Elena recently joined a live webinar with SuperGeeks. In the interview, Elena explained a number if things cleaning businesses can do to boost sales and scale quickly.
Note: Here's the online course if you're interested.
James: We are now recording. I'm happy to have everyone here. My name is James. I head up a company called SuperGeeks. We do all things IT related. We help companies like Elena’s basically get off the ground and start earning some income, through the use of emerging technology. So today's presentation is about Elena's business, and what is the secret sauce to her success. As you know, she is the founder and CEO of Superb Maids, and she's got a real interesting story to tell. We're going to jump into that in just one second here. I just want to be sure you can see my screen. It's her website, superbmaids.net, and that you can hear me loud and clear. In you control panel, you have a chance to ask questions. Feel free to do that at any time, we will pause periodically and address those questions.
If you're listening to this as a recording, not as a live event, but as a recording, you can reach out to Elena at firstname.lastname@example.org. That email goes directly to her. So let's jump into it. Elena, good morning.
Elena: Good morning.
James: So nice to have you here, you've been doing a lot of these kind of podcasts and video interviews, and you are famous.
Elena: I have been doing some of this, so it's interesting for me learning.
James: And the reason why everyone wants to hear more is because you've done something remarkable. I want you to tell the story, but basically you and two of your friends decided to do this business, you started with just $1000, right? There was no funding?
James: And no business experience, and two years later you're now hitting what in monthly revenue?
Elena: About $110,000.
James: $110,000 a month, and how many employees do you have?
Elena: About 49.
James: Oh my gosh, 49, and are they all full time? Part time?
Elena: It's a mix, we have some part time, some full time.
James: So $110 grand a month, that puts you at $1.4 million a year?
Elena: Something like that.
James: We don't have a calculator here somewhere. While you're talking, I'll do the math. The important thing is - of course sales are important - but the bottom line is the bottom line. So how are you doing in terms of net income?
Elena: It's about 25%.
James: 25% of the $110 grand. Well dang, what do they say? Call me a biscuit and dip me in honey, that's a tidy profit of $26 or 27 thousand dollars per month... I don't want to say little, but that's a tidy little business right there.
James: Alright. Are you just going to give us like one word answers to things? Come on :)
Elena: No :)
James: So walk us through this. The thing that I want most for the persons who are listening to this: what is it that they can do to emulate this success. So what did you do right, what did you do wrong, what are you seeing other people in this same space doing right, doing wrong?
Elena: I would say that as much as numbers are important, and the number of people is important, number of the revenue is important, and the bottom line is important, but I would say primary focus should be on the actual service or product that you're delivering. So at the outside we identified our values, like honesty, simplicity, and high quality, and we kind of built the whole company around it, even on a micro level. We did everything we can to make sure that we're providing excellent customer support.
James: Yes, so I'm going to interrupt lots of times. Most people skip that step, because it's kinda wuwu, or fluffy, or whatever. Our values are our values, let's get back to work, right? So what motivated you to do that, to kind of pause everything and dig into what you truly believe in?
Elena: I'm doing a lot of reading of business literature, and a lot of podcast listening, and so I've heard it, and I've seen it over and over. So values help you anchor all of your activities and that’s real important because everything can be build around it. A clear set of gives you and everyone else a really good starting point, like a base or a foundation, to move forward. So it's been really helpful.
James: And what did you choose as those three kind of founding principles?
Elena: It's honest, simple, and clean. So honesty, of course it's the primary principal for us, because we're in the maid business. You're entering somebody's home, it's their private sanctuary. I was talking to a person at the networking event last night, and he was saying, "Oh my goodness, my maid folds my underwear. She knows everything about me more than anyone else I know." And it's true. We have this very intimate connection to our clients, so trust is an absolute must. It's the number one quality that we possess. The way we go about in our company, is we run background checks, we emphasize honesty in all of our dealings with employees and our clients. So if we drop the ball, we admit it, we apologize. We don't start blaming other people, we don't start pushing back and things like that. Then if employees are dishonest, we let them go. So it doesn't matter if it's nothing to do with the client in particular, if they're dishonest with the company, as much as I would love to keep them as a producer, I have to let them go because I can’t send someone who is dishonest into a customer's home.
