IAM799- Creator Helps People Make Money From Green Services

Podcast Interview with Brian Winch

Brian Winch is the author and creator of Cleanlots, America's Simplest Business. Brian has been involved in all aspects of the parking lot litter cleaning business since 1981. He can show you how to start and operate a simple business based from home and make money from a green service that's almost as easy to do as going for a walk!

  • CEO Hack: Attitude I bring to my business and your life, start small and get satisfaction from your achievement
  • CEO Nugget: Quote from Matt Twain; “The two most important days in your life are the day you're born, and the day you find out why you were born
  • CEO Defined: Being able to work for me, being independent

Website: https://www.cleanlots.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cleanlots
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CLEANLOTS/906608026017446
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cleanlots



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[00:00:02.20] – Intro

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

[00:00:30.19] – Gresham Harkless

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today, I have Brian Winch of Cleanlots. Brian, it's awesome to have you on the show.

[00:00:39.20] – Brian Winch

It's great to be here, Gresh.

[00:00:40.60] – Gresham Harkless

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Brian so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing. And Brian is author and creator of Clean Lots, America's Simplest Business. Brian has been involved in all aspects of the parking lot litter cleaning business since nineteen eighty one. He can show you how to start and operate a simple business based from home and make money from a green service that's almost as easy to do as going for a walk. Brian, are you ready to speak to the IMCL community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

[00:01:17.09] – Brian Winch

I'm ready.

[00:01:18.09] – Gresham Harkless

Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to kinda rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more on how you got started. Could you take us through what I call your CEO story and let you get started with the business?

[00:01:30.09] – Brian Winch

Sure. Okay. Well, we have to go way back to nineteen eighty one. And, I was working a full time job and quite frankly, couldn't see myself doing that for the rest of my life. I didn't see where I could progress, you know, in that company or or or as a career, seeing as I didn't have a lot of, job skills. I barely graduated high school. So, you know, I've kind of reached the peak as to where I would probably, go doing that job. So, I started looking at, various possibilities as to what I could do with my life. And, I decided, you know what? I wanna pursue the idea of working for myself. I'd always kind of had an entrepreneurial bent.

I remember when I was about five or six years old, I took some of my brother's toys, cleaned them up, and set up a table in front of the house and sold them to the neighborhood kids. And my brothers weren't too happy with me, but, you know, I always had an interest in kind of working for myself and making my own money as opposed to, you know, making somebody else rich and working for them. And so like I said, I was looking at possibilities. I didn't have a lot of money. I didn't have a lot of, you know, much of an education. But I had a passion to work for myself. But, you know, what was I gonna do? And so I looked I started looking at things, you know, I could do and things I didn't wanna do.

And one of the things I quickly realized was I didn't wanna work inside a building with the same four walls all day. I kind of love my independence, my freedom of being outdoors, working outdoors. And, then I remembered, you know what? My recently passed father at the time, he had a number of, gigs or side hustles to, supplement the family income. He was a caretaker or a janitor. So as a result of his income, he always kinda had to have something going on the side. And when one of those, those, moonlighting your part or spare time jobs, if you will, was was cleaning up litter from a nearby shopping center. And he had taken me along with him a couple of times. And, I remember it was almost it was really simple to do. It was almost as easy as going for a walk.

All we did was get to the building, you know, first thing in the morning before the stores opened and walked around the property, the sidewalks, the parking lot, the surrounding landscape, and, you know, clean up litter, into our litter collection tool. And, you know, there's no bending over handling this stuff or picking it up. It was just simply going for a walk and cleaning up the material. And, you know, since we're the, you know, he was providing the service on a daily basis. You know, quite often we would walk several yards, 10:15, twenty yards between one piece of litter to the next. So it was just a matter of minutes to get this job done.

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And, you know, he off he went to work and, you know, I'd go back home and get ready for school. And so, you know, I thought, you know what? Let me see if there's a market for the service. But, you know, unfortunately, he passed away and I didn't have his experience in his contacts to call upon. So, I just decided I would use the Internet of the day back then, which was the old, yellow pages telephone directory. And, I started, thumbing through, the property managers, and listing, and made about three or four or five calls.

And, all of a sudden, I had a prospect that said, you know what? That sounds great. Here are, three addresses. Go take a look at them, get back to me with some prices, and, we'll see where that goes. And long story short, no. Actually, this has been a long story, hasn't it? But, nevertheless, that's how it all started. I got those three contracts and the school of hard knocks, and the learning process all began from there.

