Stephanie Nesseth is the first to admit that her house doesn’t always get cleaned. But she has a good excuse.
As the owner of Absolutely Clean in Cedar Rapids, Nesseth is making sure that the homes of all her clients are absolutely clean.
“We are a maid service that cleans everything from top to bottom, left to right,” Nesseth said. “We’ve even done laundry before. Our services are really customizable.”
Nesseth spent many years as a stay-at-home mom and preschool teacher before starting Absolutely Clean 14 years ago. “I didn’t start this thinking I would become a business owner,” she said.
Back in 2001, Nesseth was looking for full-time flexible work, as her family — including her son who battled childhood cancer — was her first priority.
After gaining some clients, Nesseth quickly realized there were other moms out there who needed flexible work and could assist in her expanding business. “Hiring those who needed flexibility was my business model. It keeps loyalty high and employees happy.”
Absolutely Clean has about 18 full-time employees. Nesseth said her business runs optimally with about 25 employees. They work from 8:45 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. — sometimes until 6 p.m. — to clean client homes.
“Some clients we don’t even see. Others we will spend 45 minutes in a consultation interview before we clean their house for the first time,” explained Nesseth. “Either way is OK with us, because it’s their home we are cleaning.”
Absolutely Clean also operates a commercial division with part-time staff who work evening hours. Nesseth said she especially enjoys helping her employees grow. “We are more than just maids.”
Most people underestimate the amount of training her staff goes through, Nesseth said. “Even our staff is surprised after their first week how much focused attention they get.”
That training is important to help Absolutely Clean fulfill its mission.
“It can be tough upholding our own mission of treating everyone like they are number one,” Nesseth said. “We are truly fostering service to others and you have to coach service. This work is more than scrubbing toilets.”
Nesseth said their willingness to “pick things up” at Absolutely Clean sets them apart from other such companies. “We are pretty detailed in our work. I don’t feel like it’s clean if we don’t pick things up. And we mop on our hands and knees.”
Another unique element of Absolutely Clean is its complimentary organization, Time in a Bottle, which cleans for families of children battling cancer and is offered free of charge.
“Unfortunately there is too much demand,” Nesseth said, noting her need to create the nonprofit organization to support the work they do.
Time in a Bottle operates with donated hours from Absolutely Clean employees and donations. They also host a yearly carnival fundraiser, which is coming up on July 12 and is taking the majority of Nesseth’s time in the office these days.
Nesseth also spends a majority of her time focusing on marketing. “I like to network in the community.” She has the help of two managers that run the day-to-day operations. “They let me know at the end of the day how things are going.”
And while she is no longer in the classroom, Nesseth said running her business can be a lot like teaching preschool at times.
“I’ve learned to be very humble, to listen without thought of replying and to not sweat the small stuff, which is cliché but true. I’m always learning.”
At a glance
•Owner: Stephanie Nesseth
•Company: Absolutely Clean
•Address: 708 J Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
•Phone: (319) 377-4404