How This Entrepreneur Joined Forces with Other Local Businesses to Build a Strong Brand
Judith Virag's cleaning company operates under a single brand with other trusted home service businesses in Calgary, sharing recognition and leads.Visit Website ››
We profile Jobber customers and industry experts for #thedailyhustle to learn how they build and operate successful businesses.
An emerging collaborative business model allows for individual entrepreneurs to cooperate as a team—offering support and marketing under a strong common brand—while still allowing each member to call their own shots.
It’s a model that works perfectly for Judith Virag, director of the cleaning division of Harding’s Services Inc. in Calgary, Canada.
Work was never done
After 15 years as an executive assistant at big corporations, ranging from a professional hockey team to big banks, Virag decided she had had enough.
“The job was never finished. I never went home thinking, I’ve done it all today. It was always my desk that the big jobs landed on,” she remembers. “After years of paper pushing I decided to quit, cold turkey.”
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Satisfaction from providing a service
In March 2012, she started her own cleaning service and has never looked back. At first it was just herself and three clients. But the work gave her the satisfaction that the corporate world couldn’t.
“I like the instant gratification of the job. You work four to five hours and you know you did an good job. The house looks and smells amazing and you gave it your all,” she says.
Now she runs a busy division of Harding’s Services Inc. that provides residential, commercial and construction cleaning with a roster of 451 clients—of which about 125 are active at anytime. Despite the huge growth in the scale of the operation, Virag still finds satisfaction in a job well done.
“At the end of the day we provide quality of life for our customers. So they can go and do other things. They don’t have to worry about the cleanliness of their homes or offices. That is very satisfying,” she says. “They have time to enjoy themselves, time to spend time with their families and not worry about cleaning.”
Judith Virag, Harding's Cleaning
At the end of the day we provide quality of life for our customers. So they can go and do other things. They don't have to worry about the cleanliness of their homes or offices. That is very satisfying.
A new model for growth
When it came time to grow her business, instead of going it alone she says she had help. She collaborated with a well-known name in service in the city: Harding’s—a painting company founded in 1996 by Dalton Harding. The name had become synonymous with painters who were passionate about the mastering their craft. The company decided to build on their successful brand by branching out, and they approached Virag with the idea.
“It’s close to the franchise model, but more of a licensing agreement. Each division is owned and operated, but with a common brand, which helps with advertising to give us greater visibility,” she explains.
Many services, one brand
Now, along with Virag’s cleaning division, Harding’s has a residential/commercial painting division, an exterior cleaning/maintenance division, along with ceiling texturing, renovations, and a professional handyman service.
Each of the different divisions has a different skill set and a different set of clients, which they can recommend to each other.
“It works because we can cross-market to our already existing clients,” says Virag.
For example, the renovations division can recommend the cleaning and painting divisions.
Team work makes the dream work
And it’s an organic relationship so partners can commit to what interests them, while remaining flexible to pursue new ideas when it makes sense.
“For example, since window washing is a seasonal business, that licensee also offers winter snow removal services,” she says.
Every team member has his or her strengths and the licensee model allows them to bring their years of expertise together and become bigger and stronger collectively than the sum of their individual businesses.
Lightning round with Harding's Cleaning Services!
What’s your top marketing channel?
In this business it’s about word of mouth. It’s the cheapest and the best. It’s about 70% of our leads. It’s about doing the best job possible, so the customers are constantly happy.
Because in our world the best business is repeat business. That’s where we make our money, so we are consistent, reliable, and on time.
What’s the most valuable tool in your toolbox?
Jobber is by far the best tool. Honestly, it takes away so much paperwork.
The other thing, and you’re going to be surprised, is Sunlight dish soap. It cleans everything. We use it on windows, we use it for mopping in bathrooms, kitchens. It disinfects, it cuts the grease, and makes everything shiny.
Your favorite Jobber feature?
The checklist you can attach to the job. It’s a great tool for us. It’s making us more consistent out in the field.
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Travelling, and visiting with family and friends.
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