Category: Blog

Feb 03 2015

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Below is a featured article in Cleaning Business Today, February 2015 Issue, by our very own Stephanie Nesseth! Click Here to View the full Article on CleaningBusinessToday.com

When you learn to delegate more than just tasks, and to share your expectations clearly with your staff, then you’ll know what true control of your business and its future feels like.

By Stephanie Nesseth

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Stephanie Nesseth is owner of Absolutely Clean in Cedar Rapids, IA. She is also president and founder of Time In A Bottle, a non-profit organization that provides free cleaning services to parents of children with life-threatening illnesses.

As 2015 gets started, I have reflected a lot on the last 13 to 14 years that I have been a business owner. This is the year that I will truly be overseeing the company as CEO.

I have been the absent CEO for a couple of years, and I thought I was overseeing. What I really was doing was running all of the marketing plans. They were generally very successful as marketing is fun for me so it’s easy. I was hoping my marketing plan would grow my company. I kept waiting for those numbers to move, assuming that everyone knew exactly what was in my head and how I wanted it to happen.

The problem? I forgot to let everyone else know what my clear expectations were. I also made the assumption that my face didn’t need to be seen. I assumed that my policy, our procedures and our branding, were enough to make those numbers climb. It was enough for many years, but as we grow from a small company into a mediumsized company, the leadership and our mission continue to need my voice.

Leading = The Right Message to the Right Consumers

The keys to any successful marketing plan are consistency and follow up, with an awesome and creative call to action. A good plan has a clear call to action: call -> email ->make it happen. Right? You don’t just throw your logo out there and hope your prospective clients get the message. Your logo can speak, but you had better be clear about your message, and you had better make sure you get that message to the right people. If they call, you must listen, and you must be clear on what you will do and what you expect from them as well as define what they can expect from you.

Leading = Track, Measure, Analyze, Adjust

When I related steering my company to a marketing plan, it all became very clear to me what I needed to do. In no time the stress, the tension and the “why can’t they read my mind” steadily dropped away. This philosophy can be used through every aspect and level of our company. We have seen a drastic drop in our employee turnover to 14% in 2014 from over 300% in previous years. The number would be lower if I pulled out those who didn’t make it past day one of orientation. That’s a pretty awesome number for us. As in marketing, if you can’t track it, there is no way of knowing if it’s working for you. We track everything in our company now. We discuss it weekly and I allow my leaders to lead. We “trust but verify.”

Leading = Modeling Core Values and Sharing Clear Expectation with My Team

I know that I have a lot to learn. My biggest lesson in becoming the official CEO of Absolutely Clean has been humbling myself to look in the mirror and see what was missing. Often we experience burn-out as entrepreneurs. When I look, I find my energy again. The irony here is that I have gained more control with my clear and defined leadership, and it’s allowing me to let go – to gain more control by letting go.

The key to letting go for me has been the clarity with which I speak to my leaders and making sure that the message is being spoken from the top down. We all train our replacements every day. The goal is to make every person at Absolutely Clean as passionate and clear about our goal as I am. We are succeeding. We also are only as good as we were yesterday. Every day we aim high.

Oct 21 2014

Absolutely Clean and Owner Stephanie Nesseth are honored to be featured in Cleaning Business Today! Below is the article!

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Concern for health and desire for time leads to winning growth formula for community-oriented cleaning company.

stephanie-nesseth-CleaningBusinessTodayCBT: Tell us about when and why you started Absolutely Clean.

SN: I had dabbled in Nursing school, had been a stay-at-home-mom for 12 years and had taught pre-school. For a few years, I was the director of a facility in Nebraska. But when my son was diagnosed with cancer, I had to find a job where I was in charge of my schedule

At that time, I was on the procurement committee for a local charity and had collected a gift certificate for one of the franchise maid services. They told me that the $65 gift certificate might clean a kitchen – and that was 15 years ago. So when it was time for me to make choices about what kind of business to start, that concept was always in my head because I’m a rock star cleaner with a touch of OCD.

CBT:  How large is your company now and how big would you like it to be?

SN:  Today, Absolutely Clean has 20 employees, though we operate comfortably at 25 with our current client base. We’re not quite large enough yet to consider opening a second location right now; for that, we will need to grow to about 35-40 employees.

CBT: One of the things you’re known for is your seasonal update of your logo. How do you keep the new designs fresh while staying true to your core brand?

