Detroit-area cleaning business tripled business in two years

Official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Dawn to Dusk’s new offices, in conjunction with their 10 year anniversary.

Dawn Winter started her cleaning business, Dawn to Dusk, ten years ago as a single mom looking for a job with flexible hours and the ability to be her own boss. She met her husband, John, after he lost his first wife, Sharon, to breast cancer and had booked Dawn for a cleaning service. A year after they met, “I married the cleaning lady,” John laughed.

Dawn’s cleaning expertise was a perfect match for John’s business acumen which he’d honed over the years, running four businesses when he met her—a storage facility, a few U-haul dealerships, a shredding company, and a real estate investing company. A few years ago, John sold his other businesses and joined forces with Dawn full-time, resulting in business tripling over the last two years.

The secret to their success

John mentioned how important it is to get the word out about your business and to look professional. They joined ARCSI (Association of Residential Cleaning Services, International), which has been a great resource for swapping ideas and information with other cleaning business owners. Along with investing in a professional website, they also continued their membership with their local Chamber of Commerce.

Giving back to the community

In 2015, they joined Cleaning for a Reason, a non-profit organization that connects cleaning companies who donate their services to women who are undergoing cancer treatments. “When my late wife was going through cancer, cleaning the house was the last thing on my mind, so I can really relate to someone who’s going through this. The doctors tell them to take it easy, not to clean, but their immune systems are weak and they can’t be around dirt or dust or cleaning products,” said John. Since joining Cleaning for a Reason, Dawn to Dusk has donated $3600 in service to women in their community who are battling cancer.

Spinning for prizes

The team is comprised of eight cleaning technicians along with Dawn and John, and they are all high quality cleaners. A request for a review is emailed out after each cleaning, and customers rate the job they did between 1-4 stars. Last week the team earned nothing but 4 stars, and they have averaged 3.5 since the beginning of the year. One of the ways that the staff is incentivized to provide excellent service is by getting a spin on the “Wheel of Fortune”-esque wheel that has gift cards on each slot ranging from $10-$30 for local stores that the team shops at, like fast food, gas stations, or Victoria’s Secret. The team spins the wheel once a month, but if you have earned a 4.0 rating over that time period you get a bonus spin. If you have no unexcused absences for the month you earn another spin. John heard about this type of rewards system working for another ARCSI cleaning company and has implemented it with great success for his team.  

In-home quotes and emergency cleaning

Besides handling the business-side of things, John provides in-home quotes for all new clients. “I see 95% of the homes before the cleaning technicians are out there. I want to see what they’re getting into before they arrive. This way, the technician knows what type of special equipment they might need or if there’s any special situation like a really bad stove or bathtub,” he said. When necessary, he and Dawn are also available to help out with cleaning when the team is short-staffed.

Retail location

What sets Dawn to Dusk apart from their competition is their attention to detail and professionalism. Their office is located in a retail strip where customers can drop by. “They all say ‘Wow, this place is clean!’ when they come in,” John said. This location is where the team mixes all their cleaning supplies from Procter and Gamble, saving money and being able to precisely mix the cleaning product to their satisfaction. While they don’t get a lot of foot traffic to the retail office, its location along a busy road means a lot of people drive by and see it as they go to and from work, acting as great advertising.


Dawn and John Winters, owners of Dawn to Dusk

Reliable, high quality, zero thefts

Whenever John gets a call from a new customer who is ditching their previous cleaning service, he’s always interested in finding out exactly why they’re leaving. Usually it’s because the service became unreliable or the quality decreased over time, although occasionally they’re leaving their old cleaning company after an issue with theft. John is quick to assure prospective clients that the Dawn to Dusk crew has never had any theft issues over the ten years they’ve been in business, and he’s confident about the reliability and high quality of service that his team can provide.

Some customers are curious about how they’ve been able to avoid having any theft issues over the long haul, and John explains his strict screening and background checks for employees. He also has been in a Reserve Sheriff Deputy for over thirty years, so the staff knows better than to swipe something on the job.

With his effort to recruit only the best cleaners, John says he’s always hiring. Two of his best places for advertisements have been and the help wanted section of Facebook.

Best part about running a family business

When I asked him what he likes best about his job, John said, “Working with my wife. Every once in awhile she comes into my office and gives me a kiss.”

You can book a Detroit-area cleaning service from Dawn To Dusk and experience their top-notch service.

If you’re a cleaning service professional who would like to be featured in our magazine, please let us know!

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