Carolina Rodriguez is first and foremost an entrepreneur. She moved from Spain to Washington DC in 2005 to work for the Spanish government. In her free time after work she took a course from the Latino Economic Development Center on how to start a small business—more specifically, how to start a cleaning business. The training lasted for six weeks on Tuesday nights and she learned everything about starting a business, from how to do taxes, to becoming an LLC, to all the legal and administrative aspects. In 2012 she launched Ecoverde Maids in the Washington DC Metro area and is currently working on launching another branch in Boston.
While she is focused on running a successful business, she does find time for other activities. “Honestly, I am so passionate about so many things in life!” she said. She’s raising a two year old daughter, studying for a Masters in Secondary Education at George Washington University (she’ll graduate this summer), does morning meditation, goes to yoga class, Facetimes with family in Spain, enjoys watching movies, catches up with friends over coffee… and is running a highly successful cleaning business as well.
Carolina originally studied social work in Spain, but has come to love running her own business. “I like handling the online marketing and entrepreneurship,” she said. While Ecoverde Maids focuses on eco-friendly cleaning, the service offers both green cleaning and conventional cleaning depending on the client’s request. “Green cleaning is very important. We need to be aware of the environment and how we relate to it with the products we consume,” Carolina said. Seventh Generation products are a favorite brand that the team uses to clean without toxic chemicals.
When she first started out, Carolina was out in the field doing cleaning with her staff, but now she focuses solely on the administrative aspects and on growing the business. She felt it was important to get exposure to the actual cleaning process, in order to know exactly what her customers were experiencing. “When you’re selling a product, you need to know what you’re selling,” she said. She doesn’t miss being out in the field, though, and feels that her main focus should be on taking Ecoverde Maids to the next level. To that end, she has a staff of ten people who are helping to handle the day-to-day cleaning services.
Much like other business owners, Carolina finds that hiring and retaining employees is the biggest challenge. “There’s a lot of turnover and it’s very difficult to find people who will commit to the job long term. I do help out with cleaning in an emergency when the team doesn’t show up. These things happen.”
Despite the challenges, she finds the work to be fulfilling. “I started the business four years ago and it’s been evolving. I like trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I alter my systems accordingly. The best part is to see something that I created with my own hands grow and become a success.”
One of the secrets to her success is the personal touch she has the team leave after each client’s home is cleaned. “We want the client to have a feeling of coming home to a clean and fresh house, so we leave mints on top of our company business card.” Another critical component is soliciting feedback from her customers frequently. “The same day of the cleaning our clients get an email asking them to rate the team. Their response goes to us and to the cleaning teams. This is how we do quality control and to make sure clients are happy with this team. Customer satisfaction is very important.”
From her many years of success, she offers some words of advice for someone looking to start their own cleaning business. “You’ve got to have patience most of all. There’s a lot of work out there, many people who are busy and who need their homes cleaned. In the beginning it will be slow going but put yourself out there and advertise. An online presence is one of the most important pieces. You have to keep a good online reputation with good views and a positive image of your brand and business. That will bring long term success.”
If you’re in the Washington DC or Boston area, you can book Ecoverde Maids for a high-quality green cleaning service today.