Heading into spring of 2020, Kim Maxwell’s new business venture was doing well.
Maxwell had opened Suddenly Spotless, a professional cleaning service for vacation properties in August 2019, and the Fayette County resident was looking forward to a busy summer season.
“We had a bunch of girls (cleaning technicians) on staff and we were just getting ready for our first big vacation rental season,” she said of her team that serviced rentals in the New River Gorge area.
But just as her team geared up for the season, Covid-19 brought the entire world to a standstill.
And as the tourism industry sputtered at its mercy, Maxwell said it didn’t take long for her to realize that she needed to rethink the model for her new business.
“I recognized the needs of the community had shifted,” she said. “The vacation rental scene was put on hold, but businesses and homes in the community were sort of desperate for professional cleaning and disinfecting services so we kind of pivoted.”
Maxwell, who owns two vacation rentals of her own, opened Suddenly Spotless when she realized the need for professional vacation rental cleaning services in the area.
But pre-Covid, she said she had been against the idea of dipping her toe into residential cleaning.
“It’s a totally different ballgame,” she said. “I never really thought this would be the direction we would go in, but as soon as we made the shift we’ve been overwhelmed by people enthusiastically asking about our services.”
It took a few months for the shift to occur, though, as Maxwell said she went into “school mode” for a few months.
She said her techs were out of work for about two months until people began coming in around Memorial Day.
It was soon after that when she received an LISC small business grant, which enabled her to purchase a business development program to build the residential side of the business.
“The grant was totally awesome,” she said. “I got a little grant money from the state and some PPE money and that helped keep us alive, but the LISC money has been a game changer.
“With the system we have in place now, I think we could be a half-million dollar business in the next couple of years.”
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Suddenly Spotless began taking residential customers in October, and Maxwell said business has grown quickly.
“In six months we’ve gotten 30 regular recurring clients,” she said. “That’s kind of impressive, I think.”
But Maxwell said sending her employees into clean rental properties and the homes of strangers during a global pandemic was, and is, a little scary.
“It kept me up at night,” she said. “Just thinking about sending my girls into a place where 15 people had been staying for three days. Or into someone’s home.”
She said one of her employees who previously worked in the medical field helped her research, keeping up with CDC guidelines for masks and gloves usage and what cleaning equipment to use.
And Maxwell said it’s important for their clients — both residential and rental owners — to know they’re taking all the necessary precautions.
“Cleaning and disinfecting has been in the spotlight and people are recognizing it’s a necessity,” she said. “It feels really good to provide that service.”
Maxwell’s 11 technicians clean on weekly, bi-weekly and monthly schedules throughout Fayette County and are now branching out into the Beckley area.
In addition to residential and rental properties, Maxwell said they also clean a few larger spaces including the Fayetteville Town Hall, Fayetteville Police Department, a few apartment buildings and WOAY TV.
Maxwell said growth within the business model is important, but she said she’s also looking to help her neighbors with the “Community Give Back Cleans.”
She explains, for every 10 recurring clients Suddenly Spotless signs, one “deserving” person in the community receives free cleaning for a year.
So far, her team is cleaning for a mom with leukemia, another person with health problems and an employee at the Fayette County Health Department, who Maxwell said has worked “80 hours a week dealing with Covid.”
“We usually put it on our Facebook page asking for recommendations,” she said, explaining how recipients are chosen. “Right now, we’re actively seeking our first (recipient) in the Beckley area.”
Maxwell said the “give back” cleanings are the best part of her job.
“We love this community and want to make it a little bit better.”
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Maxwell said she finds people – most often women – are often reluctant to ask for help when it comes to domestic issues.
She said that’s what Suddenly Spotless is for.
“A lot of times people are embarrassed to have someone come in and clean their dirty home,” she said. “I guess I want to say, a dirty house to us is like a hungry person to a restaurant owner. It’s OK to ask for help.
“We like cleaning.”
For more information about Suddenly Spotless or to receive a free quote, call 304-772-6009 or visit www.suddenlyspotless.net.