CEO Interview - How Josh Melton from Athens Cleaning company grew to 76 cleaning techs

Josh teaches some of the basic strategies he used to expand his business; he encourages companies to maintain clear communication from start to finish, build a strong team, and measure and track results along the way.

 min. read
March 7, 2023

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Key Take Aways:

  1. Hiring introverts that looks for way to make extra money as a side job.
  2. Hire only for part timer.
  3. Relationship first model.

Interview Transcript:

Juan Chaparro (00:07):

Cool, man. It's great to see you. Uh, Josh, uh, it's been a couple of what, since March? Yeah, no, eight. Yeah. May last year though. No. May, it was may last. Inter connected. That's right. And, uh, I've seen you growing up a lot, making some impact in the industry and just wanted to really have a, you know, quick, I call it CEO interviews, uh, of important people that are doing some impact in the cleaning business and in general, the home service space. And, uh, I've been, you know, seeing what you're doing. I like what you're, your, your different angle towards hiring and managing employees. And that's what I said, Hey, let's bring 'em to these, you know, quick CEO interview. So, uh, let's get started with just, just tell me about you and in general, your business, uh, where you're located and kind of where you're heading this year.

Josh Melton (00:56):

Yeah, well thanks for inviting me on to talk to you about this stuff too, man. It's, appreciate the compliments, uh, you as well, or somebody that's moving and shaking in an industry. I think it's really cool what you're doing with Pipehire. I, and I think thank you. Obviously we use Pipehire. I, I think it's gonna be something beneficial for, for lots of companies to use to help 'em out with this stuff. As far as us, I'm Josh Melton. I'm in, I'm an owner of Athens Cleaning Company and Athens, Georgia. It is official, we have to say this, every time we say Athens, Georgia, we have to say Go Dogs right at the end of it. <laugh> a national champion two times now. Um, oh wow. Excuse me. Repeat national champions for football. But, uh, yeah, our company is a little bit different. I'll tell you a little bit of my story as I never wanted to be the cleaning business guy.


I did not want to be Josh to the janitor. And so I was always chasing the other stuff outside of the cleaning business, trying to make more of my, you know, as men especially, make more of my identity. Oh, hey, what do you do? Uh, outside of cleaning and about, let's see, four or five years ago now, I really felt like God was telling me like, just go all in on the cleaning business and like, don't try to use your gifts and abilities outside of it. Go all in on it and just watch what I'll do. And so at, at that point, I reluctantly did that. My wife and I like got more engaged personally in the business. We stopped doing a lot of the external things we were doing. We went all in. And we've been blessed by that. As far as our business, what makes us unique is we say there's three things.


Um, ultimately we are relationship first. So we're not just trying to go take out the trash and never talk to the client. We're relationship first, how you're gonna know us. And so if you need to say something to us about the quality of service or you just need something special, you're not calling an anonymous cleaning person. You actually have a name associated with it. So we're relationship first. We use part-time professional people. I'm obviously in the cleaning business, you know, for the most part people think of this as like a fast food type industry, unprofessional people. I said early on I wanna be the Chick-fil-A of commercial cleaning. So we're like, I wanna find professional people that, you know, they, they'll call people by name. They just naturally have that demeanor of Joe Carnegie, how to win friends and Influence people. They're just, they're pleasantly definitely.


And also they understand how, how to communicate in a professional environment. So we're looking for a part-time. They're not full-time cleaners. They're working after hours and on the other side of, of a professional job. So we hire a lot of bank tellers and office managers and things like that to work in our company. Cause we're like, Hey, you're already working in an environment like this. Yeah. Professional jobs, we're gonna clean professional offices. And then we say we're, uh, we have a focus on safety and security, which for us is our ability to show clients that we use software systems like Swept and Pipehire Hire, right. And Route some of the other softwares are out there. So that's what makes us different. But yeah, we're focused on cleaning professional offices and utilizing part-time professional people do so. And it's just, it's different than what most people expect from a cleaning company. And so it's given us a kind of a clear niche to grow our brand and grow our business. Yeah,

Juan Chaparro (03:45):

Definitely. I see a lot of people just pursuing full-time workers and that's what caught my intention from me is like, these guy's just taking a different route. Cuz finding part-time cleaners, you know, it's a lot easier and a lot people have their full-time jobs and this couldn't become just the extra gig. And I think that's how you sell it, right? That's how you propose is like, Hey, make some extra money and this is how you've been able to grow so much. Yeah. Now how do you start finding these people? What's your typical route or process to go and find them and, and, you know, how much are you spending typically per month trying to reach these people?

