Janitor to Business Owner – A conversation with Dan Dillon from CleanItSupply.com

in Entrepreneurial, Internet related jobs

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Dan Dillon, owner of CleanItSupply.com, was kind of enough to share about what he does for a living and his transformation from Janitor to  entrepreneur.  You can find Dan and his company on the website above and on their Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.  

What do you do for a living?

My name is Dan Dillon and I am President  and owner of CleanItSupply.com, one of the web’s largest cleaning and janitorial supplies retailers.

How would you describe what you do?

My day-to-day consists of running and operating CleanItSupply.com and my team of employees to ensure that all operations run smoothing and on schedule.

What does your work entail?

Managing people and teams to grow our business while providing the very best online shopping experience that we can offer. We pride ourselves on our knowledgable and friendly customer service.

What’s a typical work week like?

Anywhere from managing teams, to working with distributors, to talking to customers, each week is consistently different. When running a business, you have to be flexible and ready for whatever comes at you.

How did you get started?

CleanItSupply was born after selling a successful family commercial janitorial service in 2005. I’ve always embraced the concept of being an expert in your space.  Be confident in what you do and how you do it. Don’t worry about what your competitors are doing; focus on what you’re doing.  “Stick to what know and you shall succeed,” was the mentality that I followed.  So, janitorial cleaning supplies and products was the vertical that I gravitated to since I probably touched, smelled or used just about every kind of cleaning product or supply under the sun during my 25 years in the commercial janitorial service trenches.

What do you like about what you do?

My employees. This is by far THE most important element in any business.  Here is a really simple fact – in my opinion of course – People build businesses.  A customer service driven business has to have team players on board.  Notice how I didn’t say star players?  I’d rather have an employee that genuinely cares and tries their best than a naturally talented person who thinks they’re the best and that they’re deserving of more time off, higher compensation and pampering themselves just because they “believe” they’re valuable.  I say, “No thank you,” to Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful.

A difficult thing to do while growing our business is know when to hire a new team member.  I always consult with the entire team and discuss this point.  You need to know if and when one of your existing employees is maxed out on workload.  An all company meeting to discuss the topic, will help yield a sure decision.  In the meeting you’ll be able to identify what has gone wrong recently or who’s happy and who’s not.  But you have to approach the whole thing from a team building perspective.

How much do people in your field make?

As a business owner, it will vary. Your income will be dependent upon your dedication and work ethic. Work hard, enjoy what you do, and the money will follow.

How much money do you make starting out?

As a janitor like I did, not much. When starting your own business you will likely not make much money at first. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that. But if you stick with it and work hard, it will pay off in the end.

What education or skills are needed to do this?

Education? Yep did that.  I think so at least…. Just kidding – my mother actually laid the law down to both my dad and I. She demanded that I, “At minimum,” get my associates degree.  Even though I was offered a full ride to a four year college for competitive swimming, Dad and I opted for a local community college so I could continue managing the janitorial service business and help feed the family.  At least that was part of Dad’s sales pitch. Plus, how was I going to make the brand new Corvette car payments at 18 years old while spending 4 years with my head under water swimming in college?  First of all, why the heck did my dad let me buy a brand new 1990 convertible Corvette at 18 years old?  My only guess would be to keep me broke with making car payments so I’d have to keep swinging mops and scrubbing toilets…who knows?  Second, 4 years of prune fingers and straw-like chlorine hair, wasn’t so attractive at the time.  But, who knows, I could have been that Michael Phelps guy 20 years ago.  And, how was I going to meet girls while swimming under water in a pool?  I thought the Corvette had a much faster and easier approach.

On a serious note, I attribute my education to a good work ethic that my dad drilled into me.  College isn’t the only place to learn business or a profession. For the two short years that I attended college, it was helpful for things like accounting and public speaking.  But, learning from skilled professionals during an apprenticeship was more valuable for me personally.  Luckily, I got to do this with my father and the professional group of friends he kept.  Anything I wanted to learn was at my fingertips.  Some people learn from their mistakes.  I’d like to learn from other’s mistakes rather than making my own.  Boy, I wish the internet was around back then because I would have had a whole lot more questions.  Because, I’ve made many mistakes in e-commerce.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Working in ecommerce is incredibly competitive. Always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition is always going to be the most challenging part to running a successful business.

What is most rewarding?

As I mentioned previously, my employees. Working with such a smart, friendly team is my favorite part of the job.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Even if you start out as a janitor, you can make it happen. Just work hard, have a good work ethic. People will notice you.

How much time off do you get/take?

As a business owner, very little. My job is to keep everything running smoothly. Even on vacation I’m always working to make sure things are operating efficiently. When you are responsible for employees and your team, you have to make sure you are doing your very best for them.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

To keep growing CleanItSupply.com and continue to provide the very best online shopping experience and customer service on the web.

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