The next value is simplicity. It stands for what I want the process of booking an appointment with us to be very, very simple. We use a software called Launch 27, and it introduces a lot of simplicity into our operations, and I highly recommend it. We use a lot of other software in our operations, just to make our lives and our clients lives easier, and our clients love it.
The third value is ‘clean.’ Clean represents the actual quality of the cleaning, because a lot of times there's clean and there's super clean! People will be willing to pay a few hundred dollars for super clean, but not superficial clean.
James: I like it. It's almost like a success triangle, so the first is that element of trust, especially in your industry like you said, you're welcoming strangers into the home, you've gotta feel comfortable with that at the end of the day. The other is that frictionless experience, whether they're placing an order or following up with work that's been done, and then the third is doing good work.
So it's kind of interesting, as you were talking I was imagining, "What if the two of the things were there, but one of them is missing?" So let's say people trust you, and you do good work, but the interaction to place the order, or do any kind of follow up is just torturous, right? Then you'd probably just walk away. Or let's say the experience is really frictionless, and they do great work, but you just don't trust them? Then you walk away. Or let's say you trust them, and the experience is frictionless, but they don't do good work. I mean, this could apply to any business, right? Like I trust the owner of this restaurant, they make it easy for me to make a reservation...
Elena: But the food sucks.
James: Yeah, but the food is terrible. I'm not going to go there, right? So a business must have all 3 pillars.
All right, so you said from the get-go, you decided to kind of just focus on the values and you identified these three areas that obviously have led to your success. What about other people in the industry? This industry seems to be so fragmented, lots of little mom and pop shops. Are they skipping this first step?
Elena: Yes. In fact, there are a couple of mistakes that I've seen so far. So they may have the values of course, but they don't identify them with them... and as a result sometimes they skip one of the values. The one I see missed the most is simplicity. I see a lot mom and pop shops, they do amazing work, an amazing job, and they are really honest and very reliable, but the website is horrible, and it's very difficult to get a hold of them because they're out in the field working all the time, and so they don't respond to the phone in time. It's a chore just to get that appointment with them. So you can still survive and probably do well, but it's not gonna ... it's gonna kind of hamper your growth.
James: All right, so let’s help the listeners then get started. You mentioned Launch 27 as software platform you used for scheduling?
Elena: Yes, it's does the scheduling, the customer follow-up, there are a lot of things. You can process payments through it, it's just a great solution. It's the core of our operations. Then you can use Grasshopper for a digital phone system, so you can have extensions, you can connect, you can hire a virtual assistant, or real assistant, and kind of toggle a extension number between yours and hers, or his. What else do we use? We rely a lot on Wufoo forms that we use in our website. So any time anybody wants something, we probably have a digital response to that, and of course we have a human touch as well, so we have a service called Vicky Virtual, so it's a virtual call answering service run by humans, and they're very pleasant, very professional. So we have these kind of tiers, for every aspect of our business.
James: And then your payment processing is through?
Elena: It's through Launch, but it's also connected to Stripe.
James: I see. All right, so then how about scheduling? Everything you're mentioning is the hard labor side of this type of business, so a call comes in, or someone is on your web site, they want to book an appointment, you said Launch 27, that's that launch27.com in just that order, and then processes the payment, the scheduling is done on Launch 27, but what about after all these orders come in and you're looking at the next day? How do you actually staff the right person to the right job?
Elena: That part is actually still done manually. My partner does that, and it's quite a painful process, because you have a lot of jobs every day, and have a lot of people working, a lot of clients, and so it's more of an art than a science at this point.
James: That's the part that needs the AI component, right?
Elena: Yes, absolutely, and I've been begging for it. To some extent, Launch 27 does do it, but we take so many factors into consideration, for example, driving distances between the clients location and the employee's home. Each employee gets two jobs a day, so there's the driving distance between those two jobs. You don't want them to be in the car for like an hour, and then by the time they get to the second job, they'll be exhausted just from driving, and unhappy. Then you have to match the correct employee to the correct client, so if the client, some clients are very very particular, and very demanding, so you have to send somebody with much more experience to be able to handle that client. And then there are some clients who move in, move out, it could be in really rough shape, so there are some employees that wouldn't be able to do it, to handle that type of job.
