I have been hoping to write this post for about as long as I’ve had this blog. We have BIG news!! This weekend, on Saturday, March 29th, we sold our residential cleaning business that we’ve owned for 15 years!
It’s been a long time coming and I’m about as giddy as a girl on prom night! I wanted to let you all know long before this, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t.
Settle in and indulge me for a few minutes and allow me to give you a bit of history…
Way back in 1999 I was working at Nordstrom in the Personal Shopping Department. I went to work in the fancy smancy store, wearing fancy smancy clothes and worked with fancy smancy customers…but one day I got it in my head that I wanted to own my own business.
I wasn’t exactly sure what type of business I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want to invest a lot but I wanted to make a lot. Oh, and I didn’t want to work 7 days a week.
Right off the bat, a lot of businesses were knocked out of the park. I looked at tutoring services, frame shops, sign shops, and too many others to remember. Most of them required long hours and not the income potential I wanted.
I was working with a broker at the time and he introduced me to the world of residential cleaning franchises and even though it wasn’t something I had given much thought to (I mean seriously…who grows up saying ‘I want to own a cleaning business when I grow up?) I knew this was the direction I wanted to go. I looked at several franchises before settling on the one I ultimately went with. At the time, they were a relatively small company (I was #25) but big enough for me to feel like they knew what they were doing, and I was right.
So off I went to training, found an office space and hired my first cleaner. That’s when the *fun* began.
Monday’s are notoriously the worst day in this business, and every Monday my stomach was tied up in knots. I’m talkin’ multiple visits to the bathroom tied up in knots. TMI. But, true to my Capricorn nature, I persevered, and eventually things got better. They REALLY got better when one year after I opened my doors, Fisherman retired after 30 years with the same company and joined me. For a couple of years, we divided up the workload. Monday’s and Wednesday’s were my days, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s were his, and Friday’s we both went into the office.
Before I go any further, let me explain one thing. It was always my intention to have the business for 5-7 years. When I started it, our daughter was 13 and I thought by the time she went off to college the business would be profitable enough for it to pay for her tuition but once she was finished I would sell it. Well, time has a way of getting away from us, doesn’t it? Before running this business, I never worked at one place more than 3 years, tops. That’s just how I roll.
So…after a couple of years working the above schedule, I had a meltdown. I wanted out.
Fisherman, in his infinite wisdom, agreed to be the one to go into the office EVERY DAY and I began working primarily from home. Happy wife, happy life, as they say. This was actually a much better solution because all our employees are hispanic and the extent of my spanish is pretty much limited to ‘Ole’ and ‘Que Bueno’, but Fisherman is fluent in it. Choosing to run a cleaning business was truly one of those ‘what was I thinking’ moments, but as a wise friend once told me, if we knew what we’re getting into we wouldn’t do most of the things we do in life. Truer words were never spoken.
About three years ago we put our home of 26 years on the market. Once we finally sold our home after more than a year and a half, we were ready to sell the business. More than ready.
We moved into our current rental in the meantime in December, 2012. We knew when we moved there that we would HAVE to be out no later than March 31st, 2014 (TODAY!) because the landlord and his fiancé would be moving in just prior to their wedding this May and they wanted some time to do some things to the home such as adding hardwood flooring before that. When January of this year rolled around and we didn’t have an offer for the business, we started to get discouraged. We knew if we didn’t sell soon we would have to find another place to live and go thru the hassle of moving, not to mention by this time Fisherman was SO over dealing with the day to day stuff at the office also.
You might be wondering why we didn’t hire a manager? We actually did a few years ago and for a few months he was great. He always told us how much he loved the position and how he was learning so much until one Monday morning at 7:30 he texted Fisherman and said he was quitting. Out of no where! Yeah. He had issues. We were devastated because it takes a huge amount of time and effort to train someone, so we just decided at that point to do the work ourselves.
On Saturday, January 18th while having dinner Fisherman and I talked about our options. We knew time was running out so we decided to give hiring a manager another try, perhaps offer a percentage of the business so they would be more motivated, and spend more time at the cabin but still be involved but on a more limited basis. Two days later, that Monday, January 20th I got a call from the Corporate office saying they knew someone who might be interested in our business. While I was on the phone with them, my cell phone rang and it was the person they were speaking of. She wasted no time in contacting me after receiving my info, and within 10 minutes I knew she was the one.
Can you believe the timing??
For the last two weeks she’s been in training, and this Saturday we closed. Oh, and our landlord agreed to extend our lease two more weeks so we will be able to move without feeling stressed about it. We’re also going to have a moving sale in a couple of weeks. We have a house full of furniture and all of it has to go.
So here we are, at the beginning of a new life chapter with infinite possibilities before us.
We will be spending the next several months at the cabin, then we may do some traveling…whether that’s in an RV or the traditional way we’re not sure. If we didn’t think so before, this past winter has most definitely shown us we don’t want to spend winters in the Northeast if we can help it, so we’ll be looking for places we like and possibly buy another home (or rent).
What are the odds that right up to the 11th hour that we would find someone to buy the business?! I can’t believe how lucky we got, but I have to say we TOTALLY deserved it, especially Fisherman who deserves to slow down a little and live up to his name a bit.
But just a bit. Y’all know I’ve got a huge ‘honey do’ list waiting for him at the cabin ;).