Pop Quiz, Monday with Greg Shepard

Greg Shepard

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?
Greg Shepard

Greg Shepard
Photo credit: Greg Shepard

What is your job role?
Founder & CEO of Emily’s Maids

Tell us about your company?
Emily’s Maids mission is to provide above average cleaning with below average pricing. The story on why this was our mission started in 2011 when I founded Emily’s Maid after trying to help a fellow maid service owner.

In 2011 Maid 2 Order was a relatively new home cleaning service struggling to get customers. They were less expensive than my maid service. They needed more cash flow; thus they needed more customers. I thought why not forward our cost-conscious cleaning leads to his service. Unfortunately, they did not survive due to lack of cash flow. I later discovered it was not so much lack of customers. They merely were not charging what they were worth. Anyway, I thought why not start a lower cost maid service for more cost-conscious clientele we encounter. I knew profitability challenges awaited. However, I felt it could be done. I started with the mission of cutting costs wherever I could. And I successfully found ways other maid services were not doing!

First, Emily’s Maids would not have all the bells and whistles that more premium services offered. We would be a lean, mean, cleaning machine! One major cost saver was leveraging third world labor for such tasks as customer service, running operations, web design, or any task that could be done remotely. However, we found that to provide sufficient value to our customers we could not cut as many costs as I wanted. For example, Emily’s Maids forwent insurance at the beginning with the idea that if something went wrong the customer’s homeowners insurance would still protect them. Even though, and fortunately, no major accidents had occurred, I decided to have insurance. We are now insured for $1,000,000.00. Overall, we’ve done a great job controlling costs to leverage better pricing.

Second, we nearly eliminated marketing costs by 1) referring the cost-conscious customers from my premium maid service to Emily’s Maids for free, 2) having semi-respectable search engine optimization (SEO) skills, and 3) relying more and more on word of mouth. First, when a caller says you are too expensive, my staff recommends Emily’s Maids. It is nice to be still able to take care of all housecleaning seeking clientele. Second, being able to appear on the first page of Google’s search engine for free is a tremendous boost for business. Finally, as we grow more, we are continually receiving more word or mouth. A heartfelt thank you for our awesome customers that are bragging about us! We appreciate you so much!! Utilizing free marketing, dollars otherwise spent on marketing can be reinvested in the business to provide more value. With Emily’s Maids, the cost savings are passed on to our customers.

Third, Emily’s Maids modus operandi is based on a proven system refined for years before. Adapting much of how we do business at my first maid service allowed Emily’s Maids to run smoothly forgoing costly newbie mistakes that plague new ventures. From day one we were producing incredible results from talented cleaning staff that our customers were singing our praise. If we have the privilege to serve you, we ask for your praise and feedback. You will receive an email after each cleaning giving you the opportunity to rank our maids. Please do because your feedback determines the raises of our cleaners. You have a say in how we do business!

Having been in the industry for over 14 years since this writing, I’ve seen house cleaning services come and go. The #1 reason for failure is not pricing sufficiently enough to maintain operations. Emily’s Maids balances lower cost with maintaining operations and providing an excellent home cleaning service. If you find lower pricing it will probably be from a cleaning service that has a) not been in business for long or b) are evading taxes by illegally hiring contract labor instead of employees. At Emily’s Maids, I am committed to doing things the right way for our customers. So if you want a great house cleaning professional at a reasonable price, give us a call. We’d love to clean your home!

What do you love most about your job?
Creating a service that adds to peoples’ happiness!

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
The benefit of owning a business is you can focus on what you love to do. If you love it, it’s not work. If a task seems like work to me, I hire someone more talented to do it.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
Their dedication to taking care of our customers and our reputation as a business is inspirational! I am lucky to have the right people at Emily’s Maids.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Each year we hold a large, family event. Usually taking everyone to an amusement or water park. We also have Christmas parties, Halloween parties, and anything my office staff comes up with. We occasionally have wine Fridays for the crews. Once the day is done, they come back to the office and hang out, joke around while having wine or beer.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Finding the right people. We go above and beyond during the hiring process to find the right people. Our business relies on our people and our people on the company. The effort we make during our hiring process pays dividends.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
Firing a bad customer is OK. Firing difficult clients allows businesses to provide better services. Therefore as a business owner, you owe it to your good customers to fire the bad ones.

How do I determine who to let go? The 98/2 rule: 2% of customers are responsible for 98% of the problems.

Letting the 2% go allows your employees to reallocate their time to serve the other 98% better; your good customers.

Letting go the bad 2% improves employee moral 98%. Happy employees lead to consistent, quality services while preventing costly turnover.

Letting the 2% go just makes your life so much better.

When a customer is continually taking up my staff’s time (and patience) with unnecessary hassles and complaints, then it’s time to find the best way to fire them.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
Don’t give up. The first two years of starting a home cleaning business are the hardest as you build a solid customer base. From my experience, the maid services that survive the two-year mark tend to succeed. So my advice is to make sure you have the fund to survive the first two years.

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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