I caught up with Christopher Schwab mere hours before he moved out of his Washington DC apartment to spend the next six months in Tokyo. No stranger to overseas travel, Christopher spent his formative years in England before returning to the States to attend American University. While studying abroad in South Korea, he met friends who are Japanese— hence the move to Tokyo. He graduated with a psychology degree and immediately launched Think Maids as a business that he could run from anywhere in the world.
Instead of starting his business by doing the cleanings himself and then hiring staff as the company grew, Christopher relied on the expertise of talented cleaning professionals from the beginning. While he focused on marketing and administrative aspects of the business, he hired top talent in DC to make sure his clients’ homes are spotless. Think Maids is currently sending six teams out into the field to clean residential homes while Christopher manages the business from Japan.
That’s not to say that Christopher hasn’t done his share of cleaning. He has a real sense of how hard the job is and knows to value his workers. “It was really tough, a real learning experience cleaning grime and hair off the bathroom floor. I was exhausted by the end of the job and that was just one house.“ With that hands-on knowledge, he has a grasp on what it takes to do great cleaning and how much it demands in physical exertion. His respect for the effort given by his teams is enormous, and he has found superstars that he can rely on while he is thousands of miles away.
Christopher hadn’t anticipated how important the human element is in his job. One of his teams is earning enough money to be able to send their child to a better school, and they told him how much he helped their personal lives. “Quickly that became the most important thing. It meant a lot to me,” he said. His focus now is on creating a warm and open company culture, encouraging feedback from his workers about what’s working and what’s not working.
This focus on personal touch extends beyond his teams to his clients as well. “Cleaning is a business with a lot of personal interactions. By adding a personal touch to your services, you’ll get recurring bookings and referrals. Building the relationship will help you a lot.”
Christopher has been able to balance this highly personal element of the business with setting up automated systems. “A big part of this is automating and delegating. I brought on virtual assistants to help with booking and to handle any customer issues that came up, which allows me to focus on growing the business instead of getting involved in the nitty-gritty. Automate all the main tasks after you do them yourself so you fully understand them.”
If you’re looking for a high quality cleaning service in the Washington DC area, be sure to check out Think Maids.
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