom and cleaned. So she observed for a whole week our cleaning systems in action.
Ron: So the primary lead for us was industry associations.
Ron: And then you mentioned the E-Myth. We’ve read the E-Myth and I was enamored about the concepts so I reached out to people. They will be connected to Michael Gerber, the author and interview all of us people and selected one of his former management team members.
Owen: And the guys on the E-Myth, they focused on the administration part or where?
Ron: It’s everything. In our case, we were most interested in the administrative part. It primarily is administration and sales and marketing but administration is sort of my generic term for everything because it applies to personnel safety, customer service, everything.
Owen: So again, how you found that is you went based on referral and in the case of the lady who helped you on the cleaning part and then on the other one, I guess you read the E-Myth so basically the E-Myth referred it to their program and so now you had the leads of people who you’re going to go after in terms of the processes end. When you went interviewing them, at what point did you say, “This is the right person for me,” I’m trying to get it because the person listening to this is now saying “Okay, you found the people but what criteria you used to judge to say this is the right person for my business to let me move to the next step?” You understand my question?
Ron: We looked at really just two big factors but there are only two factors but huge factors. One, we needed some more than heads on practical experience. We didn’t really want career consultants. We wanted someone in a bit of ground and in our case, I pushed the broom. Secondly, we wanted someone that had a proven track record as a system consultant or designer. We didn’t want someone that was just sort of getting started or doing this on the side as a hobby or a side venture. We wanted someone who dedicated their time today to nothing but that.
So that was really the two things we’re looking for. On top of that, we were looking for a personal connection. We really wanted someone that understood our business and understood what we were trying to build here and in some cases, some of the people we interviewed had different ideas of how they wanted to go rather than building a “how-to manual”. They wanted to refine some of our systems and we had at the time seven years of experience and we really thought like we did lived the life of a cleaning business so we knew what to do. We just needed to know how to document.
Owen: So they wanted to take you out of your own self, your skill. This all help you shape out, document but you already have the body of knowledge. They wanted to do something totally different. Okay.
Ron: Right. So if we had a person on those situations or how to hire someone where there is not a great example because one of our consultants actually told us how to hire better so we changed our system. But there were some systems that we had in place that we really tie to, we believed in and some of the folks really wanted to take us outside of the things we were already doing and reinvent those. Then we actually, I’d say that looking back I know two big systems both personnel related that we use to systems designer to actually reinvent what we were doing and it actually helped our business in a big way and saved us money and actually going to increase our efficiency in a big way.
Owen: I’m sure the listener is asking what that was. Can you tell us precisely what’s an example of that was?
Ron: You bet, yeah. For personnel reason, we’re thinking business and unfortunately in our business we have fairly high turnover. The good news is we’ve addressed some of those issues. Prior to hiring a consultant, we assumed and just expected that our realistic expectation should be able to live with high turnover and that the designers, so that doesn’t have to be your life. I know you’re claiming business and I know you’re used to this because you’ve been doing it for seven years but it doesn’t have to be that way. Even our cleaning consultant said the same thing. So we actually were referred through the consultant through a software company that actually systemizes the hiring process.
Ron: And it’s amazing. I don’t know if you want me to say the name.
Owen: Go ahead. All of actual resources if you want.
Ron: Yeah. The company is called “Hireology” and it’s A to Z systematized software that as a subscription model you can purchase online and it allows you to document everything from the questions you’re going to ask during the phone interview to in-house interview and then even allows for the subjective process of interviewing to become a quantifiable process. It grades each candidate on 0 to 100 scales and it allows our managers to take away a lot of their subjectivity. We were hiring in some cases, our managers will never invent this but we were hiring because we liked how they smile when they walked in the room. So this new process of Hireology allowed that to be replaced with a real tool without subjectivity.
Owen: Yeah and what I get from that is that you basically mapped out who do I hire or should be and the skillset, maybe there’s a specific culture that your company has that you wanted to fit into that culture so on and so forth and then now you’re using that tool to make sure when you hire this person you are verifying this person that give the ideal candidate to see if it matches the way you’re hiring as always the same?
