Jenny Blanchette has been running A1 Cleaning for over twelve years, servicing the Airdrie region near Calgary. She branched off and started her own company after working for another cleaning service and realizing that she had the know-how to do it on her own. Within five years of launching her cleaning business, she faced the fallout from the 2009 recession, which hit Alberta particularly hard because of its deep reliance on the oil and gas industries. “When the recession came in 2009, I lost most of my clients, didn’t have any other work, and had just had a baby, so I was kind of screwed,” said Blanchette.
She buckled down and focused her energy on retaining long-term clients, some of whom have been with her for over ten years, noting that these clients weren’t involved in the oil and gas industry. Although the region is once again undergoing a financial pinch, Blanchette remains optimistic, “We’re going through a recession right now and I’m doing way better now than I was doing in 2009.” She notes that it is harder to get business due to increased competition, but at the end of the day, “It’s really about who you know.”
Todd Hirsch, chief economist for ATB Financial, says that things are likely to get worse before they get better for the region, expecting a drag on the economy from lower retail spending, layoffs, and falling consumer confidence.1 “This recession, compared to ’09, is sort of like being hit with a blunt object. It’s not as painful, but it’s going to linger longer,” he said.
Blanchette is ready for the challenge. She went back to school and obtained her real estate license while continuing to run her cleaning business, so she’s able to pick up additional work through property sales. For both of these businesses, Blanchette enjoys being her own boss and working her own hours.
In the many years she’s been cleaning, Blanchette has seen a lot of interesting things. She cleaned for one man for two years without ever meeting him. “He always left the money on the counter with a note saying ‘Thank you for the wonderful job.’ He used to pay for his son’s cleaning, too, and left me $500 at Christmas. Then he died, and I ended up never meeting him.”
Due to her long tenure in the cleaning industry, she has some great advice for anyone looking to start their own cleaning business: “Don’t lower your prices or your standards. You’re worth the money, because cleaning is hard work. Don’t show weakness or people will eat you alive and take advantage of you. People would absolutely let you clean their house for free if you offered.”
To hire A1 Cleaning for janitorial, residential, or commercial cleanings, book here.
1Interview quoted in http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-death-of-the-alberta-dream/