Fiona Morris is a passionate cleaning industry expert and has been in and around the cleaning industry coming on 30 years. She is the founder of start my cleaning biz and the Australian Cleaning Academy all dedicated to her true calling , education. She holds many training, education and cleaning qualifications and is an award winning cleaning business owner.
Having built and owned two cleaning companies , she is across the industry needs and challenges, and builds courses and programs that give real skills to real people, bringing change to an industry and raising the bar.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Fiona Morris: My name is Fiona and I own Start My Cleaning Biz and the Australian Cleaning Academy – both cleaning education programs. SMCB was birthed out of my passion for helping especially women rebuild their lives. After my separation and then facing divorce my cleaning business was sold and I was left without an income and alone , fearful of my future. I returned to training and rebuild my confidence, and when the time was right I launched into Start My Cleaning Biz aimed at helping women build successful cleaning businesses and gaining their financial freedom. Once they did our program and grew wildly successful cleaning businesses they needed somewhere to train their staff, and so The Australian Cleaning Academy was birthed.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Fiona Morris: I believe in three keys to successful business 1. resilience , recovering quickly, fail and do it fast , take the lesson and get up again fast. 2 courage , fear will rob you of even the most basic of things 3. The Humility/ Confidence balance, back yourself and do it hard. When it goes well , be humble about it and when it goes bad apply confidence mechanism. All 3 of these are learnt skills and are like muscles.
The whole landscape of the service industry has changed , very day I hear ” people don’t want to work” or “its so hard to find good cleaners ” – these are both partly true, the biggest curve ball to hit us is actually the fact people don’t want to work the way we did two years ago. Employees no longer want a job that doesn’t care for them, nurture them or allow for their passions, and that’s a huge wake up call to business owners. We need to be able to listen, truly listen to our staff , then pivot , innovate and create a space for them to go to work and give their heart and soul, not because you commanded it but because they are nurtured.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Fiona Morris: A key focus for us this year is to make sure we keep our standard up while we experience supply issues, keep our consistency while having staffing issues and to keep the profit up while we manage all of that. How we have executed that is the “4 s’s” strategy, slowly, steadily and sustainably”. If it misses one of those we are out, Opportunity will never stop knocking but if it doesn’t align with your business strategy then its a no. Also I find so many business owners focus on things like the external ( economy) when they can do some amazing profit building things INSIDE their business, keep your focus where you have impact!
A business owner needs to not be IN their business, you need to be in front of it, around it and above it. keeping an eye on your industry trends and making decisions on hypotheticals and having plan B C D and so on.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Fiona Morris: We now have a huge split between the professionals and the 90% of the others, this whole two year process has allowed the cream to rise to the top. The cleaning business owners that really got the work done are reaping the rewards. There are so many cleaning business owners out there in debt , struggling to build and not knowing where to go. The clients we are working with have adapted by offering those extra disinfection services , getting qualified and by learning how to offer speed to market services as the climate changed, those that didn’t got left behind.
In our own cleaning business we noticed that the staff needed certainty , in a world without a lot of it they actually sought refuge at work , we adapted our training to ensure they felt safe while cleaning and our productivity has never been better.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Fiona Morris: In times of trouble the pack is split, you will either be on the side of those who fear and pull back or those who launch at the situation , generally those who launch spend less time in strife ( cow and buffalo theory). The cleaning industry and those essential services grow and thrive in disarray, emergency and downturn. These businesses are the exception to most rules as other things go down we go up, get yourself out there, don’t take no for an answer, find a niche, perfect your craft and stop winging. I wish I spent less time worrying about the pandemic and more time making it work for my business.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Fiona Morris: This is the new normal , online is where we all need to at least have a presence. Like it or not people are not wanting face to face if there is an option and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I remember saying to a group of trainers in 2018 – we need to go online or we will die, to which they laughed ” cleaning training cant be done online “, they are no longer a business and our online training is constantly in demand. Pivoting and innovating inside your business is the new black, and boy oh boy we look good in it.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Fiona Morris: Most of it, filming , zooms, phone and tv a good part of it, but I make sure I get lots of nonscreen time and rests.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Fiona Morris: I am such a big story teller, if the person you are trying to communicate can identify with what you are saying they will buy in better. We hear so many horror stories in the cleaning industry and one of the things I like to do is showcase how amazing and life changing what we do is. Unfortunately we are far more likely to run away from pain than to run toward pleasure so I do like to share the occasional disaster story. Testimonials and videos are a great way to engage and communicate in story form with your workplace.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Fiona Morris: For us the goal posts constantly changing , what was mandated and considered “best practice” has shifted and moved more times in the past two years than I’ve seen in the previous 15. The result is so much change that business owners are feeling very overwhelmed and stressed about everything , they are beyond scared and need help almost daily as they navigate the rule changes.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Fiona Morris: I would love to continue to grow in the online space, launching our courses and getting them to those who need them most.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Fiona Morris: It’s all of us,, we have all been that boss as we have become now very focused on ourselves and what we want and there is this idea employees should just fall in line and that thinking isn’t serving us well any more ( it never really did ) I like to think of this as the great “reshuffle” – if a company keeps its values and demonstrates them as well as educating their customers and staff on them then the right people find you.
Our cleaners may stay a short or long while, we have one key goal for them for when they leave, and that is that I can say ” their lives and their souls are better for having worked for us” if you can’t say that then you need to do better for them. Staff who feel connected and nurtured will do all they can for you, and they will never leave you in the lurch as they have grown to respect you and themselves too much.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Fiona Morris: The ability to disconnect emotionally ,I am a very emotive person. This is both a blessing and a curse and I would put it into practice making brutal, courageous decisions to do only what serves me, however the very thing that causes me tears is also the thing that makes me human so I don’t need a super power I just need to be me.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Fiona Morris: Success to me is to be around for harvest, so many business owners tap out before they see the fruits of their labor. You need to be able to stick out the famine and the feast, drought, and flood. For the training we provide “success” to me would be 1,000,000 cleaners and cleaning business owners impacted by our training, skilled safe and confident to do their job well, I want to be the reason the cleaning industry in our country is transformed for the better.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Fiona Morris for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Fiona Morris or her company, you can do it through her – Facebook
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