James: Because it's physically demanding?
Elena: It's physically extremely demanding, yes.
James: So you mentioned 49 or so employees, and you mentioned you send these teams. How many people are on a cleaning team?
Elena: It varies between it could be as little as one person, or as many as six or seven people.
James: Depends on the size of the job?
James: And then the math looks like whatever number you're going to send, you're going to send them for three hours?
Elena: About half a day, so anywhere from three to four or five hours. Generally about three to four hours.
James: All right, so generally most jobs are probably like a team of three going for three solid hours.
Elena: Yes, and it's because if we discover that ... as a cleaner, you get bored if you're all day in one location, and as a client, you don't want somebody to be in your home all day.
James: You want them in and out.
Elena: Yeah, it's optimal. But at the same time, in and out, there's a company out there that sends like 20 people, and they're done in like half an hour, which is kind of ridiculous. Extreme, right? But at the same time for cleaners, you don't want to drive around too much, either. So for them it's much better to focus on one project in the morning, and one project in the afternoon.
James: All right, let's get back on track then. So the first actionable thing that made a difference in your company's growth was really focusing on what those values are, and building the company around it. What's the next thing that you encourage new businesses to do?
Elena: So here's the second part that I see a lot of people struggle with. So the first part was the values and sticking to them. The second part is once you do get going and you do stick to your values and it brings you a great reputation, right? So the orders start pouring in, and then a lot of times, people don't watch the numbers. So once you get the values straight, then you have to start looking at the numbers. What we do in our company, is we kind of analyze every job on the micro level. We determine whether each job is it profitable or not. We calculate immediately. If we're going to send three people, three hours, each person costs between $12 to $15 dollars an hour, plus the tax, so generally we try to keep our labor at about 50%. Fifty percent to 55% of the ticket price. So if for some reason it doesn't make fiscal sense, because the job is too involved, or the volume is too large, the house is too huge, then we start adjusting prices upwards.
James: How do you price it? What's a typical job?
Elena: So a typical job, say a three bedroom home less than 2000 square feet, would be $179.
James: And what percentage of your business volume is repeat business?
Elena: It's about ... well there's two types of repeat business. One is that the people who sit on our calendar, so every two weeks or a week. Out of 2000 clients we have about 400 of them on that recurring calendar. Then there's some clients who have unstable calendars. So unstable schedule, so they do book recurring, but we don't know exactly how many of them, and sometimes they may skip a month, sometimes they compress it and they'll have two or three appointments a month. Those people, I have the data on that, but I don't recall off the top of my head.
James: OK, so let's summarize everything you’ve shared with us. So number one is figure out what the company values are.
James: And as part of this, we talked about using technology to help simplify things. Make the whole experience better. Then number two important tactic is to focus on the numbers?
Elena: Yes, actually analyze and look at the numbers to see if you're profitable, because a lot of time people are saying, "We're busy, we have lots and lots of jobs, but there's hardly any money left, so we're struggling." Well what's the point of being busy then, you know? Don't be busy, take fewer clients, but make more money off each.
James: You help other cleaning companies do better? You coach them?
James: In those cases, they are assuming they're making money, and then at the end of the month they kind of feel that they don't have any money in the bank, and the reason is they're just not running the numbers?
Elena: I mean I look at our numbers all the time, like cash flow. I just look at the cash on hand. In our business, we take credit cards at the point of booking so there's no accounts receivable and that's great. But then I see other companies and they don't do that. So it's a double whammy for them. On the one hand they don't make enough profit, on the second hand they don't even collect that money that's due. So I can understand why that would be very, very challenging business model for them.
James: Yeah. So it sounds to me like you're monitoring on a job-by-job basis, ensuring that there's a margin there, and you're targeting a 50% gross profit margin. From that gross profit margin, about half of that goes to general non-labor related costs like advertising etc, and that leaves you at the end of the month with 25% net income.
Elena: Generally. And lately, we've been actually trying to grow to the next level, and I knew that from just reading and listening to podcasts, I knew that the margins will suffer a little bit. The bigger the company you get, the smaller the net profit margin. Because we're going to buy a building, we're staffing up our managerial staff, so all of that costs money, but it's not possible to scale without it. So I'm willing to sacrifice the margin a little bit in exchange for that growth. But you have to do it intentionally, not just like, "Oh this is what happened to us, now we have no more money left."
