When Elena Ledoux’s husband heard about her idea of starting Superb Maids house cleaning service in Las Vegas, he was initially skeptical about his lawyer-wife’s career change. “He strongly recommended that I not do it because it’s fiercely competitive and I didn’t know how to clean a house professionally.” But after two years of incredible growth and success of the business, he has had to admit that he was mistaken and fully encourages Elena and her partner, Nargi, from the sidelines. “He’s normally very accurate about predicting business success. Working for Sony, he actually passed on an early example of a digital camera. He was wrong about that and he was wrong about us.”
So how did Elena, a retired lawyer who used to dream of becoming a judge, end up running a successful cleaning business with her childhood friend, Nargi, who was an architect? When Elena learned that Nargi had won the green card lottery, she encouraged her to come to Las Vegas from Uzbekistan and brainstormed ideas for a business they could run while Nargi learned English. Cleaning was the easiest business to get into that didn’t require a lot of capital invested. “It was four people and a vacuum cleaner, and we each invested $300.”
Elena had been an insurance defense lawyer before she retired from law to travel with her family through Europe for a few years and spend more time with her youngest son, now 5 years old. “I saw the underbelly of how companies got into trouble by not having enough insurance. I was in court all the time handling litigation. It really helped me to structure our business to not cut corners and do everything by the book.”
While she loved parts of being a lawyer— “I got to argue and someone paid me for it!”—she had little control over her time. After a few years traveling through the south of France, Spain, Turkey, and Ireland, they came back to the U.S. and soon after she launched Superb Maids. Very quickly the company grew and now has over 30 employees. “We grew really fast, which was painful and exhilarating, like having a brand new company all the time.” Last year they won an award for being the best professional house cleaning company in Vegas.
“Clean like you’re cleaning for grandma—with your heart.”
Elena credits their rapid success to two things: building lifelong relationships with their clients and building lifelong relationships with their employees. “We go out of our way to make clients happy which is what you truly hope a service company will do. A very pleasant, caring person picks up the phone, the people who come to clean are intelligent, attractive, and want to help you. I tell the team to clean like you’re cleaning for grandma—with your heart.”
As for fostering strong relationships with her staff, she emphasizes the need to give them a lot of freedom and to make sure they are earning a steady and stable wage. “I tell them that their personal life is more important than the job, so tell us what days you can work, tell us which coworker you want to work with, choose your clients and what type of cleaning you want to do. All they have to do it come in, do an amazing job, and get paid well.”
The best source of solid employees for her high growth business has been word-of-mouth referrals. “We let them know we want to hire people just like them. We have whole families working for us, mom and son teams, friends. It’s convenient for employees, they can share a car and get along much better, working cohesively.”
Elena gets the most satisfaction out of her job by watching the progress of her employees. Some come from underprivileged backgrounds or are immigrants starting with nothing, and she is deeply gratified by watching them adjust to having good, steady wages. “They go from having a lost look on their face to being more comfortable, going on vacation, moving into a new apartment, really blossoming. They don’t say anything but I can see it. That is by far my favorite part.”
Las Vegas is a boom and bust town, with seasonal jobs fluctuating wildly with the rise and fall of tourist season. While most hotels cut way back on their staff and hours during the low periods, Elena is proud to be able to offer her team steady hours and stable earnings. “Whenever there’s a slowdown, I start hustling. I am motivated by being able to give them work.”
Besides being invested in the well-being of the staff, Superb Maids is committed to giving back to the community. They donate certificates for cleaning services to many worthy causes around town, including a center for brain health. They’re also joining the nationwide network of Cleaning for a Reason to give free cleaning services to women undergoing cancer treatments. Frequently they give away free cleanings to clients they discover can’t afford their services.
As a cleaning service in Las Vegas, they see more than their share of weird things on the job. “It’s extremely colorful, the most entertaining of all the cities. There are lots of stashes of cash that get found, and we have people throwing cash in the air. It’s very disturbing when someone throws a pack of $100 bills in the air while you’re trying to clean—I had to call the customer to tell them to calm down.” Another client had a room that was off limits due to the presence of three raccoons inside. (“They bite.”)
The other rewarding part of the job is seeing clients in very intimate and personal moments, such as getting married, having a baby, getting sick, or dying. “It’s the entire life cycle. To be able to be a part of that is very touching and very rewarding.”
When she’s not running the business, Elena relaxes by traveling, reading, and listening to podcasts. A current favorite is NPR’s How I Built This, featuring stories of successful business owners. She’s a huge fan of the Cleanify profiles that showcase what other cleaning companies are doing. “It opens your horizons to see what everyone else is doing, to see what’s possible. I encourage more people to read what other entrepreneurs are doing, to reach out and exchange ideas.”
If you’re looking to book a high quality Las Vegas cleaning professional, check out Superb Maids.
If you’re a cleaning service professional who would like to be featured in our magazine, please let us know!