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Written by Kirstin Davis, Marketplace Director Eastern Washington/North Idaho
Tenaciously smart, no jerks, be real, bold regard and coolness.
These could be considered adjectives or community pool rules, but instead they are the core values of Zerorez Spokane. The words stand life size inside the company building in Spokane Valley.
Skateboards, beards, massage loungers, mascots and Foosball.
These could be things you see on fraternity row at a University, but instead they are the visuals you see as you wander the Zerorez Spokane warehouse. When 23-year-old Jeremy McGee decided he was going to honor his entrepreneurial spirit, he started with the fortitude and energy of all the above.
“I just wanted to have something I could build, something that would allow me to work with people, grow my talents and theirs too,” he said.
McGee climbed into his first and only cleaning truck in 2004. But he didn’t have many jobs that first day. So, he got out and started knocking on doors.
Eventually his perseverance and customer service skills paid off and one truck turned into multiple trucks. As McGee matured so did the business and McGee knew things were progressing to another level.
“The most monumental tipping point was moving from being a technician and actually doing the work to being the leader,” McGee said.
Eventually, McGee stepped away from operations and marketing and hired directors for the roles. This allowed him to focus on mentoring his team so they could make day-to-day decisions independently. Today, Zerorez Spokane employs 30 people and has a fleet of 14 trucks.
The Zerorez warehouse is a playground of support, creativity and elbow grease. Company culture is a priority for McGee, who fosters personal and professional growth for all team members. Many technicians clean carpets for two to four years and don’t imagine being in the position long term.
“We are completely transparent when techs come on board,” McGee said. “This is an opportunity for them to grow in a span of time and then move on to bigger and better things, and that’s what we hope for them.”
Tyson Chapman was one of the first cleaning technicians for McGee. He worked his way up to a technician leader and became part of the management team. Eventually, Chapman was ready for more and McGee was more than happy to continue supporting his ambition.
In 2014, they strategized a plan to take the Zerorez brand to the Tri-Cities, with Chapman taking on the leadership role. McGee would provide the start-up funding, hiring and marketing resources while Chapman took to the streets with a cleaning van. The first month was the most successful in franchise history. Last year Chapman bought McGee out and today Chapman has five trucks servicing the Tri-Cities.
“If you are about yourself and try to make a buck, that can work.,” Chapman said. “If you in turn do something for others, you will grow.”
You won’t find a community service policy at Zerorez, however it is big part of the culture and authentic. It may be in the form of a food drive, pink shoe covers in October or donated cleaning services.
“If they see a need to take care of somebody that is in grief or need, they can act on it,” McGee said. “Technicians feel empowered by this ability to give back. It’s not a mandate —we don’t regulate it.”
McGee’s products are simplified with alkaline based and oxidized empowered water.
“We were green before green was cool,” McGee said.
High temperature water and efficient equipment allows them to clean without using soaps or shampoos, which are designed to attract dirt.
Cleaning inside people’s homes is a very personal service and requires excellent customer service and trust. Legitimacy and reputation is a priority for McGee and was one of the reasons he decided to become a BBB Accredited Business in 2011. According to McGee, customer service satisfaction for the industry is on average 30 percent, but Zerorez sits at 82 percent. McGee said they set goals to improve the customer experience.
“It’s helped us really know how we can better serve the customer,” he said. “It gives us something else to watch and learn from.”
Even as an established entrepreneur with a young family, McGee sleeps well.
“It is a simple industry,” he said. “What allows me to sleep at night is knowing that we’re being honest and doing the right thing and the customer gets to see that happen personally.”