SN:  I have a great designer – Right Eye Digital – in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. His team knows who we are and hits it on the head every time. I have only sent a design back once; they consistently nail it on the first try. He listens and has a great eye for our style and concept.

CBT: Through Absolutely Clean, you work hard to raise money and awareness for various community outreach programs. How do you balance your marketing and community outreach efforts?

SN:  My cleaning company, Absolutely Clean, is definitely a for-profit company, and I also have a not-for-profit organization, Time in a Bottle, through which we donate cleanings within our local community.

My secret: I have a great team, and we advertise through the community. Instead of traditional flyers that list what we can do, we highlight how you can help us give back to the community.

People want to do business with us because of our mission; part of the Absolutely Clean mission statement is “fostering service to others.” We believe strongly in that. In fact, we had an employee quit once over this part of our mission, writing on the exit statement that “all you care about is giving.” True story. If we are not promoting our annual carnival, then we have a monthly charity we’re working with. I network with our food bank and the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, to name a few. And leaders in our community also seek us out for networking. It’s a win-win. We don’t sell a clean home; we consider that a “given.” We sell time.

CBT: You’re among a small but growing group of cleaning business owners who find it valuable to make the professional products you use available for your clients to purchase from you. How do you make it work – balancing both service sales and product sales?

SN:  We believe strongly in the products we use professionally, so we want our clients to clean in a healthy manner when we are not there. We don’t worry about them wanting to clean on their own; buying the products we use doesn’t necessarily save them the time we sell, but it does ensure that the air they breathe is healthy between visits. I mean, we all have to clean up after ourselves after dinner!

Read more ...

May 28 2014

In case you missed it, check out this fantastic article about Absolutely Clean and Time in a Bottle. We wanted to share our pride!

We know your time is valuable and we train a service heart to our staff. We embrace time as our most important asset here at Absolutely Clean.

We are honored that you allow us in your home.

The Gazette – My Biz:
Cedar Rapids maid service cleans homes, businesses

Absolutely Clean hires moms needing flexibility

By Katie Mills Giorgio, correspondent
Published: May 22 2014
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Liz Martin/The Gazette Stephanie Nesseth, owner of Absolutely Clean

Stephanie Nesseth is the first to admit that her house doesn’t always get cleaned. But she has a good excuse.

As the owner of Absolutely Clean in Cedar Rapids, Nesseth is making sure that the homes of all her clients are absolutely clean.

“We are a maid service that cleans everything from top to bottom, left to right,” Nesseth said. “We’ve even done laundry before. Our services are really customizable.”

Nesseth spent many years as a stay-at-home mom and preschool teacher before starting Absolutely Clean 14 years ago. “I didn’t start this thinking I would become a business owner,” she said.

Back in 2001, Nesseth was looking for full-time flexible work, as her family — including her son who battled childhood cancer — was her first priority.

After gaining some clients, Nesseth quickly realized there were other moms out there who needed flexible work and could assist in her expanding business. “Hiring those who needed flexibility was my business model. It keeps loyalty high and employees happy.”

Absolutely Clean has about 18 full-time employees. Nesseth said her business runs optimally with about 25 employees. They work from 8:45 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. — sometimes until 6 p.m. — to clean client homes.

“Some clients we don’t even see. Others we will spend 45 minutes in a consultation interview before we clean their house for the first time,” explained Nesseth. “Either way is OK with us, because it’s their home we are cleaning.”

Absolutely Clean also operates a commercial division with part-time staff who work evening hours. Nesseth said she especially enjoys helping her employees grow. “We are more than just maids.”

Most people underestimate the amount of training her staff goes through, Nesseth said. “Even our staff is surprised after their first week how much focused attention they get.”

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Liz Martin/The Gazette Krysta Roling of Cedar Rapids (left), quality assurance manager and trainer at Absolutely Clean, watches as trainee Taylor Risden of Cedar Rapids dusts the top of a fish tank in the Absolutely Clean offices in Cedar Rapids. New employees spend 90 days in training in the office and in the field.

That training is important to help Absolutely Clean fulfill its mission.

“It can be tough upholding our own mission of treating everyone like they are number one,” Nesseth said. “We are truly fostering service to others and you have to coach service. This work is more than scrubbing toilets.”

Nesseth said their willingness to “pick things up” at Absolutely Clean sets them apart from other such companies. “We are pretty detailed in our work. I don’t feel like it’s clean if we don’t pick things up. And we mop on our hands and knees.”

