Youngest cleaning business owner launched his company at age 15 and hit his first million dollar revenue year at age 21.
CBT: Tell us about when and why you started Real World Services Company.
KW: I started Real World Services Company Inc. when I was 15 years old. I started out delivering newspapers for our local newspaper when I was in the 6th grade, and a couple of my clients asked me if I would be interested in mowing their lawns for extra money. That’s how it all started, in a completely different market. As I started gaining more lawn care customers, the idea of turning this into a business popped into my head. When my sister wanted to join the business but didn’t want to do lawn care, we decided to launch our cleaning service division. That’s when things really took off, and we haven’t stopped since. In fact, we closed out our lawn care division in January 2013, and now we are a full service Residential & Commercial cleaning service company.
CBT: How large is your company now and how big would you like it to be?
KW: I have a staff of about 15 and service four surrounding counties of Columbus, OH. We are in the process of opening a second office, which will allow us to serve one of Ohio’s biggest markets.
CBT: Of all of the industries you could have chosen, why cleaning?
KW: That’s a really good question. During high school when I was starting this company, I was also a Deputy Clerk for our Municipal Court in Logan for four years, and I always thought I would like to be an attorney. While that idea still is not off the table, I just really like the cleaning industry. It can certainly be challenging at times, but the reward of being able to provide people in my community with jobs and being able to provide quality service to our clients is great. Also, everyone that I’ve ever talked to that’s in the cleaning industry is so supportive and willing to share their ideas to help you succeed as well.
CBT: As a family-owned company, who else in your family works for you and how do you manage the challenges of having family members and friends as employees?
KW: Out of my family, I have my sister and two aunts working for the company, and both of my parents are becoming more involved in my business; I’m especially happy about my parents’ involvement because they own and operate their own business, so they can help give me advice when I need it.
I’ve actually enjoyed working with my family members, and a few of my friends that work for me as well. We all get along great. Now don’t get me wrong; we don’t always agree on everything, but at the end of the day we all want Real World Services Company to be as successful as possible.
CBT: You’re possibly the youngest cleaning business owner we know, having launched your company at age 15. What do think are some of the advantages of being such a young owner and leader?
KW: One advantage is having more freedom from the worry of supporting a family or from having some of the bills and debt many have when they first start their businesses later in life. When I started this business, all I was worried about was graduating high school and college. Being so young has also earned me some great publicity locally.
CBT: In addition to residential, commercial, and specialty cleaning services, what are some of the other services you offer and how does having co-lateral services benefit your business strategy and growth?
KW: We also offer carpet cleaning services as well as property management services. Where I’m located, the cabin industry is huge here; we actually receive more visitors than the Grand Canyon each year. So we are really focusing on gaining more cabin owners and taking care of all their needs to make their lives easier.
How I think co-lateral services helps benefits our business strategy and growth is simple; we want to be able to be a one-stop shop for our clients when it comes to their cleaning needs.
CBT: You’re close to finishing your college degree, but in addition to traditional education, what professional and business development resources do you seek out and find valuable in refining and growing your business?
KW: One of the best business development resources I could’ve invested in was Cleaning Business Builders Foundations of Success program. The amount of knowledge I have taken away from this 6-month course is unreal and has really helped transform my business and take some of the headaches I was struggling with away.
I also just joined ARCSI this year; after all, I am practically in their backyard. I’m really looking forward to attending my first convention this year.
CBT: You’ve been in business for five years now. What are your goals for the 10-year mark and beyond?
KW: By the 10 year mark, I’m hoping to have three offices opened, with our second office opening this year. From there, I would like to open an additional office every 1-2 years. I also can’t wait to be less hands-on in the day-to-day operations!