This former banker turned janitor now makes $10 million a year with his cleaning business

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Not many bankers would leave their comfortable, well-paid position to clean toilets. But that’s exactly what John Disselkamp did.

The decision turned out to be the best of his life. Disselkamp now runs a $10 million cleaning company. But in the months after he quit his job at the bank, it seemed he was committing professional suicide.

From wash to wash

At 35, Disselkamp decided he “didn’t want to sit in front of a calculator” for the rest of his life, so he quit his job at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, and moved in with his mother.

“I was basically homeless, with probably $20,000 in credit card debt and no retirement savings,” he told me on the Fail Your Way to Success podcast.

But Disselkamp wasn’t just a freeloader: He was hatching a plan inspired by a former banking client who had opened a successful cleaning business. Disselkamp realized that he first had to figure out the business from scratch, so he got a job as a janitor, earning $600 a month.

Related: This College Student Started a Side Job, So He Didn’t Have to Bartend Until 4 in the Morning. He now earns $7,000 a month and puts it to good use.

A fish out of water

“At first I didn’t know anything,” he recalls. “A building owner once asked me what we should use to clean the floor and I had to take a picture, send it to a friend of mine in the industry and ask him.”

But the humbling experience led him to see his true talents. He was very good at asking for help when needed.

“When I realized that my ability to clean wasn’t going to get us very far, I saw that the real business I’m in is in the people business,” he says. “And that’s what interested me from the beginning.”

From cleaning one bathroom to many

The long journey from working as a janitor to finally hiring janitors began with a cold call.

“I looked up a major local property management company and called a guy whose name I found on their website,” he says. “I got his voicemail, left him a message and he didn’t call back. I called him again about four days later, left him a message and he didn’t call back. I did it again a week later and he he didn’t call back. And then three weeks later, he calls and says, ‘Hey, John, it’s Greg. I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you.'” Two months later, Disselkamp’s company had a gig cleaning a eight two-story, 200,000-square-foot building.

Today, his company First Class Commercial Cleaning has 330 employees, servicing approximately 5 million square feet a night.

The power of teamwork

Connecting people is what has led to Disselkamp’s success and is what has helped it thrive.

“Our success isn’t up to me – I’m just one of 330 other people,” he says. “I am truly fortunate to have a team of great human beings who work extremely hard and genuinely care about serving others, from our leadership and management team to our front-line supervisors and cleaners.”

Doing common things unusually well

Another secret to Disselkamp’s success is the understanding that the key to growing a simple business is taking care of both team members and customers.

“We have a saying we tell our managers: Before you ask someone to go get a mop, ask them how their family is doing,” Disselkamp says.

Of course, it’s not as simple as asking a superficial question. Anyone who can go from making $600 a month to making $10 million a year has mastered the art of making employees feel like they’re part of something.

As Disselkamp says, “Fortune 500 companies might put a ping pong table in the break room or let everyone sit outside at lunch and think this will change the culture when in reality the culture will come down to one-on-one relationships and creating of trust and genuine interest”. on your people.”

However, it wasn’t just a smooth, straight ride to the top. “I had many days where I went to my wife and said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” she says. “But you have to have some grit because to be successful you have to keep falling and getting back up.”

This story originally appeared on Fail Your Way to Success Podcast

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