Building a Business
Top to Bottom's growth with word-of-mouth and marketing
Making a new life in America wasn’t easy for LUCIANA WILSON, but she was determined to do so. In just four years, the owner and founder of Top to Bottom House Cleaning has built her company into a multi-million-dollar enterprise.
“I saw that all the cleaning companies did the same thing,” says Wilson. “People were paying money and not getting service. There was a huge market for what I wanted to do.”
Wilson’s business is an outgrowth of necessity and opportunity. When she moved to the U.S. from Brazil in 2014, Wilson brought with her impressive career credentials. She had a degree in marketing and had worked in the marketing departments of major automobile and gas companies. However, as Wilson didn’t have a social security number yet and she spoke little English, the only jobs she could get were with cleaning companies.
It wasn’t long before Wilson realized she could offer people a better cleaning service, one that satisfied customers and treated cleaning staff as well. As a result, Top to Bottom House Cleaning provides comprehensive cleaning services for one price, and the work is guaranteed. If clients aren’t happy, the company redoes the job.
In addition, Wilson treats her employees like professionals. She gives them extensive, month-long training in up-to-date, eco-friendly cleaning techniques, and she expects them to do an outstanding job. In return, Wilson pays them a good salary.
“I ask a lot of my employees, so they expect to be paid,” she says.
Through aggressive marketing and word of mouth, Wilson’s business grew rapidly. Top to Bottom House Cleaning, which is now one of the area’s largest cleaning companies, has a client roster of nearly 8,000 residential and commercial spaces. Her contracts include major businesses such as Acura, Starbucks, Ulta Beauty, and Cape Fear Clinic.
The firm also recently won a contract to clean City of Wilmington offices.
In an effort to give back to the community, Top to Bottom is also part of the nationwide charity Cleaning for a Reason, which provides free home cleaning to patients with cancer.
Wilson’s model has been so successful, she is franchising it. True to form, Wilson isn’t thinking small. She already has her first international franchise, in Portugal, lined up.
Franchising Top to Bottom House Cleaning serves several purposes. First, it will engender more trust for the business, says Wilson. People know that when a business is franchised, it is financially viable and has the proper insurance, she explains.
In fact, helping others is a prime motivator for Wilson. She serves as co-chair of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s Latin American Business Council. In that position, she guides budding entrepreneurs as they build their businesses, and she serves as a role model.
“I am literally a Latin-American woman who came here with little English and in four years am making over $2 million a year,” she says. “If I can do it, everybody can do it.”
Wilson gives others credit for their support and help in her journey. She says getting where she wanted to has taken a lot of time from family and friends.
Just as important to Wilson are her employees.
“I tell my team that I am nobody without them,” Wilson says. “I would not exist if not for them. We have a lot of loyalty for each other. We are literally a family, me and my cleaners.”
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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