Ron: Exactly. That’s interesting you said that because that’s exactly what happen. The first thing they did was they said “Who do you want to hire? On the employee you have now who have been there the longest? Who do you value the most? And I want to talk to those people. So they know the actual demographic study of the most desirable employees in our employee-based at the time and then use that to create an automated survey that goes out every time someone contacts us regarding a job agreement and then a survey is step one in determining if we should even go forward with the interviews. So it actually is that myself has been enough reason to go with those guys but the bigger thing is every step throughout the process is now completely scripted and systematized and documented.
Owen: Good. And so the person listening to this now gets the steps you told. One thing that we didn’t talk about is kind of like cost, if you okay to them what it cost you to. You have the people to each of the different administration, for cleaning as well as marketing, the consultants you had that come in to help you create systems for these different areas, can you share costs?
Ron: Sure. Yeah. And that’s another great question because that was really for me, a difficult decision because I felt like I knew everything. It’s all right here. So you just call me if you have a question and my time, we expect it all as free. So here I am, hiring people to document everything that’s right here and it was a difficult decision because it cost us close to $100,000 to get all of this completely automated. In looking back, there’s no doubt in my mind I would do it all over again but at the time, it was a difficult decision because it was a considerable investment. As much as we’re growing, we’re still a small business. So yeah, it’s something you want to look at in terms of a return. The return was the savings we had internal. Now, our business runs on autopilot. 4 years ago, I could not have had this interview probably because the phone wasn’t ringing. So it’s literally on autopilot now even though we’re crossing five states. So all of that is because of the systems work and that’s the single best of the best that we’ve ever made.
Owen: That’s good and so you basically got this people in, went through all the process of verifying that they’re the right fit for you and then you started and you said they locked into the building and you shut down the door, close the business kind of cellphone and you went in and started documenting a procedure, how was that?
Ron: It was tough. It was tough because when we think about systems, up to this point I never really just thought about systems to be honest with you. Again, it was all in my head. So when you think about something as simple, let’s think of something really simple, washing clothes. Simple stuff that everyone in the world knows how to do but when you build a system for laundry, it becomes a manual. So the same thing applies to a business. So no matter what kind of business it is, everything has certain systems and task that have to be accomplished on a daily basis. So yeah, it was shocking, the amount of work that was going or is happening behind these doors in those five days because we spent 3 to 4 weeks, 5 days a piece with each of the consultants and in some cases it was easy stuff. They just affirm that we documented and in some cases they say “Wait a minute, you got to change this.” They keep running your business with ways and they were actually able to do some math in some cases to show us how much money we were actually spending or wasting by using this particular process, whatever it might be.
Owen: And you ended up, you said you ended up with like a 400-page manual and documented the different aspects of your business.
Ron: Absolutely, yeah. We now have just over 400 pages worth of systems that are amazing. We actually just sold our very first franchise.
Ron: Yeah, thank you. We had a full week of training and that was the first week of training that we were actually able to highlight all of our work because before then it was all internal and we had brought all of our managers in but a lot of the system, they already knew. Even though they weren’t documented, they were doing a lot of those things and in some cases they weren’t doing those at all but for the most part they were doing most of those in the way we had documented. But for the franchises that we have sold to, this is all brand new. So they were shocked as well and very happy that they show us our company because it was impressive. Their exact words were impressive because the content was there. This wasn’t flopped. This was real information that they needed, information that they needed in order to run their business.
Owen: So you’ve seen now how they investment of the $100,000 have all the different systems consultant and coming not only help, the actual business itself, increased ROI and also its efficiency. Now, it’s also helping you now to sell the business and gain more franchises in. Wow, it basically is a very useful thing to have actually done that.
Ron: Yeah. Like I said earlier, at the time it was scary. Scary stuff, $100,000 you know but no doubt about it. If we had an opportunity to go back we would not change one thing. It was the single best investment we have ever made and that 400-page manual we have now rivals any of our competitors in the market. Some of it has been around since the 80’s so I’m really impressed and happy of what we have now.