James: Yeah, so we always hear about companies growing too fast, and then they implode or whatever. They run out of cash.
James: So you're saying it's inevitable. As you grow as a company, you're going to have to add layers of management, for example, or in this case buy a building, so there are additional costs involved there, and as a result the margin will get squeezed.
Elena: It sounds intimidating, but you can do ... I do a back of the napkin calculations. So at any time I can look in our sales for the month, because I already know approximately how it's going to be in our software, right? Then I can calculate based on the projected, what the projected payroll is going to be, because again, it's tracked by ... We're using the app called Boomer, and it tracks the hours, so I can see how many hours they've worked up today, and how many, for example, they spent about I think around 11-1200 hours a day in labor without taxes or anything. So I add it all up, and then I see how much money is left, so okay, this is how much cash we're going to make at the end of the month after taxes and everything. Then I think, "Okay, now that I have this money, if I need to hire another manager, now I have a little bit of room. Or if I need to pay a mortgage for the new building, I have a little bit of room." And I know exactly how much room I have. So it's kind of simple.
James: So what's the next action item then? If we give ... I don't want to saturate everyone with too many action items, and maybe we should do a follow-up Q&A session, and maybe we just give this homework. So number one, let's figure out what your values are, and then number two is set up those systems or procedures or whatever, for monitoring margins and cash flow. So what's the third thing then, that we want ... that everyone should be doing, and maybe you've seen that they're not doing?
Elena: There's a human component to all of this, because this business is for ... basically you're dealing with clients, and you're dealing with employees, and both of those are challenging aspects. So I want to make sure that people ... you have to connect with them. If the client wants to meet you, you meet with the client. If the employee needs to talk to you, talk to the employee. Don't just push them over to your manager. So you learn so much just by directly interacting with your staff and with the clients. Try to be more humane about it. It's free to treat your employees nicely, so I would recommend if they have an illness in the family, or if they have some kind of challenge and struggle, try to be understanding and supportive to some degree, to a reasonable degree, and same with clients. You have a policy in place for, let's say, a cancellation policy or something. Don't be ... if the client violates it because someone is sick or somebody died, be nice about it. So be forgiving. So be very flexible with your rules, I would say.
James: Is ‘United Airlines’ a verb yet?
Elena: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly it. So yeah, you want to protect your business, you want to be strict and rigid, but don't be too rigid, because your business is based on humans. If you're not humane, it's not going to work. Whether or not it matches your personality or not, I don't know, but if it doesn't then find somebody who has a warmer touch than you, and just employ them and they will do that for you.
James: Yeah. I think that's a really good point. Many times, business owners will treat employees like robots, almost like they're expendable, and that then sets a tone in the company, and maybe United is suffering from the same kind of thing, where those employees then really don't care so much? I don't know about the situation inside United, but I see it in so many other companies, where there isn't that kind of ... and basically you're talking about love from the employer to the employees, and then you also mention the love from the founder or CEO to the clients. Because they, like you said, want to connect on a human level, and the last thing they want is some sort of, "That's not our policy" kind of reaction to something.
Elena: Yeah, put yourself in their shoes. You're a homeowner, if somebody comes into your home and they really don't care about you, don't respect you, or despise you, or judge you, this is the last person you want in your home. Conversely, if somebody comes in and they love you, they take care of you, they are concerned about you, you know if you're sick or something or your kids are sick. Then you really want to support that person. You're more forgiving to that person, you are going to recommend that person to everybody else, or the business. And the best part, it's free. It doesn't cost anything not to be a jerk and to be nice to someone. So it's very easy.
James: Yeah, so nurturing that connection somehow, and just being human and reasonable-
Elena: And it comes from the founder. If you're nice to clients, then employees will. They're like children, they will emulate you.
James: Yeah, so everyone will follow.
James: And so it sounds like because that is a layer of work in itself, if the founder or CEO is stuck doing the day to day work, like cleaning a home, he or she may not be able to go meet a client or deal with an employee issue, so it's almost like as you grow you have to kind of pull yourself out of working in the business, so you can work more on it?
