FEATURED: Exeleon Interviews 360clean Franchisee in Celebration of Black History Month
360clean Franchise Owner, Lorenzo Bates, Was Recently Interviewed by Exeleon in Celebration of Black History Month.
Click on this link to view the digital magazine of our February special issue of Transformational Black Leaders to Watch in 2023.
In this Interview Feature, we are speaking with Franchise Owner of 360clean – Lorenzo Bates, wherein he shares about his journey, entrepreneurship, and about his business.
Share a bit of background as to what led you to your journey in entrepreneurship.
My name is Lorenzo Bates, and I am a native of Simpsonville, SC. After spending over 30 years in the corporate workforce and working in the pharmaceutical field I decided to leave my JOB (just over broke) to become an entrepreneur.
My action steps included keeping my current job while I was researching business opportunities. As the head of the household, I needed to do this rather than pull money out of my savings to start a business.
While researching businesses, I became interested in franchising because of the support and resources that are typically offered to franchisees. I signed up as a franchisee with 360Clean because I was impressed with their affordable startup costs, their commitment to “Cleaning for Health” that focuses on disinfecting instead of merely cleaning surfaces, and their Pre-Set Sales Appointment Program.
I started my 360clean franchise on a part-time basis in 2017 in the Greenville, SC area. By 2020, I was ready to finally quit my corporate job and go “all in,” and since then I have seen my business skyrocket and have won many awards as the top performer with 360Clean.
I know that some people like to dive headfirst and risk all of their savings to get started, but this approach wasn’t right for me at the time. I took baby steps and eventually got where I needed to be with a patient, strategic approach.
What does a day in your life look like? How do you ensure work/life balance?
I like to plan my schedule a week ahead for customer visits, meetings with staff, and team members, I meet with my supervisors and team leads on Monday’s and discuss the week ahead.
I enjoy establishing two-way relationships with my current clients, employees, and creating a positive impact in my community. As far as work-life balance, there are boundaries that work for us regarding what is “work time” and what is “family time.” I like to be totally present for my wife and my kids.
I haven’t had to change my health plan at all, as I had to follow a healthy diet, exercise, and have ways to fight stress when I was working in the corporate world to be successful. I have continued these same healthy habits as an entrepreneur because it’s simple – you can’t perform your best if you don’t feel your best.
How do you feel when you look back at your “work” when you started and how it compares to now?
The support team at 360clean is very helpful with helping franchisees as it pertains to running a successful business. I used some of my knowledge from the corporate world and added what was learned from the 360clean team and have created one of the top franchises in the organization. I now help other franchisees in developing their businesses.
When I look back at my work when I started my franchise part-time and how it compares to now, I see that it was more of a “side hustle” to see if it had the potential to be more lucrative than my corporate job.
Compared to now, I am fully committed full-time and have put in the work, blood, sweat, and tears to be one of the top performers and often #1 in overall sales with 360Clean. It is rewarding because it took me a few years to make it happen, but it’s been well worth it!
What areas of business do you excel at and what areas do you struggle with?
I excel at customer relations, both internal and external. I believe that it is equally important to make sure you have a great relationship with your internal customers (your employees) as well as your external customers (your clients).
As a former sales rep, I learned how to understand and relate to all types of people and personalities. My personal growth happened as I matured and grew more patient with “difficult” customers and personalities. I learned to take a breath, not be defensive, and to be a better listener when there are problems.
Today, I struggle with dealing with employees or contractors who have a lack of ambition or do not care about the quality of their job performance. I do not like to hire employees who feel they are just showing up, doing a below average job, and expecting a paycheck.
How do you go about planning and executing your business goals?
At the beginning of every year, I develop an SGAP (Strategic Growth Action Plan) for the year. I also set SMART goals to help me attain them. I review these plans and goals periodically to make sure I am staying on track.
What goals do you have for this year in business?
Client Retention is very important to my business and our brand. I also have a goal of increasing my YOY MCV (monthly current volume) by 60% in sales.
What clients, brands, partnerships, or collaborations have you enjoyed the most?
In 2020, we were able to win a contract with all non-acute facilities with Bon Secours in the upstate area. This was a big “win” for the business and helped boost morale with all of our team members.
What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Growing my business to the level where I was able to leave my 9-5 JOB (Just Over Broke) and spend more time with my family. To more, this is far more valuable than any sales accomplishments.
Was there a time you considered giving up or lost motivation? if so, how did you overcome that?
NEVER! Becoming an entrepreneur was always top of mind for me. I knew that I would do it one day, it was just a matter of when! Being an entrepreneur and having work-life balance is very rewarding to me. For these reasons, giving up has never entered my mind!
What advice would you give to emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up and remember your “WHY”. Why did you consider being an entrepreneur and what drives you? Your “Why” doesn’t always mean a profit or gaining exposure. It could be a purpose or a cause that is the driving force of your business.
What can be expect from you going forward?
Since the pandemic I have been able to hire more employees and help them and their families. I have also done some pro-bono work at nursing homes, churches, and other organizations with cleaning and disinfecting to help them operate normal and get back to what they do for our community.
I would like to continue this and establish other ways to assist and have an impact with my community as well. I would also like to grow my business to other territories and surrounding areas.