Owen: Okay. So Ron, please listen everyone. It’s like okay; let’s talk about one specific system. Only a few that comes to mind that you currently have in the business that enables you to run without you successfully. So during the pre-interview you mentioned something about personal issues that you’re having with the office managers so let’s talk about what systems they created to handle those personal issues.
Ron: Sure. Well, the first is the Hireology software system that I’ve talked about before, that by itself systemizes the actual hiring process. So that’s for any small business is looking, I hate to point someone here but very small business is looking for help. That’s an easy place to start. Personnel, like I said our operations manual is roughly 400 pages, just over 400 pages. One fourth of our manual is personnel related. So there were so many issues when it comes to personnel in the cleaning industry that we felt that it was necessary to put as much information as we could possibly put in there. So as far as actual tools that we use now, we actually have another software tool that we use that does everything from scheduling to performing.
Owen: Feel free to say the name, it’s okay. Say it.
Ron: It’s called Service CEO which is very common and very popular in the service industry but one great thing it does is it allows us to track feedback and schedule clients. The third thing we did was we believe it or not we were doing payroll manually.
Ron: This was 2008 and we were doing manual payrolls for a million-plus-dollar company. So the amount of overhead we say is there was tremendous. When the consultants came in and said “Stop what you’re doing immediately.” This is old school stuff that you got to get rid of. So we created an internal software program with the help of our administrative consultant that now automates the payroll behind our business.
Owen: So you shared some specific systems you have in the admin side. Let’s talk about some specific systems that you have in the cleaning side.
Ron: Well, the one great thing about our business unless I’m wrong in 2100 people are still going to be using vacuum-to-vacuum their carpet and going to be using rags to clean dusts. So the big thing we did in terms of cleaning is really just put all of that together. What are we doing? What products are we using? Are we suing the right products? And let’s put it all together because even though we were growing and getting more and more new business, we will have a call. We’re in Nashville, Tennessee, we’re in Charlotte, we’re in Atlanta, Georgia, and we get three calls in the same day with the say question with each manager having three different ideas.
Simple things like “How do you clean a hardwood floor?” Our manager in Nashville would have a completely different idea than our manager in Charlotte, North Carolina. So the cleaning consultant came in and didn’t bring a ton of new technology to the table rather she just made sure that we were cleaning hardwood floors the right way or adjusting nightstands in the right way or using the right type of glass cleaner. We also use for a kind of go eco-friendly, we were using some products that are little harsh and toxic so she did help us kind of convert ourselves into more of a natural cleaning company.
Owen: Yeah. One of the things I think you mentioned during the pre-interview was that because of this issue of how the cleaning was being done differently into different facilities, you literally had to get all the people in-charge the cleaning and inside the facility for two day event and literally had them work through the process of cleaning so everybody does the same steps for cleaning regardless.
Ron: We did. We brought everyone in and we met. Our central location is Atlanta, Georgia. So we all met in Atlanta. We have people coming up from Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and some from Georgia. We all met in Atlanta and we introduced all of our systems but primarily the cleaning systems because this is what they were dealing with on a day-to-day basis and their response to some cases was great. They were just excited and energetic about it but in some cases, we got a lot of blowback because again, our manager in Nashville, Tennessee says “No, no, no, no. This is how we’ve been doing it forever. I don’t care how someone in Florida is doing it. This is what works for us so we can’t change what we’re doing.”
So there were some difficult sessions in there because we had to sell the idea of uniform systems because really because we’ve always had systems, they’re just been all over the place. They haven’t been uniform systems and they have in the document. So yeah, they were running completely different even though we were using the same brand, the same trademark “Two Maids & a Mop.” The service and the quality behind it may be completely different from one state to the next at that time.
Owen: Go ahead.
Ron: I was going to say to that 2-day session again was everyone was so excited when they got there but within the first we had some big eyes, like wait a minute, does everyone loves the idea of change but once you start talking about change in saying that you got to change. People start realizing that. Wait, my life is actually going to be different now. I may have to do something different than I’m used to doing.
