As a teenage tennis pro in Australia in the 1970s, Alison Neumann Lundy needed to supplement her income on days off the court — so she found a job cleaning the local kindergarten. The temporary work fit well with her tennis-driven, obsessive-compulsive mentality to do the job right. Still, she never imagined that 30 years later she’d be running her own cleaning business on the other side of the world.
Today, her 10-year-old company, Alison’s Cleaning, is a trusted provider of residential and commercial cleaning services for nearly 60 buildings in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis’ historic Warehouse District.
“I’m very much into building relationships — within our community, within our buildings,” said Neumann Lundy. “I also love the history that’s down here in the North Loop. When you go into the condominiums in the older warehouse buildings, there’s so much creativity, and so you’re inspired while you’re cleaning them … to be a part of creating the whole picture.”
Finding the right employees
Not surprisingly, not everyone shares Neumann Lundy’s passion for cleaning, which makes hiring good employees a challenge as her company continues to grow.
“People have a stigma attached to certain service industry jobs,” she said, “and it’s very hard to get the younger generation to see that a cleaning job is really no different than working in a restaurant.”
Problems related to hiring and retaining staff are not uncommon among small business owners. According to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index — a quarterly survey that measures optimism of small business owners — more than half of those surveyed say finding qualified people to apply for jobs at their businesses is a top challenge.
The survey also asked owners to identify other challenges facing their businesses today, and “attracting customers and finding new business” topped their list of priorities.
Building her company’s brand is one way Neumann Lundy addresses these challenges and attracts new clients and new employees, she said. Her fleet of branded company cars serves a dual purpose — to advertise the company when the cars are seen driving around Minneapolis, and to provide her team an easy way to travel from job to job.
“Along with our staff, our Minis are our rock stars,” she said. “People love them — they make people smile.”