Pop Quiz, Monday with Brian Winch

Brian Winch

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Brian Winch

Brian Winch
Photo credit: Brian Winch

What is your job role?
Author, Owner, Cleanlots.com

Tell us about your company?
I’ve been involved in all aspects of the parking lot litter cleaning business since 1981. I’m also the author of Cleanlots, an operation manual for how to start and operate a successful parking lot litter removal business.

What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy the freedom that comes from working outdoors, whenever I want for as long as I want, and having the rest of the day to do as I please. I also love the simplicity of my business. You don’t need any special skills or expensive equipment to be successful. All you need is the motivation to work for yourself. It’s an opportunity for people looking for an honest business and an ideal side hustle since the after-hours nature of the service won’t conflict with your day job.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
It was when I was working retail at a sporting goods store, completely uninspired and lacking motivation when I decided to make a change. My prospects were slim as all I had was a high school diploma and a small savings account. But what I did have was the motivation to change my life for the better and a willingness to work for myself.

I turned my $200 investment into a $650,000+ per year business. I never dreamed I could turn a trash business into such an enjoyable lifestyle, but I did.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
Much of my day is spent solo, but I’m inspired by other like Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, the authors of “The Millionaire Next Door.” In it, the book reveals that about two-thirds of America’s millionaires who still work are self-employed.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Believe it or not, I can find joy in the everyday business of garbage. In addition to typical litter (food wrappers, drink cups, cigarette butts), I sometimes find articles of clothing, cell phones, wallets, and even money! I return any valuables that can be identified, however, crumpled up bills are thrilling to encounter and go right in my pocket. Years ago, I found a crumpled $2 bill on the ground, and I was even more surprised to discover a $100 bill wrapped inside of it. Another time I noticed a grimy roll of bills next to the waste dumpster as I went to empty my collecting bag. After taking it home and drying it out (it looked like it had been there for quite some time), I counted up all the bills – $600! Someone’s careless loss turned into my profitable gain.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
I think this is true for many businesses, but early on we decided to expand our services outside of our core offering. In addition to litter removal, we began also to offer lawn maintenance and snow removal. It spread us too thin. We gradually phased out of those services without losing any litter removal contracts. It’s better to do one thing better than anyone else than to do many things average. What’s the saying – Jack of all trades, master of none?

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
In the early years, I had become too comfortable and dependent on one client for business. When I lost that large account after about five years of doing business together, I learned not to become too reliant or have too much business with too few clients.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
First, head out into your local community. Observe all the possible cleaning contracts you have in your surrounding neighborhood. Shopping plazas, office buildings, warehouse sites are all potential contracts. Most property managers don’t want to do the “dirty job” themselves. But if you do –they’ll pay you well (on average $30-$50 per hour). Month after month. Year after year.

Second, build a contact list for prospects. I have found that Commercial Real Estate Management companies are your best source for business. One good one could result in a dozen contracts.

Third, let me be your mentor. I developed a step-by-step operation manual on how to start and run a parking lot litter cleaning business. I’m also available by phone to talk you through any questions you may have at no extra cost.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:


Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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