How a Bootstrapped Window-Washing Gig Grew into a Successful Multi-Service Exterior Cleaning Business
Back in 2013, and with only $180 worth of hand tools, Pete Happy decided one day that he would create his destiny - even better, to be his own boss. His seasonal gigs at Mt. Hood ski resort meant that he'd need to figure out quickly what to do with his summers, so with big ambition and some ingenuity, his window-washing business, ProShine, was born.
Nearly five years into bootstrapping the Pacific Northwest-based cleaning business with hard-earned cash, Pete was able to add an additional service vehicle and expand his services menu from purely windows to everything related to exterior cleaning - from roof cleaning, gutters, and solar panels to decks, driveways, and patios.
The growth was exciting, and shifting into becoming a more grown-up business was more than a welcome event. Yet it started to become clear that the expansion would add some complexities to operations that couldn't be handled with the few existing tools they currently had.
With Growth Comes the Growing Pains
Until 2017-2018, it was one truck with Pete doing everything. He was using Google calendar to schedule things, and QuickBooks was his only software to manage estimates, invoicing, and payments.
Using the Google calendar for scheduling jobs worked fine when it was only him. However, as Pete started adding more vehicles and services, things quickly fell into disorder and disarray, with random notes piling up everywhere and a calendar that couldn't handle multiple jobs and sites. He knew he needed some type of extra support for handling that, or else things would quickly go downhill. That's when ProShine made the switch to ServiceMonster.
"Notes were all over the place, you're using Google calendar for scheduling things…it was really just kind of a mess. It worked ok for just 1 truck but when we started adding additional vehicles it was going to fall apart."
ServiceMonster handled the more complex scheduling requirements that ProShine needed for its multiple worksites. In fact, ServiceMonster is a scheduling platform first! But beyond just scheduling, there were many other things that ServiceMonster helped with while Pete was navigating through his business expansion.
All Your Customers' Info - At a Glance
"Being able to attach photos and review that history was another key piece…"
Pete was excited to be able to communicate info easily with his techs and have them see all their customers' info at a glance. They were no longer scrambling around and trying to make sense of random notes! They could also easily pull up info on their mobile devices.
While inside customers' accounts, ServiceMonster's newsfeed gives them a full view of everything that's happened between you and the customer - including all communication history and work done. Employees could attach photos to the work order, review the scope of work with the homeowner, and see all of ProShine's previous jobs - all from out in the field and under one umbrella.
Marketing Made Easy
"No one answers the phone. It's the least effective way of getting anything on the schedule."
Before ServiceMonster, Pete's marketing system involved:
- Importing his invoices to a spreadsheet.
- Going through each invoice line by line.
- Physically picking up the phone to make calls.
The phone calls were a personal way to reconnect, but he found it to be the least effective way of getting anything on the schedule. No one ever picked up the phone! In Pete's words, it was 'extremely labor intensive and really depressing.'
ServiceMonster helped automate ProShine's marketing with straightforward drip campaigns that follow up with customers every time after the work is done - all done at a combination of different touchpoints and channels.
Pete was looking for a more efficient way to market to his existing clients, and he understood that when he ran an email marketing campaign, only about half of the recipients opened their emails. Enter FillMySchedule (also known as FMS). With FillMySchedule, ServiceMonster's in-house automated direct mail marketing service, ProShine could automatically send out cards so those not checking their emails would get something in the mail.
And because it's automated, it's easy and consistent. And we all know that consistency is king when it comes to marketing!
Know your reports. Know your business
"If there's one thing you can't screw up, it's someone's pay."
Pete's life got easier once ServiceMonster could help with providing automated marketing campaigns and support for his operations, all under one umbrella. But in addition to cutting down on time spent on tasks, ServiceMonster software provided another valuable and critical source for his business: Reports.
Before using ServiceMonster, Pete had no idea what his residential or commercial repeat rates were. Today, Pete can happily say what his repeat rates are (72% and 77%, respectively)! Repeat rate was a metric they didn't even know about until ServiceMonster entered the picture. If you know where your business stands, you know where you need to make adjustments.
Another ServiceMonster reporting game-changer for ProShine was being able to track employee performance pay. When it's time to run ProShine's payroll, Pete can easily pull a report to see how much each technician receives for their production bonus based on their production rate. It's an effortless way to track employee commissions while keeping things accurate. And if there's one thing you want to be accurate, it's someone's pay!
QuickBooks as a CRM? Eventually you’re going to need the real thing.
