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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – House Cleaning CATEGORY

Ernie Andrade is owner of All Bright Maids, a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (408) 372-6964 or by email.

Ernie Andrade

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ernie Andrade: All the Bright Moves

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

When Ernie Andrade started cleaning homes and offices to support himself through college, he didn’t expect it would lead to a lifelong career. “During college, I needed a job with flexible hours to accommodate my class schedule, so I started cleaning office buildings and later got into residential cleaning,” he recounts. “After graduating with a business degree, I decided to combine my education with my work experience and purchased a small cleaning company.”

Even though he started out small, Ernie says the landscape was just right for growing his business. “In those days, the tech industry had just started to take off in Silicon Valley, so there were a lot of opportunities in the commercial sector. As the company grew, we expanded our capabilities to offer services like carpet and window cleaning.”

Today, nearly 40 years since founding All Bright Maids, Ernie says his favorite part of his job is his daily interactions with customers. “I enjoy connecting with people and maintaining long-term customer relationships. That’s probably the biggest reason I’ve continued in this business for so many years. I enjoy what I do, but the best part is definitely meeting different people and making new friends.”

Born in Mexico, Ernie moved to the United States when he was 17 and today resides in San Jose, where he expresses his appreciation for life in the Bay Area. “I’ve been all over, and there isn’t a place like the Bay Area,” he says. “The weather is beautiful, there’s a lot of diversity and there are many opportunities for businesses to succeed.”

Outside of work, Ernie says his hobbies have shifted in recent years from active pursuits to more relaxing pastimes. “I love soccer, and I played and coached for many years, but these days, my favorite things to do are fish, read and visit with friends.” Ernie says he also enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife, Griselda, and their six grown children and three grandchildren.

Ernie says one of the keys to success in life and business is finding your own sense of purpose. “There’s a Mark Twain quote I’ve always liked that says, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ Personally, I feel that I was born to serve, just because I get a real sense of fulfillment from the work I do. I think once you figure out your purpose in life, everything starts to make a little more sense and you’re able to see things from a new angle.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Ernie says he’ll remain involved with the local business community. “About a decade ago, I founded Hispanic Small Business Network, Inc., which empowers entrepreneurs and provides them with resources for growing and sustaining their businesses. If I retired, I would use the extra time to concentrate more on developing the network.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?
A: I like different genres, but I’m particularly fascinated with books about personal growth and development.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Spring, because it’s the beginning of life.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
A: Thai food.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving, because it’s an opportunity to get the family together and express our thanks for all the gifts in life.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Huevos rancheros.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect odd items that catch my eye. For instance, the last thing I picked up was an antique spoon made from a coconut shell.

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The Importance of Deep Cleaning Your Home

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SAN JOSE — Whether you do your own house cleaning or contract the services of a professional, there are certain aspects of cleaning that can be easily overlooked. While visible surfaces tend to get cleaned on a regular basis, when… Read more

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Video: Deep Cleaning Your Home

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When cleaning a home, it’s easy to neglect hidden and hard-to-reach areas, but many homeowners don’t realize this can actually pose a… Read more

Milton Gooden is owner of Good & Clean Co. Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 231-2103 or by email.

Milton Gooden

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Milton Gooden: Clean Living

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

STINSON BEACH — While professional success is often the result of a deliberate venture, in some cases, it develops as a natural outgrowth of a prior occupation. For Milton Gooden, it was a job showing vacation homes for a realty company that served as a springboard to an entrepreneurial enterprise. “I saw that the company I worked for was spending a lot of money to have the rental homes professionally cleaned, so I offered to start doing it on the side,” he remembers. “It wasn’t long before I assembled a small crew. People who were renting the vacation homes started asking us to do their private homes as well, and things just continued to progress from there.”