Owen: So I mean how do you deal with it? because that was the next question. I was going to ask you the systems you have in the marketing but just be in terms of making sense now, you see they were telling you the high frustrations, how do you do with the frustrations or the challenges when you’re trying to create systems that will help you with the business that you’re getting blowback?
Ron: Got it.
Owen: How do you do with the challenge?
Ron: Well, the good news is even though we’re franchising right now, we’ve just sold our first franchise. The other 12 locations are all company-owned. So we get a sort of market. You know what I’m saying? This is the system so you’ll only board or not but the reality is we did have to sell this. So we sold it in one easy way that we said we’re doing this for one reason, to make your life easier. As much as I don’t want to take that call three times a day, I know you don’t want to make that call either. So by having an actual manual in place that’s always there that’s hosted online in the internet now, there’s a go-to resource so if you have a question, guess what, we have an answer for you. It’s always there. No matter what happens in your business you’re now going to have a real system in place for.
So there was some blowback but once we explained the reason for the system and the reason for the change at some cases, for the most part people accepted that and then afterwards, they sort of put these systems in place, that’s really when we saw the most positive response. We received e-mails days after those, that 2-day even saying “Thank goodness, this finally happened. This is exactly what our business needed.”
Owen: And then what systems you have in the marketing side, the ones that come to mind?
Ron: Well, right. That’s hard to explain because that is sort of our secret sauce. Our secret sauce is in how we market. Again, the one thing that I can tell you is that we did trash all print advertising. So once we did that we went straight online and we dedicate a significant amount of money to that investment. But the marketing consultant really came and it did one thing, made sure that our ROI was, it was cool, it sounds hip to say you’re doing everything online but the consultant wanted to make sure that it was more than just cooler than hip, he wanted to make sure that it was profitable and that there were other marketing options out there that have a better ROI. So we did some real studies to make sure that what we were doing was better than direct mail, whatever it might be. So that’s really the main thing we did. We just reaffirmed that what we were doing was more than just cool and we put those in place.
Owen: What that sounds to me is like when it came to the marketing consultant, he basically helps you determine what kind of like the lifetime value of each customer is and then once he knew what that was you can now determine what other ways to go online to get customers based on the fact that you knew what revenue you can generate from each customer. Is that it or maybe good words in mouth?
Ron: We had no idea what it cost to get a new customer, we had no idea what the lifetime value was, we didn’t know what our customer nutrition rate was, so we built all of these systems that we now can track on a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly basis, whatever time frame we’re looking for. So now it even goes more than that. We actually have immediate return on investment calculations for every one of our marketing strategies that we use now. So the cool thing is everything that the consultants learn was that we were doing things the right way but we kind of got lucky with that because we were just going on a hunch that we were doing the right thing. But he did allow us to create those metrics to make sure that if things did change that we’ll be able to diagnose that change.
Owen: Yeah and one of the statements that my listeners like is when I ask to guess to imagine your business like a conveyor belt on one end is a customer coming in saying “Hi, I want your service” and the other hand is the customer saying “I love your service” because you delivered, walk us through just like imagining your business a conveyor belt like what happens when the customer call me. I’m assuming since you do a business most primarily online and you get your leads online so they’re most likely are talking to you online. So walk us through behind the scenes, the first thing that comes online. Walk us through.
Ron: That’s a great question and perfect for our business because we’ve actually branded that conveyor belt process. That’s getting something else, our administrative and marketing consultant help us with. We brand our entire customer experience now to complete experience because as we clean houses and people pay us to get their houses cleaned but we believe we provide more than just a clean house. We provide a complete experience that starts with dependability, trust, cleaning as well and then feedback that ensures that if there are any problems that we correct them on a return visit. So we call that the “Complete Experience.”
So we start with a prospect. The marketing consultant allowed us to define what a candidate or a qualified lead should look like. So by knowing what a qualified lead should look like, that tells us where we should market, where are those online? So that’s step one. Step two is just to convert that lead. So we actually have a real cool innovative plan called the paper performance plan.
Owen: And just so you know I’m so excited that you’re actually sharing this stuff with us. I was thinking you’re going to say no but go ahead.
