Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in home-care services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Willatt, owner of Alpine Maids, located in Denver, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At the end of the day, we are a Denver-based small business, and we clean homes for clients in our local community. What makes us different is, in a word, we are "professional." What do you think of when you think of a maid service? I know from experience that people think that we pay under the table, offer a low-wage job with no benefits, and we try to cut corners. Our goal is to change that image by setting the example for what a maid service can be!
We were founded in 2015, began cleaning in 2016, and we complete about 10,000 cleans per year in Denver, and we are growing every day! Our clients are families, pet owners, busy professionals, and anybody who doesn't want to sit inside and clean their house all day!
We got to where we are by creating an inspiring and welcoming environment for our staff and our clients. That means that our staff is amazing! As of today, we offer our cleaners full medical benefits, PTO, a 401K, free mental health counseling, and they average $23/hr--the list goes on. We can afford the best staff, our clients know them by name, and they take real pride and ownership in their job, and over our client's homes.
Tell us about yourself
Since I was a young child, I have dreamed of owning a maid service. OK, not really. I just ended up here. I used to be a geologist in Denver’s oil and gas industry. Still, my crazy work schedule left my family and me with extraordinarily little free time. Basically, I was one of our clients. I needed a maid service, and I tried a few out. They would start off strong and, over time, become unreliable and inconsistent. I realized that turnover was killing these companies, and I was willing to pay more to ensure a consistent experience. I knew there were other people like me, and I was right!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment by far is how supportive we are of our staff. The one thing that I find in common with our staff is that they have all been treated poorly by at least one job in the past. We do all that we can to help and support our cleaners, and the feedback I get back from them about how nice it is to work at my company keeps me motivated to keep pushing for them.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The uncertainty can be crushing. One PR or legal mistake can make or break your business. Whether for clients, staff, or the general public, we have always done the right thing, and it has served me well over the years.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Stop planning and just do it! Seriously, if you want to start a business, just start doing it. I started Alpine Maids by cleaning houses. It took me longer than if I had started with a solid plan and capital, but when the phone is ringing, you make it happen.
Mentally prepare for the work, and again, just do it. I started Alpine maids as a side project. I was working 8 hours a day in addition to my full-time job. When I left my full-time job, I was working 16 hours a day in my business. Now I work 16 hours a day on my business. There are paths to being an absentee business owner (I am not interested in that). Still, it requires a tremendous amount of upfront work, no matter how you go about it. So be ready for that.
Don't fear failure. It was easy for me because I did not need a lot of money upfront, but I am still prepared to this day for complete failure. I am 100% confident I could get right back to where I am now using all of my past knowledge and lessons learned. I often failed at meeting yearly goals, expansion, and continue to fail to this day. Failure is a lot more fun than not trying.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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