This blog post is more of a personal one than a "cleaning" post so if you read the Homeer blog for cleaning-related stuff you may want to choose another!
Today, I am going to talk about how a local cleaning company in Lubbock, Texas, Custom Maids, inspired my initial entry into the cleaning industry.
I've skimmed on the topic a few times before, but today I am going to go into detail and highlight some of the key ways that Homeer is different from many other local cleaning services.
Before doing that it's important we set the scene. Back in 2017, I launched Lubbock Maids, a cleaning company focused on servicing Lubbock, Texas, and the surrounding areas. We quickly outgrew our mission and became Homeer and you can read more about that information in our blog post: From Birth To Death: The Post-Mortem Story of Lubbock Maids. In that post, I covered the details following the months and years following the launch. But the mission of Homeer makes more sense when you know my first experience with the cleaning industry went.
I moved to Lubbock in 2017 for a degree in Computer Science at Texas Tech University. During that time I had learned that the cleaning industry was running behind modern times, but I didn't know the extent of it.
After my first year, I moved into a home close to the Texas Tech campus. I knew I needed to schedule a move-in cleaning service so I started the search.
So I popped on over to Google and search for a highly-rated cleaning company. Of course, I was greeted by a few faces you may know like Merry Maids, Molly Maids, but that's not who caught my attention.
A local company named Custom Maids popped up on my radar.
What I found was interesting is that Custom Maids appeared to be a company that represented the values I was hoping to find, but that made it very difficult to learn more. I don't mean that in the way that the information was hidden, there just wasn't much of it.
At the time of writing this post (12/7/2020), there are only seven pages total on their website and that makes it very difficult to know who would be coming to clean my home. When you exclude the pages that are used for discounts and employees and owners you're left with two pages to grab all of the information you need.
You can see the gravity of this if we graph the segments of the pages Custom Maids currently has on their website.
At Homeer we operate with the belief that every page on our website should offer you some kind of value. Our website is not here to sell you, it is there to make your journey within the cleaning industry wonderful.
You can see that by taking a look at the current breakdown of our website.
Currently, we have 55 pages that answer questions about Homeer and aspects of the cleaning industry. But, we are writing content constantly so that we can be considered the primary source of your home cleaning questions.
The difference: Contrary to Custom Maids, we have many ways you get to know our team better. Our homepage contains all the information needed to allow anyone familiar with cleaning services to find the answers they need. In the case that more information is needed you can always find recent announcements, tips, and more on our blog.
More so, you can find information about each of our locations on our location page. Plus, you can get to know every single team member and more detailed information about the location on its respective page like our Midland, Texas location page.
Custom Maids has been in business for a very long time, since 1983. It's going to be difficult to find a cleaning company that's been around much longer, but does that mean they are the best?
The difference: Homeer had our first cleaning in July of 2020 so Custom Maids has us beat on the time in the industry. But doesn't them being the oldest also mean they've had the most time to get more information posted to assist their clients?
Another key factor I was looking for was a cleaning company that offered online booking. Not for the sake of using technology, but because I felt more confident that a company with modernized systems would have better procedures for ensuring consistent quality.
Unfortunately, the most I could find was a form to request a quote with no assurance of any fast-paced timeline. Then I clicked the button and realized it wasn't even a form...
I had to send an email to get in contact with the cleaning company I wanted to schedule a cleaning with. Not exactly the situation I was hoping for.
The difference: At Homeer we offer instant online booking with our online home cleaning form so that no client has to jump through hurdles to book. It's 2020 now, but even in 2017 when I was doing my initial research I was shocked by the results.
Once I realized how difficult it was going to be to schedule a cleaning service with Custom Maids I decide they weren't the fit for me. While they very well could deliver a stunning cleaning, I couldn't feel confident in that based on the information found on their website.
But, being in school for Computer Science gave me the feeling that something nefarious was going on. Not with the service directly, but by the fact I got Custom Maids as my #1 result when so little information is available.
When we check who is linking back to Custom Maids website we find quite shocking results...
Let me give you a few details so that you can better understand what's going on here. When you search on Google, they consider all the information on a website to give you the most relevant result.