Ron: No way, I love it. This is our business in a nutshell and that’s what we wanted to brand it. So the second stuff is the lead conversation. Getting the phonecall is great but if it’s the wrong phone call, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling, that person is not receptive to what you’re selling, and you’re wasting your time and money. So now that we know that we’re getting the right kind of phonecall, the next step is to sell in the right way and that’s the lead conversation.
So we have something called the “pay for performance plan”. It is our central core concept behind our business. Every time we clean let’s say your home, we give you an opportunity to rate the service online on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 would be the best. That number believe it or not, that number alone actually determines the total compensation for our cleaners. So the happier they make you, the more money they’re able to make with our company. So that’s about the selling point and it’s also a motivational point and incentive for our employees. So that is a big thing we use, our selling process and lead conversion process.
Our third step is of course the cleaning experience itself and by systemizing the entire cleaning process, we believe that we’re not just going in there and cleaning the house, we actually have a real system and process behind the arching science of a house cleaning. The fourth step is feedback and that kind of goes back to our “pay for performance plan” because in order for our company to be of any value to a customer, they have to understand the feedback is a central component of our business. So after the service is complete we’re going to get in touch with that particular person and we’re going to give them an opportunity to rate our service and the rating helps us internally but more importantly, the comments they provide us allow us to improve the experience the very next time. So we then just repeat that cycle over and over and over again with each new client and that’s what we now call the “complete experience” so that’s our conveyor belt.
Owen: I like that and so I’m curious too, were there any other challenges that come to mind? If you can remember any other challenge when you are trying to create this whole system and getting to involve and all that, what are the challenges came about and how did you solve them?
Ron: Well, it goes back to those individual systems. One thing I didn’t mention is I was talking, I was thinking about selling. Again, we were hiring amazing sales people as we were growing early on but as we grew beyond just those two or three stores, you can only hire so many amazing sales people. In some cases you have to create sales people. We didn’t have systems or scripts in place, taught people how to be amazing people so we actually had to build a script that up to that point we had nothing. We just said “This is how you do it. Do it and it will work, trust me.”
So for amazing sales people, they just took and they knew what to do because it was all here just like it was for me. So this script on the surface sounded, “It’s so simple.” Okay, so what we’re going to do is type what we normally say, no big deal. Well, what we found is with every yes or no question there is another yes or no question and then with that there is another yes and no question. So the script became this massive project that’s literally much to complete and now we have an interactive sales script that each of our sales people, managers can use on a daily basis and it answer every single question any person is going to ask in the sales process.
Owen: Wow, I like that. So it’s like they have kind of a framework on how the sale people is, the person and objection is this, well, this is the answer. Put it in your own words. If the next objection is this, this is the answer, put it in your own word. I like that.
Owen: And so earlier, you explained because I think when I ask you a question about how do you enable your employees to know exactly what they need to do. So you explained that you have a manual but then there’s a way in which you get access to the manual and all that. So I was trying to understand the system you have for that.
Ron: Yeah. We call it internet but it’s really just hosted online and people can, our managers can go in there and view it and talk about it among one another. So once we created this manual, our assumption was we’re good, what we didn’t think about was there’s going to be constant revisions and additions to this manual and the internet allowed us to actually hear a feedback on a daily basis. One of our managers in whatever city would say “Hey, what do we do in this instance? We’d scrolled through the manual, how did we miss that?” So the internet allowed us to say “Okay, here’s the problem.” So then it started bringing extra consultants and we had lived that life, we just do it ourselves. We said “Okay, let’s build this internally.” And that’s all we get together virtually and let’s build a system for this particular problem we have.
Owen: Yeah. So you have an internet to empower your employees whenever they have something that is not covered in the manual for them to go in and update it. I’m sure basically going in and update. But people who might be listening to this will go into the page manual and they may be wondering what is the manual made of? Like different section of it. So do you remember that question I asked you?