Another unique element of Absolutely Clean is its complimentary organization, Time in a Bottle, which cleans for families of children battling cancer and is offered free of charge.

“Unfortunately there is too much demand,” Nesseth said, noting her need to create the nonprofit organization to support the work they do.

Time in a Bottle operates with donated hours from Absolutely Clean employees and donations. They also host a yearly carnival fundraiser, which is coming up on July 12 and is taking the majority of Nesseth’s time in the office these days.

Nesseth also spends a majority of her time focusing on marketing. “I like to network in the community.” She has the help of two managers that run the day-to-day operations. “They let me know at the end of the day how things are going.”

And while she is no longer in the classroom, Nesseth said running her business can be a lot like teaching preschool at times.

“I’ve learned to be very humble, to listen without thought of replying and to not sweat the small stuff, which is cliché but true. I’m always learning.”

Mar 14 2014

In case you missed it, we wanted to share our pride!  We know your time is just as valuable as any of our Time in a Bottle clients.. in fact… it’s how we train a service heart to our staff.    Each of us can be battling something…. including our staff.   We embrace time as our most important asset here at Absolutely Clean.

We are honored that you allow us in your home.

 

Thank you and enjoy the extra time you purchased or were gifted by Absolutely Clean this week.

Have a great weekend!

Stephanie

Feb 20 2014

My day…

Starts with joy ..  the sun streaming in from my bedroom windows as I prepare for the day

My husband get’s up EARLY to work in his office before he heads out .. I meet him in the kitchen as we both are after coffee (morning elixir) .. we talk shop .. HR stuff .. I notice my Valentine’s Flowers soaking up the sun.  I smile.

I head up to my closet.. squeeze into pants that did not fit last week.  Smile

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I see a text on my phone from our Quality Assurance phone at the office “teams, please enter through the side door.. we have a flood in our main entrance”   I text back “sigh”…

 

NOW.. years ago .. I would have freaked out, now?  carry on — make some phone calls and fix it.  It was 50 degree’s yesterday .. that’s  the issue.   I smile.

I get to the office .. new faces.   Not a single negative attitude in the room today from our field staff (or at least I can’t feel it.. it feels awesome).  I smile.

We have 3 girls out sick today and we are booked solid WITH a snow day we are trying to fit it ..  Julie is in uniform.  She asked me last week if it was ok for her to work in the field .   It was supposed to be to add in some deep cleans, now it is just to keep up.  She’s helping me take care of our clients.   I smile.

I head out the door to make the deposit … oil light and coolant light comes on in my car.  I’m at the bank and the lights are NOT shutting off.  Auto Zone is next door… drive over…   I can’t get the oil cap off so I walk in to play my “girl card”

Seriously??  It’s a girl behind the counter.

Cough … “I hate to play my girl card… and now I REALLY feel silly playing the girl card but I can’t get the cap off”  She looks at me like I am from mars… comes out and promptly makes me look silly by removing the cap.  Then she gasps… there is gunk on my cap.  Not so smart now are we chica?? She has to head in and ask a guy what’s wrong… (phew… saved)   He comes out and asks me how far I drive everyday?  I told him I live less than a mile from my office.  He says “you need to head to Iowa City once a month and go shopping … that’s condensation”   I smile.   Um honey?? I must go shopping.  DUH??  SMILE!

I call my husband back (I had alerted him to our potential issue) and let him know I have it handled.  He’s rented a car for me for the next week and it’s going into the shop tomorrow.   I smile.

As I am driving back to my office, I realize I really truly am smiling.

Why?  Because at 45 .. I have finally REALLY began to live those faking it moments .  You know the ones, where your life is in turmoil and you are frantic on the inside but smiling on the outside?

Don’t get me wrong.. I have plenty of freak out moments over things that are IN my control .. or someone else’s control .. and they are not living up to their potential… or I am not living up to mine.  The small stuff?  I don’t sweat it anymore, and what’s really cool?  I’m realizing it’s all small… and for the most part, my smile reflects my inside!

The sun had a major effect on my attitude today.    Feel the sun today .. and let it guide you tomorrow!

Happy

Time In a Bottle

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The mission of Time in a Bottle INC, is to provide precious “time” to parents that are dealing with the hope and care of their children becoming survivors. There many ways to help, donate your time, become a sponsor to one of our events, or Flock a Friend! Follow the Link to find out more!

Click Here to Donate

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