One of the things I enjoy the most about social media is the opportunity to network with professionals we’re unlikely to cross paths with elsewhere. I recently connected with Angela Siele on Twitter, and I’ve invited her to talk about her experience as a new professional organizer in Kenya.
It is said that our future is defined by our history. In this respect, Kenya’s colonial past has significantly defined the housekeeping and cleaning industry. Under the British colonial rule, servants were commonplace, largely underpaid and over-utilized. This has led to what I call the ‘maid’ culture: a mindset which assumes that a housekeeper or janitor’s job is of a low cadre and therefore does not command the respect of a white-collar job.
We however argue that this need not be the case, since without the services of a professional cleaner, homes, offices and the entire nation would be in a chaotic state. Unfortunately, since the individuals in the industry are barely trained in the trade, it becomes challenging to convince home and property owners that there is an added value to the service.
The ‘maid’ culture makes defining the market for professional cleaning and organizing services quite a challenge. For example, consider these three market segments: upper-income, middle-income and low-income earners. These market groups each have their challenges when it comes to adopting professional cleaning and organizing services. However, a common characteristic is that each would prefer to hire an individual for which they can pay a lower wage. Often times, these employees serve as both nannies and housekeepers.
Broom and Order’s vision is to redefine the perceptions of professional cleaners, introduce the concept of professional organizers and elevate their status from that of a ‘maid’. By adding value to the service, through training, insurance and consistent quality service delivery, these service providers can gain respect for their trade.
The future therefore of Broom & Order relies on the ability to innovate and provide a service that suits the needs of an identified market group. The solutions to challenges currently faced can be a learning point for other start-up and existing cleaning and organizing businesses. We have come up with the following tips that can assist your business;
Create your inner circle
It is worth the effort to create lasting relationships geared at the well-being of your business. These people and groups should not only be perceived as prospective investors but also as knowledge tanks and connections to vast networks. This approach has seen Broom & Order avoid pit holes and has assisted us in generating viable business proposals.
Understand the Culture
For any business to truly make an impact, it is vital that it undertakes a market research to understand the culture and perceptions. This will not only assist in knowing exactly what services to offer, but it will also enable the formulation of strategies for combating negative perceptions in the industry for the long term.
Timing is everything
A well-timed process is vital in achieving success. The Kenyan market in particular is the kind that is slow-to-adopt new services. This is to do with the trust levels as a result of theft and insecurity in the area. Introducing a service should thus be done with patience and a non-intrusive approach.
Being one of the most techno-savvy nations in Africa, Kenyan professionals and youth can reached via social media networks. These channels provide a low-cost marketing approach and access to an already existing network.
Equipping employees to become professional cleaners and organizers can provide credibility to such a start-up business in Kenya. Additionally, recruiting employees who have a certain level of education allows for the instilling of values such as etiquette and integrity.
Above all, remember that there is no challenge too great for your entrepreneur heart. Smile through it all!
Angela Siele is the owner of Broom & Order, and an expert cleaner and organizer, social entrepreneur, motivational speaker, nature photographer and lover of life. Follow Angela on Twitter.