When people think of Las Vegas, one of the last things that comes to mind is dust. When I spoke to Pam Washington, owner of Fast Friendly Spotless Maid Service, she joked about the situation. “Las Vegas is so dusty! I have job security forever. It’s really windy and dry, meaning that dust is always a problem. It is the dustiest city in the world.”
Pam has been in the cleaning industry for 24 years and runs a successful coaching business to help other cleaning company owners in addition to managing her own maid service. Prior to becoming a cleaning entrepreneur, she ran her own catering company. She had been working as a stockbroker when she had a major aha! moment that allowed her to make the switch to being self-employed.
“A women I worked with was telling me about her divorce one Friday afternoon, and when I came to work on Monday I found out that she had an aneurysm over the weekend and died. It struck me that you can have all these plans and dreams, but all you really have is right now. We all know this intellectually, but it was very striking to me. That’s when I decided I didn’t want to be a stockbroker anymore, and I started my catering business,” said Pam.
Caring for their space seems like a sacred thing that I really enjoy. People need someone to make their space serene and ideal, a place to flourish in. I love creating an environment where people can nurture each other.
After dabbling in the catering industry, Pam read a book about the best home-based businesses and discovered the joys of the cleaning industry—high demand and repeat customers. She was excited about being able to build relationships with customers on a larger scale than she’d experienced with catering. “I really like doing something that helps people, and clients get so excited to come home to a clean house. Especially nowadays when lives are so much more stressful and demanding. It’s a very intimate thing—you are literally caring for people. Caring for their space seems like a sacred thing that I really enjoy. People need someone to make their space serene and ideal, a place to flourish in. I love creating an environment where people can nurture each other.”
As she got started with her cleaning business, Pam was a solopreneur, doing the cleaning, purchasing, marketing, accounting. “I had a Honda Accord and I put my mop and bucket in the back of the car and got to work.” She admitted that she knew very little about cleaning when she first started out, but her first employee taught her a lot. As business grew, Pam kept hiring high quality talent and bringing on more customers. At her peak, she employed 60 people, but is back to around 50 cleaning staff now.
Pam says that housekeeping is more difficult to run as a business but that it’s much more emotionally satisfying. “I got the most beautiful thank you note from one of our clients—a handwritten one-page letter in a card. It feels like what you do has an impact, that it really matters.”
Why is it more difficult to run a residential cleaning business than, say, a commercial cleaning business? “You’re dealing with individuals. When you clean a 50,000 square foot office space, you have one boss, versus the maybe 15 bosses you deal with cleaning 50,000 square feet of homes. Individuals are much more demanding about what they want. It’s a luxury, so you have to make sure it’s an amazing experience.” Fast Friendly Spotless allows clients to customize their cleaning; for example, one customer has her sheets ironed while another has the team unload the dishwasher when they visit.
Another difference between running a residential maid service versus a commercial janitorial service is that you’re hiring people to work during the day rather than the part-time staff who pick up a few hours at night cleaning office buildings. When Pam hires housekeepers, she picks the best, most high-performing employees. “Housekeeping is their profession, and they take it a lot more seriously.”
Hiring top talent is something that Pam excels in and is a major focus of her consulting business. “It’s one of the things I’m known for,” she said. Pam walked me through some of the basic thinking that underlies her process. “Cleaning business owners are a different breed. We’re action junkies who make stuff happen. That’s not the same type of personality as a professional cleaner who likes routine and structure.” This leads to people having difficulty in finding and retaining employees, because cleaners don’t act like owners, preferring someone to handle setting down the structure. Pam suggests that owners should be ok with that and not get frustrated. “You need them just as much as they need you. It’s just different skill sets.”
I really get that my people are my business. If I take care of my workers, they will take care of my customers.
Once she finds high quality employees, she takes care of them. “I really get that my people are my business. If I take care of my workers, they will take care of my customers.” Pam listens closely to feedback from her staff, making adjustments in pay schedules that better suit them, and treating them to staff lunches at a restaurant when they have meetings.
Fast Friendly Spotless Maid Service participates in Cleaning For A Reason, giving free house cleanings to women in their community who are battling cancer. Pam loves the feedback she gets from those patients who send thank yous via text, email, and letter. She also had the experience of dialing one of the Cleaning For A Reason patients and finding that the woman’s number was already in her phone. “We had met previously at a women business owners’ association.”
Pam thrives on running her successful businesses but she also finds time to follow her passion of travel. A few years ago she ran her business from the road and travelled through Mexico, Greece, Turkey, China, Nepal, India, Australia, and New Zealand for twelve months.
If you’ve moved to Las Vegas and are surprised by the amount of constant dust you encounter, do yourself a favor and book a cleaning with Pam’s fabulous team, Fast Friendly Spotless Maid Service.
If you’re a cleaning service professional who would like to be featured in our magazine, please let us know!