Couple takes leap of faith into commercial cleaning franchise ownership
Scott and Carmen Ramsey were willing to take a risk eight years ago, and that risk paid off. The Terre Haute, Ind., couple had been running their own cleaning business on the side for about a year when they made the leap into franchise ownership with Office Pride. “We said yes even though we weren’t sure how we were going to do it,” Carmen says. They now have more than 40 contracts, and Carmen is diving back into managing their business full-time. The couple has four kids between them – his are Michael, 23, and Elias, 14, and hers are Sebastian, 21, and Alexis, 18. In their rare spare time, Scott and Carmen enjoy cookouts with all the kids around their backyard pool. They sat down recently to share their thoughts about their experience owning an Office Pride franchise.
What were you doing before Office Pride?
Scott: The same thing I’m doing now. I worked for Ivy Tech Corporate College; I still work there. I manage training for business and industry in general. We go out to businesses and companies and manufacturers and say, “What do you need to make your employees better?,” and provide that training for them. I was in the ministry for 19 years before that.
Carmen: I was working the front desk at Cummins Behavioral Health. It’s a little different; I initially went full-time with our business, but I’m managing a friend’s office now. Our friend’s wife, who was his partner, had to leave for surgery. I filled in ‘temporarily’ for almost two years now. But it’s reached the point where I can’t manage his office and our business.
Scott: So she’s now going full-time with our business.
How did you find out about Office Pride?
Scott: Prior to getting into Office Pride, we ran our own cleaning business for a year. I met a fellow by the name of Ace Woodson who was an Office Pride franchisee at the time. Ace was one of my volunteers in the ministry who ran some events for me, and he was the one who introduced us to Office Pride. That year, we ran our little business with two little contracts. We had a partner, and the three of us worked the two contracts together. We were interested in Office Pride because we’re visionary about how big can we go. Our partner said, “No, we’re not going to go there, I just need a couple of extra dollars in my pocket, and this suffices.” It wasn’t too long after that there started being friction with our partner. We started growing, and he had different ideas and we finally bought him out.
Carmen: We’re still friends. Scott and I collectively just had a different vision.
How does your faith affect the way you run your business?
Carmen: It inundates everything we do. Your faith is faith in people, faith in humankind in general. I take the “to serve” part seriously because in everything you do, you never know when you’re going to be ministering, not by what you say or by going to church but by your actions. I wasn’t raised in church; we didn’t go to church on Sundays, but I believe in God. There’s a lot I’m ignorant about, but that’s where Scott comes into the picture.
Scott: I saw the hard parts of Christendom; I was in the ministry for 19 years. Who you are and the core value of who you are as an individual, you can’t separate them – that’s what drives our business. We see this is an opportunity to change lives in an everyday kind of way and hopefully we can help change someone internally as well. It opens the door for things financially. Before, we always had a cap in our lives as to how much we could make. Now, the sky’s the limit. No, we’re not there yet, but we have that dream. We can be a part of helping people financially, we can invest in them as we continue to grow. That’s part of our passion.
Carmen: In general, from (CEO and founder) Todd Hopkins on down, everyone is wonderful. It’s life enrichment through relationships. We’ve developed some really awesome relationships. Todd’s availability – he’s there. I emailed him just the other day.
Scott: He was texting me and finally my phone rang and he said, “Forget this texting. Let’s talk!”
Carmen: Scott and I are a little reserved, but we’ve always felt like this was a family. They’re accessible. That’s been a great lesson.
With a faith-based business, how have you used your business to support your faith?
Scott: Youth for Christ, an outreach internationally to teenagers, specifically non-churchgoing, non-Christian teenagers.
Carmen: Which is what Scott did when he was in ministry. We help our employees a lot when we can. I always tell people we’re a custom-fit company; that goes for employees as well as the client.
Scott: If we see an employee with a need and we can help, we do. Those things just come out-of-pocket; you can’t get a receipt for that. Those are things people never see, and that’s okay because the individual it was meant for saw it.
Do you do any of the cleaning yourself?
Scott (laughing): Oh, yes, too much.
Carmen: There are highs and lows. We’re back in the trenches again. I’m the main go-to person with it. Every facility we start, we’re in there initially. We lead by example and try to set a precedent. We’re side-by-side with our employees.
