It was great learning how Clear 2 Close Cleaning Services make listings shine!

Podcast Takeaways

  • Cleaning all the little details makes a difference when showing a listing.
  • It takes a specialized cleaning to get that “TV” finish you see on home improvement/flipping shows.
  • A walk through before cleaning makes sure that everyone is on the same page.

Getting Clients to the Closing on Time Podcast Transcript

Adam Small: Hello and welcome to the Real Estate Marketing Minute. I’m your host, Adam Small, and with us today we have Ms Kimberly Small.
Kimberly Small: Hey, how are you?
Adam Small: Doing well thanks. And today in the studio we have Teresa Drake and Melissa Barnett from Clear to Close Cleaning Services. Hi Guys, how are you?
Teresa Drake: We’re doing great.
Adam Small: Great, great. We are doing well ourselves. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about Clear to Close, and how they work with agents, and kind of make their lives easier in the whole closing process, and buying and selling process, I should say. So before we get started, why don’t you guys tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got into doing what you’re doing first.
Teresa Drake: Sure. So I originally started in this market as an insurance agent. So I have a marketing and sales background. I’ve done that for years and years. And I found myself as a broker for a large company for a bit and traveling a lot and missing out on a lot of my kids school and sporting events. So I thought, “Okay, how can I take this a sphere of influence that I have already, and my kind of natural market, and blend that into something that I’ll enjoy doing, that will still bring service to the community that’s needed, and I can get to baseball.”
Adam Small: And still make it the baseball game on time.
Teresa Drake: That’s right. Very important. So Clear to Close Cleaning was born, and so now we help agents on another end of things to get clients to the closing table.
Adam Small: Same Clientele, just a different aspect. All right.
Teresa Drake: Absolutely. Great. And Melissa, how about you?
Melissa Barnett: So I actually also have a background in marketing. I actually came from this industry, so we marketed for home improvement companies, the construction workers, the cleaners, all of them. So when I met Theresa it, I mean I just started kind of working for her and it turned into this … I think between the two of us, she’s got a lot of knowledge. I understand this world pretty well, and it’s just been really cool to watch her do what she’s doing, and it’s kind of brought me into a deeper game with her.
Adam Small: Right. Nice. Very nice. So from a kind of draw parallels, right? Stagers will come in and they’ll help potential buyers envision what a space could look like, right? That’s their job is to walk into a place and set it up so that when somebody walks into that, they go, “Wow, I could live here. I can see this.” Right? because a lot of people have a hard time visualizing. So how do you guys, how does what you do kind of play into the same thing as far as helping real estate agents sell a listing?
Teresa Drake: Sure. So I mean the first thing you want to do is make everything super personable. You said, people want to envision living in that space. So if I walk into a home that maybe someone has rented out for the last five years and no one’s cleaning the shower door that entire time, if I can’t see through the glass, I also can’t see myself in that shower.
Adam Small: You’re going to see the dirt basically what you’re saying, right?
Teresa Drake: Absolutely. So we just try to make it as homey as possible. The stagers make it look like, “Okay that’s a great spot and very warm and welcoming.” But I mean you can’t do that if you’ve got dirty fixtures or what have you. So we pay attention to the details that as someone at some point will notice. So just to make it warm and welcoming.
Adam Small: So along those lines, when is the right time to actually call you?
Teresa Drake: We have crews on call pretty much all the time. So we’ve got people on standby, but I would say a good window of time to give us is a week at least.
Adam Small: Before you start showing the place?
Teresa Drake: Right. So that way we can get in. Usually we get in a day or two before actual photos are taken or stagers come in. That’s kind of the ideal time. Now, not to say we haven’t pulled some strings and done some last minute favors, and we’ve actually come in behind a few cleaning companies recently that have just pulled out of the cleaning entirely because they don’t do drywall dust or that type of thing. So we have kind of an emergency service available for those cases.
Adam Small: Okay. And so you kind of mentioned that you do different types of cleaning jobs. So what types of cleaning jobs do you do?
Teresa Drake: We have crews available for just light duty maid service on a recurring basis all the way to full estate in foreclosure trash outs. So we kind of do it all. We do commercial and residential cleaning.
Adam Small: So the hoarder thing. You guys go in and clean up after that as well?
