A Clean Sweep has often featured the story of a husband-and-wife cleaning team. This month’s installment is also a family affair, but of a different kind: The owners of A Personal Touch Cleaning Inc., which has been in business in Pennsylvania for over 20 years, are mother and son. Here is their story.
How did you get your start in the cleaning & maintenance industry?
Jean: I decided to start cleaning houses when I needed to earn money to support my three children. I could make my own hours and name my own price. Since I was the one working, I was able to perform to the best of my ability and obtain several regular clients. These people began referring me to their friends, family, and associates. I could not keep up the demand and had to hire people to work with me, including my son, Ken. This is how A Personal Touch Cleaning Service was created.
Tell us a bit about your job duties, and how they have changed over the years as your company has grown or changed.
Ken: When I initially started working in the cleaning industry, I would clean the properties. After a few months, customers began asking me to do other work in their house, such as fix light fixtures or handyman work. Soon, I was not able to complete all of the work at all of the properties myself so, I had to hire outside of my friends.
After a couple of years, the schedule was so full that I had to hire more staff with more vehicles. Instead of cleaning two to four houses a day that were located in the same city, I was sending out crews of three to clean three to six houses that were located throughout the Eastern and Western Mainline daily.
Currently, five crews of three people service the Eastern and Western Mainline, Eastern and Western Delaware County, and some areas of Philadelphia. Instead of having to clean houses, I rehabilitate dilapidated houses, then have one of the crews clean up the property before the house goes on the market.
Jean: My story is similar; I cleaned the houses, then had to hire people. My office is located in Montgomery County and we service Blue Bell, North Wales, and the surrounding areas. I have a full-time manager who handles the daily operations.
What responsibilities do you find most challenging?
Ken: Throughout the years of owning a cleaning service, I think the most challenging aspect is hiring competent staff. I like to hire individuals who have a strong desire to succeed in life. Individuals who are able to take on a leadership role always impress me. If everyone who works in a crew is able to lead his/her own crew, the company will always have room for growth. Finding such leaders has always been difficult.
The personality of an individual plays a huge role in the hiring process. Since everyone works in a crew, all members of the crew must be able to cooperate in order to achieve their goal. If personalities clash, the job does not get properly completed.
What is your favorite part of the job? Least favorite?
Jean and Ken: Our favorite part of the job is receiving positive customer feedback. We love hearing about the exceptional work that was completed. The job is done so much better when the crews feel appreciated.
Jean: My least favorite part of the job is letting someone go. I don’t like focusing on all of the bad about someone and that is what the firing process entails.
Ken: Negative customer feedback is by far my least favorite part of the job. I can’t stand when I promise a customer a specific service and the crew fails to deliver.
Tell us a bit about your personal life.
Ken: Well, my mother is finally starting to consider retiring. After running the service for over 20 years, I think she should relax and enjoy herself. She has three new grandchildren, ranging in age from 6 months to 2 years, and she should take some time to be with them.
If you know of someone who you think should be featured in A Clean Sweep, e-mail Richard DiPaolo at firstname.lastname@example.org