[00:04:58.50] – Gresham Harkless

Nice. It's definitely a great story though, and and I'm sure your dad's definitely, you know, happy that you're you're able to kind of, I guess, carry on a family business in some form, shape, or fashion. And I think that, you know, sometimes we forget at the heart of entrepreneurship is being able to solve problems. And, obviously, to see that problem, be able to create it. Sometimes we can overthink what those solutions are, but really just kind of being there and listening and paying attention to what's not going right and being able to kinda solve that is is such a huge thing to for all of us to remind her as, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners.

[00:05:26.39] – Brian Winch

That's right. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Just, find a need or demand for a service or product and and fill it. And, the great thing about this, business is, you know, quite frankly, there are a lot of people that don't wanna clean up after others. But for for others who, enjoy working outdoors and, great get great satisfaction, seeing the results of their work and also knowing they're doing great community service, it's a great opportunity.

[00:05:54.80] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And and and like you said, that opportunity is real when you, again, can look at, you know, the the parking lot or or wherever it might be that's being cleaned up. You see kinda the fruits of your labor and the things that you're putting in. And it it does a tremendous amount to the property values to, I think, even the the look and the feel and the even the kinda unspoken emotion of seeing a place that really looks good. So I'm sure a lot of property managers and the people that you work with definitely appreciate that. And, so I I know you touched on it, a little bit, but I want to hear a little bit more about your book and and Clean Loss as a whole and how exactly you serve the clients that you work with.

[00:06:28.89] – Brian Winch

Oh, okay. Well, the book, came about about four years into my business. So about nineteen eighty-four, that's when I realized that I had something really great here. I mean, it was a great opportunity for other people similar to myself that, wanted to be self-employed, and have their own business, but but maybe didn't have a lot of money, or job skills or education. And, you know, you know, how do you get started? So I put I started writing all of my experience down into, what became the first version of of Cleanlocks or the book. And, I began marketing it, through the old direct mail channels. So, you know, way back then, there was quite a few business opportunity magazines that you could pick up on the newsstands.

[00:07:11.89] – Gresham Harkless


[00:07:12.30] – Brian Winch

And people, you know, would go to those, you know, thumb through the pages and, you know, find different opportunities. And you know, I had some success with that, but, the the main focus has always been building the actual cleaning business. And, we scaled that from, a one-man operation. And to be honest with you, when I started the business, the whole intent was basically just to keep it simple and just be able to work for myself. And I didn't really, you know, see a huge army of people working for me etcetera. I just wanted to keep things simple. But, as I became successful, I quickly realized, my customers, you know, they wanted me to work at more and more of their property. So, you know, I didn't want to say no and possibly allow a competitor to come in and take my business away. So I scaled the business, by bringing my brothers and other people into, the operation. And, we became quite successful there.

We continue to scale the business upwards to the point where basically in recent years, we're building out, anywhere from six hundred fifty to seven hundred and seven thousand dollars a year just in litter cleanup contracts. And, and then, you know, I revisited the book again, about sharing this opportunity and decided to set up a website. And, I made some more revisions to the book as, you know, as I continue to learn more and more about this business, I put more of that experience into the book or operations manual if you will. And, make it available, from my website clean lots dot com. And, I provide free support. The reason I do that is, it works. It's a simple business to learn, but it's also my way of giving back and helping other people who were in the same situation I was back in nineteen eighty-one. Just kind of looking for any opportunity that you could afford and you could work. And as long as you bring that passion, patience, and persistence, you could be successful.

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[00:09:16.29] – Gresham Harkless

Absolutely love that passion, patience, and persistence. And I think that's such a great reminder. It's so, funny when you were, kinda just talking about how simple it was and the ability to be able to scale the business. I was thinking of, there's a movie called The Founder, and it's a lot of the reasons for McDonald's ability to scale out and grow is the simplicity of the business. And kinda what you were speaking about with your success kinda reminds me so much of that is being able to kinda scale, not because it's rocket science all the time. I think so many times we can kinda overcomplicate things, but because, again, you find what that problem is and you create that solution for it, and then it starts to kinda go from there.

[00:09:49.89] – Brian Winch

Well and you make a great point about people complicating things. And, I'll give you an example. I did that for a brief period of time. You know, there's the the adage that you should give your customers what they want, but, you know, at the same time, you learn that there are some times when you have to say no. You can't keep saying yes. So at one point, we had, a couple of clients come to us and say, Brian, we love your litter cleaning for us at our properties. We love what you're doing for us, making our jobs easier, etcetera. But you know what? We have a little bit of grass on the at the back of the building. Can you cut that for us? Oh, and in the winter, we have a little strip of sidewalk off the city street. Can you clear that for us?

