Time is one of our most valuable commodities – and there is never enough of it!
When you do happen to have a spare hour in between work and taking care of loved ones (or even more work, depending on what you’re up to), chances are you’re not going to want to use it washing your floors. When so many people are overworked, housecleaning tends to sit on the back burner.
Patty Searl gets it – as the founder of Ottawa-based cleaning company Clean POV, her mission in life is to help her clients focus on the important things in their lives while her team takes out the trash.
I asked Patty to tell me her entrepreneurial story – what brought her to the cleaning business, what she wants to offer her clients, and what hardships she’s overcome to get to where she is today. Check out our interview below!
Tell us about your business in as much detail as you can. What is it that you do and who are your customers?
We started Clean POV over three years ago out of a need to help others. When I had another company, so many people had indicated to me that they had no time to clean or they couldn’t have people over because their home was a mess.
Three years and thousands of cleanings worth of experience later, we are now a choice of many in the area. We work so hard in hiring the right people with the same passion of helping homeowners (and with a love of cleaning, obviously.)
We are so different from other cleaning companies because I bring to my own company 17 years of Health Canada experience regulating pharmaceutical and medical device companies, as well as quality management systems for laboratories (which also included clean room knowledge and expertise.) I also bring a safety and security component, with 10 years of volunteering in the Halton Regional and Ottawa Police Departments in home security and safety. I have also held board seats within various community associations as a Director of Safety. I was also in the neighbourhood watch program with the Ottawa Neighbourhood Watch Executive Committee, where we formulated and solidified programs and policies surrounding the program.
We bring to our company a reason for many to choose us – we understand the rush in the mornings, we understand the rush of school drop off and the crazy commute to work, and starting it all over again in the evening. We want to streamline this to-do activity and allow people to walk into a clean home so that they can focus on more important things with their time. With so many women working into the evenings and weekends on side projects these days, I want to help them remove this task from their to-do list and encourage them to work toward a life they want and are passionate about.
We are also proud to hire so many and provide them with the incredible opportunity of a flexible work-week schedule that works around their busy lives and provides a great income to contribute to the lives of their own families.
We believe in helping busy families sort out the chaos and help them trust the actions of delegating this work to us.
What made you choose this path? Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer? Did you go to school for it or are you learning as you go?
I chose this path because I no longer want to be bound by political ties and stuck in a cubicle. I want time freedom and to create a lifestyle which fuels my needs while also allowing me to care for my 17-month-old son at home. He is also a great site-traveller and all of our team knows him!
I also want to inspire others to find something they are passionate about and, instead of doing all that others say they must or what society suggests they do, seek out their own creativity and carve out their own niche based on their desires and dreams.
A vision board is critical and helps me keep things in perspective – a legacy I must pass on to my children. I also believe, with two children of my own and a step-daughter in my care, how can we tell them to find something they love when we are merely surviving and going day-to-day in something we no longer want to do or which has run its course in our own lives? A role model, I must be.
My background is in Sociology and Law and I graduated from Carleton University in 2000. I believed from a young age in making things happen – this is just an extension of that and as a result of my belief that persevering = success!
They say that to be successful you have to be passionate, so share what drives you every day. Why do you love what you do?
That’s very true – you have to be so focused and passionate that the daily ups and downs can’t stop you. Daily, I am excited to connect with my team and pump them up with morning encouragement to get started with the daily tasks. This also helps me align and focus on better ways to deliver on what we promise. A close connection with my home office also motivates and inspires me. I have so many rooting for us and surrounding me and encouraging me that it is so easy to do what I do. I also have an amazing coaching program community that constantly inspires and motivates me to be better and do better. One reminder: Success does not happen overnight, nor is it clear and smooth sailing.
Has it been smooth sailing or have you overcome adversity to get where you are?
Absolutely not, I have overcome many objections, complaints, and threats toward me and my business. I have dealt with so many mean and rude clients and reps who didn’t care. Reps who were given an amazing chance and the opportunity to work with a fair boss yet gave up to soon, threatened me and treated me horribly, and were money-driven. In some cases, I have been subjected to harassment and violence. But that never stopped me. My way is so much more – my passion to help those who can use it and who wish to use our services is my driving force.
I have also overcome so many who have worked with me and learned everything I could possibly share about what we do, who then went on to create their own company in competition against me. Did it hurt? Of course, it did. I run a business which is my why and I help others which is their why. When people go against me or reject me, it hurts me and it has also cost me a lot of friendships, too. Friendships with reps who I thought were in this for the long run.
But, as I have said, nothing has stopped me and nothing will. I love the journey we are on.
What do you do with your time off? Are you familiar with that concept?
As a workaholic, I am not familiar with this term. I have fun and work at the same time. My phone is always on and the business is always on as it is part of me. To grow a successful business, there is no 9-5 and unplug. I have found time-blocking to be my best friend. To constantly check in and monitor is my role and my team relies on me for that. I must line up work, I must ensure the flow of the company, and I must watch the heartbeat of it 24/7 regardless of my other activities.
We are active in all of our own activities and enjoyments but my phone must be with me at all times – this is an essential ingredient. However much my family sometimes would like it to be lost for a little while, they understand this is so much a part of me and that I have found my niche in running my own company as a boss.
This is the age of the social network. How important is social media to your business and how do you make it work?
Social media is huge in all that we do and the way we share with, communicate with, and involve all of those who make up our community. With various platforms available, utilizing them allows us to reach many more people than traditional marketing could. Thank god for Facebook!
We have various team members on various platforms and we share, like, communicate, engage, and build relationships. We have many friends!
Why did you choose a cloud-based accounting system for your business?
I love using Paypal and Freshbooks. The user-friendly aspect is important and I don’t have time to be all over the place with manual invoicing and collecting payments in a cash method. Plus, I believe in tracking and having reports on everything. The ease of sharing with our accounting department is amazing.
How did you find these solutions and why did you decide to try them out?
Referral from a friend.
What do they enable you to do as a small business owner?
Focus my time on more important things, such as sales and client acquisition or social media. Fueling the business with speedy cash flow is so important for the survival of small business. There is a lot that goes into the daily activities and must-do’s to run a business. Helpful tools that require less time to learn and maneuver around is very, very important for us.
How are you involved in your community?
I have always been so involved in the community with neighbourhood watches, community associations, and local politics. I’m involved with events, networking contributions, clothing drives, and food hampers. Annually, we host a back-to-school backpacking event and in the winter we host a hats-and-mitts drive. I feel all businesses as part of the community must be involved and give back as they can.
What does supporting local mean to you?
Supporting local means you help families provide the essentials and necessities to their families and you also help them live lives allowing them to be present in their family’s lives as much as possible. It also means hiring people in the community and providing opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Utilizing local services and products fuels a community and also makes the ties to it that much stronger. I love being involved in the community and I love going places where people know me and can depend on me for support as they, in turn, help support me as I do what I do.