Even after he’d expanded into cleaning private residences, Milton wasn’t satisfied to stop there. “Once we established our house cleaning operation, I started getting into the janitorial side of the business, which I’d had some prior experience in,” he says. “Additionally, we started getting a lot of requests for carpet and window cleaning, so I decided to add a division to handle those needs as well. Before I knew it, Good & Clean Co. Inc. had grown from a small, single-team operation to a company with 36 employees.”

Originally from New Orleans, Milton first came to the Bay Area while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, and he liked it so much that he decided to stay. Having settled in Corte Madera—where he lives with his wife, Lucenita—Milton says he appreciates the enlightened lifestyle that characterizes his adopted locale. “Besides the weather, I really like the healthy living here. Since I was raised in an area where fatty foods are dietary staples, it’s refreshing to be in a cultural climate that encourages good health.”

Outside of work, Milton participates in a variety of pastimes, including basketball, fitness and chess. “I love basketball—I used to coach, and I play at least three times a week,” he says. “I work out on the days that I don’t play basketball, so every day of the week I’m exercising in one form or another.” In addition to his personal hobbies, Milton takes time to keep up with his three grown children, Jeremy (who works alongside him as office manager), Joanne and Cedric.

In regard to his professional career, Milton says one of the most crucial ingredients of his success has been keeping his employees happy. “It’s commonly said that the client comes first, but I think taking care of your employees is equally important, because without a great staff, you won’t have any clients. Plus, in this industry, if your employees aren’t happy, they’ll leave and start their own businesses. I have people who have been with me since day one, because they’re made to feel like a part of the company rather than just employees.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Milton says he’d relocate to Brazil. “That’s where my wife is from, and we go down there to visit her family at least once a year. Over my many visits, I’ve developed a fondness for the Brazilian people and culture…not to mention the food!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Dallas Cowboys.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both, actually—I usually go to sleep at midnight and get up around 6am.

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Tea.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
A: Brazilian.

Q: If you were a professional athlete, what number would you wear on your jersey?
A: Forty-four, the number I wore in high school. I played football, basketball and baseball.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Silver coins.

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How to Properly Clean Stainless Steel

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STINSON BEACH — Manufactured from a material called chromium, stainless steel is a beautiful, durable metal that’s used in almost every kitchen. It’s resistant to stains and corrosion, but it’s not indestructible—in fact, if you use the wrong cleaning products… Read more

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Video: Cleaning Your Stainless Steel

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STINSON BEACH — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to cleaning stainless steel, its important to know the proper methodology. Today we're in Stinson Beach with Diamond Certified… Read more

Ehsan Rezaee is owner of Molly Maid of Sonoma County, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 219-6365 or by email.

Ehsan Rezaee

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Ehsan Rezaee: A Clean Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PETALUMA — Ehsan Rezaee had often dreamed of running his own business, but he never imagined it would be a house cleaning franchise. “My younger brother, Hesam, and I had been talking about starting a business together,” he recounts. “Originally, we thought about running a restaurant franchise, but one day he called and told me about a house cleaning franchise he’d found. I didn’t know anything about house cleaning, but it seemed like a good opportunity and we decided to give it a shot. In 2013, we opened the Sonoma County branch of Molly Maid. It took some time to get fully acquainted with the industry, but once I got the hang of things, I really liked it.”

Today, as owner of Molly Maid of Sonoma County, he says his favorite part of his job is the daily diversity. “One thing I enjoy about the house cleaning business is the fact that every day is different. You’re not stuck in the same place; rather, you’re constantly visiting different houses and interacting with different people, so it never gets dull.”

A resident of Petaluma (where he lives with his wife, Samineh), Ehsan spends his time outside of work engaged in a variety of pastimes. “I enjoy playing sports, swimming and working out at the gym,” he details. “My wife and I also like hiking, camping, going to the beach and trying new restaurants in the city.”

In his life and career, Ehsan espouses the virtues of paying it forward. “I believe that you receive by giving,” he explains. “When you help others and do good in the world, that good tends to come back to you in some way. In regard to my business, this means going the extra mile to make customers happy and doing the best possible job we can for them. When we do this, that good comes back to us in the form of repeat business and referrals.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Ehsan says he would travel. “I would visit some places I’ve never been to and just see more of the world. I think I’d actually start here in the United States. I haven’t seen a lot of this country, so I’d probably take my wife on a road trip.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?

