Elizabeth Buchanan started Maid to Shine as a nineteen-year old and has turned it into a highly successful cleaning business in the Portland metro area over the last twelve years. She also runs another cleaning service in central Oregon, Cleaner Living, that offers window cleaning and gutter cleaning along with its residential cleaning services. Besides these two thriving cleaning operations, she has created her own line of eco-friendly cleaning products called Nurturals that customers will be able to purchase online soon.
Her desire to start a cleaning business was launched when she was working at a mortgage company. Elizabeth noticed a lot of realtors asking for referrals for people to clean the homes they were about to put on the market, and so she and a friend stepped in to clean. “I loved it, it was so much fun. I decided to start my own business and go ahead and get registered with the state.” Her friend wasn’t as enthusiastic about cleaning, and so Elizabeth set out on her own. She began cleaning for realtors and then got a write-up in the local newspaper which drove tons of business to her doorstep. “I hired five people in that first year and a half, all friends of mine who I’d ask if they needed a job.”
Eco-friendly degreaser, all-purpose cleaner, and face wash?!
The business has grown significantly since then, and now has up to 30 cleaners providing high-quality cleaning. They use Elizabeth’s Nurturals, a 100% natural de-greaser, anti-bacterial all-purpose cleanser. “Cleaners can buy it in concentrate and it’s super-cost effective,” she says. While the final price isn’t set, it will ultimately end up costing less than $1 per 16 oz bottle. This magical potion is both a de-greaser and all-purpose cleaner, and Elizabeth has been using it for six months as a personal face wash as well. “It’s very gentle. You can even use it to clean pet bowls, as a laundry detergent, and an odor-eliminator for pet beds.”
Hiring secret—internal referrals only
When a company experiences such tremendous growth, they usually encounter issues with finding quality staff members. That is not the case with Maid to Shine. “How we do our hiring is very different. We only hire within the company. The person has to come from a really strong internal referral by someone who already works for us and who knows what we expect. We pay a referral bonus of $150 if the person sticks with us for three months and is in good standing.” Elizabeth has not had success with Craigslist ads over the years. “I’ve maybe hired two people from the ads and they didn’t work out.” By going solely with internal referrals, Maid to Shine employs the best cleaners and is the top eco-friendly cleaning service in the Portland area.
Flexibility and hiring independent go-getters
One of the things Elizabeth likes best about her job is having the flexibility to do what she wants when she wants. “If I want to clean today, I clean. If I want to do office work, I do office work. It takes a variety of job skills and keeps me motivated to work every day.”
She also enjoys working with the top-quality people her business has been able to attract. One way she’s able to retain the best cleaners is by finding people who are very independent, like herself. “I let them have their own clients a few days a week and give them a lot of freedom to create their own schedule. They feel more in control.” Maid to Shine also has competitions among the staff to see who can get the most positive feedback from clients, giving away generous prizes like a Vitamix. “People get really competitive!” she said.
Caring for the community
Besides providing high-quality eco-friendly cleaning, Maid to Shine participates in Cleaning for a Reason as another way to give back to the community, donating free house cleaning services to women who are going through cancer treatments. Elizabeth also mentioned a recent incident that demonstrates the dedication of her team—after cleaning a disabled woman’s home, Dana (the cleaner) waited until the woman’s caregiver showed up after having been unavoidably detained. “She made sure the woman was ok and just hung out with her until the caregiver arrived.”
Now that she’s running three successful businesses, Elizabeth finds that her top hobby is work. For fun, she does find time to participate in rodeos with her husband in the summers. She does barrel racing on horses and her husband ropes. If you want to lasso yourself a top-quality cleaning service in the Portland area, give Maid to Shine a shot.
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