QuickBooks obviously isn’t a CRM, but it’s not uncommon for small businesses to use it as their first CRM. Pete was no different. QuickBooks was his main tool for managing customer relationships from very early on because of its capacity to let him easily write estimates, convert those invoices and get payments. It worked great for a time but as the company grew, Pete recognized very quickly that things might start falling apart if he didn’t make some changes. Couple that with the fact that Pete was moving off the trucks and into sales - he wasn’t too keen on the idea of employees having unfettered access to his sensitive accounting data either.
Pete needed a buffer between his employees and the business accounting, and introducing ServiceMonster as his CRM helped establish that. Now he was able to give his team the tools they needed to be able to go do their job, but not put them in a place where there was the possibility of accidentally altering any crucial accounting statements.
Everything Under One Umbrella
When it came down to making the move, ServiceMonster’s QuickBooks integration made the switch simple and easy! All it took was an invoice history import and everything was there at Pete’s fingertips. Now, he could get the support he needed for multiple worksites, and get a robust snapshot of each customer's history with a newsfeed while being able to process payments online all under one umbrella.
And QuickBooks wasn’t the only application that he added to the mix. A few of the applications Pete already had in place that could be used within ServiceMonster were:
- ResponsiBid - to streamline the sales process. It provides instant quotes online and in the field and follows up with leads to help them though the process.
- The Seal - to find trustworthy employees and contractors with certified background checks. The Seal provides high-quality identification badges for employees to wear, along with sending an email to the client to let them know the employee entering their home has been checked and is trustworthy.
ServiceMonster has many other integrations to help boost your company’s performance, too. To learn more about them and to find out if we have an integration for any of your existing business applications, visit our Integration MarketPlace.
Make Life Easier for your Employees
When Pete was getting off the truck and adding more employees to expand his business, he needed to make sure his dispatchers and techs also had a seamless experience with the new software. Luckily, ServiceMonster was very user-friendly and one of the easiest things for his employees to learn when it came to training. Here are a few things techs have to make life easier:
- Get text reminders before the job along with Google Maps navigation
- Attach photos to a work order and see any work done before even going off to the job site
- Get a newsfeed of work and communication history
- Be able to review scope of work with the homeowner
- See every task that needs to be completed with an end of job checklist
Having ServiceMonster as a software keeps ProShine employees from waiting on answers and lets them better focus on their jobs. It's a great tool to help set them up for success from day one.
How ProShine Went From Surviving to Thriving
Ultimately, I don’t really believe we sell window washing. I don’t really believe that we sell pressure washing. We sell an experience.
COVID-19 changed the trajectory of many service businesses. One of Pete’s biggest struggles during that time was with staffing. With new work-from-home measures, ProShine saw a high increase in requests for their services to accommodate more outdoor activities. The flip side to the rise in business, however, was that there were not enough employees to get the work done. How did ProShine combat this? They raised prices to try to lower the amount of people that would be accepting their bids and to cover additional expenses.
Though necessary, raising prices can be a daunting task for small businesses because it might mean a decrease in sales. But in Pete’s case, the loss in sales turned out to work in his favor. It reduced the demand during the pandemic to a level his workforce could now accommodate.
But there was another missing piece to this equation. Pete knew that potential clients could easily hire any other provider to get the same job done for less money. So what made his clients choose to pay a bit more for his services?
Pete and his leadership team had done a SWOT analysis and found that hiring was one of their weaknesses. They were struggling internally and during covid, especially, there were literally zero job applicants. So they made a push to attract and hire top talent, and it ended up paying off in spades. Clients love his team, and because of that they return again and again. Pete understood that hiring a good team would be better for the bottom line, and what came from it was an impressive 74% residential repeat rate. Client retention and repeat business played a large part in the overall growth of his business.
A Responsive Support Team
ServiceMonster is #1 reason why we can fulfill that value of being responsive
Alongside other key factors such as making company-wide changes to benefits and to attract top talent, ProShine devised an acronym that better reflected their mission and values, ROOTS. The acronym stands for:
And Pete attributes one of those key values - responsiveness - to the support he gets from the ServiceMonster team. He or any one of his techs and call on the phone and talk to someone from the team every time. They can give immediate answers or if not be relentless in figuring it out. Pete knows that, as the owner, if his dispatcher has an issue they can pick up the phone or shoot an email and there will always be a friendly, knowledgeable person on the other side ready to help.
Thanks so much for the kind words, Pete. We appreciate you too!