Scott: We want to get the customer off on the right foot, and who better to do that than the owner?
Carmen: I feel like actions speak volumes above words. I always tell my employees I have high expectations. I don’t expect any more or less from myself. We’re in a new place until our employees feel comfortable with it. It gives us a good feel for what’s going on and it allows us a realistic window of time to make sure the customer is taken care of and the employee isn’t killing themselves in the process.
How long have you been a franchisee? Eight and a half years.
How many contracts/employees do you have? 23 employees and 42 contracts.
How important is it to have cleaning experience before joining Office Pride?
Carmen: It’s not brain-intensive, it’s labor-intensive. As long as someone is willing to apply themselves, they can do it.
What do you like about the job?
Carmen: It’s the relationships with a lot of the people we’ve come in contact with through the business.
Scott: The opportunities.
Carmen: It has provided some good life lessons for our children. There isn’t any job they’re too good for. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
What sets Office Pride apart?
Scott: I think the foundation of who we are as a franchise. The spiritual aspect, the Biblical guidelines we abide by, the honesty, integrity and hard work, the core values of who we are set us apart. The vendors respond to Office Pride differently because of our values.
Carmen: Some of it, too, is in our professionalism. We went to a walkthrough where they brought five vendors in. It could have been intimidating. We utilized the 1% ad fund that Office Pride has and made our proposal folder really professional and well-articulated. We don’t tout that we’re perfect, but if there’s an issue, we’re going to fix it. We’re not afraid to go above and beyond.
Scott: When you take all that into account as well as the way we attempt to manage it, quality comes out of all of that. That’s what sets us apart as well. We’re not salespeople; never have been, never will be. But apparently we are, because word-of-mouth travels. We continue to get calls. Carmen has to quit working for our friend because we’re so overwhelmed we can’t keep up with it all. I think that says something to the community: Hey, these guys are about quality. We had two different customers who negotiated with us on contracts instead of asking for a proposal. They said, “Hey, you guys aren’t the cheapest, but is there any way you can come closer to the price? Because you guys are the best.”
What kind of businesses do you service? Medical facilities, banks, department stores, libraries, radio and TV stations, insurance offices, a foundry and other manufacturers, industrial sites, construction clean-ups.
What attracts customers to Office Pride rather than its competitors?
Scott: That’s part of it. A friend of mine doesn’t use us as his cleaning company because he’s in a building where the owner dictates that. He said he is concerned about the cleaning companies that have come and gone there because they’re not very professional.
Carmen: I think the quality of work we’ve done. You want people to come in and say, “Who cleaned this?” The services we provide have helped us get out name out there.
Scott: To a business, it’s a huge thing. Our presentation packet has a copy of our insurance certificate, 20 reasons why you should use us, information about our timekeeping system, testimonials from some customers.
Carmen: People ask what facilities you clean so they can check it out. We get employee referrals the same way. Why would you refer a friend if you didn’t think they were a good employee or good people?
Scott: Networking helps. People like to know somebody they know is cleaning their facility
Carmen: They like the local aspect of it.
What kind of person do you think would enjoy owning an Office Pride franchise?
Carmen: A driven person. You can’t be afraid of working; you need to get right down there with them. I was taught to earn my keep. Somebody who wants to better themselves and set their own limits and their own goals. They need to be hardworking and willing to put in the effort to better their life.
Scott: Somebody who really wants to be a part of a franchise or organization that’s moving in the right direction and doing the right things the right way at the right time that sees the sky is the limit. The opportunities within Office Pride are here to make it what you want.
Carmen: You don’t have to compromise your morals and values to do it.
Scott: If you work the system – because Office Pride has the right systems in place, the right support, the right training – it will work for you. It’s a great opportunity. Todd says there aren’t many franchises where you can get in at the level you can here where the sky is the limit. It’s a great opportunity for people like us.
Carmen: You’ll never work harder than you do for yourself. It’s worth it.
What do you do in your free time?
Scott (laughing): Try and get some sleep.
Carmen: And we spend time with our kids. Our motto with our kids is if we serve food, they will come. We get together for cookouts and we have a pool, so our kids know we’re there for them. We have an open-door policy. We’re blessed in that all of our kids really get along.
Scott: We’ve created the kind of environment in our home where our kids like coming back home. We value those times.
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