Teresa Drake: We do.
Melissa Barnett: It’s kind of a challenge though because it’s pretty fun, right? So you get to teach people how to organize. So you look at that Marie Quando, is that her name? And it’s sort of that same concept, right? And that goes back to your original question. How do you get people to see through that, right? And it’s kind of talking them through that process. I feel Teresa does a really good job. Both of us kind of, we give them tips. We’ve got this one teenager we were pretty excited about. She just was kind of just a messy teenager.
Adam Small: Aren’t all of them?
Melissa Barnett: Exactly. So we sort of were prepared for it. We were hoping that by our continuously organizing for, and then our last trip out to their house, magic. Just magic. She had organized herself. We were high fiving her when she came home. It was pretty exciting.
Adam Small: Cool. Very cool. So now do you do both commercial and residential or just one or the other?
Teresa Drake: We do. We do it all. We actually, we clean a couple of realtors offices on occasion here on the south side. And then we also have taken on some projects such as large construction cleanups after banks and retail establishments have been constructed by larger builders. So we get into some of that. But I would say our real kind of our meat and potatoes of everything is the vacant home that someone is getting ready to list. So whether it’s a flip someone has gutted or a rental situation where it’s going on the market, but I mean we work with the realtors, the investors, property managers, and so that is kind of our target, but there’s nothing that we will turn away if we can possibly do it.
Adam Small: Always take the work, right?
Teresa Drake: Yeah, absolutely.
Melissa Barnett: And also with that to kind of piggyback off, everybody is obsessed with those flip houses on TV, and everybody … My kids have asked me about what I do and I’m like, “Well, we watch TV, we watched them flip these houses. Were the ones that come in so that it looks that.” And so if you ideally want that kind of finish when you’re going to list your house, you got to bring that crew in to get that nitty gritty dust that construction crews aren’t specialized to always clean up.
Adam Small: Right. Then they may wipe it down, but there’s a whole lot of streaks leftover, right?
Melissa Barnett: But if you want that TV finish, you gotta have the people that specialize in that type of cleanup. So it’s pretty cool.
Adam Small: Right. Exactly. That’s actually probably a really great way to put that because I can wipe it down, but it’s not going to come out. Believe me, I’m not good at it.
Melissa Barnett: Yeah, exactly. And we all dream and wish to have those types of homes. That’s why we watch it, right? And so when you bring in that team, that’s what helped give it that final show over the edge.
Adam Small: So that kind of leads us into what sets you guys apart? What makes you different from other cleaning companies? Obviously, the finish is one thing there. You guys said that you do certain jobs that others won’t. So maybe you could expand on that or pulling out a couple other things that set you guys apart.
Teresa Drake: Sure. I would say the biggest one we’ve found as of late is simply the drywall, dust, coating, everything on a post-construction. That’s been our way into a lot of these jobs. There’s a lot of great maid services out there. I don’t take anything away from anyone else. They’re doing a great job, and it’s beautiful when they’re done, but it may be too much for their one or two person crew that they would send out to handle.
Adam Small: They won’t do the drywall dust?
Teresa Drake: Right. A lot of them will decline those.
Adam Small: Or construction type stuff? Yeah.
Teresa Drake: Right, and that’s what I’m finding. Whereas we send in a crew of five or six people for a day and really spend a lot of time on that detailed work.
Adam Small: It’s amazing where that drywall dust will go.
Teresa Drake: Oh definitely.
Adam Small: We recently we had our bathroom re-done, and we’re finding it on the other side of the house through doorways and hallways and everything-
Teresa Drake: Oh, exactly.
Adam Small: I mean we’ve cleaned it all, wiped it all down and everything, and yet we still find spots here and there where it’s like, “How is this there?”
Teresa Drake: Right.
Adam Small: So it’s definitely amazing.
Teresa Drake: Well we definitely take care of that. And then I said we handle anything from light duty to full trash out. we’ve got different crews set up for different types of jobs. So I mean I definitely have my employees, some veterans that have quite frankly seen a little bit of everything in their experience and aren’t at all squeamish.
Adam Small: That’s more for your hoarder type, right?
Melissa Barnett: There’s military guys who can take some stuff on though.
