When I reached Annette McLeod, owner of Clean Bright cleaning company in New York City, she was busy cooking dinner and relaxing after a long day’s work of cleaning homes in Manhattan. “I’m making steak, potatoes, carrots…” said Annette, trailing off to sample a bite. The New York native has been cleaning homes for over seventeen years and only recently decided to take the plunge into running her own business.
“I had seven kids and I used to clean our house every day, you can imagine! People used to come over and love how clean my house was. One lady told me I’d do well in the business because I’m such a detailed cleaner,” she said. Annette started working for other cleaning companies to learn the ropes and figure out what she needed to do to start her own company.
Annette credits her boyfriend for encouraging her into starting her own business. “He owns his own construction business, and he pushed me to do this. He appreciated every time I cleaned his house, and heard the feedback from other people,” she said.
Currently she runs the entire show herself but her goal is to get enough work coming in to be able to hire two employees. She may even keep it in the family and tap into the labor force of her children to start.
Polishing the Big Apple
Running a cleaning company in a large city like New York has unique challenges. Annette takes the subway or bus to get to her clients’ homes. “I have a rolling suitcase with all my cleaning supplies in it, and clients have their own Swiffer or vacuums. Actually, I have a portable vacuum that I got from KMart that works just as well as a $2,000 vacuum!”
The majority of Annette’s clients are on the east side of Manhattan, but she also services neighborhoods in Queens. “I don’t do Brooklyn homes because Brooklyn hospitality is not as nice as Manhattan or Queens,” she said. The attitude of clients makes all the difference when it comes to being happy with your work.
“I like to see the client satisfied, to be grateful for what i do. To see a smile on their face when I’m done. It makes me feel appreciated,” she said.
Cruise to Barbados for Memorial Day and Thanksgiving with clients
Annette’s clients seem very satisfied with her work, and find her indispensable. One client is taking her on a cruise to Barbados over Memorial Day weekend as a thank you gift. Another client invites Annette and her family up to their large home in Yonkers for Thanksgiving.
“A lot of my clients are elderly,” Annette said. “They appreciate what I do for them.” One of Annette’s clients reminded her of her own grandmother, who has passed away. “I’m glad I can help and make a difference in somebody’s life.”
While she has no problem working hard, there are some limits to what she’ll tackle. Annette described one nightmare situation where a four bedroom house was beyond filthy, and she had to turn it down. “It was so disgusting. I walked in, saw the place, turned around and left. Turns out I was the fifth person they had tried to hire to clean the place and everyone turned them down.”
For the most part, houses she goes into are usually fairly tidy. “Sometimes you don’t even know why people have you come clean their house. It’s already clean when you get there,” she said.
What’s your secret?
Annette says the number one secret to success is in how you greet your client. “Greet them with a smile. When you enter the client’s home, the first thing people judge you on is your appearance and how you act and present yourself. Every client always mentions the smile I have on my face.”
For cleaning tips, she suggests starting in the bedroom so you don’t take germs from the bathroom and kitchen into the bedroom. “Save the bathrooms for last,” she said. “You don’t want to bring bathroom germs into the kitchen.”
At the end of the day, she enjoys relaxing with friends, riding her bicycle, playing pool, bowling, and cooking. “I’m 53 years old, I’m pretty calm now,” she said.
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