Sue Wittke started Maid-to-Go to provide professional cleaning service to the St. Louis and St. Charles areas of Missouri in December 2014. She had been a housewife for twenty years but after her youngest child went off to college her empty nest needed a little lining, so she took a job with a local cleaning company. She was also motivated to help cover the costs of her son’s college tuition as he studies to become a guidance counsellor. “I didn’t want him to have any student loans, but I tell him not to forget that I’m cleaning toilets so he can go to school,” Sue said with a laugh.
It was a bit of a tough transition from housewife to being active every day and working long hours outside the home. Sue was promoted to team lead very quickly and was managing the top cleaning team for the company. When other teams were running behind schedule, her team would have to take on additional houses at the end of their day. “I told my husband that I am too old for this, and he said why not do it for myself,” she said. After a few months, Sue decided she had had enough and that she didn’t really like having people tell her what to do, so she started her own cleaning company.
Getting started is always a challenge for new business owners. For the first year and a half it was just Sue handling all the cleaning, but she was able to hire her sister Heather in May 2016 and a few months later hired another cleaning professional to the team. “It took awhile to build,” she said, “but we started getting clients.”
Growing the business
Groupon was a big help to getting the word out about Maid-to-Go. Sue had to shut her Groupon offer down to keep pace with the demand. “I still have 50 people who bought who haven’t booked a service yet and I have so many regulars that I need to save some space to slot [the Groupon users] in.”
She hasn’t forgotten about real-world advertising in addition to the digital world. Maid-to-Go also drives to client homes and around town with a van with her logo on the side, and there are local businesses that let her leave her business cards out for advertising. Sue also participated in a highly successful deal with the local paper which advertised her services in exchange for a cut of the sales. “They told us that we sold the most ever for a cleaning service,” she said.
Hard work and cleaning runs in the family
When asked why she decided to give cleaning a whirl, Sue admits that she’s one of those rare people who actually loves to clean. Her mother was a very strong-willed woman who taught Sue how to clean at an early age. “We didn’t leave the house on Saturday until the house was clean, so if there was anything we wanted to do, we had to get up early to get our chores done. In high school I was in the marching band and I would get up at 3 in the morning to clean so I could be on the bus at 5 a.m. for band.”
Sue is motivated to grow her business into something that she can pass along to her grandchildren. Her granddaughter Tallulah, aged 18 months, is already showing signs of having a love of cleaning in her blood. “She takes a dust rag and wipes things down and picks her toys up.”
Satisfaction of a job well done
“I know I can enjoy my children and not have to worry about my house. I can’t thank you enough for coming every two weeks to clean.”
Sometimes the delight that clients express is more satisfying than money. One of Sue’s regulars gave her a tip for Christmas and enclosed a note that said she appreciated spending more time with her kids because Maid-to-Go took care of the cleaning. The note said “I know I can enjoy my children and not have to worry about my house. I can’t thank you enough for coming every two weeks to clean.”
Sue’s favorite part of the job is knowing that when clients walk in the door they can exhale and say “Sue has been here!” and enjoy their clean home. Her favorite clients she treats like her own babies, doing their laundry and taking their sheets home to wash for them so they’ll be fresh the next time she goes back. This particular couple takes a real interest in Sue’s life, asks about her kids and grandchildren, and inquires about how her business is doing. The world is truly a much better place when we treat everyone as well as we like to be treated!
Don’t use your bathtub as a litter box
Everyone who has been cleaning homes for awhile has at least one horror story, and Sue’s example left me with such a distinct image that I could almost smell the room. They were tackling a move-out clean and the client had stopped up the drain in her tub and dumped cat litter in for her cats to use it as a litter box. Sue’s helper was standing on the edge of the bathtub, using gloves, scrubbing, but it was very difficult to clean up. They were offered a discount on a future massage treatment by the client (who was a massage therapist) but respectfully declined, unsure of what the woman’s massage table would contain. “This happened a year ago and we’re still talking about it.”
Favorite tools for cleaning
Maid-to-Go is very thorough in its cleaning, obsessing about getting every corner, nook, and cranny clean. Sue suggests that before you leave the room that you’re cleaning, turn and check it corner to corner and top to bottom to make sure you didn’t miss an area. This includes tackling ceiling fans and vents.
The tools you won’t catch Sue without are a whisk broom and a feather duster, because between the two of them, you can get a lot of things clean. “My whisk is a pink one, from the Dollar Tree. It gets into tight corners you can’t reach otherwise.” All the Maid-to-Go cleaners have pink caddies for their tools, matching the logo, after Sue’s hubby purchased Craftsman toolboxes for them to use.
100 rollercoasters in a week
Sue makes it a priority to have enough time for fun in her life. “I hired the team so I could have a life,” she said. A self-proclaimed rollercoaster junkie and Star Wars fan, one of her recent vacations was touring the country for a week and riding over 100 rollercoasters. Her favorite is the Kingda Ka in New Jersey: “It shoots you out and sends you straight up, around a curve, straight down. It goes so high! I was blood-curdling screaming the whole time. You think why am I doing this to myself, and then as soon as it’s over, that was so awesome.” Sounds like the life of a cleaning business owner!
To book a thorough and top quality house cleaning in the St. Louis area, book a service with Maid-to-Go today.
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