A: The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: Talk radio.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

A: An early bird.

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?

A: Ryoko’s Japanese Restaurant & Bar in San Francisco.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: I collect antiques. Whether it’s an old radio or a classic car, I really like things from the past.

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How (and When) to Clean Your Dishwasher

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PETALUMA — Your dishwasher cleans your dishes, but sometimes it needs to be cleaned as well. Here are some signs that it’s time to clean your dishwasher: Reduced effectiveness in washing Calcium stains from the hard water An unpleasant odor… Read more

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Video: How to Clean Your Dishwasher

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PETALUMA — Host, Sarah Rutan: Your dishwasher cleans your dishes, but sometimes it needs to be cleaned as well. Today we’re in Petaluma with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor… Read more

Jennifer Young is owner of Elite Pro Home Cleaning, a Diamond Certified company since 2013. She can be reached at (650) 720-5986 or email.

Jennifer Young

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Jennifer Young: A Natural Entrepreneur

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

REDWOOD CITY — After years spent at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, Jennifer Young realized that if she wanted to achieve professional success, she’d need to find her own way. “I think I’m just an entrepreneur by nature,” she says. “Working in the corporate world, I knew I had the potential for bigger and better things, but I found it very hard to move up and get the managerial experience I was looking for. Eventually, I decided to try to do something on my own.”

Rather than start a business from the ground up, Jennifer decided a better move would be to open a franchise of a larger business. “By opening a franchise, I knew I would receive the right guidance to help me get started and be successful.” After researching different franchise opportunities, Jennifer decided upon Elite Pro Home Cleaning. “Not only was there a low cost of entry, but I also saw house cleaning as something there would always be a need for and that couldn’t be replaced by technology.”

Since launching Elite Pro Home Cleaning in 2003, Jennifer says the experience has been both enlightening and rewarding. “I feel like I got my MBA in life experience,” she laughs. “It’s taught me how to do sales and marketing, as well as how to manage employees and deal with customers. With the knowledge and experience I’ve gained from starting this business, I’ve been able to start two additional businesses.”

A resident of Belmont (where she lives with her husband and business partner, Josh, and their boys, Jacob and Jayden), Jennifer says she appreciates its close proximity to her extended family. “My dad was born and raised in San Francisco, and although I grew up in Sacramento, we would often drive to the city to see family. Even while attending UC Davis, I always knew I’d end up back in the Bay Area, because I loved it so much.”

Outside of work, Jennifer stays busy with a variety of pastimes and activities. “For me, spending time with my family is number one, whether it’s just Josh and the kids or our extended families,” she says. “Josh and I are also big sports fans—we love the San Francisco Giants and even play fantasy football together.” Additionally, Jennifer has a passion for learning new things, particularly in relation to her entrepreneurial endeavors. “My kids will tell you, ‘Mommy just likes to work,’” she laughs. “I’m always reading new things and attending business or real estate seminars—it’s just fun for me!”

In her life and career, Jennifer attests to the rewards that come from patient perseverance. “Today we have a loyal customer base and a reliable staff, but it took a lot of time and effort to get to this point,” she explains. “There were times when I thought about quitting because it was so frustrating and challenging, but something inside me just kept pushing me forward. Over time, we continued to learn from our mistakes and find new ways to improve upon our methods, which led to greater success.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Jennifer says she’d redirect her entrepreneurial efforts toward educating young people. “I would really like to develop an educational program that teaches kids how to manage their money. That’s something that isn’t taught in school, but I think it’s a fundamental component of success later in life. If we could teach kids to develop wise financial habits at a young age, it would help them avoid a lot of mistakes.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: Dog person. We have a yellow lab named Bailey.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The piano.

