Tidewater Cleaning Service    Easton, MD

Some days you get very frustrated as a business owner. It’s easy to stop, but you have to keep going. Take advantage of all the resources out there. Look for professional organizations to help you. Partner with your financial institution and ask questions. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to someone who has been there to see through to the other side.

Best Friends Launch Successful Cleaning Business

Kathy Lill and Nicole Dull have a friendship spanning decades. Their families vacationed together and even lived a few houses away from one another before Kathy and Nicole decided to start a business.

The friends-turned-business partners saw a need for licensed, bonded and insured cleaning companies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In 2010, they started with only one or two customers a week. As word spread, Tidewater Cleaning Service quickly grew.

"As a small business it can be really tough to get started. PNC was willing to take a chance on us. We were approved for a business credit card - which was huge for us at the time - and they have been instrumental in our growth ever since."

Today, Kathy and Nicole have 39 employees and specialize in both commercial and residential cleaning. They are also recognized as one of the best women-owned businesses in the region. They attribute their success to hard work and their unwavering commitment to customer service.

“The biggest complaint customers have is that they can’t get ahold of companies in the service industry,” said Nicole. “Whether we’re in the office or standing in line at the grocery store, we answer the phone as soon as it rings.”

Unexpected Growth During an Uncertain Time

When states started closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kathy and Nicole were nervous. With so many unknowns, they expected the worse. They followed the Governor’s directives and paused their residential business. As an essential service, they were able to keep their commercial cleaning business open. They educated themselves on COVID-19 and trained their employees on proper cleaning methods and protocols.

Their commercial cleaning business boomed as local businesses were doing everything they could to remain open. Many customers were requesting daily cleanings instead of their normal, once-a-week appointments. Prior to March 2020, Tidewater Cleaning Service’s business was 80% residential and 20% commercial. This quickly shifted to 40% commercial and 60% residential.

“The pandemic changed the face of cleaning. Instead of being something that was a luxury, it quickly turned into a true necessity,” said Kathy.

Planning for the Future

When Nicole and Kathy decided to resume their residential cleaning as the Governor’s directives loosened, they let customers come to them as they felt comfortable with continuing their service. They sent an email detailing the new procedures their cleaning teams would follow to keep everyone safe.

“Customers were very nervous about having us come back into their homes,” said Nicole. “We understood and respected that. We had to reintroduce ourselves to them. We provided additional training to our cleaning teams which included preventative health measures to protect themselves and our customers. This changed the way they entered homes and how they interacted with our customers.”

Now, the business has almost all of its residential customers back and then some. With this unexpected growth, Kathy and Nicole are working with their PNC business banker to plan for the future, discussing options like purchasing a building to house their growing business.

“Nicole and I are driven people. The growth of our company happened organically. We never really stopped to think about it – we just rolled with it and figured things out as we went along,” said Kathy. “Entrepreneurialism is a gift. It was really tough at times, but I’m so glad we did it.”

Business Awards

  • 2015 Talbot County MD Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Small Business of the Year
  • 2019 Queen Anne's County MD Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year
  • What's Up Magazine "Best of Eastern Shore" reader poll for Indoor Cleaning Service 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020

Community Involvement

  • Talbot County Chamber Ambassador (Community Liaison)
  • Supporting the Neighborhood Service Center
  • Easton Police Dept. Toy Drive
  • Mid-Shore Board of Realtors
  • The Arc

Find them on the Web: www.tidewatercleaningservice.com

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