With little more than a big idea and a desire to be her own boss, Elisse Kelley struck out on her own to create a brand new business from the ground up. In just three short years, Sweeping Change has become one of the Vail Valley’s premiere residential and commercial cleaning companies now serving more than 200 clients and helping to support the families of 30 local employees.
Sweeping Change is a shining example of how an independent small business can thrive among the larger corporate entities in our midst, creating balance between the needs of customers big and small. Along the way, Kelley says the creation, sustainability and growth of her business has been one of the most challenging and satisfying journeys of her life.
A 25-year local who has held top human resources positions at a variety of large employers in the area, Kelley was prompted to start her own company after recognizing a need she felt uniquely qualified to fill.
“I knew I had the background in terms of employment law, human resources practices and plenty of business contacts in the area, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect, “said Kelley. “Overall, the experience has been very positive. There is a unique satisfaction to not only meeting the needs of our clients, but also creating a welcoming workplace for the dozens of locals working here who take a great deal of pride in what they do.”
Many of Sweeping Change’s cleaners have been on staff since day one, and Kelley says their longevity and diverse knowledge has been invaluable to the company’s growth, as well as the unique services they are able to offer their clients.
“We have many discerning clients with highly valuable items that have very specific cleaning and maintenance requirements,” she said. “Not only do they appreciate that we have done our homework on how to care for them, they also admire that we send the same staff members to serve them on an ongoing basis. We would not be able to serve these customers in the detailed manner that we do with a constantly fluctuating staff.”
While the consistency in staff is one of the company’s greatest assets, Kelley says adapting with great flexibility to the daily challenges that arise is also an important part of Sweeping Change’s success. “As an independent business owner, the greatest skill I have had to learn is to continually thrive amidst constant change,” said Kelley. “Managing schedules, supplies, vehicles and the diverse needs of our customers and staff keeps me on my toes all day, most every day. But I love it.”
In addition to cleaning dozens of private homes and working with homeowners who rent their properties through VRBO, Airbnb and other vacation services, Sweeping Change serves well-known Valley business including Country Club of the Rockies, the Sonnenalp Club, Slifer, Smith and Frampton, Sotheby’s, Keller Williams, the Vail Valley Foundation, the Vail Board of Realtors, The Gerald Ford Amphitheater, Alpine Bank, Sun and Ski, and various pre-schools, restaurants and more.
Kelley says while she does some light advertising, most of her new business comes from word of mouth and joint partnerships. “I really enjoy the people we work for, meeting them and developing presentations specific to their needs,” she said. “For example, in order to work with a client like Beck Builders, we had to meet stringent insurance and liability requirements. I am proud to say we are one of the only cleaning and restoration companies in the Valley who were able to do so, and thus they can always call upon us.”
It’s no surprise that a cleaning company might get some pretty unusual requests. Kelley says that when this happens, she gets key members of her experienced and professional cleaning staff involved in deciding if, and how, to take on a job. “We took on a project earlier this summer that had us thoroughly cleaning the outdoor playhouses in Nottingham Park,” said Kelley. “No other local company would touch the job, and my team took it on enthusiastically.”
Kelley runs teams on both day and night shifts. In addition to her full and part time local staff, Kelley hires additional seasonal help from Mexico via the H2B Visa program and is working on acquiring permanent residency for several staff members. “Establishing residency is a long and expensive process, and one I didn’t envision myself undertaking when I started Sweeping Change,” says Kelley. “But it has been well worth it. Not only for the life-changing opportunity I can give to people, but also for the skills, ambition and loyalty they will have for our company.”
Kelley’s vision for the future includes continued growth in terms of both new business and new employees. “When I started the company, I could never have imagined how quickly it would grow and prosper,” she said. “It just keeps getting better and better.”
Sweeping Change is fully licensed, bonded and insured and offers residential, rental property and commercial cleaning services across the Valley from East Vail to Gypsum. To learn more or to receive an estimate, phone (970) 390-8353 or visit www.sweepingchangevail.com.