Q: Reality TV or documentaries?
A: Reality TV.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas—I love spending time with my family.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Fresh fruit.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Handbags and purses.

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Stainless Steel Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

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REDWOOD CITY — Maintaining your stainless steel appliances can be challenging, but with the right tools and techniques, you can obtain good results. Consider the following tips for cleaning and scratch removal: Cleaning stainless steel Most commercial stainless steel cleaning products either… Read more

How to Simplify Microwave Cleaning

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REDWOOD CITY — One important kitchen cleaning task is cleaning the inside of your microwave. However, this can be difficult if you’re dealing with food residue that has hardened onto the door and walls. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to take the… Read more

Proactive Steps to Maintain Bathroom Cleanliness

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REDWOOD CITY — To ensure both general cleanliness and sanitation, a bathroom needs to be cleaned on an ongoing basis. In addition to routine cleanings, however, there are ongoing steps you can take to proactively maintain bathroom cleanliness. One area… Read more

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Video: Microwave Cleaning Hack

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REDWOOD CITY — Host, Sarah Rutan: Do you dread cleaning your microwave? Then you’ll want to learn a helpful hack for simplifying the job. Today we’re in Redwood… Read more

David Liu is office manager of Anita’s Housekeeping Referral Agency, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (831) 296-2832 or by email.

David Liu

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David Liu: The Matchmaker

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

APTOS — David Liu has been working in the house cleaning industry for some time, but it was only recently that he discovered a better way to match clients with the services they need. “While working for a house cleaning company, I saw a demand in the marketplace from clients looking for more customized services,” he recounts. “Most cleaning companies have a lot of do’s and don’ts—for example, some don’t do laundry or dishes. This makes it hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution for every client’s needs and expectations. So, when I came across Anita’s Housekeeping Referral Agency, I was impressed by their approach. Rather than offering a specified set of cleaning services, they match clients with qualified, independent house cleaners. That way, a client can find a house cleaner who fits their needs. I was so impressed by this model that I decided to join the company.”

Today, as office manager of Anita’s Housekeeping Referral Agency, David says his favorite part of his job is making the perfect match. “I love successfully finding the right professionals for our clients. That can be really hard to do, so when we do it right, it’s a great feeling because both sides are happy.”

A resident of Santa Cruz County, David spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “I enjoy taking part in local community events and getting to know people in my area. For example, we have a Japanese cultural festival every year that I help out with. And whenever there’s a new restaurant or museum exhibit opening, I try to make it out.” David also likes hiking on local trails and spending time with his family.

Regarding a professional philosophy, David says his company is dedicated to empowering its house cleaners to be successfully independent. “Our focus is really on the workers and what we can do to help them earn meaningful, consistent employment on their own terms. We don’t try to dictate their schedules or tell them what jobs to take or how much to charge. Basically, they are their own bosses, and we feel this model works really well for them and their clients.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, David says he would see the world. “I would probably take my wife and travel for a bit. She’s been wanting to do that, but we haven’t really had the time. Maybe we’d go to Bora Bora.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

A: I’m a night owl.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: I collect books.

Q: What are some books that have been influential for you?

A: “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Lillian’s Italian Kitchen in Santa Cruz.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: Talk radio.

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Setting Your Housekeeper Up for Success

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APTOS — When a homeowner is dissatisfied with their house cleaning service, it’s often due to a lack of communication. That’s why, after hiring a new housekeeper, we recommend taking the time to set clear expectations at the outset. A… Read more

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Video: Setting Your House Cleaner Up for Success

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APTOS — David Liu: When you're working with a new housekeeper in your home, you want to be there at the start of the service, and also… Read more

Sandy Willis is president of Molly Maid of S. Silicon Valley, a Diamond Certified company. She can be reached at (408) 763-3556 or by email.

