We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Robin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I started my business it was out of desperation. I had been laid off from my corporate job and and after many months of searching and still unemployed my bank account had reached a low point. Though I had always had a creative entrepreneurial mindset; and had owned a couple of small businesses prior with some limited success; I did not have a plan and I was quickly running out of options. I realized soon I would homeless if I didn’t find a solution. I’m not sure why I chose cleaning as a business. It just popped in my head. I had never really cleaned before and didn’t have any prior experience. I didn’t even have a business plan. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I think sometimes we have to eliminate all options of turning back. Burn our bridges so to speak. In my case, my options had ran out and my fight or flight response kicked in. I began by placing an ad on Craigslist. It was free. I expected nothing to come of the ad. In fact, I had no plan if anyone contacted me. I then proceeded to Starbucks where i sat contemplating my life over coffee. Some time later I received a call mid-sip from a potential customer. I remained calm and told them that we were busy for the day but would call them back to see if we could come clean their home. Ironically enough, I got back on Craigslist and searched for a cleaner and told them we were really busy for the day and needed help. They agreed to do the job. The job was completed and we had our first happy customer. It’s funny now that I think about it – we didn’t even have a company name at this point; no business cards; no website. Nothing. However, what it gave me was hope and proved that the concept was possible.
What should our readers know about your business?
Our business is different than other companies in the cleaning industry. We focus on three things: Quality, Customer Service, and Honesty. We offer a 100% guarantee on our services because our clients deserve it. All of our teams are trained internally on best practices are background checked, insured, and bonded for peace of mind. We love hearing our customers rave about their cleanings. We’re motivated by doing the best job possible. Money has always been secondary on our list. Because of this we focus on what’s most important: customer satisfaction; and because of this we have been successful. We are not a perfect company; but we are honest and care about our customers. Most of our customers have been with us for years – as well as our teams which has allowed us to become stable over the years. We love our brand. It was created by me to provide a sense of quiet servitude; and sense of peace. This is what we strive to provide our customers. We listen to our customers feedback. I personally answer many emails and we strive to constantly improve our processes and offerings. I think its important to never settle; to always be innovating. I think when a company stops caring, stops innovating, they die. It has been 7 years (presently) since we have been in business; and everyday i love the process. I learn new things; new distinctions; I never think I know everything. I think this helps because those that think they know everything, stop growing; stop improving. I’m always looking at ways to improve our technology and make it easier for our customers to do business with us. We are not a perfect company but we are an honest company that cares about its customers. We know most all of our customers by their first names – and we appreciate all of them. Over the last 7 years it has been a constant struggle. I personally worked alongside my teams until last year when we grew large enough that i could step back and focus on the business side. I know the business well having cleaned thousands of homes during the process. Unlike other business owners that buy a business but have no true understanding of the inner dynamics. I know what our teams struggle with and this makes me empathetic and understanding of their needs. If you ask me if the business was easy? No. It took an enormous amount of hard work. On the surface, owning a cleaning business might seem simple. You clean a house; you get paid. It is far from that. Its not dealing with a few large things; its dealing with lots of little things all day long. It’s not easy and unless you are actually in it can be difficult to understand. Owning a cleaning business doesn’t end at 5pm. It is a full time job 7 days a week just to keep up with things. Before I had an office manager my day would begin at 7am; I would get home at 7-8:30 at night; then work on billing and scheduling for the next day until 10:30pm before i could even eat or take a shower. It was exhausting. I had some rest on Saturday evening and Sunday daytime. I was like a hamster on a wheel. I think the only reason I survived was I knew my customers were counting on me; my teams were counting on me; and if I stopped I would let everyone down. I’m a fighter by nature so I wasn’t going to let that happen. Now, I have an office manager and structure to the business which allows me more freedom. If I had to sum up the one thing that has been an underlying stream to our business – I would say, “Always do the right thing.” — I’m a firm believer that good things happen when you follow this one piece of advice.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I honestly think “The Heights” neighborhood in Houston is a great place. I love all the trees, animals, and old homes that provides a nice peaceful place to visit or call home. They also have lots of cool and trendy restaurants – i love trying different food so i visit here often when I’m out and about.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to say thanks to all our great teams, awesome customers, and office staff, whom without we wouldn’t be where we are today. Their hard work, dedication, and loyalty have paved the way for the success of the business. Especially, Claudia in our back office who keeps things running smoothly with our teams; and Heather in our front office who keeps our customers smiling. Dale Carnagie, “How to win friends and influence people” which formed the basis of all my relationships both personally and professionally. Everyone should have a copy on their bookshelf. And lastly, to my two great friends. Lavaille Lavette, a dynamic business woman who is a published author known for her groundbreaking “86400 – Manage Your Purpose to Make Every Second of Each Day Count” time management book. She has also worked with great names in the entertainment, sports, and music industries. Her recent book collaboration with billionaire and owner of Houston Rockets, Tillman Fertita “Shut up and listen” fame and more recently (2020) with Houston Texan’s Football Quarterback Deshaun Watson on his “Pass it On” book which is getting acclaimed praise. She is also the creator of the “Roopster Roux” children’s book series and animated series with Steve Harvey. She taught me the two principals: “Anything is possible. Literally.” and “Money is not necessary to be successful.” — I am eternally grateful for her kindness, wisdom, and friendship. Vuthy Kuon, a well known children’s book author featured in newspapers and television (FOX, NBC, CBS) networks. He has written, illustrated, and published “Humpty Dumpty After The Fall” which received acclaimed praise. Having immigrated to United States from Cambodia his family came to this country with nothing. He worked his way up graduating with honors from “Rhode Island School of Design” and went on to found “Providence Publishing” a company which has published numerous books in both the educational and children’s markets. His entertaining and dynamic personality have made him a much sought after public speaker. He resides in Dallas, Texas with his family where he continues to publish, speak, and enjoy an occasional round of disk golf. He has taught me two principles: “Make sure the numbers work.”.” and “Work on your marketing first.” — An incredible friend and confidant., I am continually thankful.