Picture this: three cleaning ladies perched on top of a kitchen table using a canoe paddle to shoo the client’s enormous Great Danes out the door. Schera Moses has seen it all in over 20 years of working in the house cleaning industry, including this scene. The client had a canoe on the wall, and one of Schera’s crew grabbed a paddle to try and force the dogs back out the door they had mistakenly opened. “They looked like horses. The girls jumped on top of the table because the dogs were so big. When she starting shooing him with the paddle, the dog turned to look at her, like, ‘Really? A canoe paddle?’ It was so funny.”
I just had a knack for it—it was really weird but cleaning came naturally to me.
Previously working as a bartender, Schera got into cleaning as a way to support herself and have better hours to manage raising her sons. “I just had a knack for it—it was really weird but cleaning came naturally to me.”
She founded Final Touch Housekeepers in Los Angeles after working for a woman she considers to be her mentor—Susan from Three Sisters Cleaning. “I got so good at running her office and the crew in Santa Ana that Susan joked that she was going to have to fire me because her clients kept calling and asking for me.” The two remained very close and Schera credits Susan with giving her a lot of insight into handling people. “She made you feel like you were her equal even though she owned the company. She had no problem getting in there and working with us, she was just as detailed as the rest of us and didn’t pass the buck.”
After leaving Three Sisters, Schera went to another cleaning agency and was quickly elevated to an office job. “I thought, uh oh, here we go again! I’m not an office person, I’m claustrophobic and need to be outside doing things! But I did the office job for a few months then decided to leave to open my own business.”
For the first few years, it was just Schera as an owner-operator, but she started having more work than she could handle and started hiring people to help her. At one point the company grew to 26 housekeepers before the economy tanked. “The economy went crazy and people weren’t getting their houses cleaned,” she said. Schera struggled to stay in business and pared down operations to a handful of cleaners. Eventually, the economy got better and business jumped again.
I like to see the change in people’s houses, to walk in and say ‘I am so good!’ If I walk in it can be a complete disaster but I know when I walk out of there that my client is going to be completely happy.
Schera considers herself to be very lucky. “Cleaning is a passion for me and something I truly enjoy. At the end of the day it’s something that I look forward to. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t do as good of a job at it. The best housekeepers enjoy what they do.” She also recognizes that her cleaning skills are exemplary. “I like to see the change in people’s houses, to walk in and say ‘I am so good!’ If I walk in it can be a complete disaster but I know when I walk out of there that my client is going to be completely happy.” She makes sure her team goes the extra mile to give a high quality cleaning for a reasonable price.
Part of her mission is making sure that people understand that her team is not just housekeepers. “We’re what’s keeping your house going. We’re analysts, babysitters, pet walkers… we handle a variety of things for different families.”
The secret to her success with clients is something that she teaches each of her cleaners. “I tell them that their job is to figure out what the client’s needs are. Once you figure that out, you’ll have a really happy client. I always try to find something I have in common with clients, too. We might discuss a book for five minutes before getting down to business or talk about dogs, cats, or kids. What makes a really good housekeeper is to share that moment with their client.”
Running a cleaning company in the sprawl of Los Angeles has unique challenges, but Schera tackles them with smart business ideas. Using strategic scheduling, she makes sure her team is not more than 10 minutes away from their next job, grouping areas on the outskirts of the city together. “LA traffic is the worst. It’s nothing to be stuck in traffic for an hour. We stopped handling Malibu because it was 2 hours in traffic.” Besides that, she gives her team a weekly gas allowance and takes care of their oil changes every three months. “I tell them that I need their car to work!”
Contributing to the upkeep of her crew’s cars is part of the generous benefits package that she’s committed to providing, which includes paid vacation. Schera realizes that help wanted ads need to lead with what’s in it for the cleaner and feels confident that her latest batch of ads puts the right foot forward, showing all the benefits she provides. Another perk is flexible scheduling, and Schera lets her employees make their own schedule, which cuts down on no-shows considerably. And once a month she takes her entire staff out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. “I like to tell them thank you, to show them that I appreciate them.”
She’s also committed to giving back to her community. During the campaign season, she donates free cleaning to most of the local councilmen who are running for office. She also takes care of elderly clients by giving them an extremely generous 50% discount. “I’m very protective about the elderly. I’ve come across so many who are unable to take care of themselves or have been mistreated. I wouldn’t want anyone to treat my grandmother like that, and I report it when I see it.”
Even though she’s busy running a successful company, Schera makes sure she takes time out for her other passion—travel. If it’s not Turks and Caicos, it’s Barbados, St. Croix, or Puerto Rico. “I like the islands!”
Any busy family in the Los Angeles area looking for a high quality cleaning should check out Final Touch Housekeepers. Schera will make sure you have a top-notch experience with her thorough cleaning crew.
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