Sarah and Tom Klug are a dynamic duo who provide the total package for real estate transactions in Dutchess County, NY with their house cleaning service, Clean ‘n Tidy, along with Tom’s real estate business and Sarah’s work as an attorney. One of Tom’s favorite things about the business is being able to handle the entire transaction, from cleaning the home, staging it, and then selling it. “The client’s able to walk away and let us handle everything,” he said.
Clean n’ Tidy has been in business for seven years, formed by the couple when the real estate market was tanking during the last recession, so they investigated other avenues for revenue. “Once we started looking into the cleaning industry, we saw that it had good legs. The demographics were changing in Dutchess County, with more people moving into the area who were looking for cleaning service,” Sarah said.
She worked as an attorney previously, and still handles real estate and contracts while managing the cleaning business. Sarah enjoys the creative outlet that launching her own business provided. “I’m glad we did it. Being a lawyer, you don’t get to be too creative, but I love doing all the creative work for the business like figuring out the colors for our logo and uniform, and creating the website, business cards, and advertising,” she said.
It’s a family-run business, with Tom and Sarah managing a staff of four full-time employees, plus Sarah’s sister, Sue, providing custom embroidery for the Clean ‘n Tidy uniforms. “She is quite the seamstress!” said Sarah. The couple’s teenage sons are also itching to get into the business as soon as they are able to, and the oldest is looking to follow in his dad’s footsteps by getting his real estate license as soon as he turns 18.
With Sarah managing the marketing and legal aspects of the company, Tom is focused on managing operations, scheduling, and handling customers, which he loves. “It’s one of my favorite parts. I’ve been in sales forever!” he said.
I asked them how they are able to handle managing a successful cleaning business along with their real estate and attorney work. The consensus was that you have got to get up early and get to work, just do what you have to do to get it all done. So set your alarms a wee bit early and join the ranks of these multi-faceted entrepreneurs!
Most important? Hire great employees
The couple had a friend who acted as a mentor when they were getting started in the cleaning business, guiding them and helping them with early decisions. “Before we started we had a business plan and we knew the first thing we had to do was to hire employees. That was the most important thing,” Sarah said.
Tom and Sarah were hard-pressed to single out only one of their staff members for a shoutout. “They’re all so great!” Sarah said. One woman in particular, Theresa, is out on maternity leave but they are looking forward to having her back on staff. “Her attention to detail is really good. You can tell how much she cares about the quality of her work and about the company.”
Clean ‘n Tidy has always treated workers with respect, providing workers compensation and disability benefits. “We wanted to have a company where, on Sunday night, people would not dread going to work the next day. We try to give birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas bonuses. If we have a good year, we share that with the employees,” said Tom. The company realizes that their employees are essential to the success of the business. “If they weren’t doing great work, we wouldn’t have a good year.”
Learning how to hire the right people is one of the key factors in their success. Over the years they have honed their skills and become more knowledgeable about what to look for in an employee, able to tell in the interview if the prospect would be happy doing the job. Clean ‘n Tidy also gets a lot of great referrals from a local program run by their Chamber of Commerce that helps single mothers and young people find jobs. “We’ve gotten a real superstar from them,” said Sarah.
Cleaning a Victorian castle resort in New York
One of their most memorable cleans was helping clean Mohonk Mountain House, a 150-year-old Victorian castle resort in New York. “They were redoing 50 of their rooms and we did the cleaning before they put the furniture in. It was all hands on deck, so we [Tom and Sarah] helped out, too. We were there for 4 or 5 days, cleaning. Things weren’t quite as finished as they had expected them to be, so we worked alongside people putting the carpet in,” Tom said.
Celebrities… they’re just like us! They need their homes cleaned, too!
The area that Clean ‘n Tidy serves is in the Hudson Valley area about an hour and a half outside New York City. Their proximity to the city means that they’ve cleaned for a lot of people in movies and television, but no names were named, out of respect for the privacy of their clients. The crew has also done quite a bit of work for AirBNB vacation rentals, which is lucrative work owing to the frequency of the cleans.
Tom and Sarah make a point to send the same people to do a job so that clients will see the same people cleaning their homes. It’s a point of pride for Tom, who noted that when the couple used a cleaning service before they started their own, they had three different crews come clean their home. “We like to always send the same crew. It helps to build trust and the crew doesn’t have to start over each time because they know the space.”
Giving back to the community
“We have a disabled vet in a wheelchair who insisted on paying something, so we charged him $10 a week to clean his home. When we know someone needs help, we do it.”
The company believes in giving back to the community and they help clean people’s homes who might not be able to afford them otherwise. “We have a disabled vet in a wheelchair who insisted on paying something, so we charged him $10 a week to clean his home. When we know someone needs help, we do it.”
Only an hour and a half outside New York City, the couple frequently goes into the city to see plays or Yankee baseball games. They also cleaned the offices of the local farm team, the Hudson Valley Renegades, and enjoy going to minor league baseball games close to home.
To book a high-quality cleaning service in the Hudson Valley area, check out Clean ‘n Tidy.
If you’re a cleaning service professional who would like to be featured in our magazine, please let us know!