Teresa Drake: I’ve got people that are kind of specialized in each area where we try to assign those people to specific jobs to give the most efficiency and the best customer experience. So ultimately we get a feel for exactly what is the scope of work you need for us to do, and then let’s assign the correct people for that in a timely manner.
Adam Small: Okay.
Melissa Barnett: And to piggyback off what Teresa is saying because I tend to boast on her a little bit, but something that I really value coming into it because she’s built this up, and coming in and watching it from a homeowner’s standpoint, some of the things she genuinely talks about is that genuine relationship she’s building, and it’s more than just the dollar amount. We kind of joke often because we find ourselves constantly going back because we are not willing to walk away just because of time, right? We want to make sure that they’re getting that need met that they have. And she goes out and she investigates with them, figures out what that need is, where they’re lacking and how she can help improve and better their life. So I think that’s just invaluable. So it’s pretty cool.
Adam Small: So service really sets you apart. It’s not just the cleaning, it’s the service, right? It’s making sure that it’s done and done right.
Melissa Barnett: Oh yeah. I mean it’s about that longterm genuine connection with people that we’re working with.
Teresa Drake: And we do guarantee our work. So if there’s something unsatisfactory at the job, which we hope there never is, but let’s face it, everyone’s human, you might have a thing or two come up and we will come out and we will make it right.
Adam Small: Right, and that’s probably one of the most important things to acknowledge. We’re not perfect, but we’re going to try to make it perfect. If we didn’t get it where you wanted it to be, we’ll come back, we’ll do it right, and that goes for any industry. Honestly, I think that a lot of companies have lost sight of that.
Teresa Drake: Yeah, absolutely. And we address that as quickly as possible. So whether that same day or next day, but I mean we will absolutely get on whatever’s needed to make sure that we’re at 100% rating with our customers.
Adam Small: Right, right. So we’ve talked about kind of your services and stuff. How do you go about figuring out what somebody should pay? Can you give us some examples of how you estimate or I mean square footage or cubic footage maybe? So how do you guys go about doing that?
Teresa Drake: Well, every job has been a little bit differently because of the different needs. So the light duty maid services, we would typically have an hourly price for our crew. We provide all the supplies, we bring in everything that’s needed unless the homeowner has specific requirements for, “I like X, Y, Z cleaner.”
Adam Small: Right. Or allergies or something like that. Right, yeah.
Teresa Drake: And I will provide that for you or anything that. And I mean, we don’t use anything really harsh. Of course, bleach is our friend at a hoarder house, but definitely we have an hourly and then we have kind of a per square foot pricing that we’ll do for post-construction. We have some a la carte items that can be added like windows, blinds, that type of thing. So it just kind of depends on the scope of work that’s needed. So for the foreclosure trash outs, we’ll be thinking about, “Okay, what are our dump fees going to be? Do we have to get a dumpster? What does that look like?” And then at that point you’re talking about cubic feet of garbage that has to be thrown out.
Adam Small: Right, right, right. Okay. So really it’s just different per job and based on the extensiveness of it is it a complete trash out, which is what I think you called it or is it just, “Hey, we’re coming in twice a month and we’re just cleaning the place up a little bit,” right?
Teresa Drake: Right, exactly. And a lot of times we to do a walk through just to make sure that we are on the same page with everyone. Sometimes time doesn’t permit for that. So then you just have to throw out, “Okay send me some photos and here’s the square foot price that we’re going to go with.” So we’re more than willing to do that if time constraint is an issue.
Melissa Barnett: Which goes back to that genuine, flexible … The flexibility comes into going out and finding out what their needs are, having a conversation. I mean that’s the goal is to make sure because it’s your life we’re walking in on, right? So it’s hard to bring someone in at exact times for this, this and that. So it boils down to what are your needs, how can we meet those needs, even if that’s the initial conversation that we have to be flexible with or we’re willing to do that.
Adam Small: Okay.
Kimberly Small: So in talking to a lot of agents approaching the subject that a client’s property is not quite ready to either be listed or for an open house or any of those things can be really tough. Do you have any suggestions for agents as they’re broaching that subject with their clients and how they can convey that a service like yours is going to help them in marketing their house and getting top dollar?
