Successful businesses don’t need to be complicated. In fact, Winch Enterprises, which operates under the name Cleanlots, has run a simple operation for decades.
The company provides a much needed but simple service. And the founder even offers expertise in a book to other entrepreneurs. Read more about the business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does
Cleans parking lots.
Founder Brian Winch told Small Business Trends, “We’ve been providing a parking lot litter cleanup service since 1981.”
Winch also wrote a book about this simple business idea.
He adds, “I share my experience with others in my book Cleanlots – America’s Simplest Business.”
Winch says, “Our clients have commented to us on many occasions how they appreciate the way we make their jobs easier. Anyone can clean. We provide extra value to them by reporting any incidents of property damage, graffiti, illegal dumping, burned out lighting or vagrancy while we’re on site cleaning.”
How the Business Got Started
As an easy side project.
Winch adds, “I was looking to start a simple outdoor service business in 1981. One that I could start as a side hustle while still working my day job. I had little money and skills and no college education. My dad (who had unexpectedly passed away at the time) was a janitor who took on various side jobs to supplement his income. One of his gigs was cleaning up litter material outside a nearby shopping plaza. He had taken me to assist him a couple of times when I was a young teen. I recalled how easy and peaceful this work was to do in the early morning hours before the businesses opened. I decided to start my own parking lot litter cleanup business to make him proud.”
Getting his first paying customers.
Winch explains, “My biggest “win” was getting my first client to clean two shopping plazas. I knew my prospects were property management companies, so I started cold calling them from the information I found in Yellow Pages telephone directory. This was the internet back in the day! I developed an elevator pitch and began calling to introduce myself and briefly pitch the benefits of my service. I made about four or five calls until I got a very interested prospect in my service. Long story short – they became my first client! This provided me the confidence to continue.”
Winch says, “We decided to bring in more people to clean in order to more efficiently service the entire city. This put more pressure on me to build our clientele. Many of our existing clients were more than pleased to learn that we could service more of their properties. We have never looked back!”
It’s not always better to offer more services.
Winch explains, “We thought at the time that we should offer other services in order to make ourselves more attractive. We spent a few years hating these other services. They were dropped and we returned to our roots – to be seen as the “specialists” for litter cleanup.”
The team uncovers lots of treasure.
Winch adds, “We find all sorts of interesting, and sometimes odd, items that people discard outside the properties we clean. Wallets, purses, phones, articles of clothing and sometimes money. We try our best to return these valuables, but people are careless with their money. We find paper bills of various denominations outside restaurants, bars and stores. The most I’ve found at one time was $600!”
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Images: Image: Cleanlots, Brian Winch