For Nick Baker, the owner of Voy Home Services, his top priority in every home he cleans is to make sure that each customer has a great experience. That commitment comes from a blend of good business savvy and an extra dose of basic human decency. A trained, experienced and certified carpet cleaner, Nick Baker and his Voy Home Services provide roof cleaning, carpet cleaning, window cleaning and everything in-between for residential and commercial needs in the Seattle area with an eye for the perfect customer experience.
That’s because “80% of the customer’s experience is based on the relationship with the technician, not the quality of work,” says Nick. “How they feel about the technician is how they feel about the job.” What Nick understands, which not all cleaning technicians do, is that beneath the transaction there’s a need for a real, human connection. He readily admits that inviting someone into your home is a vulnerable experience, and he holds himself and everyone who works for Voy Home Services to a high level of professionalism and personal standards.
A key challenge for Nick is finding staff who are honest and hard-working. It’s a struggle not to get saddled with employees who just want to earn a paycheck and “get home to get high.” He won’t tolerate poor work ethic among his employees, but he also knows that customers are going to ask about it.
One discovery in Nick’s commitment to giving every customer a good experience was surprising to him, but demonstrated his sincerity. Now, Nick would be the first to admit that he’s an uncommonly hairy man, and at one point he realized how intimidating that can be to some people. So he started wearing undershirts, and was surprised to learn just how much positive feedback he received from colleagues and peers! But for Nick, it’s a small change to ensure a good impact.
The importance of a job well done drives Nick to ever-increasing levels of excellence and professionalism. It isn’t necessary for a carpet cleaner in Seattle to be earn the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), but Nick did earn it -- and he does the work to maintain it. Because he believes that knowing and understanding cutting-edge industry techniques, technologies and knowledge is how he delivers the best product possible.
But Nick’s commitment goes beyond being certified. To protect his customers’ homes from the super-heated water that runs through his hoses, he puts down vinyl runners at every job. To prevent damage to molding and walls, he puts down corner-guards in every room he does work in. And to prevent air conditioning from leaving the house and bugs from entering, he covers every door with a temporary, vinyl covering. Only one other cleaning company in the region follows suit (after following his example!). The usual alternative? Leave the hoses and cables running out the door, allowing anyone on the street full view and access to your home.
Nick Baker and Voy Home Services got their start in 2012. Back then, he was providing commercial cleaning services: mostly after-hours work vacuuming and power-washing. In 2015, one of his regular clients offered him a 59-store contract, but only if he’d clean their carpets too. His entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, and Nick said, “Of course we do that!” He started with a few hoses and chemicals, but quickly got trained, educated and certified and expanded his offerings. Now, Voy Home Services provides carpet cleaning, gutter cleaning, pressure washing, roof cleaning, and window cleaning throughout the Seattle area.
But running a small business is notoriously hard, and commercial/residential cleaning is no different. For Nick, taxes and cash flow have been the hardest parts of maintaining his own business. He admits readily that he’s not a trained or educated businessman, and so he’s had to manage the growing and shrinking of his company with grit and determination.
The hardest chapter of that experience was when a huge, $48,000/month contract fell through unexpectedly. At the time, Voy Home Services was only going to be a residential backdrop to his commercial services. He had a staff and multiple vehicles in the run up to that contract, and when it suddenly got cancelled, he felt the ground fall out beneath him. He tried to maintain his grip on the business for several months, but the overhead became too much and he had to let the overwhelming majority of his staff go.
Cash flow is notoriously challenging because the small-business services industry is feast-or-famine. After losing that huge contract and the company shrinking, he then got a huge opportunity at snow-plowing and de-icing every Home Depot from Everett to Olympia. For a week and a half, he did nothing but plow. The ice-snow-melt, ice-snow-melt routine ended up netting him nearly $50,000 in a week and a half. But it also nearly ruined his truck.
Networking with local chapters of national networking organizations has been the saving grace, according to Nick. Being a good member of them can take time, dedication and a lot of chipper willpower, but he says that it’s likely his business survived thanks to networking he’s gotten in those groups. “It’s almost like going to church — now, church is better — but it’s a strong community,” said Nick.
Through it all, Nick Baker is clearly the sort of person who relishes a challenge. He provides an excellent service with a smiling face to his customers because he knows it’s the right thing to do. Most homeowners wouldn’t know a perfectly clean, nearly sterile carpet from a filthy one that just smells clean, but to Nick and Voy Home Services it’s an important distinction and why he demands excellence from his staff and himself. Hopefully in a few years he’ll be managing a whole fleet of cleaners and vehicles, but until then, he’s looking forward to making great connections with local homeowners and businesses.