Hicham Nass took a quick break from a busy day managing Smart Touch Cleaning in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to speak with me. In addition to running a successful cleaning business, he also works full-time as a software engineer. He’s able to code at night from home and manage the cleaning business during the day. Originally from Morocco, he came to the U.S. ten years ago to work in tech. “Morocco is my mother, America is my adopted mother. You can still love them both.”
With software projects, his schedule can be a bit flexible, which gives him the opportunity to run a business as well. His wife, Rkia, is going to school for accounting but still picks up a few cleaning appointments when clients specifically request her help. “She’s a clean freak,” said Hicham. “She can see things that I miss.”
The couple started the business when Hicham was between projects without anything to occupy his time. “So I started cleaning my house, and found that it was really tiring. I realized a lot of homeowners would pay people to take care of this for them. That’s how Smart Touch was born.”
Hicham helped out with cleanings in the early days, but now mostly supervises and provides organizational advice. “When I go into the client’s home, I look for things that I can organize for them to make it look better.”
One of their first clients was a hoarder who greatly appreciated the amazing job Smart Touch did to clean her home. “It was a mess but now it’s a beautiful home. She didn’t see her hardwood floors for years. It took us two days, but it’s a good feeling to see her happy and for her to finally have a living room where she can sit and watch TV.”
On another occasion, the Smart Touch Cleaning team encountered an even worse situation to clean. Hicham gave the client an estimate over the phone without seeing the apartment since she lived a few hours away from the apartment she needed to have cleaned. “I quoted her 2 to 5 hours and it took 8 to 9 hours. We found mold and snakes inside near the kitchen door. It was a big shock. My wife ran away—she’s afraid of snakes. We cleaned everything for her and she ended up referring us to other clients. It was an experience—I learned not to give estimates over the phone.”
Hicham’s favorite part of the job is connecting with people, and he brings a unique approach to networking. “I’m an entrepreneur and my clients are also business owners. The first thing I ask is what they do.” He then offers to cross promote their business to anyone he comes across that might need it. For example, he’s partnering with a landscaping company where he leaves their business card with his clients who are in obvious need of a yard trim. “It’s a win-win for all of us.”
The team is currently 11 people, and Hicham has a knack for retaining his best employees. “You have to pay them more. Also, one of my tricks is that I tell them that anytime a client tips them, I will double it. But if someone complains just one time, they won’t get the bonus the next time.” As someone who has done the day-to-day work of cleaning, he appreciates how hard it is and schedules his employees accordingly. “I rotate what they do from house to house. So if they are cleaning the bathroom in the first house, they’ll get a more relaxing job of dusting in the second house that day.”
Hicham and Rkia have a two-year-old son that keeps them busy as well. Before I knew how old he was, I asked if their son helped out. “Well, he can’t even clean up after himself yet,” Hicham laughed. The ultimate goal is to grow the business into something that he can hand over to his son when the time is right. The family enjoys kayaking, fishing, and playing soccer, and Hicham is committed to retaining a healthy work-life balance.
Those busy professionals in the Winston-Salem are in need of cleaning would do well to book with Smart Touch Cleaning. Hicham is willing to work with clients on pricing. “I’m not trying to be a millionaire. I’ll work with clients to reach an agreeable amount.”
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