Positivity Provides Prosperity
Categories: ISSA Member SpotlightBy Graeme Golucki | October 4, 2019 << Back to Articles
In 2012, Ricardo “Ricky” Regalado was at an occupational crossroads. Tired of bouncing around various jobs, he wanted something in which he could put his networking relationship building skills to use and scratch his entrepreneurial itch. He was searching for a career when a family member presented him with the proverbial golden ticket.
A family member had a commercial cleaning franchise that seemed to be doing pretty well,” Regalado said. “He mentioned he was looking to sell it. I was unhappy at my current job, so I took out a loan and went all-in on running the franchise with my cousin, Tony Pedroza, and my then-girlfriend (now wife), Marley.”
Crash course in cleaning
Those first few years presented a slew of hurdles. A resident of Chicago’s northwest side, Regalado would often spend several hours a day on the road commuting to the franchise’s accounts in the far western suburbs of McHenry County, Illinois. And once on site, Regalado soon realized he and his small crew of family members had a lot to learn about the cleaning industry.
“At the time, nobody had a real full-blown training regime for custodial work; it’s not necessarily something you get a college degree in,” Regalado said. “Sure, the franchiser gave us some basic training. But for the most part, we had to teach ourselves, so that meant watching a lot of videos, attending training seminars and workshops, and lots of hands-on trial and error learning. We were working 16-18-hour days, seven days a week. It was brutal at times, but we also developed our own training regime and were able to create our own systems and process that we still use today.
“That first year, in particular, was a struggle,” Regalado said. “I was contemplating throwing in the towel and finding another job. But we stuck with it, and then we won our first account, one we went after ourselves versus coming from the franchiser. And that one was followed by another and another. I found myself finally thinking ‘We can do this!’ and that’s when this really started to be fun.”
After a few years as a franchisee, Regalado was ready to step out on his own, so with the backing of his family he left the franchise behind and founded what is now known as Rozalado Services. “As I kept seeing us accumulate wins, I felt it was best to build my own brand and identity. We focused on the accounts we wanted to win and started attacking different verticals. As we gained clients, we kept blowing past the milestones I had set for the company, growing at a rate of 250% year over year.”
As Rozalado Services grew its client portfolio, Regalado was always quick to offer his customers more than cleaning services. “Once we started being profitable and were able to grow our staff, that’s when things snowballed to being more than just a cleaning company,” he said. “We got a carpet cleaning team, a window washing team, specialty floor care. Some might say, ‘Why would your client want to put all their eggs in one basket?’ Well, we offer a good basket! Rozalado Services is accountable. We have a vested interest in keeping our customers happy and being a true partner with them.”
Today, Rozalado Services has grown from a small cleaning team of a few family members to more than 250 employees. The company now has gone from a dozen clients in Chicago’s western suburbs to having operations in nine states, with no signs of stopping expansion. Rozalado Services’ customer base is diverse, too, including office buildings, healthcare facilities, schools, and food service locations.
According to Regalado, his strong family ties have been the backbone of his company’s tremendous growth. Currently more than 15 family members are a part of the Rozalado team, including Regalado’s wife, parents, and numerous cousins. “Some companies might say never go into business with family,” he said. “For me, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who better to have your back when there’s trouble than your family? They’ve been there for me my entire life.”
Culture is key at Rozalado Services, and in addition to family ties, another big part of the company’s culture is Regalado’s consistently positive attitude. “My parents always told me, ‘You’re going to have bad days or moments you’re not proud of, but take those with a grain of salt and move forward’. I’ve learned that you can’t do anything about what happened in the past, but you can move forward and take care of the future. When you think of the past, you fall into these negative moments and get detached. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve capitalized on them by keeping my eyes on what’s next. I try to instill that in everyone on my staff. If you don’t want positivity, and I’m not sure why you wouldn’t, maybe we’re not the place for you.”
While family has helped Regalado grow his business, he also has been quick to leverage outside resources as well, such as becoming a member of ISSA. “I have to say, if you are in the cleaning industry, it’s simply in your best interest to be a member of ISSA,” Regalado said. “We’re so busy working on our business, out there in the field cleaning and servicing clients, that we need a strong association to keep us abreast of the latest regulations and trends. ISSA has always pointed us in the right direction for networking and educational opportunities. Being a member has been a great way for us to get in touch with new suppliers and find out about the latest equipment.”
Time for tech
Avoiding complacency and staying on the cutting edge is very important to Regalado. In 2017, Rozalado Services began developing custodial software through its Route software division. “Chicago is a big city for new technology, and I’ve always wanted to find a way to be involved in that somehow,” Regalado said. “I asked our staff, ‘What are our pain points? How can we come up with a solution?’ We were having issues with workflow management, sales and transparency in operations. Rather than use seven or eight different programs, I hired some software developers and made an app in-house, which is now known as Route. Who better to design an app for cleaning than a cleaning company, right?”
Route software is now used by all Rozalado employees and the company’s partners as well. “We’ve got a whole loft at our headquarters dedicated to software development now,” Regalado said. “Route has been great for eliminating problems, giving our salespeople the tools needed to do a walk-through, bidding, and estimating in one spot. We’re constantly adding improvements too, such as offering inspection software. One of the big things for me was to make the inspection software more inclusive and constructive. We’ve seen a big improvement from the staff; they hated negative quality control. Now we’re able to work as a team and target areas that need improving.”
Client needs and technology may be forever changing, but one thing that shows no signs of ever changing is Regalado’s love of the cleaning industry. “I consider myself lucky to have found something I can channel my entrepreneurial passion into,” he said. “This industry can be so impactful, I’ve developed multiple verticals and companies within it, creating jobs for friends and family along the way. Cleaning is recession-proof, and if you establish a solid system with the right people, there’s no telling how big you might grow.”
About the Author.
Graeme Golucki is ISSA's digital strategy editor and can be reached at [email protected]; phone, 800-225-4772 (North America) and 847-982-0800.