Never Give Up - Moshe Dahari’s Road To A Successful Service Enterprise
Today we’ll have a conversation with a person who believes that every opportunity that comes will reap great rewards if one will not give up. He literally worked his way to the top, from being a janitor to the CEO of a successful business enterprise.
Let us be inspired by his story, and learn from his experiences. Here is Moshe Dahari, Owner-CEO of EverKleen LLC, Wynn’s Bins Dumpsters, and Wynn’s Potty.
Tell me what you do.
I am the owner of three companies here in Toms River, New Jersey – EverKleen, Wynn’s Bins, and Wynn’s Potty. EverKleen offers professional cleaning and demo services, Wynn’s Bins is a dumpster company, while Wynn’s Potty handles portable toilet rentals. I am invested in all three companies.
What is EverKleen?
EverKleen is a company that does cleaning and demolition jobs. It aims to help homeowners and contractors from the beginning up to the end of the project. We start with the interior or total house or building demo. Throughout the project, from the beginning to the end, we perform site clean-up.
How did you start your business?
I had a regular job working in a grocery store for 12 years, but I always wanted to have my own business. So, apart from working as an employee, I got another freelance job cleaning windows. At first, it was hard, and I thought of giving up but I persevered.
The job made me think of different ideas to start a business. Eventually, I also started doing janitorial cleaning services. I had an office, a shop, a store, and an assistant.
Can you describe your experience in hiring workers?
I started my business at the end of 2015. The first people I hired were cleaners. Since I was still working at a grocery store, I relied on one worker to make sure that everything was running. He wasn’t just a cleaner. He was also managing the business.
I had two or three part-time workers who worked for me when I needed them. I, myself, was a janitor when this business started.
As time went by, some workers left my company but eventually wanted to work for me again. I let them work for me again as I believe in giving people second chances. Sometimes a second chance is better than the first time you gave somebody an opportunity.
I also had an experience where someone applied for a job while he was employed for a friend of mine. I did not want to accept him because I did not want the same thing to happen to me – for someone to take my worker from me. I gave him a condition that he must ask permission from my friend, his employer, to work for me
Describe the time when you decided to leave your job in the grocery store.
I was working in the grocery store for 12 years, and I felt that leaving was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I sought the help of my rabbi. He gave me two options: either to continue working at the grocery store on a part-time basis or to continue doing my work on the side.
So I went back to inform my boss, and he actually wanted me to work more than my usual time. That made me decide to leave my job and started working for myself.
The first two weeks after I left the grocery store were very hard for me because I was used to working full-time.
You said that you had someone taking care of the business for you when you were still working at a grocery store. Tell me more about this worker.
He was one of the first workers I hired since the business started. As I still had other work to do, he basically became my assistant, making sure that the business ran smoothly. I was very lucky that he cared about the business. He was not like those who just do their job and don’t care about anything else.
He saw the potential of the services we are offering, and he helped me a lot. He stayed with me the whole time - giving training to workers and doing emergency jobs. As a manager now, he takes care of field operations.
How did you advertise your service and how were you getting jobs?
For the first two years, the business relied solely on word of mouth and recommendations from previous clients. People promoted my business by referring me to other people. I never advertised at that time.
I remember my first client. I went over to him and asked if I could clean his windows. He agreed, and it took me a whole day to finish the job. I went from one customer to another, but eventually, I had to give up because business was slow.
A year later, I got a client who requested a stripping and waxing of his building floors. Since I stopped that cleaning job for a year already, I had another person do the job for me. However, that client returned one more time to do the same job for him.
I was still working at the grocery store, and I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with the cleaning business. That customer coming back to let me do the job again for him has led me to bigger and better things, and it opened my business to more opportunities.
I got some clients that we serviced twice or thrice a week or every week. I hired additional workers, too.
There comes a point when word-of-mouth advertising would no longer be enough to market your service business. What are your other options?
I use WhatsApp to market my service, and I do that once or twice a year. I would send it to a few friends who in turn will put the ad on their status.
I don’t really do paid advertising. A lot of people call me asking me to advertise. One thing I don’t like about advertising is that when someone signs me up for an advertisement for a certain period, the moment I stop, another vendor comes in right after me.
