Two German immigrants launch successful cleaning business in Sarasota

European Clean Team owners Tanja and Rena

Finding the right business partner can be as difficult as finding the right romantic partner, but Tanja Malkovich and Rena Nietz struck gold in both departments. The friends started The European Clean Team in Sarasota almost three years ago after meeting at daycare for Tanja’s youngest child and Rena’s oldest child. Both women are originally from Germany and their friendship took off quickly.

Tanja moved to the U.S. fifteen years ago after marrying an American serviceman she met in Germany. Rena came to the U.S. for an internship and stuck around after meeting her husband here. The two women were thrilled to combine forces and bring a high quality cleaning service to the Sarasota/Bradenton area of Florida. Rena’s background in the hospitality industry was a perfect fit with Tanja’s business management experience.

“We both had used other cleaning services in the past and weren’t happy with the prices or with their lack of flexibility in the cleaning menu, so we came up with a high quality, affordable, boutique cleaning service,” said Tanja.

Before focusing full-time on their new business, Tanja had extensive experience working in staffing for a local business, which was great training for the hiring she’d begin doing for The European Clean Team. “I had to find the right people for the job. You can’t just hire anyone. The one thing people say about Germans is that we’re very particular. That’s true. We want to find people with experience, who are flexible, and who want to stay with us for a long time. We don’t want clients to have to experience turnover with their cleaning crews.”

They’ve hit the jackpot with several of their staff and specifically called out the excellent work that their team members do. “They earn fantastic reviews and have a great work ethic. When we speak to clients after their homes are cleaned, they always mention how thorough we are. And the team is always ready to help train new cleaners as they come on board.”

At the beginning, Rena and Tanja were both in the field doing cleaning so that they could gain the knowledge that comes from handling the day-to-day job. “If you haven’t don’t the job, you can’t provide a solid estimate or advice to cleaners.”

Clients who specifically request green cleaning are accommodated by the team. “When we do an estimate, we ask them what’s important to them, and we only use eco-friendly cleaning products if that’s something they are looking for.”

Communication is key. If you don’t stay in touch with your clients, you’re not sure if they’re happy or not.

This communication with clients is vital to The European Clean Team’s success. They appreciate clients who outline their requirements in detail, telling them exactly what they’d like cleaned in the home. Later, the clients provide feedback about the job so that Tanja’s team can learn and adapt to what they need. “Communication is key. If you don’t stay in touch with your clients, you’re not sure if they’re happy or not.”

One of the best parts of the job for Tanja is running the business with a partner that she trusts completely and that she gets along with. “We divided our responsibilities in such a way that it’s fun for both of us.” By working with her friend, they can have business meetings in fun locations like over a glass of wine or on the beach at sunset while their kids are running around in the surf. “We actually do a lot of our business meetings on the beach. It’s a great place to regroup and talk about strategy.”

She also loves talking to people and seeing various parts of the city. The other piece of the job that delights her is getting feedback from clients. “They call or text the next day saying they’re so glad they hired us, that it’s such a good feeling to come home to a clean house. Some of them have us on speed dial.”

These happy customers have been sending them lots of business through word of mouth referrals to their friends. If you’re looking for a high quality, boutique cleaning service at an affordable price, you should check out The European Clean Team in Sarasota.


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

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