Josh Melton (04:19):

Yeah, great question. So I think one of the things, Juan, is kind of the predecessor to that question is mm-hmm. <affirmative> really knowing who it is that you're looking like, who looking for, excuse me. If you know that person personality type that you're looking for, then it's easier for you to post a job ad that attracts that type of person. So for me, right? I have a very clear kind of avatars of who we're looking for. And so we call 'em just getting started. Joanne, this is the, the person in their first full-time jobs who's not making the money they thought they were gonna make, they're, they're learning, right? Oh, taxes. I didn't know that was gonna come outta my check. So they're just getting started. Joanne, who's hungry to pay off student loans or you know, has got a, they've bought a new car, they wanna pay the car.


So we're talking to, just getting started, Joanne, we're also talking to uh, stay-at-home Megan, her homeschool mom, Megan, who's, you know, with her kids, professional quality person. She could easily have a professional job, but she's choosing to stay at home to raise her children and just wants to get a break away from 'em. So you catering to, to, you know, the homeschool mom, Megan, and also soon to retire, Stephanie, that's the three names we gave, uh, sooner Retire, Stephanie has been working for, you know, 20 years and is realizing like, Hey, I don't have as much money to retire on as I would like to have, so let me get a part-time gig. So that's what we're doing as far as in where are we finding our people. This is not gonna be a surprise probably, but overwhelming majority of our people are coming through Indeed as our number one job portal.


We also focus on, on generating, uh, team members, new team members through referrals. And that does happen. We offer referral bonuses and stuff like that, but most of our people are coming through Indeed as far as in what we're spending for hiring, we spend a little bit of money when it comes to those things. I mean, but honestly, not a lot. We're not, we're not targeting ads or anything like that. We have Indeed Jobs posted. We spend about $120 a month for their resume search. So we can go and invite people to apply. Oh wow. We spend money with our Pipehire subscription, you know, just to help us automate the a lot of the functionality and features of doing these things make it easier for us to do it. And then we spend money on like stuff like Calendly, when we're booking interviews with people, we don't have to be manually interviewing every single person. So all those things added up, we spend about $400 a month, $350 a month, somewhere around that ballpark is what we're spending. That's a good

Josh Melton (06:29):

Yeah. So we're not, you know, a lot of times I think people are thinking of posting job ads and sponsoring posts or whatever it is, and like, yeah, we haven't seen where that's benefited us as much. But not to say it wouldn't benefit others.

Juan Chaparro (06:39):

I think that makes it a lot easier is when you have a very clear avatar person that you're looking for. And, uh, I always tell people it's like, you know, the copy of your ad impacts very much who's you're gonna come to your ad and who you're attracting to. So I think a lot of people can just benefit out of this specific golden nuggets. Just make sure you're writing your ads specifically for the person that you're looking for. Yeah. Uh, cuz I see that, you know, looking through, you know, a lot of ads of, you know, customers and clients, I see very generic ads. Uh, and I think this angle that you have of, you know, specific people with specific situations, it really, the, the job really connects to them. And that's what I guess is making it easier for you to bring in these people and not spend a lot of money. Cuz most companies I've seen that are growing, they need to spend around $500 a month just on ads to grow. But I think a lot of that percentage is wasted because they're just very being two generalists on their ad.

Josh Melton (07:43):

A hundred percent. The best companies in the world know exactly who their, who their ideal customer is.

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Josh Melton (07:47):

Yeah. They, you know, they spend their money marketing toward that person learning about 'em. And once you've got a handful of those people on your team, honestly, you can just ask them questions about, you know, Hey, what ma what made you look for this job? And what kind of thing, what other, this is a great question. We used to ask, Hey, what other jobs were you looking at when you found this one? Just to find out, okay, well what their interests outside

Juan Chaparro (08:06):

Of this, what, what, how they find out what, what people tell you about that normally.