Teresa Drake: Sure. Well, I mean I think that’s always going to be a touchy subject, and no matter what advice I give, that will continue to be touchy. But I think of it this way. If I am renting a hotel room for the night or the weekend, I want to walk in there and not see anybody else’s filth, I guess, right?
Adam Small: For lack of a better term.
Teresa Drake: Exactly. So I mean when you walk into a hotel and the first thing you do typically is inspect the bathroom, and the bedding, and how clean is it, right? So that potential buyers walking through your home, having not lived in it previously in your filth. Let’s maybe find a better term for that. But I mean basically your daily living activities result in, “Hey, you might have soap scum on your shower door.” Everybody has it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve got hard water in Indiana. What are you going to do about it? But as the buyer, potential buyer walking in, do they see that? And can we maybe make that sparkle a little more. When you buy a new car, they take it through the car wash, right? I mean, they’re not giving you a dusty car and when you drive off that lot, you want a shiny, nice new car. And you want a shiny, nice new home. So let us help you do that.
Kimberly Small: Well, and that’s a great analogy because basically you can change the whole experience. You walk into a hotel room and there’s dirt on the toilet or on the sink or something like that. That changes your whole impression of not only your room, the whole hotel and everything else. And chances are you’re going to want a different room, not even just to have somebody come in there because you want to believe that you’re the only one that’s been in that hotel room.
Melissa Barnett: Yeah. The idea is, “Quick, I want out of here,” right? You don’t want the people to say, “Oh man, I want out.” You want them to say, “My gosh. I could picture myself here and look, I’m touching it so I can sit here and it’s not dirty for me to touch.” So allow them the ability to have that full home experience. And again, go back to those TV shows. Why do you think people walk through those houses after they’re done and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, oh my God.” I mean they get that full feel of a brand new house.
Kimberly Small: And that’s always a challenge for agents is getting their clients to transition from the, “This is no longer your home once you decide to sell it. So you need to think about the people that are going through it and think about it from their visual standpoint, and what they are going to want to see versus what they’ll overlook and all of those things.” So that’s kind of a hard transition for people to go through when they’re thinking about buying or selling and that kind of stuff. So how can agents prepare their clients for having a service like yours done? What are some of the things that they can tell them?
Teresa Drake: Well, so I mean if they plan on having a very thorough cleaning, and if they are vacating the property before listing, obviously as much of their contents as they can have out as possible before we get there is very helpful. The less we have to clean around or move, the more efficient we can be and the more thorough we can be, unless of course they have hired us to clean everything out. But if we’re just going in for a final deep clean before pre-listing or what have you, I would say just get the clutter out of the way. That’s the ideal thing is just be ready for us to come in with a clean slate and give it a final sparkle.
Adam Small: The reality is that would probably apply to anybody that’s going into clean, right?
Teresa Drake: Sure. Absolutely.
Adam Small: It’s just to make the job easier to get where you need to be without, and less time consuming.
Teresa Drake: Absolutely. And I would say the other big thing in preparing for us is just give us your set of expectations, and let’s be realistic with what can get done in a day. But I want to make sure we’re on the same page with each and every client.
Adam Small: Well that comes back to what you were saying earlier is just making sure you’re setting the expectation, and you’re all on the same page and all that, right?
Teresa Drake: Yes, absolutely.
Kimberly Small: So do you ever make multiple visits to a listing? I mean you never know. Sometimes a showing can only have a couple of hours notice. But yeah, usually an open house you have several days ahead of time that people will know. Do you ever go back to the listings and kind of prep them for those or kind of have a package.
Teresa Drake: It’s happened on occasion. Yeah. I mean we definitely don’t say no, now unfortunately we have to charge for each visit, but yeah, I mean there have been cases where even where, for instance a contractor has come in to do small repairs after we’ve been in to clean, and it creates more of a mess, and so we’ll have to come in and re-clean that type of thing. And maybe it’s been a couple of weeks now the bathrooms are dirty again, and so maybe just a couple of things needed touched by us at that point. But like I said, that’s why we are kind of per service per hour. We can structure it however it fits
Melissa Barnett: Well and I think that goes back to what she was saying about expectations as well. Realtors should have that expectation set up, right? That, “Okay, let’s make sure all of our construction crews are out,” and that way we’re not having to come back because they’re all having construction crews doing last minute stuff, and that way when they have their interior designers come in to stage, they’re not having to worry about us coming in as their staging, right? And having to interrupt that pattern for them as well, aside from having to come out again, but just help keep them efficient in that process.
