Contrary to popular belief, if you want the job done right you can’t always do it yourself — though Anthony Samuels certainly tried. “I was stuck in the office trying to take care of everything,” the entrepreneur recalls of his early startup days in 1993. “[Back then], I was just starting out, and I needed to keep costs down.”
Samuels used credit cards and $3,000 of his savings to start Done Right Building Services Inc., a Boston-based building maintenance company. He set up the business in a home office, purchased cleaning equipment, a vehicle, and lined up clients. Everything was in place — or so he thought. Before long the newly minted entrepreneur was working until 10 p.m. almost every night. Not only was he managing the day-to-day operations, he was also cleaning buildings in the evenings, leaving him little time to scout for new clients.
Samuels seemed headed the way of so many entrepreneurs whose startups fail in the first year, until he heeded the advice of his Small Business Administration adviser. “He said to me, ‘If you’re out doing the work, you’re not running your company right,'” Samuels recalls. “And I was upset at first, but I eventually realized that what he said was true.”
Samuels immediately began making changes. He hired an office manager, an operations manager, and enlisted a team of workers to handle the cleaning. Then, four years ago, he moved the company out of his home and into its current headquarters in Copley Place, in Boston.
Once Samuels began delegating tasks and broadening his company’s services, he noticed a gradual improvement in the bottom line. Revenues the first year were $60,000; three years later that figure jumped to $300,000. By 2006 revenues were $4.3 million, and Samuels projects Done Right’s 2007 revenues will reach $5.5 million.
Today, the company employs 40 full-time workers and 90 part-time staffers and has additional branches in New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Bolstering the workforce also allowed the company to diversify its services and expand. Besides janitorial services and building maintenance, the company now offers snow removal, landscaping, and mechanical maintenance. “Today, property managers want a company that does it all, so we try to offer them the full range of services that they might need,” says Samuels, who now has more time to pursue new clients.
Samuels’ efforts have paid off almost right away — and handsomely — for Done Right. He scored one of his first contracts, worth $380,000, with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to clean and maintain more than 200,000 square feet of office space in the authority’s three buildings in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Done Right’s client roster also includes Trammell Crow and the City of Boston. Through the assistance of the SBA’s small business programs — which Samuels has been enrolled in for nearly a decade — Done Right snagged nine government contracts worth nearly $2 million.
Now Samuels can share the company’s workload, and its success.
Done Right Building Services Inc.; Four Copley Place, Suite 135, Boston, MA, 02116; 617-236-0155; www.donerightervices.com