Martha Neault knows what it takes to run a successful business. She started Sevilla’s Cleaning twelve years ago to provide high quality cleaning service to clients in Fort Myers, Florida. In 2014 she and her husband Travis started a school transportation company, which means that their day starts at 5 a.m. when they get up to start picking kids up for school and dropping them off by 7 a.m. Then they start cleaning clients’ homes, taking a break at 1 p.m. to pick the students up for the ride back home.
The idea for running her own cleaning business came to Martha when she was working as a nurse’s assistant. She was taking care of people in hospice and realized that she was providing free house cleaning for her elderly clients whenever she found them in filthy living conditions. “I said, what am I doing? I’m cleaning for free! I need to start my own cleaning business. So I started cleaning for the nurses I worked with and expanded from there,” said Martha.
Originally from Honduras, she followed her father to Miami in 1995 with one of her sisters who ended up moving to Indiana. Martha stayed in Florida and took care of her father until he became ill and returned back to Honduras. Alone in Miami, she buckled down and got serious about taking the next steps toward advancing her career by finishing her GED. Martha wanted to improve her English language skills which was difficult while surrounded by Spanish-speakers in Miami, so she moved a few hours north and found a caregiver job in Fort Myers. Wanting to explore the new town one Saturday night, she went to a nightclub where she met Travis, her future husband.
Now the two of them are joined at the hip, working side by side each day in their two businesses. There’s a bit of friendly competition between the two as to which is the better cleaner. “I really enjoy my work but sometimes it stresses me out. I’m the best cleaner but my husband thinks he’s the best. We get along really well, we’re a good team.“
They are such a good team that Martha’s clients insist on having them clean their homes and Martha has a hard time offloading work to her staff. She laughed and admitted that sometimes this was a good way to get rid of problem clients. “I have turned down bad customers by telling them that I can’t make it but that I’ll send my girl to clean. Then they don’t want the appointment, so they ask if I can come another day. When that day comes, I tell them I’m sending my girl. Then they tell me to call them when I have a free spot in my schedule.”
This is one of the benefits of running your own company—getting to choose your customers. “I’m happy, I don’t have a lot of stress,” she said.
The family-run business sometimes receives an infusion of help from relatives. Martha’s niece just graduated from high school in Indiana and spent part of her summer vacation in Florida helping her aunt’s business. In addition, Sevilla’s has three other staff members to help with the cleaning.
This is one of the benefits of running your own company—getting to choose your customers.
One of her best customers knows how to show appreciation for the excellent quality of care that Martha provides—each Christmas the customer leaves a $500 check, and one year it was $1,000. But the money is icing on the cake—mostly she thrives on the positive reviews and knowing that her clients really appreciate her caring for their homes.
Her sense of humor follows her onto every job site. There was one client who was so excited that she was there to clean his home that he trailed her through the house. She joked that she was going to have to charge him $25 more if he was in the house while she was cleaning. He wrote her a check for an additional $50 and left the house, but Martha returned the extra amount, insisting that it was only a joke.
She also tells her staff that if they want to start their own business, she’s happy to train them on all the aspects of being a business owner. Many of the people who clean for her end up trying their hand at running their own cleaning business but several of them come back looking to be rehired. Martha’s advice is for people to start cleaning on the side while you still have another job and be sure that you really like to clean.
The hardworking couple are dedicated to having fun as well. They carve out time for fun on the weekends, either going fishing or riding on Travis’s Harley. “When he’s not on the boat, he’s on his motorcycle,” Martha said. “I ride on the back, but he’s been fighting for ten years to get me to ride on my own.”
If you’d like to join the elite group of customers that Sevilla’s Cleaning cares for in the Fort Myers area of Florida, check out Martha’s high quality service.
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