Elena: Yes, and I see a lot of times, I mean everybody says that as kind of a known mantra in our industry, but a lot of times what happens, and that's probably the biggest challenge that people face and struggle with, is that you know what needs to be done, but you just don't do it because you're not comfortable, because that's just not you, because you're too busy, and so that's a huge mistake. You know you need that website to be updated, and you just kind of postpone it because you're not comfortable. You don't understand websites, so you just start postponing it. You know that you need to set up that Yelp page, or that Google profile, but you just don't do it. You know that you need to hire or promote HR managers. So some steps that you know that have to happen, but you don't take action because it's uncomfortable. That's a lot of times, people ... I help a lot of companies so if I say, let's say we discuss something and they're on board with it, and then they do it, and it actually has immediate impact and brings them results and improvement. Conversely, if they listen to that, they know that has to be done, but they just don't do it, or they half do it.
James: So that's why the self-help section at the Barnes and Noble is so huge. The solutions are there, but people just don't do it.
Elena: Like exercise, or losing weight. You know what you need to do, and so-
James: I'm chubby for a different reason :)
Elena: Yeah, so if you don't do it that's okay. You can choose not to do it, but then don't get surprised when you don't see the results.
James: So you fail to the level that you're at.
Elena: Yes, just it. You do it, you get results. You don't do it...
James: If I don't pay my taxes year over year, eventually the IRS is going to knock on my door, and I shouldn't be surprised if that happens, right?
Speaker 3: Right, it's all very logical.
James: Yeah, so if your business is not getting to the next level, it's because something is not being solved, and if you can't solve it, you need to get some help from somewhere. Because either you hire someone else who's better at it, like ... I'm terrible at accounting, the last thing you want me to do is balance the books. It's smarter for me to hire someone else to do that. Like you said, if that customer interaction is not the owner's personality, then hire someone who can do it well.
Speaker 3: Yes, give it to someone else, or develop yourself. A lot of times owners are hesitant because every time you hire somebody it costs money, right? So I just had the discussion with one of the people I mentor. Their company, they struggle with this, and they want to hire somebody to do customer support, because right now they're all doing it in the family, and they're struggling between the school, and the job, and everything, they struggle. So I said, "Yeah, it's time, you know? It's time for you guys to get the professional support." And he's saying, "Well, you know, my mom who runs the business, she doesn't want to spend the money on it." And it's like okay, you don't want to spend the money, which is fine, but then you should realize that there's a direct connection between that decision and the fact that you're not growing, or that you're struggling. That's it. It's just very simple.
James: Sometimes people need to hear it from someone outside their circle to really get it.
Elena: Perhaps. So the solution is just try it. A lot of outside services are scalable. You can test it and see if you want it. Or even if you are considering hiring a person, you can hire them part time, only ten hours a week, and just as soon as you feel the effect of that, you can scale it up.
James: Yeah. Well that's good advice. So it's not like you have to buy a gazillion dollars worth of support, you can start small and grow incrementally.
Speaker 3: Yes, and I think it sort of ... I mean there is the saying that you get what you paid for, and sometimes it applies sometimes it doesn't. But when it comes to quality of the people that you hire, for the most part, you get what you pay for. So if for our company for example, if we ... I mean a lot of service companies, the owners answer the phone themselves, or they hire the cheapest person they can find. So of course, the client, when they call and they get this kind of semi-coherent response from somebody been busy, there's screaming in the background, or the vacuum cleaner or something, it just gives them immediately a negative impression, and it's very hard to close that client at that point.
James: It's not that simple frictionless experience.
Elena: Yeah, if you spend a couple dollars more per hour, you will definitely have a different experience.
James: Okay, let's do a couple quick questions here before we wrap up. So you mentioned those values, the question is, how do you express them? How do you show them? Do you market those values? How does the rest of the world get it?
Elena: Okay, so in ... so for example, let me just give you an example about our company. So what's identified at the very beginning of our company? Honest, simple, clean is our values. We started thinking about our logos, but first of all, it goes into your logo, you can write it underneath, and second the color scheme. For example, if the company was fun, we would be pink, or yellow, or orange. But the fact that honest, simple, clean is not orange, and it's not pink. It has to be a navy color, and white, and maybe a little bit of gold. Maybe a tiny bit of gold. So the coloring comes from that.