Kimberly Small: What cleaning services have you guys been asked about that you can’t do?
Adam Small: Or won’t do.
Kimberly Small: Well won’t do. You mentioned that other companies won’t do the dry wall.
Teresa Drake: I mean depending on what type of hazardous material that we may be dealing with, there are some things we’ve have to turn down. We don’t do meth cleanup. We’ve just not gotten into that, and I don’t think I’m interested in doing that particularly. But I mean we run across some things on occasion where we just don’t have the means of disposing of certain items. Those would be your more hazardous type jobs. Now the good thing is we have contractors we can call for that, so we do have resources. We don’t just have to say, “No, that’s it.” We say, “No, but …”
Adam Small: So even if you can’t, you can still help somebody find the right person to that?
Teresa Drake: Absolutely. Right.
Melissa Barnett: There’s always that subcontract need.
Adam Small: Right. Cool. So a lot of agents, they’ll walk into the place when they’re going to open house, and last minute find that they have to clean something or other up. Do you have any tips or tricks or are any advice on something they should always have on hand to help them kind of add that last minute moment there when they’re like, “Oh,” whatever it may be. It’s gotta be touched up.
Teresa Drake: Yeah, absolutely. So actually had a recent vendor fair. Melissa and I took some small bottles of glass cleaner , and just a purse size or something you can throw in your glove compartment, and I would always recommend having a roll of paper towels, and I’m going to just give a little props to sparkle. Best paper towel we found.
Adam Small: They’re not sponsoring or endorsing this. However … No.
Teresa Drake: They’re not, but they tend to not leave as much of the kind of paper towel dust behind. So I would say a bottle of glass cleaner, and roll of sparkle paper towels. I would always have in my car. And really you can wipe down just about anything with a glass cleaner and a paper towel. So even if you only have that, make that your emergency kit to wipe spots off of windows or freshen up mirrors because that really makes the impression.
Adam Small: Or even countertops it could be, right?
Teresa Drake: Absolutely.
Adam Small: Because most glass cleaners have ammonia or something in them, which is pretty much a disinfectant, right?
Teresa Drake: Right. But then again, we have to be careful with the surface of the countertop because a lot of stone and granite and all that-
Adam Small: You want to stay away from it?
Teresa Drake: Correct.
Adam Small: See, I don’t know much about that.
Melissa Barnett: A little Kudos to Teresa. She found the best way to make an awesome cleaner that you can use on anything, and it’s simply orange essential oil and vinegar, and is there any water in it?
Teresa Drake: Yeah, it’s mostly water.
Melissa Barnett: And mostly water. And so it’s safe for all surfaces. The orange essential oil breaks through any toughness. So actually that stuff is amazing for stickers on mirrors. So when you are doing a post construction that you’re listing, and the construction guy dreamed big and thought he could pull that sticker off, you’re going to find those in those corners of those mirrors, right? And that stuff you just spray, wipe and you’re good. So even just not smudges, but just the stuff from having a new home, those cleaning solutions will help, and just having it with you, I mean you can really do a lot with.
Adam Small: Very cool. So some good advice there. Now you guys actually focus on the Indianapolis area here, right? If somebody wanted to find somebody like you guys in other areas, I know that you guys actually kind of … I said the Indianapolis area, but I think you told us earlier, you go out about 60 miles in any direction.
Teresa Drake: Yeah, that’s about our radius.
Adam Small: But if somebody beyond that, are there any tips you got to help somebody find somebody like you guys in other areas?
Melissa Barnett: So I having a background in this world, right? So there’s places Angie’s List and Home Advisor obviously, but really talk to your neighbors, right? I mean, I am very much so been watching Teresa, this word of mouth. I came from this marketing world. I used to tell companies, “Build It, build it, build it, use your advertising.” And I see Teresa just word of mouth, right? And so now I see such a significant value, but I definitely think that talking to your neighbors, your friends is a great resource. But in realtors as well.
