Wow. What a conference! This year at Cleaning & Cocktails in Chicago, we had over 120 attendees, over 20 speakers and took away a ton of lessons, insights, and feedback we can all incorporate into our daily activities - both personally and professionally.

More important than that? We had the opportunity to network with the most brilliant brains in the industry. Business cards were swapped, Facebook friends were made, and already our community of like-minded individuals is starting to build out!

After Cleaning & Cocktails' first event last year, the stage had been set and there was a high expectation of how the two days would go. This was only heightened by the past attendee and feedback session where Gerren Sprauve - CEO of Clean Slate Janitorial Services - commented  “one of the things I truly love about last year and this year is the vibe. Together it is going to be something awesome over the next two days. The people I met, we are still vibing together - we are still celebrating each other's victories - it’s been a continuation of what started here. You can relax, you can share. The ego is at the door. We are here to share and to grow together”. As the conference went on, that vibe became very apparent to all of us!

cocktails-01Gerren Sprauve- CEO, Clean Slate Janitorial Services

One of the first speakers was Michael Brown, Swept founder, who spoke about creating a leadership mindset. What really stuck out, was the importance of who you are being. Michael stated “What I found out, outworking everyone doesn't make you a great leader. It really comes down to how you frame things up. If you look at things and become angry and frustrated - that doesn't serve you at all. If you lead with anger, your team will follow in fear. Who you are being is SO important. Take care of your people and let them know you care”.

cocktails-02Michael Brown- Founder, Swept

We then heard from Josh Melton, CEO at Athens Cleaning Company, on how to attract your ideal team members. Josh gave us insight into the most challenging time in his business, and how he turned it around. There are three things Josh highlighted that you have got to know, to know where you want to go. And with this, comes a focus on “If you want to attract the right people, you have to be the right person
  • Know your soul - what are your core values?
  • Know your role - what is your mission?
  • Know your goal - what is your vision?

Josh Melton- Founder, Athens Cleaning Company

Next up, were Jose Suarez, Ulises Ruelas, and Richie Marrero who spoke about the power of networking and creating an ecosystem. Here are some of the key considerations:

- When thinking about networking:
  • Figure out who is in the room
  • Who do you want to talk to?
  • Who you can have a meeting with?
- Maximize your ROI at association memberships - it’s not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them

- Get into committees, see who's there and see if you can take the next step and be a part of a board of decision-makers

- How do you create an ecosystem?
  • You have to wear your badge of honour! What are you good at? How are you scaling and growing?
  • Who else is touching the building you are servicing?
  • Find your other side to that coin. If they are going for the same clients, you aren’t competing if you are a different service. For example, if you have your eye on a commercial building, and you know a Plumber or electrician who works in the building - swap cards! Building those relationships is so important

cocktails-04Jose Suarez, Ulises Ruelas, and Richie Marrero

We were very fortunate to have Lance Briggs, former NFLer for the Chicago Bears, come and talk to us about going from athlete to entrepreneur. A key takeaway was the importance of motivation and driving yourself towards your goals, but also understanding how collaboration is more important than competition. Lance perfectly said - “How does football relate to the cleaning service? I believe there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together. We all have roles and can all be Hall of Famers at the end”

cocktails-05Lance Briggs, Former NFLer for the Chicago Bears

One of the incredible sponsors for the event, Sunbelt, addressed the top concerns they are hearing from the building service post-pandemic. It was made clear that they “run solutions and not just equipment”. This was highlighted further through their service proposition “We are a 24/7 service, with 7 people monitoring requests, you will get a response immediately. Whether you need a quote or help with equipment, let us be your single contact so you can say yes to more clients and scale your business”. It was pretty clear that if anyone is looking for equipment rentals, Sunbelt is the place to go!

Next, we heard from Mark Lineberry, President of Universal Janitorial Services on the three strategies to turn your clients into superfans.

Strategy 1 - Build your Community

  • Figure out where your clients and prospects are, and see where your community is. Take a minute to do a deep dive into your prospect's needs to see what impact and solutions you can offer

Strategy 2 - Connect your Community
People want to feel connected! 

  • Always refer business
  • Create strategic alliances
  • Host mixers
  • Create fundraisers
  • Have an online community
  • Have Zoom or in-person meetups

Strategy 3 - Grow them into Superfans

  • Focus on your regulars
  • Send unexpected messages
  • Randomly show up, within reason
  • Offer a VIP package
  • Swag
  • Get them involved!

cocktails-06Mark Lineberry, President of Universal Janitorial Services

Up next bringing a ton of energy was Ricky Funk, who spoke about embracing the unexpected. One of the key takeaways from this session was following your intuition and taking a chance “Sometimes you have to follow your intuition and do what 99% what people wouldn't do…because that could be the difference between being successful or not”. A key reminder from Ricky, was that “It's difficult to make it, it can put you to your knees. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

cocktails-07Ricky Funk- CTO, Route

We heard from the incredible Frank Trevisani about the art and science of chemicals. I think the audience was very clear at the end - “FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE LABEL!” If it says half a cup, put half a cup in, not three quarters! That doesn’t make the product stronger or more effective, and if anything - it could be eating your bottom line! Another of the great points he made, is that “Cleaning hasn't changed - we have changed because we have compromised it. Don’t compromise your cleaning because you won’t last. We are now ready to raise cleaning to a level it has never seen before!!”

cocktails-08Frank Trevisani, Spartan Chemical Company

As the day drew to a close, we heard from Ricky and Marley Regalado on building a business with your significant other. The challenges they overcome, their dedication, and respect for one another - the audience was in awe. In particular, to hear Marley's journey from leaving her job to start cleaning, to becoming Managing Partner at Rozalado, to mother, to slowly start coming back into the business was FANTASTIC. What an inspiration for not only the women at the conference but for all of us to really understand the importance and impact we can create when working together. 

cocktails-09Marley Regalado- Managing Partner, Rozalado Services
Ricky Regalado- CEO/ Founder, Rozalado Services & Route

Last but absolutely not least, was Richard Montanez who shared with us his journey from starting as a Janitor to becoming a PepsiCo Executive after creating Flaming Hot Cheetos. He took us through a humbling experience that was impossible not to learn from. Here are the key takeaways:

  • “All you need is one revelation to create a revolution. A revelation is something that has always been there but it has been unveiled or revealed to you.”
  • “If you turn around and no one is following you that's ok - you are a pioneer mapping out new territory”
  • “Being a settler isn't a bad thing. Settlers stick around and try to build something.”
  • “It's not about money, it's not about your bank account. Your value isn't tied to your bank account. If you want to measure your value - see how much you serve humanity.”
  • “Don't become such an expert that you can't see things anymore”
  • “I'm not trying to influence everyone, only the right ones. I’m not trying to influence the world, only my world

And finally, one of the most impactful quotes from the day “People will say I started at the bottom, but I didn't, I started in the beginning!.


cocktails-10Richard Montanez, Vice President, Multicultural Sales &
Community Activation for PepsiCo North America

The day ended on a high, and it closed with us having the opportunity to eat, drink and network. What an incredible day, learning from amazing people, and being able to speak with the industry's finest.

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