Josh Melton (08:10):

Well, yeah, so it just depends on their background, you know, but a lot of people are like, well, I've cleaned before, so I was looking for a cleaning job. But, you know, oftentimes for us, what we find is that this goes a little bit into our model. Our people are cleaning small offices by themselves. And so that's who we're targeted for. And we're also targeting specifically like introverts. And so a lot of those people are like, well, you know, I was considering doing Uber or I did it for a little bit and I just didn't like it cuz it was random person in my car. Or Hey, I, I did DoorDash, man, I just, it was stressful. And so we got that a lot. Right? But, you know, when it comes down to it, while there's lots of part-time job opportunities out there for us knowing our niche, there's not a lot of part-time jobs you can get where you're working independently without anybody else around.


Because even Uber and DoorDash like you still, you have to go interact with other people. So on our end, you know, that was, they were, we were focused on hiring introverts and so they didn't like those jobs, but the side gig type language that we use in our job ads that they were looking for side gigs, not full-time employment. So that's a, that's a lot of the stuff that we found people were looking for. Cool. And then they'd say, you know, whatever else, like Chipotle, but most of the time they didn't want to go work out at Chipotle or a Chick-fil-A mm-hmm. <affirmative>. They weren't interested in that.

Juan Chaparro (09:19):

Perfect. Now, once you hired those people, how, you know, what kind of good practices or things that you're doing to manage them, to keep them engaged, to keep them happy in the company, to bring in more people? What are those good practices that you guys are following at, you know, Athens Cleaning Company?

Josh Melton (09:36):

Yeah, going back a little to the beginning where I said one of the three things that makes us different is that we're a relationship. First is in our approach. We say that's how we say we say we were a relationship first approach. So there's that piece, Juan. And there's also this piece for us, part of our like vision statement as a company. So meaning like, hey, this is the company we aspire to be. We say we are respected by our clients. We're trust, excuse me, we're respected by our clients, we're appreciated by our team members and we're remembered by our community. So I had heard of this question before about the community piece. It's like, hey, if your company would've got a business today, would anybody tomorrow, would anybody know that you have been gone? It's already impacting your community. But that piece in the middle there about my team members, like, are you appreciated by your, or excuse me, we are appreciated by our team members.


Ha makes us ask that question. Well are we appreciated by our team members? And I believe that in order for, for me to appreciate you probably is gonna come from like, you making me feel appreciated. It's a reciprocal thing. And so, all right, well the only way our team members are gonna appreciate Athens Cleaning Company as an entity and organization to work with is if we can mm-hmm. Intentionally look for ways to make them feel appreciated. And again, that relationship first approached. Yeah. So from the, from the standpoint of when they're coming on board, one of the first things that we do once we've offered somebody a position is, you know, we send 'em official stuff, right? Like, Hey, here's the employment paperwork. Um, here's a background check, but here is a form where we're just gonna ask you questions about you. Hey Juan, what's your favorite type of drink?


What's your favorite restaurant? What do you like to do with your hobbies? We wanna learn about that person so that then when they're with our company, random times, birthdays, if we see like consistent good performance, we do a team member of the month program, we will give them something that's in line with what it is that they like. So instead of just giving that everybody a generic $10 gift card to Starbucks, said, well, no, it's their birthday. And they told me that they really like T G I Friday's, so let's go get a gift card from T G I Friday's and let's take it to their, you know, to their location and leave it for 'em. And when they show up the next cleaning, you know, if it's on their birthday or after their birthday, they got a gift card. So we're doing our best to make them feel like, you know, individuals, not just the number necessarily. I was thinking about this yesterday, man, I stopped by by Starbucks last night and I talk a lot about Starbucks and Chick-fil-A, cuz they're both, they're very different in what they look for in team members. Their cultures are completely different. You can almost have a lineup, that person where they work at Starbucks and that person just by looking at 'em, they work at Chick-fil-a


<laugh>. But from a culture standpoint, there're, there're two of the most successful companies in the world. And one of the things they do that's in uniform with each other is that if you go there, they ask you your name. So it's not order number 37. And Starbucks last night, that first thing they said is, Hey, welcome to Starbucks. This is whoever it was, what's your name? They didn't ask me what I wanted to drink, they just ask me my name. And everybody makes fun of, they mess the names up a lot, but I'm like, Hey, they asked for your name though, so they could recognize your humanity. And we like to hear our names. So for us, we're always looking for ways that we can focus on what makes this individual an individual, what's unique about 'em. And then we look for ways to bring that to their attention. That's one way we also do this thing wine for us, we call it dispatch because I just haven't come up with a better name for it

Juan Chaparro (12:39):


Josh Melton (12:40):

<affirmative>. But when people are checking into their account. So for us, just to give you a little bit about our business, people don't like drive to our office, get in a car together and go clean. They're like, at their job, they're full-time job and they haven't key to their account, they drive to. And we clean a lot of banks and doctor's offices. So they drive to the banker or doctor's office, they clean it by themselves and then they go home and that's the route. So we don't see our team members face to face a lot. So as a result of that, it can be really easy to like these people to feel like they're working, they're the only only employee of the company, right? So we have this position called dispatch, which what they do is from a functional standpoint on the back end, they're like making sure everybody showed up to their account.


