Updated: Oct 19
A young women posted some questions in a cleaning forum I follow. Ambriana asked;
"How many homes do you typically clean a week or a month? How many employees do you have? I'm in Holland Michigan and am just looking for some comparison."
For some reason the first person I thought of was Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. Although some found his penchant for holding his employees feet to the fire and elininating underachievers nauseating. As an entreprenuer, I found his strategy to be on target, even inspiring. No one can argue with the growth of GE under Mr. Welch's leadership. Think of all the "intraprenuers" as he called them whose lives were changed for the better largely because a leader had the gall to expect the very best from his people.
Happy Window Cleaning and Happy Cleaning was set up as a franchise so that our people can be intraprenures like the people at GE were under Mr. Welch. We haven't patterened our structure after Jack Welch's style, instead we strive to meet people where they are and expect incremeental improvements from them over time. The cleaning industry is quite a bit different from manufacturing, it's very fractured, there are thousands of small mom and pop operations that do a really great job. While that can in some cases be really good for their clients, it also limits the possiblities for advancment for the business and their few employees. For those getting into cleaning for a profit there is an important choice to make about what they really want for their futures.
Chemdry, Stanley Steemer, and Merry Maids, are a few examples of cleaning companies with thousands of franchise locations. There isn't a window cleaning company on earth with so many franchises, The largest are just a few hundred. Id like to change that. In any event, with a growing company, employees have the chance to get really good at what they do and possibly advance to higher positions and better compensation. At Happy Window Cleaning here in Grand Rapids, Michigan we built higher education into our business model to ensure that our people have the structure to reach their goals. We have a partnership with my Alma Matter Christian Leaders College where people can get a degree through a combineed scholarship, (Thanks to Henry Reyenga, his team, and the late Rich Devos) Our own fund covers adminisration fees making it so that Happy Window Cleaning employees have no out of pocket costs, and no debt when earning their college degree, what is more they are able to earn their credit hours in their free time, all online,. Even part time employees are eligible for the benefit.
Additionally Happy Window Cleaning has technical certifcations like our in house Buisness Lesson Series, which in our view is equivalent to an MBA (sorry Mr Welch, I know you have an MBA program started after retiring from GE). We put that in place so that if one of my employees should like to have an independently run Ranchise Territory,, after two years of excellent service with us, they get that opprotunity. This way they can know in their guts as they embark on a new journey, (There is the influence of Welch again) that they are prepared to succeed. Of course, employees can use that training to change from a blue shirt to a white shirt someplace else, but so long as we keep adding value to their lives we are earning their loyalty.
So whether you are self employed as a cleaner or have a number of employees, it really doesn't matter where you are today, so long as you are delivering great workmanship and earning money. What really counts is where you set your sights for the future. Ever try to get someplace that you have never been without a GPS or a map? You really don't know where you might end up without a plan. The same goes for business. It is good to make comparisons sometimes to measure your progress. It was natural for Ambriana to do that. The truth is that owning any size cleaning business is a whole lot of hard work, no matter how you slice those responsibilities up.
But working smart means building a business structure that supports team and their individual paths to a better tomorrow. Anyone can learn to make a window or a countertop sparkle, but only a leader will make lives sparkle. We all have choices, and just one life to live, so why not go for the whole ball of wax and share the wealth with those you spend the majority of you life with? Why not make all the hard work worthwhile for yourself and the ones coming up under you? The cost of ignoring individual God given talent, to provide appropriate challange. education and support for our people is squandered stewardship and incmplete lives. Ignore that fact and your people may soon outgrow you. Embrace that challenge, love God and others, putthig their lives first, and the rewards are more than legacy, they are eternal.