West Shine Cleaning Services, Irvington: Judith Huaman
Have a broken Swiffer? A husband who thinks crumbs add character and an overscheduled schedule? Judith Huaman’s West Shine Cleaning Service keeps the dust from settling. Her team of house cleaners gets everything spick and span like magic, but the adult kind, in which chores disappear instead of a rabbit. Started in 1999, Judith, a Peruvian immigrant, has made West Shine Westchester’s eco-friendly, organic home cleaning and maid service of choice, promoting and using effective, non-toxic biodegradable and naturally derived safe agents along with low impact processes to make homes sparkle and support earth-friendly lifestyles. Two small business loans from Community Capital New York totaling $14,000 helped her grow her business by providing working capital at a critical juncture and enabled her to buy the kind of quality Hepa-filter vacuum cleaners that do double duty—banishing air pollutants and allergens along with dust bunnies. In addition to ‘regular’ house cleaning, she offers additional home cleaning services including nontoxic rug, carpet, and upholstery cleaning; a full window cleaning service; floor polishing; power washing; car, garage and fridge extras; and post-party clean ups. When Judith’s team cleans your home, here’s what they do:
- Arrive on time and with everything—products, rags, microfiber towels (the only way to get streak free windows), even a vacuum cleaner
- Ask if there are any areas you want to focus on
- Pet your dog
- Clean every nook and cranny of your home (warning: you may get distracted by the shininess of surfaces)
How did you get your business off the ground?I began cleaning houses as a way to support myself and my daughter, and put myself through a BA in management from Mercy College. When I started the business I was very insecure. I received a lot of help from Community Capital New York. I took Community Capital’s Quickbooks class and learned how to do my books and keep track of inventory and cash flow, and their workshops on how to write a business plan. I have 25 steady residential clients, and will be adding six more starting this fall. Word of mouth is my best referral service. Newspaper advertising hasn’t yielded measurable results, though I still advertise in Rivertown, a local paper.
How did your business evolve?A client suggested I incorporate and begin offering other home cleaning services, like power washing and wood floor polishing, and employing others. Her husband was an attorney, and helped me to incorporate. I’m now a member of Women’s Enterprise and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and my business is a “Women and Minority Entperprise” (MWBE) certified business.
What were some of the difficulties?For some of my team members, taking off their shoes was uncomfortable, but it’s part of the culture here for house cleaners. Bare and stockinged feet is not how you would enter, work or spend time in people’s homes in Peru and their home countries. Litter boxes were an issue. I had to give my employees a way to explain that cleaning litter boxes is not included in the service, so they were not taken advantage of. I developed contracts for my clients detailing what we’re supposed to do, beneficial to us both. Another problem was last minute cancellations. Since we make plans for the week and book our workers, same day cancellations have to be because of real emergencies, not because a husband is home. We now require 24 hour notice.
What did you wish you knew?More about marketing in order to continue to grow the business strategically in the neighborhoods we service, like Scarsdale, Katonah, Irvington, Tarrytown and Ardsley.
When did you feel your business had arrived? When I was able to put my daughter through school—she’s now an Assistant Director for Johnson & Johnson working in Dubai.
What’s next? To continue to grow our residential and office cleaning services, using Angie’s List, social media and hang tags. We offer discounts of $25 off for the first cleaning and $20 off for 2nd cleaning for new customers.