Young entrepreneurs Kylee Snyder and Michael Brinkman met while attending Florida Gulf Coast University and working on their bachelor’s degrees in business management. In their last semester, they worked together on a project to develop a business plan. The plan not only earned them an A, but they won FGCU’s Eagle Plan Award for the best business plan. They used the prize money — $500 — as seed money to start Green Leaf Cleaning, LLC.
Two years later, their business is turning a profit and pays their salaries along with one full-time and two part-time employees. That’s a pretty good record for two young adults just out of college. Snyder points out that overhead is low. All they needed to get started was a vehicle, a specialized HEPA backpack vacuum, micro fiber rags and mops and two green cleaning solutions that they use to clean all surfaces.
Both Snyder and Brinkman knew they wanted to own their own business and the Business Plan Development class was a great way to explore ideas. They believe in green living and that each person can make our planet a better place. Green Leaf’s mission is to provide an environmentally friendly cleaning service while maintaining affordable prices.
In the following interview with The Banner, Snyder and Brinkman answer questions about the green industry and their business.
The Banner: What is green cleaning?
Kylee Snyder: A lot of people claim to be green because it’s trendy, but we take it very seriously. Green Leaf is a completely environmentally friendly company from head to toe. From recycling all our paper and keeping paper usage low to our cleaning processes, we always ask ourselves if we’re making an environmentally friendly decision. As for cleaning, all our products are green seal certified, meaning they are tested to determine if they work the same or better than other chemical products while meeting certain environmental requirements.
TB: Why is green cleaning important to your clients?
Michael Brinkman: Using Green Leaf Cleaning will help lower a business’s environmental impact because we clean with non toxic, biodegradable cleaning products, and we use energy and water saving methods. Our green cleaning program improves indoor air quality which creates a healthier and safer environment for employers and employees. Studies show that there’s a 24 percent decrease in employee sick days when a company uses green cleaning practices.
Adapting our green cleaning program into your daily business practices is not just a trend; it is taking a step ahead of your competition and preparing your organization for future environmental requirements and laws.
Additonally, green cleaning can be the first step to becoming certified as a LEED building. LEED is a governmental agency which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
TB: Who is your typical client?
KS: We specialize in cleaning commercial facilities including country clubs, fitness centers, office buildings, restaurants and vacation rentals. Our first client was Bonita Bay. We clean their restaurant, fitness center and spa, and tennis club.
TB: How do you attract new customers?
MB: We don’t believe in mass mailings because it wastes paper, ink and the fuel to deliver the mail. We market the old fashioned way by calling on local businesses and visiting them to provide a detailed estimate. Word of mouth has been our best marketing tool.
TB: Starting a new company in the current business climate is tough, how has the economy affected your business?
KS: It has made us magnify our philosophy of service, consistency and professionalism. At the end of the day, we’re still competing with all the other cleaning companies. People want outstanding service and they want to save money.
TB: What has been your biggest challenge?
MB: Conveying the benefits of green cleaning and how that equates to financial savings. It’s hard to see the immediate benefit of improved employee’s health and savings from low water and paper usage. That comes over time.