Lisa Bands, president of My Cleaning Service in Baltimore
“My father and mother were both well-organized and incredibly kind,” Bands recalls. She not only learned from her parents, but from others who worked in the company, and in more recent years, from the supportive members of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). “I had never met any women business owners before,” says Bands. “I was glad to see other people had some of the same problems I did.”
Bands got started in her parents’ business when she was 12, answering phones. By 17, she was out on the cleaning crew. And throughout her college career, she used the business as a test case for the many papers she had to write – much as her daughter is now doing. Using what she learned in Junior Achievement, from her parents and from other business owners, Bands – who bought the company from her father in 1993 – developed a leadership style that is based on giving people the freedom to do the best they can. “I want to give them enough latitude to make decisions as if this were their company,” says Bands. “As a result, they take a lot of pride in their work.”
The values Bands believes are central to the success of the business are honesty, integrity and customer service. Though Bands has never really thought of doing anything else, there was a point when she became frustrated with what she perceived as communications problems and started looking at other companies to see if they had similar issues. Once she realized that they did, she decided to stay put and focus on improving communications at My Cleaning Service. At first, Bands thought that meant investing in new phone systems, but she soon realized that communications went beyond the equipment used, and she began training her staff to communicate more effectively – from staff members to customers.
Running a women’s business enterprise is a company advantage, Bands acknowledges. She reinforces the “foot-in-the-door” opportunities she is given with top-notch customer service, which is performed solely by company employees, not
subcontractors; a strong “green” program; and state-of-the-art equipment. “We’re committed to our employees, our customers and the environment,” says Bands.
Her vision for the company’s future is to double in size over the next five years. With the addition of her daughter to the company, Bands is optimistic that her daughter’s new ideas and enthusiasm will carry My Cleaning Service toward that goal. Bands’s biggest fear, especially in the current economy, was that there wouldn’t be enough capital to grow. Fortunately, however, aspects of the business – such as post-construction cleanup, which was “dead” last year – are picking up again.
In the meantime, she will continue to live by the lessons her parents taught, including that of helping others with their own business. “There’s enough to go around,” says Bands. “It’s a nice reward to see people achieve their goals from our help.