Sharon Green is the CEO of Professional Cleaning Solutions located at 800 Market Street in Downtown Chattanooga. Seventeen years ago, the Columbus, GA native came to Chattanooga on an assignment to help an underperforming regional finance office. Her reputation as a “get-it-done” professional led her to management roles with multiple locations and dozens of employees reporting to her. Nearly two decades later with a track record of corporate management success, Sharon is finding passion in her new role as an entrepreneur and job creator.
In this Founder Spotlight, CO.LAB CEO, Marcus Shaw, and Chief-of-Staff, Katie Hendrix, sat down with Sharon to discuss her company, thriving during the COVID-19 crisis, and her passion for entrepreneurship.
CO.LAB: You’ve built this incredible professional career. But it seems like you were destined to run a company. The work you were doing before, running a workforce, holding people accountable, doing training, I assume that’s very similar to some of what you’re doing with Professional Cleaning Solutions.
Sharon Green: Absolutely. And on top of that, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. I grew up seeing my grandmother and my mother had a beauty shop for 30 years. So, on Saturdays it was my responsibility to count the receipts and look at the expenses and let her know how much profit we had made for the week. You know, I was her little book keeper. Then my grandfather owned a construction business, which was amazing to me because he was building these big houses, these giant mansions, but he only had a seventh grade education. Two of my uncles on my mother’s side, maternal uncles, they owned auto shops. Just growing up, this is all I saw around me. But I knew I didn’t want to own a beauty shop. I knew I didn’t want to do hair. But I knew that it was in my blood to own something, run something. It’s not like it’s foreign to me because it’s all that we knew growing up.
CO.LAB: What gave you the confidence to say, after over 20 years working in corporate “I know I can go out and do this, and I’m confident I can be successful”?
Sharon Green: I don’t know. I just don’t believe in failure. That’s not something that was instilled into me being raised. I just knew that we had a good product. I knew I had a good staff. And I knew just from the initial feedback that we’d gotten from people that were just amazed at how clean their house was, or the business was that I could just package this up in a mass quantity and make it happen. I give a lot of credit to my team because they are amazing. If it wasn’t for the feedback that we got from just what they do, then I wouldn’t have as much confidence. But when I know that they go into a house or a residence or a business, I know what they’re going to do.
CO.LAB: Talk a little bit about the culture of leadership that you’ve built with Professional Cleaning Solutions. What have you found to be most important about leading a company as a CEO?
Sharon Green: I have 20, plus employees. I have some that are just contract, those are mostly my night cleaners. I have three shifts that run through the daytime. I have three teams that go out all day long, and then I have night shifts that come in, and they do mostly my commercial buildings at night. I just have amazing employees, it’s easy to lead them. I have high expectations, they know exactly what my expectations are, they know what my don’t dos are. They know from the beginning, I don’t like callbacks. I also understand that they are humans, and humans make mistakes. I don’t have unrealistic expectations, but we do have checklists, and we do have check balances, and we do have walkthroughs in place. There are systems in place that make sure that if one eye doesn’t catch it, somebody else catches that. We pride ourselves on customer service, providing a great quality product.
CO.LAB: What advice do you have for business owners given the success that you have had accessing COVID-19 funding and public programs?
Sharon Green: One of the main things that I would suggest is having the business of your business taken care of, because with any of these funds, with anything that you’re trying to apply for they’re going to want paperwork, and they’re going to want backup. If you don’t have it, it’s going to be impossible for you to apply for anything. Because of my background, I’m very OCD about my paperwork and documents. I keep very good books, and when it came to applying for anything, anytime somebody asked me for anything, it was too easy for me to be able to just pull it off. One of the things that I was trying to help with some of the entrepreneurs that were having problems with getting any funding is, make sure you got your business license. Make sure your business is registered. Make sure you’re registered as the right type of entity, be it a sole proprietor, LLC or whatever because those things matter. One of my encouragements, and I always tell them, have your paperwork done.
CO.LAB: 2020 has been a crazy year! How does this make you think about next six to 12 months?
Sharon Green: I see us having at least a 50% growth over last year. March came, and our residential business did drop, almost to a halt as all of our residentials dropped. Then there were two things that actually happened that were both catastrophic that ended up elevating us. The pandemic came, our commercial business started to increase because everybody wanted to be sanitized, and deep cleaned. But also when the tornado came, our property management started increasing really rapidly because you had all these apartment complexes, and all these property management that had empty properties, apartments, and homes that tornado victims had to hurry up and relocate to. We had so many properties that had to be flipped very fast to get these people into homes so they could stay, because their homes were destroyed.
CO.LAB: How can the CO.LAB and the Chattanooga community help your business?
Sharon Green: One of the things that I think the City of Chattanooga could do to help a lot more small businesses is when their bids open for jobs, I think that someone needs to actually sit back and reevaluate what’s required. There are a lot of businesses, small businesses [that have not been in business for the required time] that are running circles around competition that fit that mandate. CO.LAB has been an amazing resource. You guys are always sending out stuff. There’s always something that if somebody did need something, it’s available for them. I think that’s much needed, especially for new entrepreneurs that don’t have a background, or don’t have a clue about what to do and where to start.