[quote style=”boxed”]Stick-to-it-ness. I have a habit of staying focused in on the goal and making it a point not to stray.[/quote]
Cathy Green is the co-owner with her husband, Greg, of UpperCrust Maids. Cathy has a M.S. degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Greg has a B.S. degree in Social Services.
In 2008—unhappy with the level of training and professionalism offered by most of the cleaning companies that she encountered, Cathy decided to start UpperCrust Maids.
Initially the company had three clients and two part time employees. However, Cathy worked to build the brand, culture and reputation of the company and the word soon spread, along with the growth of the company.
In 2012, UpperCrust Maids won its first Super Service award from Angie’s List—-an award that only 3% of companies attain.
Today UpperCrust Maids is a much sought after company that caters to the house and office cleaning needs of busy professionals and companies in upscale communities throughout the DC/MD/VA tristate.
Where did the idea for UpperCrust Maids come from?
I am a natural entrepreneur and always knew that I was going to own a company and create career paths for others. Back in 2008, my husband and I had an addition put on our home. After it was complete, we brought in a cleaning company. In short, they did an awful job. That’s when a light bulb lit up in my mind and I knew that I was going to create a successful cleaning company with trained employees who take pride in their work.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is so different but so exciting because potential clients are constantly contacting me and I always look forward to who that new client may be. Living in the DC area, it could be a politician, pundit, famous attorney, actor, etc. OR, it could be a regular, every day individual. So each day consists of speaking to new or potential clients, working on new ideas to improve the company, and working with employees to improve their performance.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m a creative person and I’m visual. So I have notebooks. I generally write my ideas down by hand and I sketch some of my plans, even though I’m not a good artist. I then contact a designer or printer (when appropriate) to help bring my ideas to fruition.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I like that we are getting away from so much formality and moving towards building an atmosphere of positive “culture” in business which is less formal and generally more fun and people oriented.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Stick-to-it-ness. I have a habit of staying focused in on the goal and making it a point not to stray.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was in college, I had a work study job with a very unhappy and mean woman who was my supervisor. From her I learned that when a person is mean and/or unhappy, it’s because they are internally miserable—and misery is a sad way to have to live. So from her I learned empathy and quite frankly, mercy.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Definitely I would have avoided the Coupon craze that descended upon businesses back in 2010. I had jumped on the 50% off coupon bandwagon and it almost destroyed my company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Study. I study all the time. I read business books constantly and wish others would likewise continue to self educate.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Following up and showing care for my clients is what has helped us to grow. The human element is important. I sincerely care when a client calls and voices a concern, and I always move to immediately correct the situation. When people know that you truly do care—that you are listening and that you respect their feelings, they will stay with you. Also, they will become your fan and tell others about you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Back in 2010 when I ran a 50% off coupon that sold 1,400 dirt cheap cleaning coupons, I failed miserably. I overcame it by refusing to give up. My husband took out a loan. I borrowed money from family and my church gave a donation to us. By not giving up, we ended up winning the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the first time in 2012—just two years post nightmare.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Because people love their animals so much and will spend any amount of money on them, why not create an Animal Butler/Chauffer service for busy households that specializes in picking dogs up from their homes—-in a limo, of course, taking them to their doctors’ appointments and grooming appointments and play dates. That same service would ensure that the dog has had his meals and walk before returning home. Instead of a “girls night out”, make it a “dog’s day out” where all his/her needs are tended to.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am an ordained minister and I have spoken in churches as a guest on many occasions.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I use Kick Serv, which helps me to organize my clients and schedule them. I use Genbook which helps me to keep track of appointments. I use QuickBooks which helps with everything business related.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There is a book called Professional Services Marketing by Mike Schultz & John E. Doerr. Some of the best advice on building brands and company culture, as well as strategies for attaining and keeping clients.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Dr. Joel Fuhrman. His passion for health, longevity and disease proofing our lives is inspiring.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, a phenomenal preacher.
President Barak Obama, who made it clear that you do NOT have to limit your thinking. You can in fact be anything you want to be. Set the goal, go after it. Grab it.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.