You can tell immediately upon meeting him that Eric Grace is someone who cares deeply about other people. Whether it’s providing customers of Graceworks Housecleaning with eco-friendly cleaning or creating a nurturing and positive work environment for the fifteen person staff that he manages, Eric is committed to providing a positive experience.
He founded Graceworks Housecleaning eight years ago in the Rogue Valley area near Medford, Oregon. Eric had been working with a friend who owned an “all-organic and natural carpet cleaning company” and he saw the benefits of providing green cleaning services to people in the area. Previously, he had worked as a counselor to help people resolve deep-seated issues and he continues to act as a mentor even while running his housecleaning business, helping people awaken and unlock their potential.
“I decided to take a break and was working for my friend doing some side jobs. I found a couple looking for eco-friendly cleaning for their home because they had migraines, so they couldn’t have scents or perfumes or toxic products. I ended up working with them for a few years and exploring products that worked for this couple. Word spread, and then my schedule got filled up, and then I had to hire people! We’ve got fifteen cleaners now and between five to fifteen new clients every week,” Eric said.
This success is driven by the nurturing that Graceworks provides, helping people reduce stress and bringing care into their homes by doing eco-friendly cleaning. They also provide extras like errand-running, shopping, and retrieving the mail for their elderly clients. “Our goal is to bring ease and simplicity into people’s lives,” said Eric.
The company also has a very successful marketing strategy. “We’re spread all over,” he said. “We’re on the radio… we have a nice trade going with the radio station (JPR) where we clean their offices and get ads on the radio in exchange. We also have great SEO where we rank very high for green cleaning and eco-friendly cleaning in the area. Really, it’s lots of different avenues. There’s also word of mouth with a referral program for our clients.”
Eric has seen a lot in the years he’s been growing the business, including stereotypes that people have. “I started out as a male cleaner, and there were certain stereotypes I came up against where people thought women were more suitable to be cleaners than men, which isn’t really true. And now it’s interesting to see how people respond to me as the owner versus as the cleaner doing the work.”
The people he has met along the way have been memorable, as interesting as the folks he met when he was working as a cab driver, a concierge, and a bartender. “There are people that you meet and you’re delighted to know them and get to hear their stories. One couple had so much creativity oozing through their house, the woman was a romance novelist who wrote 58 or 59 books, and the man was a comic book artist. I got to know them well and it wasn’t just me going to clean their house, I was bringing a quality of cleansing. The energy of the home was so vibrant afterwards. The goal is to clean a home, to make it fresh and new, to provide a reset point for the person who lives there, to get their home cleared of dirt and grime, a reset button,” said Eric.
One customer gushed, “I can’t tell you what a difference this makes… Our home doesn’t simply sparkle, it FEELS like the fantastic little retreat it ought to be.” Another woman would make a delicious lunch for Eric, who would clean and then sit down and share a meal with her.
Eric believes that cleaners have a unique opportunity and responsibility to provide a valuable service. “If you’re open and respectful, people feel more trusting. Word of mouth spreads that way. This was never just about making money for me.”
So what does Eric like best about his job? “I like working from home, it’s lovely to be here. I always dreamed about this. When I was younger I thought I was going to be a veterinarian and have a clinic at my house. It allows me the time to be with my son, to be my own boss, and create the work environment and culture I want.”
Part of that work culture is the occasional gatherings like dinner and bowling night where the team all hangs out and knocks down pins. Another part is taking good care of his staff and treating them with respect, making sure they are appreciated and well-compensated. Whichever cleaner earns the most positive reviews earns a prize, either a vacation trip to the Oregon coast, a massage, movie tickets, or a night out at a local restaurant. “One of my goals is to create a culture that is warm and supportive. I enjoy getting to know the staff and the clients, meeting all sorts of people and seeing how I can support them in their life.”
Eric sees each home that his team goes into as a unique challenge. “Whether it’s post-construction or move out/move in, thoroughness is really the key. You have to manage getting into all the nooks and crannies but still balance that with efficiency. It’s really the little things, and it starts from the beginning, listening to the customer. They’ll tell you what their fears and frustrations are. Recently I was the first person a woman called looking for a new cleaner after having someone steal from her. She was so shaken, wondering if she could even trust another cleaner coming into her home. This requires delicacy and compassion, and I need to find the right cleaner for her home to be the person she can trust.”
His years of counseling have provided the training to being a great listener. “I’m looking for what issues they’ve had in the past, what they loved or didn’t love. I listen for their key priorities. Some people are very stressed out by the kitchen and so we make sure it is beautifully done, well-polished, organized nicely, towels folded. These things make a difference.”
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly cleaner in the Rogue Valley area, Graceworks will go above and beyond to bring you happiness and a clean home.