Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) While on the road as finance consultants and expectant parents, WellNest Home Cleaning founder and CEO Phil Harper and his wife tried to find a cleaning service to clean his home. The experience of finding one was such a negative one that it led him to start his own.
“WellNest Home Cleaning is a 100% digital eco-friendly health conscious cleaning service,” said Harper. “What that means is that you can do everything online from booking an appointment, getting a price, scheduling, rescheduling, secure payment, everything’s done online in an easy fashion from your phone or browser.”
With the couple working jobs that kept them away from home for significant periods of time, they had no time to keep the house clean. What he found when trying to choose a cleaning service was that the experience was overly time-consuming and difficult to arrange.
“We went shopping for a cleaning service, looked at reviews, selected some companies we liked, but the process was just very slow,” he said. “We kept having to call and make appointments or have in-home estimates and have to take off work. Whenever we wanted to reschedule, we had to play phone tag, leave voicemails, we kept on missing appointments.”
There was also the issue of payment — many traditional cleaning companies only took cash or check, with no credit card or online payment option.
Before the cleaner leaves the home, he or she uses a 60-point checklist to ensure that every detail on the list has been taken care of during the cleaning and they also leave a personalized note to reflect on the quality of service that the customer receives.
WellNest uses an online booking platform that makes it easy to arrange a home cleaning. The website gives customers an immediate quote depending on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms the house or apartment has, with a 1 bed, 1 bath apartment costing $70 for a single cleaning. Extras such as cleaning the interior of the refrigerator or oven are available for an additional fee.
It also gives the option to “subscribe” to a cleaning schedule, which reduces the price depending on how often per month the cleaning is scheduled. After that, the website then goes to a scheduling platform where the customer can choose the time and date they want their cleaning done.
In order to reduce costs that are passed on to the consumer and employees, WellNest uses a central storage facility for its cleaning materials and cleaners use Uber instead of company-owned or personal vehicles to reach their destinations.
“We solve a pain point with apartment complexes in Arlington because of the parking issues here,” he said. “Instead of having office space and vehicles or having to use our own personal vehicles, we actually use storage units and Uber to get around. The storage units are right in town. Our cleaners show up, get their cleaning supplies, call Uber, it picks them up, takes them to the home they’re cleaning; they go on up, clean the home, come back down, call Uber again, and go on to the next job.”
His experience as a father influenced his business in other ways. On his search to find a cleaning service, Harper wanted one that used cleaning products that were non-toxic and eco friendly. Knowing firsthand about the damaging effects that traditional cleaning products such as bleach have, WellNest uses mostly cleaning products that are non-toxic, made of water, vinegar and lemon oil. Traditional cleaning agents are reserved for only the toughest jobs.
“We spent several months trying various vendors of health-oriented cleaning supplies and what we landed on was a company called Eco-Me,” said Harper. “We found them through trial and error, tried it in our own home and loved it. We use them exclusively now.”
As of now, WellNest mainly operates in the Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church area, although Harper says that the company plans to expand into D.C, Reston, and deeper into Virginia. Its offices are based at the new MakeOffices Clarendon co-working space.