All across the globe, April means Earth month. This year, it's our 48th annual reminder that this little planet of ours is definitely one worth loving on. With all things green on the brain, it also seemed like a pretty perfect chance to take a look at some of the eco-forward things Vibe members are doing to protect and preserve this beautiful place we call home.
Michelle Day, founder of Kitsap Clean, is the perfect example. Want to talk about the health benefits, cost savings and value of going green when it comes to cleaning products and practices in your home? Michelle is your gal.
Vibe: Cleaning isn’t usually the first thing people think about when deciding on a career path. What inspired you to become a leader within the cleaning industry, ultimately founding your own company?
MD: House cleaning is definitely an in-demand service for the Kitsap area, and I had considerable experience working in hotel housekeeping while in college. Kitsap Clean was born out of my interests in environmental issues, technology (website design, in particular) and previous experience in the cleaning industry.
Vibe: You mention your interest in technology. What role does that play in how you run and grow your business?
MD: Technology has played a crucial role in allowing our company to grow. We were the first cleaning company in the area that offered online booking on our website, and we use several apps that allow us to communicate more effectively with our clients. Thanks to the apps we use, our clients receive real time updates, telling them when our teams are on their way and when the job is done. Clients can also view and pay their bill electronically with the tap of a button.
Vibe: You’ve recently joined Vibe as a full-time member, and are on the waitlist for a private office in the new building. What brought you to Vibe?
MD: We really wanted to set up our office in a space where we could engage with other like-minded community members. We looked at a few different coworking options in the area, and found that Vibe really aligned the best with our philosophy and needs. We love the commitment Vibe has to environmental issues, and the people that we are interacting with here. The location serves us very well, too.
Vibe: The match between Kitsap Clean as a green, environmentally friendly company, and Vibe’s new building, one of the West Sound region’s most eco-forward to date, is a pretty cool one. What is it about Kitsap Clean that makes you so “green”?
MD: For us, it’s really important to lead with both planet-friendly and people-friendly sustainable practices. On the planet side of things, we try to only use non-toxic cleaning supplies and recycled and compostable products (such as bags). Cleaning “green” takes a bit more effort and elbow-grease, but we really feel that it's important. It makes a huge difference for both for the health and safety of our clients AND that of our employees. We're very careful not to expose them to unnecessary chemicals.
Vibe: How do you think being at Vibe Coworks will impact your business, and the world of work for local creatives, entrepreneurs and remote workers in Poulsbo and throughout the West Sound Region?
MD: We are very excited to be part of the Vibe Coworks community and hope that it will allow us to make even more great connections with people with similar interests and concerns. We are so impressed by the commitment Vibe has to environmental issues! We are also very excited to be in the new building once it is finished!
Vibe: You’ve talked about Kitsap Clean being a socially responsible employer. Talk to us about what this means, and what the impact has been for your business, your team, and the clients you serve.
MD: Cleaning is hard work. Unfortunately, it’s frequently very poorly paid as well. Many of our competitors only pay minimum wage. At Kitsap Clean, we really strive to create a people-friendly and positive work environment, and have never paid any of our employees less than $15/hour (even during training). Together with bonuses, paid mileage, paid time off and tips from clients, our employees earn a living wage and have the ability to take substantial paid time off. This is something that I’m very proud of.
Paying our team fairly has also meant that professionals stay with us—we have a much lower turnover rate for employees than what is standard for our industry, and our team is happier and more productive overall. It’s great for our clients, too. It means that they have more consistency with the cleaners who are caring for their home and a more positive “vibe” coming from our team members. Many of our clients get to know our team members quite well, which is great.
Vibe: Talk to us about the clients you serve. Are there any favorite stories you can share?
MD: Many of our clients are busy, active people looking to outsource their cleaning in order to be able to do other things with that time, such as spending time with their family. Financially, hiring a cleaning service makes a lot of sense for many people. We are able to clean much more efficiently than most individuals can since our teams have the tools and the training to do this well. But we really serve a wide variety of clients, including retirees, busy families, and executives. Recently, we started offering our employees an employee discount on our cleaning services—and now several of our employees are now taking advantage of our cleaning service as well!
Vibe: Talk to us about your team. How many people are working with you, what’s their background(s), why do they love working with you, what makes them special?
MD: Right now we have about a dozen employees and they come from a wide range of backgrounds. Many are moms who are looking to supplement their family’s income while their children are in school or daycare. We only do team cleaning, which means that there are always at least two people on a cleaning job, although for “Deep” and “Moving” cleanings, it isn’t uncommon to have a three or four person team (depending on the size of the job). I would say all our employees have amazing personalities and are very friendly, and are more than willing to chat with our customers about our cleaning processes and products. We also have an office manager, Adriene, who is at Vibe most often and is more than willing to talk to other Vibe members about our business—so don’t be afraid to start up a conversation!
Vibe: If you could offer one piece of advice to other businesses and individuals who are wishing to be more environmentally savvy in their day-to-day, what would it be?
MD: Little things matter. I think sometimes environmental problems can become overwhelming, given the seriousness of the issues currently facing the planet. But seemingly “small” actions do have an impact. Don’t be discouraged!
VC: On a more personal level, what’s your favorite thing about Kitsap?
MD: It is such a beautiful place—and we should keep it that way!
Vibe: What are you passionate about, beyond work?
MD: I love gardening, and spend quite a bit of time in a pea patch in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island! I am also a parent to a very active ten year old, and love to go hiking and camping.
Vibe: Anything else you’d like to share / get off your chest?
MD: Thank you for the opportunity to share our story with the Vibe community!