Jennifer and Chris Mongowins are the wizards of cleaning in Saskatchewan, traveling up to three hours to get to cleaning gigs in their area and hitting a Tim Horton’s coffee shop before the long ride home. They founded The Wizard Cleaning almost a year ago after deciding it was time to start working for themselves.
“I like cleaning and I always wanted to own my own business,” said Jennifer, when I caught up with them recently. The pair had worked decades for other people in cleaning, construction, and landscaping, and decided to take matters into their own hands and focus on cleaning. “Cleaning seems to be our muse,” said Chris.
This family-owned and operated business sometimes taps into the labor market of relatives, enlisting cousins and their son and daughter when necessary. It seems appropriate that the pair named their own parents as role models who have inspired and helped them. “I was helping my mom clean all my life, whether or not I lived with her,” said Chris.
Their daughter frequently calls them “clean freaks” and Chris mentioned that sometimes it’s hard to turn off his laser focus on cleaning. “I end up at friends’ houses cleaning without thinking about it. I’ve cleaned my friend’s bathroom more times than my own.” They take this obsessive love of cleaning into their clients’ homes and clean as if it were their own place.
“I like making people happy,” said Jennifer. “We have a lot of regular clients who don’t want to lose us. We brought coffee and muffins to one of our office cleaning jobs and they were worried that this was a parting gift and that we were going to leave them.”
Jennifer also loves the challenge of a move-out clean, tackling a hard job and leaving it sparkling clean. Chris’s favorite part of the job is seeing the surprised look on people’s face when they come home because they know the mess they left behind.
It’s all about feedback
Their clients bombard them with positive feedback, texting their delight at finding their homes in tip-top shape. Chris surprised one client by washing the interior and exterior windows in the kitchen when he had extra time at the end of the job. “You could barely see out the window before. [The client] came downstairs and said, ‘It’s really bright in the kitchen. Oh wow, he did the windows!’” The client sent them a text to say thank you:
Hi Jenn and Chris. Okay so we woke up this morning and I said, “wow it is a sunny day. Look how bright and clear everything is. Then I realized the reason is because OUR WINDOWS WERE CLEAN! Wow. You and Chris are fantastic and Wizard cleaning is on the way to becoming the top company in Saskatoon. Thank you for all the care and expertise you bring to our quirky home.
Chris and Jennifer appreciate friendly clients who value their service. “Every time we’re cleaning for them they tell us how happy they are to have us in their home,” said Chris, about one of his favorite clients. They also mentioned how important it is to have trust in the relationship, since they’re going into people’s homes. “We bring over our criminal record checks to ease their minds that we’re there to do what they need to have done.”
The cat whisperer
The clients aren’t the only ones who love the pair— the dogs and cats in the client homes also snuggle up to them. “They call me the cat whisperer now,” said Chris, after his first experience with a skittish kitten resulted in the cat, Misty, jumping into his lap. “Misty hears my voice and loses it whenever we’re over, racing over.”
Another client has dogs that need to be let out when Jennifer and Chris arrive, and they easily coax them back into their kennels. “She hears my voice and goes nuts,” said Chris. “She’s like a big Odie [from Garfield comics]. We don’t have any problem with animals.”
Sometimes they’ll bring treats for the pets after clearing it with the owners, with different reactions from cats versus dogs. “Cats either look at you like you’re their best friend in the world or like they don’t know you. Dogs are like, ‘What is that treat? Nevermind, just give it to me.’ “
Why hire a cleaning company?
The story in Saskatchewan is similar to everywhere else—people are busy. “If people have absolutely no time and they’re trying to get their kids off to practice or they need to work an extra shift, they don’t have the time to clean, and they might as well come home to a clean home.”
Pro cleaning tips and favorite tools
Jennifer and Chris haul everything in their 2014 Dodge Ram truck as they go on cleaning jobs, including a carpet cleaning machine when necessary. Their favorite cleaning product is a degreaser called Totally Awesome. “It takes out everything, whether you’re cleaning a really caked-on oven or spot cleaning carpet,” Chris said. He also recommends letting the clock work for you. “Spray anything that needs time to break down, then come back to the area, re-spritz and get it done.”
Always be closing
As entrepreneurs, they recognize that potential clients lurk everywhere. After Jennifer went in for surgery, she gave her nurse a card with the business on it, and the nurse ended up using the pair for a move-out clean when she left her home to head east.
It’s not always work and no play. The husband and wife team enjoy nature walks, watching TV, playing video games, and spending time with their two cats, Cuddles and Patches. “You should read the ingredients on cat food—they eat better than us! Crab, lobster, fish… where else can you get a bowlful of lobster?”