I recently had the chance to chat with Chapman Barksdale, founder and CEO of Lorraine’s Cleaning Service, for this month’s Black Business Feature. Check out what he had to say about running a business, balancing entrepreneurship, and his impact on the community.
Describe your business.
Lorraine’s Cleaning Service is a black-owned eco-friendly cleaning company (all products use are eco-friendly) that provides a service that people don’t want to do. We provide cleaning for residential and commercial properties. Growing up my mom always had me cleaning and I enjoy doing it so it doesn’t feel like work for me.
How did you develop the name?
The name came from my late grandmother who passed away two years ago. When coming up with the name I was trying to commemorate her and use her name for something positive for it to live on. I wanted to pay her back for the things she did for me.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
I wanted the independence and the freedom of working for myself. Financial freedom and building something for myself and my kids are important.
Describe your customers.
My customers are great people. Running this company has allowed me to meet different people from all walks of life. My customer service is on one thousand so that has led to building contracts and lots of referrals. Word of mouth is important and I enjoy making my customers happy and going the extra mile.
Describe how your customer service is on one thousand and how you go the extra mile.
An example of going the extra mile is when I’m hired to clean up a house that’s being moved out. I not only clean the areas I’m hired for, but I do windows and extra spaces that people don’t normally think about. My customers appreciate that. I add little touches like candy on a desk or in kitchen areas, people like that.
What has been your biggest challenge running your own business?
Challenges don’t get in my way, I use them as an opportunity to learn. When I’m stuck with something I pray about it and look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Big challenges don’t exist because I find a way.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
It has helped my family life. I employee a lot of my family. Everyone is supportive and encouraging. It’s actually made our relationships more healthy because everyone wants to help.
I’ve heard you mention helping the community, what does that look like for you and your business?
I want to help others reach financial freedom through financial advising. I want to get in the schools and speak to more kids, too. If you look at our schools (Baltimore City Public Schools) compared to other schools in our state, ours look more like prisons. I want to talk to those kids. When we were growing up people told you just go to college and get a job. They didn’t tell us we could be the business owner. They didn’t teach us how to write a check or manage our money. I want to help kids with that.
I’m always out helping in the community, helping the less fortunate. I don’t record it or post it because I believe in people keeping their dignity and respect while they’re getting help.
I also help my employees and push them in the right direction. I help them with building their dreams. I tell them it’s not just about me, it’s about your success, too.
What advice do you have for new or aspiring entrepreneurs?
You can’t be afraid to try, never be afraid. There’s no such thing as failure, it’s a success if you tried and learned. What’s winning if you never lose? You have to know what it feels like. It’s not failing. Don’t think of failure as society does.
Find out what you’re good at it in the process of failing and learning. In doing that you’ll find your calling and nothing beats that.
Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear. Treat people good and build a sturdy foundation.
Help people and build relationships. You might be helping the next billionaire. Never count people out. Keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
Contact Lorraine’s Cleaning Service for a free quote and any questions you may have. Chapman Barksdale is also available for speaking engagements, especially those involving helping and supporting children.