All County Cleaning’s Solution During COVID
Published On May 12, 2021
Back in 2012, Michael Lunn, now the owner of All County Cleaning in Felton, was living in New York and working for a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company (HVAC). He couldn’t help but take note of all of the cleaning vehicles parked in driveways of residential neighborhoods where his HVAC employer was working.
Michael’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear. That is when he decided to quit his job, relocate to Delaware, and start a cleaning company. “I knew I was good at marketing and that it would help me get established,” Michael said. “I did everything you were supposed to do,” he added. “I mailed postcards, I printed fliers, but it was a slow start.”
Michael dug deep and launched a grassroots door-to-door campaign. He focused on commercial businesses, with Solar City in Seaford being a target. “They were impressed that I made a face-to-face cold call and they agreed to give me a chance. Once they saw what a great job we did, their staff started asking us to clean their homes.”
“That was the key to early cash flow,” Michael said. “In a commercial situation, pay is 30-60 days, but residential is immediate, so lesson learned. That really helped us get a solid footing in the business.”
Over time, Michael and his wife Patricia have grown the business to support 10 employees. Even though residential cleaning was intended to be the smaller division of the company, it grew to be the major part of their business model. That strategy paid off until 2020 when Covid-19 struck and the need to adapt was overwhelming to most business owners, including Michael.
“We were worried. No one wanted us in their homes,” Michael said. “Many of our clients are elderly and depended on us to keep their homes clean, but once Covid hit, they were afraid to have us in their homes. We certainly understood, but my concerns were keeping the business going and keeping my employees on the payroll.”
Michael immediately started to work on a solution. He researched disinfecting processes and learned how to properly sanitize for Covid. There were many new products hitting the market to address the issues, but what equipment or tactic was the best? His research led him to Electrostatic Disinfecting Service. Today, his company is outfitted with 10 deep-cleaning disinfecting units that are effective in homes, commercial businesses, gyms, daycares, and anywhere else Covid may be lurking.
“All of this helped,” Michael said, “And we ramped up our social media game and purchased relevant Google keywords that improved business. However, it did not restore us to where we were pre-Covid.” That is when Michael began to research the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) programs.
“To say it was confusing is an understatement,” Michael said. “You are applying for funding and you want to make sure you’re doing it right. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’ve done something that’s going to come back to hurt your business in the long run,” he said.
That is where the Delaware Small Business Development Center (SBDC) came in. Michael signed up for free business advising and immediately got the assistance and confidence he needed to move forward. He has successfully navigated the EIDL and PPP applications and received funding that not only has helped to save his nine-year-old cleaning business but allowed him to keep all of his employees on the payroll.
“We are so grateful for the help that the SBDC provided and for the great programs that the Small Business Administration created to save small businesses,” Michael said. “If not for their help, we would not have been able to make payroll and jobs would have been lost. Plus, the financing has allowed us to free up other monies to continue our marketing, and that has paid off in acquiring new customers.”
The Lunns believe in giving back to the community that has given them so much. A few years ago, they joined a national initiative called “Cleaning for a Reason.” Michael donates his company’s time to provide free cleaning services for those stricken with cancer. Nationally, more than 40,000 cancer patients have been served, and Michael is proud that All County Cleaning has been a part of that success story. As a tribute to their good work, Governor John Carney recognized All County Cleaning with a proclamation.
“We intend to be here at least another 20 years, and part of the credit goes to the SBDC and the SBA,” Michael said.
“A beautiful home or office doesn’t happen by itself” is All County’s motto. In these Covid times, the Lunns are grateful to have found a solution – both for disinfecting homes and offices and for keeping employees on the payroll.