The car designs go from that, so our cars are not flamboyantly decorated, as much as I would love for them to be like a running billboards, and I actually talked to our branding person about that, he said, "No no no, you're honest, simple, clean. You're kind of cool and classy, and kind of"-
James: Modern and understated.
Elena: Minimalistic, exactly. So our cars look like that, and we still get calls from that as well. So uniforms. Uniforms is a white polo shirt, and a navy apron. So it's again, it's very simple. It's not fun, it's not crazy, it's not ... like some companies have a military-esque kind of branding, or sports branding. So ours is not it. We're not athletic, we're different. And it's been great with my own personality, I'm very kind of a simple person, so it's very easy for me to translate into throughout the company. So all of you, the website again is simple, it's clean, and actually, our values are at the top of ... at the very top of our webpage, you know that the home page says what our values are, and there's proof of, for example, as far as the honesty and reliability aspect, there's copies ... not copies, there are links to copies of our policies, insurance policies-
James: So like a transparency-
Elena: It's very transparent. And when I talk to employees, I explain to them, "Look, honesty is the most important thing. If you are dishonest for any reason, like say you overstate your hours, or you lie about property damage that you cause, your employment will be terminated."
James: Alright. So what is the biggest mistake you made in your run up over the last two years?
Elena: The biggest mistake was one of the partners in fact, that I started the company with, there were three partners in the beginning, and the biggest mistake I made is that I didn't think it through who am I partnered with. We're all friends, and we're still friends, but I would say before you partner up with someone or bring someone on board with your company, give it a really, really coherent ... like think about it and talk about it. Because a lot of times, you could be really great friends, but your personality may clash. How does that person act when they're in distress, because this is an extremely stressful business. So what happens is, when shit hits the fan, then you start seeing how people react. If they're calm and collected it's one thing, but if they're freaking out, if they kind of implode, or if they don't want to grow because they don't like working hard. This is not the business for you, if you don't like working hard. You really have to work hard mentally, and physically, and all of that, and the person shuts down and wants to kind of chill. In fact, our third partner, she wanted us to cut our operations by half to keep it all low-key and not so much work.
James: More of a hobby?
Elena: Yeah, there was that. The separation process is very painful for all of us, and thankfully our friendship survived, but barely so, so I would say that was our biggest mistake.
James: So choose your partners wisely, and you don't have to partner with your friends, right? Also the converse is true, you really don't have to be friends with your partner. Maybe the best partner brings so much value to the table, focuses on growing the business, you don't have to hang out with that person after hours or whatever.
Elena: Yeah, and I never thought this business was going to get so big. Honestly, it seemed like a little pet project, so I never thought much into it, but once it did start going like crazy, then all of the weaknesses are [inaudible 00:36:06], and I'm not saying I'm perfect, I have my own weaknesses, but see if they're compatible, if the person ... For example, my other partner who is still on board, and we're 50-50 partners, she also is stressed out, she has a similar personality where she can't handle a lot of the stress, and she's very emotional and all that, but she's willing to adapt. So she understands it's damaging to the business, and she will pivot and she will try to control herself. She'll actually make an effort to improve, and so that to me would be the key to our [inaudible 00:36:38] as partners.
James: So you can almost say like it's okay to date before getting married, if one is considering partnering with someone, you don't have to give them half the company up front, or even a tenth of the company up front. Maybe just work for a period of time, and see if it's a good fit. And by good fit, I guess it's not so much whether you get along. I think getting along is super critical because you don't want to go to work with a partner who you don't get along with, right? That's always stressful for everyone-
Elena: Yeah, you like each other and respect each other.
James: Yeah, and on top of all that, that the partner actually brings something, some value that the other one doesn't. So if you look at Steve Jobs, he's like the master salesman, almost like a circus ring leader, and then the engineering side was a completely different person, Steve Wozniak, so he's able to ... and almost need three different people, right? You need the person to make it, the person to sell it, and the person to run it and make all of the trains run on time. So those are usually three different animals, three different distinct personalities. So if you've got two sales guys, or women, you're still missing the engineer, you know the person to do it, and you're still missing that gray haired person, that button down type that does all of the accounting operational stuff.