Sandy Willis

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Sandy Willis: Entrepreneurial Aptitude

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Sandy Willis has always had a penchant for entrepreneurship. Even in the midst of an economic recession, she was able to find a diamond in the rough. “Back in 2009, my husband, Bill, and I were looking to buy a business that had positive cash flow,” she recounts. “We’ve been entrepreneurs for quite some time—prior to that point, we’d owned three different coffee shops and sold them. We came across a Molly Maid franchise in San Jose and it met our criteria, so we bought it. About three years later, the owner of the neighboring franchise in Cupertino/Saratoga wanted to sell, so we ended up buying their territory and expanding.”

Today, as president of Molly Maid of S. Silicon Valley, Sandy says her favorite part of her job is the independence. “I like the freedom that comes with being my own boss. Besides setting my own hours, I’m able to go the extra mile to take care of my employees and customers as needed.”

A resident of Morgan Hill, Sandy spends her time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “Bill and I enjoy hiking, playing golf, and going on vacation when we get the chance,” she details. “We like beaches, so Mexico is a favorite vacation spot of ours. At home, I enjoy cooking and trying my hand at new recipes.” Additionally, Sandy takes time to keep up with her and Bill’s three adult children.

Regarding a professional philosophy, Sandy espouses the importance of employee care. “We have about 30 employees, and we try to create a nice working environment by paying them a decent wage and keeping them busy. Most of them are mothers, so I try to make sure they’re able to support themselves and their families. That’s definitely one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”

When asked what she’d do if she were to retire tomorrow, Sandy says she’d travel. “I’ve traveled a fair amount in my life—after I graduated from college, I lived in Europe for a year, and I’ve also been to places like Mexico, Australia, and Canada. So, if I were to retire, I wouldn’t mind doing some more traveling, both abroad and domestically. I’d like to visit New Zealand and also spend some time checking out the East Coast of the U.S., especially the New England area.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

A: An early bird. I’ve been that way ever since I had my coffee shop.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?

A: Both—I’m an animal person.

Q: What was your first pet?

A: A cat named Puff-Puff.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?

A: Anything chocolate.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Maurizio’s in Morgan Hill.

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How to Properly Disinfect a Surface

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SAN JOSE — When disinfecting surfaces inside the home, many people simply spray a disinfectant product on the surfaces and wipe them with a cloth. However, this neglects an important part of the process. Before applying disinfectant to a surface,… Read more

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Video: The Proper Way to Disinfect a Surface

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SAN JOSE — Sandy Willis: So, we want to clean and disinfect your house. The most important thing to do first is you must clean the… Read more

Pat Belardi is owner of Molly Maid of Marin, Berkeley and West Contra Costa Counties, a Diamond Certified company since 2008. She can be reached at (415) 763-5993 or by email.

Pat Belardi

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Pat Belardi: Maid to Succeed

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAFAEL — When Pat Belardi was cleaning properties in between her college classes, she never expected that one day she’d make a successful career out of it. “My father cleaned commercial buildings for a living, and I worked with him to make extra money during high school and college,” she recounts. “After I graduated college, I worked as a product procurement and development specialist for Macy’s, which was a job that entailed long hours and a lot of traveling. In the early 2000s, I did some re-evaluating and decided to seek out a career that afforded a more flexible schedule. I started looking at small business opportunities, and when I came across Molly Maid, I really liked their business model and the support they gave new owners. It just so happened that my territory had become available for a franchise, so I decided to give it a shot.”

Today, as owner of Molly Maid of Marin, Berkeley and West Contra Costa Counties, Pat says she enjoys interacting with the company’s clientele. “Since I do in-home estimates, I get to meet all of our new clients, and it’s a pleasure to get to know them and lay the foundation for long-term business relationships.” Additionally, Pat says she likes being her own boss. “I enjoy the accountability factor—even though I’m accountable for any mistakes, I’m also accountable for our successes, which I find very rewarding.”