I do sponsor some basketball teams as a form of advertisement. These are teams for young kids and teenagers. I like this kind of sponsorship because it keeps kids out of trouble by joining sports activities.
How did your demo job come to be?
A close friend of mine gave me a cleaning project, and after that, he asked me to have an interior demolition project. I was in doubt about whether I could do it, but I said I could try.
I had no clue as to what I was doing. We bought small tools amounting to probably around $200. We did the job with that small amount of money as an investment. After that job, we set aside those tools for future use. I did not buy outright products or tools that are not used regularly because they just sit on the shelves.
I felt great because I never used my own money. Whatever profit I earned, I reinvested for the business.
Your business grew and succeeded. Where do you attribute all this growth to?
Everything that happens to me is all from God. He put me in this position and I did what I had to do.
I can’t really name what exact service I am offering, but I think it is more of the customer service that I give. My clients feel that I care about their projects which is why they come back to avail of my services. People loved my service, cared about my company, and were trying to help me as much as possible.
I believe doing these things also helped me to steer in the right direction:
I did not leave my job at the grocery store until I knew my business was actually taking off;
I did not put any of my own money into the business; and
I invested the money that I earned back into the business.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
I am blessed with a beautiful family. I always make myself available for them. My health and my family’s health come first. But as much as possible, I like to keep myself busy.
In the early stages of my business, I had no secretaries. I would sit in the office and do billing. I also took care of phone calls.
I wanted something so I had to work hard for it. Now, I still work long hours, but not what it used to be. I have good managers, and they do a wonderful job.
Recently I took a one-week vacation, and my managers took over a lot of my work. These days, if I have to take a break or leave for a month, my business would still run smoothly, thanks to my managers who do most of the work for me.
In the process of your business growth over the last seven years, what were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?
The biggest challenge for me was leaving the grocery store and starting over by myself. I am a very loyal person and it was hard for me to walk out of somebody and walk away.
Let’s talk about your clients. Do you encounter difficult clients? How do you deal with the situation?
In every business, there are always difficult clients or customers. I try my best not to lose them. If ever I lose customers is because of two reasons:
They have a friend who started the same business as mine and they are helping that friend, and
The customer did not pay.
I don’t usually get angry at a customer unless he is really difficult to deal with. My business is all about trust, and after I deliver my service, the customer’s responsibility is to pay me. I am agreeable if you want a plan of payment but keep to your word.
Tell me about your experience being hit by the Department of Labor.
I experienced being hit by the Department of Labor for being unaware of rules and regulations. As someone new in the business, I did not know what to do at that time, and because of that, I thought of selling my company.
A friend offered to buy and I was willing to sell. During that time my rabbi gave me his message that whatever happens, I must not give up. People fall and people get up. That message made me decide not to walk away and not to sell my business.
We were able to overcome that problem. I have faith in God, and I knew that although challenges were hard, I just have to let go and make everything happen.
The next time we had another issue with the Department, I was not as down as before because we now have books and information. Everything about the business was recorded, and done according to the law,
What are some tricks that you have learned now that you wish you always knew?
I wished to have done everything according to the law. I started my business with nothing, and I was just doing it the way I think is right. I made mistakes along the way, and I learned a lot because of these mistakes. It is really correct to say that the only way you can learn is by mistakes.
One thing that I would also have done in the beginning was to have a professional bookkeeper or a good accountant. We should have somebody giving business advice right from the start. It helps a lot to have someone who will handle the paperwork and documentation of your business.
What experiences have you had that you would like to share with those who want to start a service business?
Here are some tips that I think would greatly help you:
Do everything according to the law. It might cause you a couple of dollars more, but it is worth every penny.
Do things the right way because it will lead you to better decisions. Everything will be in order. Get a mentor or a coach if needed.
Speak to people who are in the same industry as you because you never know what you are going to learn from them.
Talk to your competitors but be careful that the information you get or you are giving out is used the wrong way. Learn from their mistakes,
How do you see your company in the future?
We are in the process of expanding our services. We would like to make the enterprise a one-stop shop for all homeowners, builders, and contractors.
This has been an amazing interview with Moshe Dahari, who went from being a janitor to CEO of a company with 90 workers. It is surely an incredible journey of a determined man who never gave up on whatever challenge that came his way.