So they're like, okay, we, we cleaned the bank tonight because I saw that Ashley signed in. <affirmative>. But on the relational side, they're saying, when Ashley signs in, they're sending Ashley a message. Hey Ashley, hope you have an awesome Wednesday night. Just stuff like that. It's just wow. Letting, making the people feel seen. And then, um, you know, outside of that, wait, everybody on our team has an individual team leader that's gonna be connecting with them on a consistent basis. That's their direct, the direct manager. We, we call 'em team leaders. And so they're just making sure that person feels supported.

Juan Chaparro (13:45):

Wow. That's cool. I love that. Uh, yeah. I, I'm a big Chick-fil-A person and uh, it's amazing. It's a, I mean, when you go to other brands, it's incredible how these guys just are killing it everywhere. <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative> just lines of cars and cars and cars. Yeah. And it really boils down to, you know, hiring the right people, teaching them the right processes, and the people that are there, you know, wanna be there compared to other companies that are just don't want to be there. And, you know, I think that's what makes them very successful. Uh, plus they're close on Sunday, so that adds us up to that as well.

Josh Melton (14:23):

<laugh>. And that's when you always want Chick-fil-A, right? Sunday morning I'm like, man, I'm craving Chick-fil-A today. Can't get it.

Juan Chaparro (14:27):

<laugh>. Yeah. Cool man. Um, what about, um, you're, uh, uh, favorite, you know, podcast, blog or anything following or anything that you follow in regards, you know, cleaning business or home services in general that you want to maybe share with us?

Josh Melton (14:46):

Yeah, so, you know, it's funny, I listened to any, anything I can find out there that's on commercial cleaning. I listen to the podcast, so I love Ken Carfagno - Smart Cleaning School podcast. Ken and I are good buddies.


Listening to the Profitable Cleaner podcast with, um, uh, Angel and, and, uh, David, and you know, those guys from, from Profitable Cleaner and, uh, Day Porter, I do also Cleaning and Cocktails with Ricky Regalado. Those are the three of them. My com my like go-tos for like, all right, who are these guys talking to? What are they talking about? And if I'm ever out and about, you know, doing stuff in the field, I'm always listening to those guys. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I like that stuff. Anyway. But, uh, those from the standpoint of the industry, I like to listen to them anytime. Juan Chaparro putting anything out, I'm trying to you I know you're, I'm diving into what you're doing. Um, thank you. Yeah. So yeah, I, I think it's a great man. When I was listen early in my cleaning days, there were not any cleaning podcasts. I was listening to the podcast. Yeah. Just we've been around for 15 or 16 years. I was listening to it like on a old school iPod, you know, I had like download all the things I was gonna listen to. So I love podcasts and I think it's a huge thing. People can really grow a lot while they're out in the field doing some of the work. Yeah. By just, you know, plugging into the right information. But those are three, so three of the ones that I like within the industry.

Juan Chaparro (16:00):

Cool. Yeah. My first three years, five years of cleaning, uh hum hums, I was, uh, I had the, you know, MP3 player back in two thousands that I downloaded audiobooks and MP3s in general. And for five years I just listened everything that I possibly can in marketing and sales and technology. And that's basically how, that was my university really. Uh, while I was cleaning homes cuz I was doing the vacuuming. So I had my headphones and just, you know, for five years listen than to tons of books and podcast and uh, it's amazing now and I'm hoping, you know, I'm now doing, you know, sharing with other guys like you amazing content and hopefully delivering some value for other people. And, um, now let's wrap up here with, you know, where people can find you. I know you have some other things that you're doing, some consultants, some coaching for the industry. Can't you tell us more about that?