Ron: Yeah. Well, it starts with A to Z. So it starts from the ground up. So if we were going to a
new market and open a new office or open a franchise office, this is hilarious but every time we’ve opened one of our new locations, what I’ve done is fly or drive to that particular city and do everything myself and that means hit all the necessary licenses, get all the business permits, the office furniture, setup the marketing, holler the people, crazy, crazy. There’s no way we can reproduce that in a big way so we create a system for actual pre-opening so that was step one, was a pre-opening system. How do you get to the first day?
And then we go on and on from personnel to training, to the cells, even pricing. Pricing is a difficult question. I don’t know if you’ve ever hired a maid service the one question you’re always going to hear when someone calls is “How much does it cost to clean my house?” So that can take you in so many different directions so we had to create a pricing system so that it’s not subjective. A lot of cleaning companies just kind of wing it and say “I think this is going to cost this much” so we actually have a systemized process to pricing now—sales, marketing, customer service, training. So we’ve got everything in there. We’re refining it almost weekly now which is funny because like I said earlier, I felt like we were done when we publish that first draft but it’s evolving all the time now and I’m sure 2 years from now it’s going to be more detailed.
Owen: Yeah. You said you also have section on safety on that.
Ron: Absolutely, yeah. So it’s there’s a safety section and there’s as well that goes with everything from inside the office, safety to most importantly outside in the field while you are driving or outside of a home cleaning because in our case we clean. So we have some customers to use all of sorts of things from bleach to ammonia products so we have to be very careful that our team members understand the safety concerns behind along that. Even driving, driving is another thing that we just have always taken forgranted but we actually built systems for each of our employees to understand how to drive in a safe manner.
Owen: That’s awesome. And so it’s one thing to build a system but if you cannot track and verify that the results have been delivered and it’s nothing, right? So how do you track and verify the results that are delivered by your employee?
Ron: Well, the easiest thing and this is applied on our business again but it’s the “pay for performance plan”. It’s a simple 1 to 10 scale. This is fairly subjective because it’s in the eyes of the beholder but still it tells you so much about, it tells you everything as far as the health of your business and the work ethic and quality behind that two people who are cleaning that particular home. Every day our team members when they walk back into the office want to know, “Well, what are my ratings or what’s the feedback I got on yesterday’s cleanings?” because they know that directly determines their paycheck.
So by itself, that is really the life of our business. We have some other things. The Hireology software too that I talked about allows us to grade a candidate on a 0 to 100 scale so we’re able to plug in each of our locations on a daily basis if we wanted to determine where they are on that process. Who are they hiring? Are they hiring the right people? We could even ask questions, “Why did you hire this person not this one?” because the grade implies you should have hired the other person. So that and then service CEO is another big thing for us because it complete automates the scheduling process and the customer relation or client relations part. We didn’t have any kind of CRM software. We didn’t know what CRM meant until we hired a consultant and he said “What are you doing for CRM?” and we go “What does that mean?” So now we actually have that. So when someone calls us now we actually have a way to track that lead if for some reason they don’t hire us during that phonecall.
Owen: And so since you now have systems in place for your entire business, how long have you been away from the business?
Ron: Literally away, how long I’ve been not working?
Ron: Well, for the first time in my life and I shouldn’t say in my life, in my “Two Maids & A Mop” life, my family and I took a 15-day vacation out of the country this past summer and completely became disconnected from the world and it was amazing and it was scary but we had built systems to prepare for this trip and when I came back I literally didn’t check any e-mails, I didn’t make any phonecalls. I did made one phone halfway in just because I wanted to make sure that we haven’t blown up. But when I came back, it wasn’t almost like I wasn’t needed anymore, so that was a welcome retreat and actually persevering too because after that point I felt so crucial to the business. But yeah, it runs itself for that 15-day period.
Owen: So how will you say your business had been transformed as a result of you systematizing your business?
Ron: Well, wow, we’re saving money every day now because of this. I don’t get 15 phone calls an hour with the same question. Personally, what it’s done for me is allowed me to concentrate on growth. We would never ever have sold our first franchise if I was still involved in the day-to-day operations or didn’t have these systems in place. So it has allowed us to actually take the next step. We’ve grown at a fairly rapid rate but the next step is really taking that go on exponential with the growth but we would never be able to take this next lead without these systems.
