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 thoudands of small mom and pop operations that do a really great job. While that can be really good for their clients, it also limits the possiblities for advancment for their few employees. Still 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 ot 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 Rich Devos and our own fund to cover adminisration fees. Happy Window Cleaning employees thus have no out of pocket costs, and no debt for a college degree, they are able to earn in their free time, all online, while they work for Happy Window Cleaning. Even part time employees are eligible.
Additionally Happy Window Cleaning has technical certifcations and we offer an 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 a Happy Window Cleaning business of their own, in say Ludington MI, or Muskegon Michigan, after a few years of service with us, they get that opprotunity. this way they can know in their guts (There is the influence of Welch again) that they will be 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 so much where you are today, so long as you are delivering great workmanship and earning money. What realy counts is where you have 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. 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 the individuals road to a better tomorrow. Anyone can learn to make a window or a countertop sparkle, but only a leader will make lives sparkle. You have a choice, 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 it 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 are wasted lives and squandered stewardship. Ignore that fact and your people will soon outgrow you. Embrace that challenge and the rewards can be eternal.