295: A Local Service Business that Scales – From Zero to $60k a Month in Revenue

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Chris schwab

“I tell people I work on my cleaning business about an hour a day because 5 minutes doesn’t seem believable,” Chris Schwab said.

Chris is the founder of ThinkMaids.com, a residential house cleaning service in the Washington DC area he started on the side while still a university student.

Less than two years later, the business is doing $60k a month worth of cleaning work, all without Chris ever lifting a mop or dusting a shelf himself.

In this episode, Chris shares some of the unique tactics he used to start and grow his cleaning business, and then remove himself from the day-to-day operations.

Tune in to hear how Chris came up with the idea for his cleaning business, how he found his first customers and cleaners, and how he manages the entire business remotely.

local service business

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  • How Chris landed on the cleaning niche (hint: it wasn’t some crazy passion for dust-free shelves).
  • How he found his first clients and cleaners.
  • His unique hiring process for professional cleaning teams.
  • The marketing strategies that gave his business a competitive advantage.
  • Chris’ pricing and promotion tactics.
  • His biggest and most stressful mistakes in the first year of Think Maids.
  • How he successfully outsourced the day-to-day operations — and how that’s led to two new businesses.
  • Chris’ #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.


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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

14 thoughts on “295: A Local Service Business that Scales – From Zero to $60k a Month in Revenue”

      • Hi Chris,
        I’m an entrepreneur living in the Los Angeles area with some time and money looking to dive into a new project. I’m impressed with what you’ve done in the DC area and wanted to connect to see if you’d like to partner in some way to tackle the LA area with me. Please reach out if interested.

  1. When you started out, what did you do about insurance or the worry about theft from one of your cleaning crews? Did you only hire crews from companies that carried insurance? Did you have to have your own bond?

  2. Hey Jim – Chris here!

    When I first started out I deliberately chose to work with contractors who already had insurance, and also got insurance that covered contractors on the job.

    • Hey Chris,

      Great idea and awesome episode. My only question after listening is what kept the independent contractors from swooping in and offering the clients that came to you to just go to them directly next time?


      • Great question. I have been wondering this as well. If I am an independent contractor, I would try to steal the client directly.

  3. I enjoyed this episode! I do have a question: when you refer to cleaning teams, what does that mean? Do you send cleaners in pairs to a job site? I’m just curious how this works. I have hired cleaners off and on, and they have either worked solo or as a pair.

    Also, when you are paying the cleaners and Virtual assistants, are they considered independent contractors? Thank you for a wonderful episode!

  4. Love this one as my girlfriend and I already clean apartments. We dont want to do the work ourselves, and she’s owed a cleaning biz before but does not want to run one again, so I want to use the web and VA method, so I will be in contact with InoVAlocal for sure.

    I am wondering what specific insurance you had to cover you in case of theft or damaged caused by one of you contractors, and what you did to keep you contractors from cutting you out of the picture.

    Thank you

  5. Chris,
    Good info. I also found some of your cleaning business start up methods on Quora. My question is what is the split between you and the IC cleaning team. 65/35? So if I make $100k gross I would net about $35k? I am starting up a cleaning company and your information has helped a lot.

  6. What happened to Chris, I wonder? :(

    I was very interested in joining LocalBusinessHustlers.com as I related exactly to what Chris said about FB groups, they are always selling something… but this site and the ThinkMaids.com site are both 404 … why are they not online anymore?

    Have you heard about him, Nick?


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