Cory Liese started The Squeaky Cleaning Company in December — but unofficially, she’s been in the cleaning business more than a decade.
“When I was about fifteen, I started cleaning with my mom,” said Liese, 28. “She owned her own cleaning company and mostly did new construction up in the mountains towards Red Feathers Lake. I was cleaning for her for a little bit. On and off my dad bought properties and flipped them, so that was another opportunity for me to help with the flipping and cleaning.”
Through her cleaning work with her family, she decided to take a leap of faith by starting her own company in what she admits is already a saturated and competitive market.
“The whole reason I started my own business was because I was getting a lot of clients, but had no official company of my own, so I decided why not?” she said. “I started my own LLC and I’ve had a lot of good luck since then. I have a couple of regular clients already built up and I’m doing pretty well.”
Liese believes her company will succeed alongside her personal growth.
“My dad has always shared this Jim Rohn quote with me: ‘Your level of success will seldom exceed your personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become,’” she said. “This quote has stuck with me and continues to drive me in my business.”
Liese talked with the Business Journal about building trust with clients, the challenges of starting a business, and the impact of COVID-19.
How long have you been in the Springs?
I started my business officially at the beginning of December. I moved here about four years ago, but I was still commuting to Denver. You could say I moved out here and also began working out here about two years ago.
What’s your educational background?
I actually did not graduate high school. I dropped out as a sophomore and got my GED at seventeen. I haven’t gone to college yet just because I haven’t decided what I want to get my degree in. I have had a lot of life experience throughout all of the jobs I’ve held. I’ve worked in several fields from the food industry, to management in sales, to management at a collections agency. I’ve also worked as an assistant at one of the top law firms in Denver.
What is your business philosophy?
My philosophy on the business is obviously to satisfy the customer to the best of my ability. I do specialize in deep cleaning, so I do anywhere from new construction to move-ins, move-outs, residential and commercial buildings. It does take me a little bit longer to finish the job because I want to make sure that every task is completed to the best of my ability. That is pretty much what makes me and my business standout — because I do such a deep clean.
What was the most difficult part of starting your own business?
The most difficult part that I’m still struggling with is finding clientele. I did luck out because my brother and dad are both real estate agents and they’ve been in the business for quite a bit. Through them, I was able to get some clients from their offices. Real estate agents are my crowd that I’m trying to appeal to. I’m still trying to connect with and meet people here in the Springs, but finding clients has definitely been the most difficult part.
What hurdles have you faced in business specifically because you are younger?
I feel like a lot of people don’t take me seriously as a professional because I do look younger. It has been a little bit harder to connect with people in the age range that I usually go to networking events with. That age range is between 20 to 50. I do connect more with a lot of the younger people and I’ve had some difficulty connecting with older people.
Another hurdle that I’ve had is competition. I was an independent contractor for a little bit cleaning houses and I decided to break off on my own mainly because of finances. With the competition I have, I want to make sure I don’t step on their toes and steal their clients. Most of the competition has been here for a while, so they have businesses that are more built-up, while I’m still just starting.
What advice would you give to younger people trying to start their own LLC?
It is difficult, but I would encourage people to keep working towards their goals until they achieve them. As you reach your goals, set higher ones to keep your business going. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m constantly on the go and hustling trying to meet new people to fuel my business. When you’re first starting out, I think the first step to take is to get out there and meet people and network to obtain clients and keep your business open.
How do you advertise?
I go door to door. I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, Nextdoor, and I’ve been going to networking events trying to connect with people. I’ve done a ton of one-on-ones just getting to know people, so I can start to build relationships with them. That’s pretty much all of the marketing that I’ve been able to do so far.
What motivated you to start your own business in this competitive market?
What motivated me was that I was already getting clients on the side as an independent contractor. The difference in pay was a huge factor in my decision; I also enjoy making my own schedule. I figured instead of getting a certain percent of the money I earned, I could be getting 100 percent if I started my own business. Another motivation for me was to increase the level of service because when I started my own company, I decided to do detailed cleaning and deep cleaning because I felt like that satisfied the customer more than the cleaning I was doing as an independent contractor. I really enjoy that aspect. Another thing that I enjoy is networking with people and meeting new people. I love pleasing people, and customer service is very important to me. The motivation to start my own LLC was primarily for financial reasons.
How do you build rapport with your clients?
I’ve noticed that when I go out to networking events and I’m meeting a new person, I really like to schedule one-on-ones with them because you get to know them better and it’s easier to build a relationship. It’s important to build that trust because you’re inside someone’s home and they’re trusting you with all of their valuables. People do respond to me mostly by email. From there, we make an appointment to go to their residence and give them a quote. Then they can decide to take my services. I definitely prefer face-to-face over email.
Has COVID-19 affected your business and how do you stay safe while doing your job?
I make sure I’m always very safe when I enter someone’s home. I wear a mask throughout the cleaning, and I do wear gloves. I make sure that if the client wants natural cleaning products, I have them available. I also have more intense chemicals, if need be. Some people are allergic to harsher chemicals so I’m careful and safe in that way.
Coronavirus has affected my business in a negative and positive way. Some clients do not want new people in their house because they don’t want to get sick. A lot of older people especially are a bit more cautious of letting you inside their house because they are more susceptible to getting sick. That has affected my business in a negative way. In a positive way, a lot more people want me inside their house to disinfect and make sure that their kids don’t get sick. That’s how I’ve gained most of my regular clients, because they want me to come to their house once or twice a month to disinfect everything. If they want a detailed clean, I make sure to let them know it will take a bit longer and may need some heavier chemicals if that is all right. Overall, I would say COVID has affected my company more in a positive way than in a negative way.
What are your goals for your business in 2021?
My main goal is to obtain enough business to be able to hire an employee to help me out with jobs because right now I’m doing it on my own. Once I have more business, I won’t be able to complete all of the jobs to my standard on my own, so I definitely will be looking to hire someone this year.
What do you do in your free time?
I love the outdoors — rock climbing, hiking, camping, and kayaking. I have two very active dogs. I also love live music and unfortunately coronavirus has kind of shut that down, but I usually love going to concerts. I’m kind of an artsy person as well.