Today we’d like to introduce you to Michele Rusher.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Michele. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
From the start, I was a go getter. I started off in the food and beverage business at the age of 16. At age 23, I gave birth to my daughter. Being a single mom, it was difficult to provide the life I wanted my daughter to have. I worked 4 jobs at a time just to keep food on the table. My main frustration, however, was not the amount of jobs I was working, but the jobs themselves. I was able to move up in positions very quickly, but grew tired of reaching a “cap” which prevented me from moving up any further. I yearned to find a company where I could continue to grow without limitations. At that time, my best friend Reina Harrison owned Redondo Vacuum and Janitorial Services, which provided supplies and equipment to local companies. She knew of my struggles as I had vented to her time and time again. Her clients often asked if she knew maids who were looking for work. Reina immediately thought of me. She suggested that I tried something new, and referred me to a few clients. I had been cleaning since I was young, often my own house. I was the type of person that others would call after a large party. Since most of my friends had gatherings without their parents’ knowledge, I was the one friend that would be asked to come over to help clean up the mess because of my pristine eye to detail and reliability.
I was introduced to Sue, one of Reina’s clients, and asked to follow her to some of her jobs. I had no previous knowledge of residential cleaning, but I was eager to learn as much as I could. Well, learn I did. I surprised myself with how much detail and effort I put into each and every client. I did not miss a spot, and became so good, that even Sue herself complained because I was too detailed and precise. I then realized this was my calling. In 2000, I opened my own janitorial company, She’s Got It Maid. I had business cards made, and received my own referrals which were provided by Redondo Vacuum and word of mouth. Eventually my cleaning abilities created a snowball effect, as word of my genuine services were passed on from person to person to person, until I had a tremendous list of clients. I was well-liked by all of my customers, and one of them even assisted me in creating contracts, and furthering my continued growth. However, residential cleaning, along with the struggle of finding a reliable team burnt me out. I was still bartending at the time of this escalation and raising my young daughter. But I never lost drive.
On June 15, 2007, Rusher Janitorial Services was officially founded. I vowed to utilize the same cleaning methods and detailed services I had become known and respected for. The commercial clients I had obtained were mostly self-running and beings how there were usually more than enough employees on hand, I continued bartending and residential cleaning.
Just as fast as opportunity had helped me, hardship struck. Two months after founding Rusher Janitorial, I was shocked to discover that my employees had been stealing from me. I felt betrayed, and since I am an honest individual, there was no choice but to let them go. During my third month, I was so overwhelmed, often on the brink of collapse. I quit bartending as well as residential cleaning to focus solely on the commercial cleaning aspect. At this time, I had approached my father, Michael Rusher. He had owned a lawn care service for the majority of my childhood, but the toll of being in the hot sun next to his age was having an impact on him. I offered to have him come clean for my clients a few hours each night, and I am happy to say that he has been with me for over 8 years. Without him I wouldn’t have pulled through and he and I make an awesome team!
During the fourth month of owning Rusher Janitorial, I was taken to the labor board, where I was confronted by employees that claimed I owed them wages. I must note that these are the same employees that had been caught stealing from me, and they were looking to get back at me.
Fortunately, I was prepared having saved any legal documentation for my records in case something like this ever occurred. I won the case with a landslide.
From then on, I was very selective on who worked with me. I usually only had 2 people at a time, and even though Rusher Janitorial was the opportunity I had waited my whole life for, I had lost myself. I had forgotten the very essence of why I had started all this years back. During this time, I learned as much as I could, not just about the work dynamics and improving my services, but also about myself.
In March 2016, I had an epiphany. I wasn’t getting any younger, and if I was ever going to expand, now was the time. I had a friend whom I had met on a few occasions while bartending. She had a son, Jonathan, who had helped me with small projects in the past. More than anything I needed someone to take over the administrative duties while I was out in the field. He was very knowledgeable on a computer, and played a pivotal role in creating my social media base, as well as writing out proposals and processing client payments. Since that epiphany one year ago, my business has almost tripled. I used the influence from Rusher Janitorial to support the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in September of 2016. I am happy to say that I am an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness and I strongly advocate the growth of small businesses.
I am a living breathing example that even though there are plenty of reasons to quit and give up, there are more reasons to succeed and push on. I never quit even though I had every reason to.
As a single mother running her own business, I can honestly say that the learning process never ends. And that is what the American Dream is all about. Learning. Doing. Accomplishing.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
1. Payment/financial- I had no savings to start as I transitioned into this field. Speaking from a generalized standpoint, companies don’t realize the amount of stress put on small companies when they are not paid on time. They rely on every payment, and if one does not come on time, it causes much more turmoil than it would to a regular sized business.
2. Staffing- It is often hard to find good people that want to work. Many do not take my field seriously. In fact, this trade has one of the highest percentages in employee turn around
3. Delegating- A sister issue to staffing, it is difficult being able to let others take the reins. One of the most stressful part of my job is relying on employees to perform the job specifications to your standards.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Rusher Janitorial Services story. Tell us more about the business.
Rusher Janitorial specializes in, and is known for:
Floors: We specialize in quality floor cleaning, using the best practices and methods.
Janitorial: We also provide the best cleaning and commercial services in all of Long Beach. I personally walk my team through each client, and explain all the products and procedures. Our detailed cleaning sets us apart.
Detail: I have been told on multiple occasions that my eye for detail is a bit unnatural. I don’t miss a thing and neither does my team. My philosophy is even though no one will notice the most obscure things being cleaned, as soon as we don’t clean it, they notice.
Consistency: Everything on this list is nothing without consistency. I see many companies do well at the beginning and over time lose the quality cleaning they promised. After almost 2 decades of cleaning, I can safely say that nothing has changed with regards to my cleaning.
What am I Proud of regarding my company?
Growth: My company has grown tremendously, with both clients and team members being added constantly. From my social media, to business cards and even to a more organized employee handbook, I am overwhelmed with joy at the thought that this never would have happened without my trials and tribulations.
Achieving a Goal: I set a goal a while back when I realized I was not going to be held down by my previous jobs. I imagined my goal and I did everything in my power to achieve it. Watching my success is a dream come true.
ME- Without any prior knowledge of how to run a business or even how to clean, I kept pushing through. No schooling or training was ever given to me, and everything was learned through experience. I never gave up, no matter what. Some days I would work 48 hours straight to get the job done.
What sets Rusher Janitorial apart from others?
Dedication: Others throw this word around. To us, it is a belief, a way of living. If you do not fully dedicate to something, you will never be able to give your 100% in it. At Rusher, our dedication is just as important as the quality work we do.
Consistency: Without consistency, it is hard to establish rapport and relations among clients, making it difficult to stay on top. We know this, and actively work to clean the same, not changing anything. This means that our services will be just as good as they were on day 1.
Family Orientated Relations: Just like dedication and cleaning are important for the work we perform, so is the relations we build with our clients. A friendly conversation can go a long way in the service industry, and if we can’t get along with our clients and solve problems, then it won’t matter how good we are at what we do.
What is your favorite part about your city/least favorite part about your city?
Best- It is very communal and convenient. I know a lot of people who support me and they have been key parts in my success story. The pride of supporting small businesses is incredible as well. It has become a movement instead of a simple ideal. Also, there is an abundance of metropolitan areas, which gives plenty of opportunity to grow.
Least- With a metropolis like the beach cities, traffic is inevitable, and often causes problems with scheduling. Also, because of all the opportunities available, sometimes I find it difficult to be patient while growing further, and must resist taking on too much work at once. But the most important hindrance is time. There are so many clients I could obtain, but so little time to do it all.