And, you know, back then we were afraid to say no. And, you know, we were afraid that no, if we say no, they're just simply going to take their business elsewhere. But that was a mistake on our part to assume that but also a mistake for us to take on the work. And we did that for probably about four years, you know, on a on a small basis. And, and quite frankly, we hated hated doing that type of work. And so we decided, you know what? We're going to, to, you know, talk to our our clients that we're had were entered into this arrangement. And and we told them, look at, you know, we wanna get out of those other services. That's not who we are, not what we do.

Our service, our niche service is parking lot litter cleaning. We do that better than anybody else. And, you know, quite frankly, they agreed with us. And they said, no problem. We don't wanna lose your litter pickup service. We can find somebody else to do these other services. And, you know, that was a good learning experience. And we've kept the business simple ever since then and grown our business as a result. If you enjoy doing what you're doing, you'll be successful. If there's something you don't like doing, by all means. I mean, there's no reason for you to continue doing it. You know, contract it out or whatever or just get out of it entirely.

[00:11:43.29] – Gresham Harkless

Yeah. Absolutely. And it's a great reminder because not only are you doing yourself a disservice, you're doing a disservice sometimes for your clients by not loving exactly what you're doing and being able to kinda put your all into it. So I absolutely, love that reminder. So would you consider that to be what I like to call your secret sauce or the thing you feel kinda sets you apart and makes you unique is you or the business, I should say? Is it that ability to really focus and create the simplicity business and really only kinda stay in that lane, so to speak?

[00:12:08.70] – Brian Winch

Yeah. We do that. And, also though, I mean, we've kind of expanded upon, you know, what we do. I mean, we mean, anybody can clean up. I mean, it doesn't matter what cleaning service you're doing. But the successful companies that have been around for decades are the ones that give more than what they say they'll do. So like I say, when we're out, our crew is out cleaning up litter from the properties. If you see, some, fresh graffiti that's been tagged on a wall, or a stop sign that's been run down, or somebody has done a midnight drop off by dumping off a mattress and a box spring and a kit old kitchen table, at the back of the property next to the waste bin. We make a point to communicate those issues or concerns as soon as possible, the next morning to our clients.

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And they really appreciate that feedback. It does so much more for us. It helps, solidify, that business relationship. They know we're at the properties. They know that we care about their building. So we're gonna communicate these things that we see. And it's surprising that there are so many, cleaning companies out there, whether they be maid services or office cleaners, and they just take the attitude that, we're there to, you know, to empty the waste baskets and vacuum the floors and dust the the desks and and then we've done our job and we're out of there. And, you know, that's the wrong attitude to take in my mind.

[00:13:35.50] – Gresham Harkless

Truly appreciate that reminder. And I wanted to, switch gears a little bit, and I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an Apple book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

[00:13:47.00] – Brian Winch

Well, you know, I guess it's the attitude that you bring, to your business and to your life. And some people would call it planning. And, you know, I don't have this big six months, six-year plan. I start small, if you will, by saying, okay. This is what I want to accomplish today. This is what I want to accomplish by the end of the week, you know, and then, you know, by the end of the month, etcetera, You know, nice small bite-sized chunks so you feel and you can get satisfaction from your small victories.

[00:14:20.00] – Gresham Harkless

And so I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something if you were to hop into a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.

[00:14:29.29] – Brian Winch

There's a quote from Mark Twain. The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why.

[00:14:37.29] – Gresham Harkless

I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So, Brian, what does being a CEO mean to you?

[00:14:46.29] – Brian Winch

Being able to work for myself and be independent.

[00:14:49.79] – Gresham Harkless

I appreciate your time too. And what I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know, and, of course, how best they can get out of you, get a copy of the book, and find out about all the awesome things you're working on.

[00:15:00.60] – Brian Winch

Well, you know, you can go to my website at clean lots dot com, and there's a wealth of information there. There's a video, on my homepage that, you can take a look at. And it shows me actually providing the service and showing how easy the work is to do. And you get a better understanding of what tools I use and I know how the work is done. And, like I said, all sorts of great information on the website, but also you can order the book. It comes in either an ebook download or a hard copy. Some people still like, prefer hard copies. And, and the contact page, you can reach out to me if you need more help. I personally, deal with everything, about this opportunity when it comes to dealing with people with questions, and concerns. Like I said, the free support I provide, the phone rings on my desk. I don't hire people and coach them to provide answers. You know, if you order my book, I will work with you and you're going to deal with me directly.

[00:15:58.70] – Gresham Harkless

Nice. I definitely appreciate that, Brian. And we will have the links and information in the show notes. And I always say, I think, I think I think even there's a saying that says, you know, a true, show of, you know, being an expert at your craft is not being able to kinda do it yourself but to be able to teach and support so many other people. So I provide you I I I appreciate you for providing those opportunities to do that, through your book and also through the support you provide. And, again, I appreciate your time, and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

[00:16:22.20] – Outro

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

[fusebox transcript]


Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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