Teresa Drake: I will say that. Yeah. And realtors talk to each other a lot, and you have these forums and groups on Facebook and other social media. That’s been huge for us, and I would say realtors have relationships with other realtors in other markets. So who do they use? I mean really my advice would just be make sure that they have proper insurance in place, get proof of that to protect yourselves and your clients.
Adam Small: That’s a the liability insurance and all that, right?
Teresa Drake: Yeah, absolutely. Make sure they have general liability. If there’s personal property on site to be bonded is helpful because that would protect the client in the event of theft or anything that. But I mean just at least the liability for a vacant property, so that way you’re not at risk if someone gets injured or damages property. So yeah, I definitely would recommend that. And just vetting them a little. And then the reviews that you see for those companies on Google and what have you, that carries a lot of weight.
Melissa Barnett: Check their Facebook as well. Facebook has a rule
Adam Small: That’s where you’re going to find the negative, right?
Melissa Barnett: Yeah. So Facebook actually has a rule. They will not … Google, you can have … I mean Google is great. It’s a great resource. I love it. But as far as reviews go, right? There’s some flexibility what stays and what can go, right? And so Facebook is actually unbelievably strict on removing reviews. So you’re going to get those really sometimes not so happy reviews, but you’re going to be able to see that better.
Adam Small: Well you’re going to be able to see that, and you’re also going to be able to see the response to it as well, right?
Melissa Barnett: Exactly. So you’re going to have those comments people are tagging. Oh yeah.
Adam Small: Right. Well, and in general, one of the things that whenever somebody leaves a negative review, I’m looking online, whether it’s on Amazon or wherever. If the the company that the negative review has been being left about doesn’t respond to that, that’s a sign right there. I’m not so sure I’m going to work with them, you know what I mean? Whereas if they do come in and they take this negative review and they try to turn it into a positive, you can at least see they’re attempting to, whether or not they succeed is all dependent upon the person that’s upset about it to a large degree. But at least you can see that they’re trying to take it seriously, right? So yeah, that’s a great point.
Melissa Barnett: The reality is for those reviews is I used to train companies how to respond to those sort of negative reviews. Negative reviews are not a bad thing necessarily. What’s a bad thing is, is when the company can’t come back with a professional response, and a way to solve the situation. And if you’re seeing anything that, there’s are always red flags when you’re looking at a company to use, especially when you’re looking at your home and what’s in it, right?
Adam Small: Right, right. Cool. All right, so before we wrap up here, do you guys have anything else that you want to add?
Teresa Drake: I would just say I’d to thank all the realtors and investors that have trusted us so far. I mean, I started this company middle of the year, last year, and we’ve blossomed and grown in ways that I could have never imagined within our first year of business. So, I mean, our goal is within five years to be franchising and having us a little bit of everywhere.
Adam Small: So if somebody is somewhere else and listening to this down the line, then maybe they can find you locally.
Teresa Drake: Maybe they can. Give us a little time, but definitely keep checking. They can always check our website for updates, our Facebook page. But yeah, I mean, just like I said, the word of mouth has been huge for us and we so appreciate everyone that’s given us a shot, and hopefully more of them will.
Adam Small: Cool. Melissa, anything?
Melissa Barnett: Yeah. And I just want to kind of say that I know we have a 60 mile radius, give or take, but depending on the job, I mean, keep in mind that we will talk to you and if we’re able to make our way out there, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll make our way out there.
Adam Small: Teresa, do you want to go ahead and just put your website and maybe email or phone number out there for people to contact you?
Teresa Drake: Yeah, that would be excellent. Yeah. So the best phone number is 3174163167, and really you can call anytime or text day or night. If I’m available, I will pick up.
Adam Small: If not, it’ll go to voicemail.
Teresa Drake: Right. Absolutely. And I’ll return your call within a business day, absolutely. And then our website is going be and that’s a number two in there. Clear the number two close, Adam Small: All right, great. Kim, you got anything else you want to add?
Kimberly Small: Just reminding agents to get to know people this. You want to make that transaction as smooth as possible for your client, and these people are going to help you do that. So keep making those relationships and building on them and helping your clients.
Adam Small: All right, great. Well guys, thank you so much for listening to the Real Estate Marketing Minute. If you what you see or hear, don’t forget to click on the like and/or subscribe buttons, and we’ll see you next time.