So it's almost like you've got to choose someone that compliments your skill sets well, so that together you're stronger as a unit than separately. And I think that's a mistake a lot of companies I see have made, is they're very generous in the beginning, they've decided to partner with their best friend, or even a family member. There's not a lot of thought put into what is the real purpose of the partnership, and then if things are going well, no one really questions a partnership. I guess sometimes, people get greedy, but when things are going bad, that's when it really kind of strains the seams, and you can see that the ... well, that probably wasn't a good combination.
Elena: I would say if I could scroll it back and go at the beginning of the company, I never thought about it. I mean, no matter what business you build, try to build it as if you're building something big. So don't do the ghetto website. You don't have to invest a lot of money, but at least invest a lot of effort and thought into what you're doing, including selecting a partner.
James: I remember this joke about the kids so mangled up, he's on the gurney or whatever, they're wheeling him into the emergency room, and all of the doctors are going, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This looks bad, this looks bad...", and he lifts his head up and says, "Hey, hey, hey, stop for a minute. I want you to operate on me as if I'm going to live, not as if I'm going to die." Right? And that just flips the whole tone around. So I like that, you're starting your business, you're marching towards a future as if everything is going to succeed, and because of that it will, right? Ultimately, one way or another.
James: Alright, last question. So it follows up on this one. What’s in the future? What's the thing you're working on now? If there were one thing that you need to work on in this business for maids, what is the thing that needs to happen next?
Elena: So there's a couple of things. One is a smaller issue, which is we reorganized every aspect of our business now to become automated, almost fully automated, except for the operations side of the actual production, so actual cleaning, that needs more procedures and process. So that's what I'm kind of helping my partner with right now. But we also do ... like exploring the PR side of things, so we do more podcasts, we do more interviews. I actually hired a PR agent, actually I'm going to sign a contract today, and that is done-
James: What does that cost by the way?
Elena: It's not expensive, because it's going to be $1000 for the first payment, but then later it's going to be like $500 a month. For that you get participation in the different type of forums online and offline, networking events, media appearances, so the PR agent is going to come to my home today, and help me with the makeup, and hair, and photo shoot, she organized it. because just for ... for PR ... and I'm completely ... I'm the type of person who is just not into this kind of thing, the makeup, and being on TV.
So generally, I avoid it, I don't like it. But it's one of those situations where okay, you don't like it, but if you want to make your company like a blue chip company, you have to do the PR.
For example, I went to a networking event in Henderson, which is another city, right, nearby. And I talked to people, and maybe out of 100 people who were there, maybe three or four kind of heard about our company and knew it. So what I want to do when I go there next year, I want everyone to know my company.
James: Everybody already knows about you :)
Elena: Not everybody… But it's not for my own glory or ego, it's for the goodwill of the company, which comes into place when you're trying to sell it, or expand it, or get financing. For example, I know if your company is just a regular business, it's doing well, somebody will buy it from you at like one times, two times your cash flow, right? One, one and a half times. So if your profit is like $200,000 dollars, then you're going to get $200,000 for it, or $300,000 dollars. But if you're a blue chip company, where everybody knows you, you have a stellar reputation, and you're ubiquitous, because you're in all the magazine newspapers, you're on TV, radio, and every person in Henderson, or in Las Vegas knows who you are as a company, right? Then you can command a much higher price, there's a premium to that. So there's a real value in being PR savvy.
James: Yeah, getting positive PR is third party validation that you're a legitimate company doing great things. So if people in Las Vegas for example are reading in the newspaper, or hearing about you online, or on TV or something, that just makes it all more likely that they'll choose you instead of the next person on the list.
James: Well we're on the 45 minute mark here. I want to thank everyone for joining, and I want to thank you for being here.
Elena: You're welcome.
James: Yeah, and this was good. We should do a follow up-
James: And again, the best place to contact you is your email, is email@example.com
Elena: And if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I'm always willing to respond and to help people out.
James: That's a good idea, yeah. We'll collect questions and answer them, and then push them back out again. Alright hey, thanks so much to everyone. I hope this has been useful. We look forward to seeing you again shortly. Thank you.