Almost anyone with a mop, bucket and a business card can open a cleaning business. “The barriers to entry for this business are almost non-existent,” said Victoria Amador, co-founder and CEO of Tremendous Maid, a Dorchester-based residential and commercial cleaning service. But not all cleaning services have a social component like Tremendous Maid, said Amador. A native of the Dominican Republic, she proud to call herself an immigrant entrepreneur; she hires many workers who are disadvantaged, and has received accolades for her businesses’ impact in a low-income neighborhood. “I believe our clients love us because they know we are part of something much bigger than just cleaning. We are a social company helping our employees to grow and develop – and we just happen to be in the cleaning business.” Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene spoke with Amador about her family-owned and operated cleaning company.
“My mother was a housekeeper and commercial cleaner who sometimes worked two to three jobs at a time. She was a single mom and worked hard to earn enough money to bring my sisters and me to the U.S. When I first came here, I didn’t even know enough English to ride the bus, and I worked as a housekeeper at a hotel. At one point I was embarrassed to say I was the daughter of a housekeeper and a cleaner myself. But five years ago, because we had so much experience in cleaning, my mother, sisters and I decided that we wanted to bring a really excellent high-end cleaning experience to the Boston market. Because we barely had any money, I had to empty the small amount in my retirement plan to launch the company. We started with $0 in bookings – now we are approaching $1 million in bookings. The turnover rate in the cleaning industry is over 300 percent and there is a low morale in the industry. Currently we have 33 employees; for some of our employees, this is the first job they’ve ever had in the U.S. All applicants from any background are welcome, as long as they pass a thorough background check and do well in our interviewing process. For newcomers to the U.S., sometimes we need to train them not only on how to clean but also on details like how to read street signs, so they know where to park. It’s a huge challenge, but we can’t discriminate against anyone – especially those who need work the most. People think cleaning is easy and can be done by anyone. But if you clean 5 large homes a day or 10-20 toilets a day, scrub 5 thousand square feet of floors, dust a facility, remove trash, and clean 14 elevators, at the end of the day, it feels like someone beat you up with a baseball bat. But all of us love cleaning and making our clients happy. There’s nothing like walking into a sparkling space and seeing everything shine. People’s homes and businesses are their most prized possessions, and we value that.”