Cleaning with success

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 4:49 p.m.

While he was knocking on doors, his wife was dialing phone numbers to help get their business off the ground.

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Cliff Britt, the owner of E&C Janitorial Service, has built a successful cleaning business from the ground up, even while working a full-time job in the beginning.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardian

"I was grinding everyday going door to door and being rejected, but I didn't give up, I only got stronger," said Cliff Britt, the owner of E&C Janitorial Service. "My wife (Edwennia Britt) helped out a lot by calling different businesses and setting up appointments for me to meet with them."

Britt said he was confident in his ability to operate a successful business because of his determination to succeed. His business has been in existence for five years, and he said although he worked for other companies, he always wanted his own business.

"You have to have confidence in yourself for your business to be successful," Britt said. "It won't happen overnight, and there might not be any money coming in at first, but you have to have a plan."

Britt said he started out doing homes and apartments.

"I worked a lot of hours in the beginning," he said, adding that he kept his regular job as his own business was getting off the ground. Britt said he would get off that job, get a nap and something to eat, then go to work for himself.

During that time, a typical day for him would be from 4 a.m.-3 p.m. at his job and then from 6 p.m.-midnight or even up to 3 a.m. as he worked to build his own business.

"I have worked 23 hours in a day to make sure my work gets done and that it gets done right," Britt said. "When you begin to see checks coming in, and you want to see even bigger checks coming in, that is great motivation to work hard."

Britt, a 1992 graduate of Eastside High School and the father of two children, said he soon realized he could be successful working for himself.

"After leaving my other job and after the first six months of doing this, I began to make more money than I did on any other full-time job," he said.

Britt said he has employees now, but still goes to work because he wants his employees to know that he won't ask them to do anything he won't do himself. He said he believes in empowering his employees, and that two of his former employees have gone on to start their own businesses.

He said the success of his business depends not only his hard work, but the hard work and the honesty of his employees.

"Making sure you get dependable people is important to running a successful business," he said. He said it is also important to make sure customers pay on time so that employees can get paid on time.

"Your workers are your business," he said, adding that in the first quarter of next year, he is hoping to launch an incentive program for his employees. "When you do little things for your workers, that makes them want to go the extra mile and do little things for you to ensure the business is run its best."

Julie Hause, the operations manager at Hillel at the University of Florida, said Britt is good about taking care of the little things.

"He has been providing us services for almost two years," said Hause. "We are real pleased with his work. If we have a problem, he fixes it and he makes sure it is taken care of. He does good work."

Britt said he specializes in general cleaning, floor work that includes stripping and waxing, carpet cleaning and lawn maintenance. He said the lawn maintenance is something he just added to the business, but he said it is picking up steadily.

Britt said being a business owner is harder than he thought it would be, but he said he can handle it.

"You can be down three workers one day, but the work still has to get done," he said.

But Britt stays positive and he is pleased with the direction his business is going.

"I can't complain," he said. "I've been blessed. It's coming slow, but that is how I like it. I prefer quality customers more than a big quantity of customers."

Britt said the cleaning industry is extremely competitive and some owners will sell their services cheap to get a contract from a competitor.

"People will low-bid you by several hundred dollars, but I'm not going to underbid myself," Britt said. "I'm going to provide service at a reasonable value."

The phone number to E&C Janitorial Service is (352) 375-4138.

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