Originally from Hawaii, Pat today resides in San Francisco with her husband, William, where she enjoys taking advantage of all the Bay Area has to offer. “There’s so much to do here, it’s hard to keep up with it all,” she affirms. “From great restaurants and museums to sports and special events, it’s never boring. In particular, I love movies, so I enjoy going to various Bay Area film festivals.” Additionally, Pat enjoys spending time with her family. “We have two daughters, Jennifer and Jessica, and a grandson named Calder who recently had his first birthday. Everyone lives here in San Francisco, so we’re able to see a lot of each other.”

In regard to her professional career, Pat says she strives to abide by the Golden Rule. “Treat other people the way you’d like to be treated—that’s basically our mantra. We want to take care of our clients’ homes the same way we’d take care of our own, as well as treat our customers the same way we’d treat our own family and friends.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she were to retire tomorrow, Pat says she would kick off her shoes and take a breather. “I haven’t really had any time off since I started working after college, so I’d probably just take a year off. After that, I would probably do some traveling.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Africa. I’ve been there a couple of times already and it’s my favorite place in the world. It’s really an unbelievable experience.

Q: Who makes you laugh?
A: My grandson.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Textiles and handmade baskets.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: I have two favorites in San Francisco: Chapeau! and Garibaldi’s.

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Uncommon House Cleaning Tools

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SAN RAFAEL — When it comes to cleaning, there are plenty of common tools nearly everyone uses, like brooms, mops and sponges. However, there are a few items you may not have thought to use for cleaning your home. One such item… Read more

Getting Organized with Cleaning Supplies

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SAN RAFAEL– If you’re like most people, cleaning the bathroom is one of the last things you look forward to doing. Fortunately, there’s a way to remove some of the hassle from this tiresome task: having your cleaning supplies organized.… Read more

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Video: Cutting-Edge Cleaning Tools

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SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: Just about everyone owns a broom and dustpan, but there are a few modern cleaning tools you may not have heard of.… Read more

Liliana Reyes-Avalos is owner of The Magic Mop, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. She can be reached at (510) 992-4011 or by email.

Liliana Reyes-Avalos

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Liliana Reyes-Avalos: A Pathway to Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CASTRO VALLEY — Upon moving to the United States from Mexico, Liliana Reyes-Avalos faced an unexpected career setback. However, while it required her to start over from scratch, she soon found herself on a pathway to opportunity. “I used to be a preschool teacher before I came to the U.S.,” she recounts. “When I came here in 1996, I had hoped to continue teaching, but there were complications. Not only did I have trouble with the language barrier, my teaching certification in Mexico wasn’t transferable. Also, I’d just had a baby, so I decided to find a different line of work. After working a couple of random jobs, I was hired by a construction company to do move-out and post-construction cleaning.”

After two years in the cleaning industry, Liliana was presented with an unexpected prospect. “I had a friend from church who owned a house cleaning business. She decided to move to Texas and asked if I would be interested in taking over her company. The thought of running my own business was a little scary, because my English still wasn’t great at the time, but I did have the experience, so I accepted.”

Over the next two decades, Liliana grew the company by leaps and bounds, expanding both its service area and its capabilities. “When I first took over, the company only did regular house cleaning,” she explains. “Since I had experience doing move-in and move-out cleaning, I was able to add those capabilities to our services. I also got into Green cleaning, which has since become a major area of focus for us.”

Today, as owner of The Magic Mop, Inc., Liliana says her favorite part of her job is the relationships she’s able to cultivate. “I have a lot of long-term clients, and with many of them, it’s like I’m part of the family. I enjoy the conversations we have and the good feeling I get from maintaining those relationships.”

A resident of Castro Valley, Liliana spends her free time on a variety of pastimes. “I actually spend a lot of time working on my business,” she admits. “I take classes on how to improve the way I run my company. Also, since we make our own cleaning solutions, I’m always tinkering with our recipes and creating new ones.” Beyond her work-related interests, Liliana enjoys doing art like charcoal drawing and watercolor painting, as well as spending time with her daughter, Brenda.

When asked how she accounts for The Magic Mop’s long-term success, Liliana says it’s all about consistency. “Many companies give excellent service at the beginning, but the quality starts to decrease over time. However, we’re committed to maintaining the same high level of service for as long as we serve the client. At first, the client keeps our service because they’re happy with the quality, but they continue to stay with us because we keep delivering.”