But a lot of pages have great content so to find the best result Google looks to see how many other websites link back to this one. In this case, Google searches the website for Custom Maids and sees a lot of links so it assumes it is better. Thus, showing their website higher in the results without them having to pay for ads or put in real effort.
A key caveat being a website owner doesn't maintain any control of who links to them or from where. So, receiving a couple of links from shady sources can happen and generally, there is not much anyone can do about it... It's just part of owning a domain and having content on your website.
So, to determine if they are trying to pull a fast one on us let us take a more analytical approach.
The tool I am using separates "follow" and "no-follow" links to help make this type of research easier.
A follow link is a link that Google gives the website "credit" for receiving. For example, if we are giving credit or celebrating someone then we would use a "follow" link.
However, a no-follow link is one that Google does not give "credit" for. This is generally being used for advertisements and partnerships that had some form of monetary transaction.
So right away when we filter to only follow links of Custom Maids website we get 94 of 565. Right off the bat, we can determine that they've paid for approximately four-fifths of their total links.
Moving forward though, if we look at the list of the "follow" links the situation becomes even more concerning.
If we filter down all of the links that Custom Maids should have that would lower the "follow" count down to 13 from 94. So in total, 13 of 565 are links that Google should be "crediting" Custom Maids for receiving.
Why would Custom Maids do this?
Well, it's pretty simple. A business generally buys links to its website when their business is not performing to their expectations. Instead of putting in moral and ethical work, some resort to paying for "underground" methods to game the system.
And that is exactly what you are seeing here.
Generally, it's not to such an extreme extent so that more genuine and trustworthy companies prevail as they continue to share value. But, in this scenario, Custom Maids has managed to hold the #1 place on Google for specific searches.
Then, when my next piece of research I was convinced the city of Lubbock, Texas deserved better. I started visiting these links and what I was met by was anything but surprising. For the most part, the pages these links come from are filled with other links to other random websites.
Just look at this page...
It was a bummer to realize that the cleaning company I thought I wanted, isn't what they appeared.
With everything put together we get quite a result, you wouldn't expect if you just look at surface level.
Although they may not have followed the most moral or ethical practices. They did get results and in turn, they had me on their website along with many other community members in Lubbock, Texas, and Amarillo, Texas.
Now, I will be the first to admit how difficult it is to get links to your website that are genuine. So while Homeer will never buy links to our website, it can be difficult to find a local company that hasn't. There are many "advertising agencies" that claim to do honest work while doing nefarious tasks in the name of the business paying them.
So, I continued my search and eventually found an individual cleaner I knew I could trust (She has since left the cleaning industry), but the experience still wasn't what I was hoping for.
Being surrounded by business-owning family members as I grew up I knew I would eventually take that path. But I hadn't planned on a cleaning business becoming the most motivational phase of my life.
With my home finally clean, I moved the few belongings I had into my home.
A mattress, a small one-foot by three-foot desk, and a chair. Instead of going to buy the rest of my furniture, I spent the rest of the day and night building the first version of Lubbock Maids.
I didn't have much experience with programming, business, or cleaning but I knew there was a serious need for an honest cleaning company in Lubbock, Texas.
I worked until 5 a.m. and woke up just a few hours later. Pumped up to finish my website, I created the social media pages and completed my online booking form. Then, just added some basic information about myself as I was going to be the one doing the initial cleanings. I mean, I did need to learn how to clean before I could manage a cleaning company, right?
So, with the inspiration of Custom Maids in mind, I built a website in stark contrast to theirs. In the areas that they went short, I went long. In the areas that they chose not to include pictures, I did. In the areas they chose not to be flexible, I chose to contort and bend to any dimension.
I had been inspired and shown an industry that was ripe for a modernized introduction. I spent all day working and called it an early night after having one of the longest programming stints of my life.
The online booking form was completed and the website went live!
Then, when I woke up there was a booking on the schedule for the same day.
I couldn't believe it. Seriously. I could not be more blown away that someone scheduled a booking within hours of the website truly being ready to schedule. Right away, I need I wasn't the only one experiencing these issues with the cleaning industry. Plus, I knew members of my local community were willing to give me a chance in the name of a potentially better option.