Josh Melton (16:58):

Yeah, so I am launching a podcast called Six Figure Cleaner. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and that podcast will be focused on for if people wanna make a six figure income as a commercial cleaning company owner, that's what the podcast will be all about. And most of the podcast episodes will actually have people who are doing that, right? So I'm like, hey, you can, you can learn from people who had a cleaning company 10 or 15 years ago who, you know, sold it 30 years ago to be consultants or you can hear from people who are like in the business now who are earning six figure incomes and commercial cleaning. So that's the, the general concept of the podcast is that, but I'm also doing coaching and I coach people who want to build a business just like mine. I don't clean, uh, fitness centers, I don't clean factories.


If somebody wants to build a business cleaning those things, I'm like, you can listen to the podcast cause I'll have those people on. I'm like, that's not my expertise. Yeah. But if people want to build a part or, or excuse me, a professional office cleaning business, they want to create a business they can make, you know, over a hundred thousand dollars a year on personally, I'm like, I can help you with that. So that's my coaching is around Senator on that. People who want to build a business. I don't try to teach what I don't, what I haven't done, but what I've done, I'll teach on and and coach on too. And why not think you, you know, you would probably agree with this. Like for the most part, a lot of the stuff that we have to do or learn isn't difficult to learn and is not difficult necessarily to do.


Correct. It's just the emotional weight of all that can be very difficult for us. And so it's really good to have people that can understand what we do and that can build us up and offer some encouragement. And honestly what we do is different. It's, it's, it's hard to, under most people don't have businesses that do what we do and deal with the things that we deal with. So finding people within the industry that you can run with and that you can get mentored by and eventually that you can mentor, which I know you do the same thing, you know, early on we're listening to all the podcasts now we're fortunate enough to be able to, you know, be on the podcasts sometimes. Correct. Which is really cool. But that's what people can find me at also for my company,


I'll tell people some of the best advice if there's nothing else wine people would get from, from here and us talk today, the one thing I would tell people to do is like, find the companies that look like you. Like, hey, I would like to have a company like that and then like, look 'em up on Indeed. What are, how are they posting job ads if it's for That's true. If you wanna clean factories, find people who are really successful there, typically find 'em in a different state or something. If you wanna clean offices like we do, like go type indeed Athens Cleaning Company, you can see all our job ads like pull 'em off and you know, create something similar. Don't do it exactly like it, but use that as a template and it's a template. Most of us, if we're doing, like most of us aren't inventing anything out of nothing, we're just taking something that we've seen and putting our own little spin on it and trying to make it better for us. So I'd encourage people to do that. So check out Athens cleaning, um, for sure. And you know, if anything that we got you guys can I say steal but you know, you can borrow it from us and make it wrong. <laugh>.

Juan Chaparro (19:48):

Yeah. So many ideas out there for, you know, anything that you want to build out there is copy and paste, but it really comes down to the execution. So, you know, feel free. I tell also, you know, customers, Hey go look at my website, grab the ideas, the landing page design, it's, it's there, it's public, but execution and then managing the employees and the team, that's what really keeps the company growing. So, oh yeah, absolutely. Cool man, it was a great time chatting with you, uh, Josh, I really enjoy and I'm, you know, keep listening to, uh, you and hopefully whenever you have your podcast, please to let me know so I can Yeah. Learn from you and

Josh Melton (20:27):

We'll have you on for sure. And I gotta say this too long before I go man, <laugh>. Yeah. Cause we started using Pipehire this year. Yeah. And you know, we were figuring out how to grow and all that stuff and, but man, I'm just telling you, it has been such a phenomenal investment for us. It has saved us so much time, which is therefore saved us a ton of money. Uh, yeah. And, and so I would just encourage anybody listening to this if you're not using Pipehire yet, like it is Absolutely. It's not expensive and it's worth the money. It will. Yeah. I mean, I can't even tell you. I I say it's, it's gonna 10 x your, your investment, but it's more than that. It's just crazy how awesome this software is. And obviously you didn't ask me to give you a plug, but I'm giving it to, to you

Juan Chaparro (21:07):


Josh Melton (21:07):

No, thank you. Not cause I'm on your show cuz I do the same thing privately to people I coach with, but because Thank you, it's good and it's helped us tremendously and saved us a ton of time and nobody that's doing what we're doing has a ton of time that they're just screwing around with. Right. So, uh, I appreciate you having me on man. And again, y'all, you guys make sure if you're not using Pipehire already, like get it integrated, like you'll, you'll be glad that you did.

Juan Chaparro (21:30):

Thank you, Josh, it's been a pleasure and uh, we'll see you in the next one.

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