Along the way from business idea to complete business plan, Gwendolyn Walker, owner/operator of Total Turnaround Cleaning Service, has taken advice and direction (in the form of a turn of phrase) wherever she could find it. Seeking informed opinions about Total Turnaround is part of her current business upgrading that she’s presently in the middle of. That involves one of the best bits of advice she’s received, Walker said, from Apostle, Dr. Oscar J. Dowdell-Underwood of the Destiny Dome Embassy at Cathedral of Praise Ministries. “Do your due diligence,” she recalled her pastor saying. That meant researching, inquiring about what’s out there.
Pastor Underwood and his wife taught Walker so much, she said, about identifying and acting on her God-sent purpose, “that I was born and created to make a difference, changing my impossible to I’m possible,” she said. “I needed God to show me purpose.”
Walker started Total Turnaround with nothing but some home cleaning supplies and a borrowed vacuum cleaner from a friend. Her clients were gained through word-of-mouth…friends who needed someone to take care of their homes.
She learned through experience. She learned she was undercharging her first client, not when the client told her (they never do that), but when she herself labored doing it and felt it wasn’t enough. So she looked at the going rates (per square foot for homes, flat rates for apartments, etc.) for other companies in Illinois, Michigan, and throughout our state.
Her first apartment complex client came, again through word-of-mouth about her about good work. Still a client to this day, her company cleans and prepares an apartment when a tenant moves in and out. She also prepares homes for realtors to get them all pretty for market. She has Airbnb clients and has a contract with the Biggs Property Management Group, which means homes in and around the Renaissance Pointe YMCA area of town, as well as another management group out of Decatur, Indiana.
Her motto, written on her business card (and if you ever hear her speak, she will verbalize it), is turning what was into what is. In other words, a total turnaround. And Walker’s company has been keeping busy, starting last year when her workload has taken off. She now has three part-time cleaners working for her after the close of business…the evening/night shifters.
Through that aforementioned positive word-of-mouth, some military veterans have approached Walker, inquiring about work and supplemental income. So Walker is now talking with veteran administrations and partnering with WorkOne. “Some of the veterans were homeless and living in shelters,” she said. All of a sudden, along with the increased client list, things got more real…which necessitated a business upgrade…due diligence.
That meant becoming an LLC, getting all of the official certifications for a cleaning service, which will, in the sooner-than-later future, include attaining industrial certification. That also meant finding resources online and avoiding the et al that could cripple your business before it gets started.
She’s a recent graduate of the Build Institute Fort Wayne program for minority entrepreneurs. Build was part of the upscale master plan, “was an answer from God,” Walker said. Not only did it fill in the blanks for her business ideas and assist the completion of her business plan, but it introduced it to a bigger world, a network of like-minded folks just like her.
“America is built on [the strength of] small businesses,” Walker said. And Total Turnaround is “at the stage that it’s no longer just a small business but one that is growing rapidly.”
Walker, Northrop High School grad, came back home to Fort Wayne about ten years ago; she started Total Turnaround five years ago. Like most of our entrepreneurs, she’s had another venture…she’s braided hair for about 25 years. She lived in Houston, Texas for a couple years, before moving to Indianapolis, before moving back to Fort Wayne; she needed a change of scenery.
In Houston, she worked at department store, Nordstrom and after three short months, Walker went into the management program. “Nordstrom was really a good place for me, at that time in my life,” she said. Its CEO had a motto that Walker took to heart and engrained it, with all of the other bits of wisdom, into her business. “You leave everything better than you found it,” she recalled. Even if it’s someone else’s catastrophe, you clean it up.
Gwendolyn Walker - Total Turnaround Cleaning Service
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I run Scrambled Egg(s) Design and Productions, based out of Northeast Indiana. In addition to producing in-house company projects, I also create advertising materials for companies and organizations, with an emphasis on interactivity.