When asked about her long-term goals for the company, Liliana says she wants to keep growing and innovating. “I have a lot of ideas about where to take the business next, but I don’t want to reveal them all at the moment. One thing I’m looking at is creating custom cleaning kits that customers can purchase for home use. I would also like to get my cleaning products on the general market and incorporate more technology into our operations. I’m always working on new ideas—this is what I’m passionate about.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Espetus Churrascaria in San Mateo.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Egypt.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?

A: Both. That’s one thing my clients have always appreciated about me—I’m comfortable working around their pets.

Q: What was your first pet?

A: A terrier mix named Kiki.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?

A: Crème brûlée.

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Preventing Damage to Stone Countertops

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CASTRO VALLEY — Countertops made of natural stone like granite or marble are certainly beautiful, but without proper care, they may not stay that way for long. One thing some homeowners overlook regarding stone countertops is the damage that acidic… Read more

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Video: Preventing Damage to Stone Countertops

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CASTRO VALLEY — Liliana Reyes-Avalos: This is a very important tip from The Magic Mop. So, for very busy moms and very busy dads, I highly… Read more

Jim Wu is owner of Optimum Cleaning Services, a Diamond Certified company since 2014. He can be reached at (650) 273-0236 or by email.

Jim Wu

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jim Wu: A Clean Break

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SUNNYVALE — Soon after moving to the United States from China at the height of the tech boom, Jim Wu secured a steady career as a software engineer. However, as more and more corporations started moving their operations offshore, he began looking for an opportunity that would offer better job security. The next thing he knew, he was running a house cleaning business. “When my wife, Becky, and I started looking for a business to purchase, we wanted to find a service company, mainly because they generally have lower inventories,” he explains. “It just so happened that one of our friends was selling her cleaning business, and it ended up being a perfect fit.”

Today, as owner of Optimum Cleaning Services, Jim says he enjoys the social interaction his second career entails. “It was a big shift to go from almost no customer interaction to dealing with people every day, but I really like talking to our customers, especially when I can offer help. One customer even sent us a thank-you note that said our service saved her marriage!”

A resident of Saratoga (where he lives with Becky and their children, Justin, Erin, and Victor), Jim expresses his appreciation for the temperate Bay Area climate. “You can’t get weather this nice anywhere else,” he says. “When I first came to the U.S., I worked for a consulting company based on the East Coast and went to their headquarters for two weeks of training in December. It was so cold, and when I returned to California, I was glad to be back.”

Outside of work, Jim spends the bulk of his time with his family. “I like the fact that I have control of my schedule because it enables me to devote enough time to be with my kids,” he affirms. “We like swimming, hiking and taking occasional camping trips to Yosemite.”

In regard to his professional career, Jim says it’s important to find a balance between operational efficiency and customer service. “As a business owner, I want to see things running efficiently, but at the same time, we’re in a service industry, so I understand that the customers’ needs are the number one priority. I think it’s easy for a company to go to either extreme, so I always want to strike that balance between keeping our business profitable and our customers happy.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jim says he’d do some extensive traveling. “I would probably plan a tour of Europe or something. Right now, with the kids and the business, we’re somewhat limited in how far away we can travel, so it would be neat to have the freedom to see more of the world.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: The Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco 49ers.

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee for on-the-go, tea for leisure time.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Yahoo.com for news, stock market updates and email.

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Cheesecake.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas—the family is together and everyone is happy.

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How to Prevent Water Spots on Glass

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SUNNYVALE — A common problem with glass shower doors is the formation of water spots. Not only do these spots obscure the clarity of glass, they can also become permanently etched into it over time. The good news is, if your shower… Read more

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Video: Preventing Water Spots on Glass

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SUNNYVALE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your glass shower door is less than two years old, it’s not too late to get proactive about preventing water spots. Today… Read more

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