Throughout the next few weeks, I was receiving constant referrals as I completed cleanings. And as I finished each cleaning I was asking every client for feedback on ideas I had plus things they think would be cool to receive from their cleaning service.
This feedback included things like:
Ways to make sure the quality stayed high and that if it went down it would be easy to track and fix.
A way to always remind them their cleaning is coming up and when a deep cleaning could be used.
Remove the requirement of needing to meet or coordinate schedules between the cleaners and client.
I did over two-hundred cleanings before I felt I had compiled the full list of feasibly-implementable feedback. Prepared with many of the possible scenarios soon to come up it was time to hire my first employee and start spreading the mission further beyond myself.
Upon hiring my first employee we quickly grew to several team members. I didn't have much experience, but the little I did have told me it was time to get an office. With a super small budget, I went searching and the first place I found was the place I had imagined. It was quaint, had a few other local businesses in it, and had very easy access for my team members to refill their supplies without causing too much traffic. I asked for a walkthrough of everything and it was then that I turned the corner and saw the office of Custom Maids.
Immediately I told the landlord I would take the office and spent the next months building the office with my team and making countless mistakes. It wasn't a smooth process, but that was never on my list of expectations or hopes.
Since the first day of working on the website for Lubbock Maids, it has been my mission to be more transparent than Custom Maids. Not for the simple purpose to tout my ego, but because Custom Maids was once the cornerstone of home cleaning in Lubbock, Texas.
Now that I had the goal of creating the best customizable maid service in the area it was time to get to the action. So the time of implementing all the feedback I had accrued began.
Swiftly I had implemented:
Automated upcoming cleaning reminders.
Automated follow-up messages to check on the quality of the clean.
24-hour satisfaction guarantee so that no one has to worry about the cleaning is perfect.
Flat-rate prices so that no client ever worries about sudden price changes.
No fees so that my clients don't have to worry about canceling or rescheduling and paying a crazy fee.
Online booking management so that our clients can log in and update their booking whenever and however they prefer.
Consistent team members so that all clients know their team members.
The list went on and on and I continued to check the boxes as we implemented each improvement.
Then about six months into the existence of Lubbock Maids a trusted close advisor said they had heard from Custom Maids they were considering selling their company. Now, I never followed up on this nor did I ever confirm this statement. But, it lit a fire under me that I needed...
It wasn't an overnight process, but with just two years of experience in the cleaning industry, we were hitting milestones within our business week after week.
In the time that we were evolving a few other local cleaning companies did as well. That's not a bad thing though! That's a sign of true validation. Most of the time, having real competition is better than having no one to consider your competitor! Without a competitor, it's easy to become stagnant.
The difference: At Homeer we lead weekly meetings with our team to make sure we are constantly evolving to become a better version of ourselves. This means constantly improving our cleaning routines, our client-used website, and our employee-used app. While Homeer isn't a massive operation, we structure our team responsibilities that allow for fluid growth when those times come.
As Lubbock Maids evolved it eventually became Homeer in 2020 and we hit the ground running. We launched this new website, migrated and grandfathered all Lubbock Maids clients, and made a solid effort to improve every single aspect as it was re-implemented.
We opened a new location in Midland, Texas and I was reminded that my "dream" competitor had two locations as well. It was at this time it hit me. After 3 years of working on refining my cleaning company, I caught up to a cleaning company that had invested 37 years of their life.
Now that my goal to surpass Custom Maids is within arms reach we buckled down and started pushing forward even harder.
When we get close to hitting a goal it's easy to let it come naturally. But, at Homeer we take a different approach. We don't just help it across the finish line, we force it over the finish line.
To do this, we are putting a targeted effort into the following things:
No longer regularly posting on our Facebook page as our organic reach of the page has been limited and we are not interested in posting memes.
Now posting regular long-form content answering the questions that we encounter while spending time in the cleaning industry.
Updating our quality assurance procedure yet again to include more detailed steps.
Make sure to stay tuned for all the things that are coming in the coming months!
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👀 Views: 186
📝 Written By: Chance Herriage
🗣 Published: 12/07/2020
⏰ Updated: 07/31/2021
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