We probably would just kind of looking back, I’d say would be stuck but we really probably wouldn’t be stuck, we probably actually deteriorate because we have some issues internally. There are customers would notice that and we would lose our Mojo and I think we would actually have some growing pains if we haven’t built these systems. So it’s allowed us to survive but most importantly it allows us to grow.
Owen: Yeah. And so on a personal level, how your personal life been transformed as a result of systematizing your business?
Ron: Well, I love what I do again. When I started this business, I had this big dream of building this cleaning empire and for the first three to four years that dream filled me and after three or four years it became less fueled because I was dealing with so many day-to-day issues and I’ve got myself actually withdrawing and not wanting to go to work in some cases which the only reason I started the business was because I want to get out of the rat race, I want. I wanted to go and keep pushing buttons and go into another day job.
So these systems have allowed me to re-energize myself. One, it allowed me to document everything and actually see, it’s almost like a pain kind of coming together, now you see it with these systems. But secondly, it allowed me to kind of come in every day and get excited about what I do because I don’t have to deal with lot of the day-to-day things. It’s right on the autopilot now. So now I can just use my entire day to growth, growth, growth.
Owen: And so you mentioned now you don’t have to do as much as you use to anymore, where do you find yourself focusing most of your time now that you’ve systematized the business?
Ron: Well, I kind of brand myself now as sort of the “culture guy”. So I still have some day-to-day issues that I deal with but for the most part, I’m the figurehead, I’m the founder who shares the vision, who shared the dream and who talks about what we do. So I’m a semi-marketing executive, somewhat salesperson and also now in full blast mode of franchising. So we’re traveling all over the place kind of talking about our concept and talking in different people about the idea and the investment behind Two Maids & A Mop. So I’d say 50% of my time is all franchising and the other 50% is really sort of the culture guy, just making sure that the right culture, the right DNA is in place in each of our offices.
Owen: That’s awesome. And so what is the very next step that someone who is listening to this interview all the way to this point should do in order to get started at least with systematizing their business? What is the first thing you think he should do?
Ron: Hire someone. I don’t know of any business even if it’s a lemonade stand that can run the business and at the same time document every system inside that business so matter how small your business, you need systems and if you want to grow and every business can only grow. You can’t sustain yourself and remain stagnant. You got to always grow in order to be a healthy business. Find experts in your field, if that doesn’t work reach out to people in the industry and say, “Do you know anyone that specializes in this particular system or process?” and talk to him and get an idea of what their process is in building your systems. I don’t know if you have any experience or if you know any people that have dug in and really built these systems directly without the assistance of other professionals but for us that were inconceivable. There is no way we could have operated the business and at the same time don’t outrank to our own, this system and that system.
Owen: And so what books will you say have influenced this way of thinking for you the most and why?
Ron: The E-Myth for sure. The E-Myth was an eye-opening. Everything in it rigged off “Two Maids & A Mop” at the time because it illustrates with me the failures of a small business and in fact, one thing that they mentioned in there, I’m not sure if you’ve read the book but the one thing they’ve mentioned in there is small business don’t necessarily fail because they’re bad in what they provide, what extra service or produce, it’s not always the worst product or service in the world that means failure, it’s that the business owner doesn’t understand how to run the business behind that product or service.
They’re good at cleaning houses so they say I’m going to start up cleaning business and all of a sudden they’ve got multiple customers and now they’re going to run a cleaning business instead of just cleaning a house. So all of a sudden now we’re becoming a cleaning business owner and that’s when the business fails. So the EMyth for sure illustrates that. It doesn’t necessarily tell you how to do it but it allows you to look at yourself in the mirror almost if you’re having some issues internally. For us, there are a lot of books that we view that have been more vision-related. There’s a book by Seth Godin called “The Purple Cow.” It really doesn’t talk about systems but it does allow you to think back and think how do I see myself because that’s the other thing that systems allow us to do was to create a vision for where we wanted to go.
