In a competitive industry where clients aren’t known for their loyalty, 42-year-old Rose C. Doyle’s commercial janitorial business has staying power. Based in Glendale, Arizona, R.C.D. Inc., is the only female-run janitorial service in the Phoenix area, and was recently awarded a $216,000 contract to provide cleaning services to two local police precincts, Central City and South Mountain. Two waste-management firms, Skunk Creek LandFill and 27th Avenue Solid Waste Management Facility, were also included in the contract.
But the road to fruitful gains has not come easy.
The now $800,000-a-year business started in 1993 as a cleaning service for vacating renters and homeowners, grossing $3,000 in revenues with profits of $160 in her first year.
Doyle toiled at the back-breaking work in the evenings, after returning from her day job as a data entry operator for Monford Meat Co. in Phoenix. To strengthen her knowledge of the cleaning business, she subcontracted under CBN Building Maintenance earning $200 to $300 per month.
In the beginning, she ran the business with the help of Christina Gonzales, her administrative assistant. “For quite awhile there, I was the employee, the salesperson, the CEO, CFO, and operations manager, all rolled up into one,” says Doyle. “The client didn’t know I was in there cleaning. And when I would go back for my weekly inspection, I would get all dressed up and ask them how things were going.”
Although she found herself steadily employed, Doyle still encountered her share of rejection. Initially, clients were skeptical that the petite woman could handle the heavy equipment. “Since I was female, it was show and tell, it wasn’t tell and show,” Doyle remembers.
In 1996, Doyle began running her business full time.
As her business grew, she encountered more obstacles from financial institutions unwilling to extend a line of credit. “When I approached certain banks, credit unions, and even the Small Business Administration (SBA), they gave various reasons for not extending [me] credit,” says Doyle. “One of the more popular excuses was: ‘Not in business long enough’. But for all the doors that were closed, I found a window and climbed my way back in,” says Doyle. Consequently, she had to rely on factoring her accounts [selling company receivables to an outside firm] in order to meet payroll, which cost the company hefty interest payments each year. In 1999 alone, fees to the firm Commercial Factor totaled $33,000.
Other difficulties have included: employee theft on job sites, high employee turnover rates, and learning to communicate with her many non-English speaking employees.
Having recently received 8(a) certification, R.C.D. can now move ahead to the final step of submitting the required standardized business plan to the SBA.
Doyle is committed to plowing profits back into her business to maintain its growth. To that end, the recruitment of her brother, Alonzo Doyle, a former internal auditor for a Fortune 500 company, has helped streamline finances, and his efforts have resulted in the company’s first positive cash flow balance.
her sister, Marilyn Doyle, serves as vice president of operations, helping to maintain high