Ten years ago when I started the business I had a big dream. I knew I wanted to go from A to Z but I didn’t have a clue how to get there so “The Purple Cow” actually allowed us to say or ask ourselves “Why do we think we should be Two Maids & A Mop, the national brand?” just because Ron is something more tangible. So even with a service like ours which is just intangible, house cleaning service, there needs to be some tangible difference makers in your brand no matter if you’re a national brand or a small business in a local market.
Owen: And you mentioned some tools that you use in the business but what are tools because beside those also have a large influence in your business and why?
Ron: Yeah. Well, we use QuickBooks at the time. Before we use QuickBooks we were just using the basic components of QuickBooks. We work creative invoices and making deposits, simple little things. I was doing those things. Systems allowed us to do two things. One, direct someone on how to do this thing and secondly, the system consultants allowed us to write QuickBooks more efficiently. So weren’t necessarily prehistoric because we’re using QuickBooks but at the same time we weren’t using it as officially as we probably should.
Owen: Okay. That’s good and so I’m curious because we’re getting to the end of the interview, what is the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing this interview?
Ron: Well, they can give us a call. We’re based here in Birmingham, Alabama but we actually have franchise opportunities available on all 48 states. Our number, I’m not sure if you want me to say our number here.
Owen: Go ahead.
Ron: It’s (205) 870-8643. We also have a website twomaidsfranchise.com that talks about the opportunity, the franchise opportunity, talks about our story again. If you want to do some research on our individual companies or if you’re a consumer potentially and we have our local markets, it’s really easy to find us. We always brand each of our locations in a website called TwoMaidsAtlanta.com, TwoMaidsCharlotte.com, so if we’re in your city search for us, visit our website. You’ll probably going to see a video on there and give us a call. Each of our markets sort of operates itself like it’s almost a small business now because we have these systems. So you’re not going to call us to get a quote if you live in Florida. So yeah, the easiest thing to do is either call or visits our franchise site and there is tons of information on TwoMaidsFranchise.com.
Owen: And the finally question is there any question that you were wishing that I would have asked you during the interview that for some reason I got so excited I didn’t even ask you? And if so, what was that question and also the answer now?
Ron: Well, no. I love your question about the conveyor belt. I think that you mentioned that was one of the most people get excited about and then that is a really great question that everyone needs to think about. So if you are speaking to someone, always make sure that you ask that question, what is your conveyor belt? If you don’t have a conveyor belt, then you’ve got some internal issues and a lot of the people think “Well, I don’t need a conveyor belt. I’m good at what I do.” The fact that I have a close friend of mine that I’ve known for almost 15 years now and he recently started a landscaping company, killing it, he won award for the best landscaping company in his local area but he’s having some problems now because he’s like “Wait a minute, now I got to hire somebody. I can’t do all the work myself.” Somebody is having complaints and he’s actually losing business. So I said “You need in your words a conveyor belt.” So that, I can’t think of one question you didn’t ask but that one for me was the best one.
Owen: Good and for the listener now, I mean after listening to this interview, what I want you to do is I want you to go and review of the interview if you have awfully a positive review on iTunes and to do that, find our iTunes link at sweetprocess.com/iTunes and leave a positive review as well as subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. Also I want you to do is if you found this interview useful, I want you to share it with all the entrepreneurs because we want more and more entrepreneurs like you listening to this interviews, taking what you learned from it and going ahead to implement it and systematize their business.
And finally, if you are at the point of your business where you feel like you’re the bottleneck and you’re the only one that knows how the stuff gets done and want to take everything out of your head and document it, sign up for a free 14-day trial for Sweet Process and give it a try. And if you currently documented procedures on your business but the tools you’re using are complex, you want to simply wait for you and your employees, go ahead and sign up for a free 14-day trial of Sweet Process. And thanks Ron for doing the interview.
Ron: Thank you, Owen. Have a good time.
What is the single biggest challenge or struggle you are facing regarding being able to systematize your business? Click here to leave your comment! (<<<— it’s okay to leave a comment even if you do not have a cleaning business)