How Dirt Doctors Cleaning Services survived and thrived through the COVID-19 pandemic
‘As bad as it was in 2020 is how good it is right now.’
Photo: Tim Maloney, owner of Dirt Doctors Cleaning Services, runs his company by ‘glorify[ing] God in all that we do.’ Courtesy of Maloney
By Lucia Shen
Back in 1994, Tim Maloney had just been laid off, but he and his future business partner Scott Gossic had plans to start their own company: Dirt Doctors Cleaning Service.
“I always knew I wanted to be self-employed and took it as a sign that this was the time to do it,” Maloney said over a phone interview in March.
After plenty of research into what kind of business they should pursue, the Maloney and Gossic landed on residential cleaning. In the 90s, it was a market that seemed to be rapidly expanding, and so Dirt Doctors Cleaning Service was created.
“Our mission from the start was to provide quality cleaning at an affordable price,” Maloney said. As their website describes, they started with knocking on doors. By year two, they had a handful of employees and clients.
They continued to grow through the 90s, and around 1998, they decided to start commercial cleaning.
“We started with a Jewish temple and a church,” Maloney said, “which,we didn’t go looking for. They found us.”
The temple and church in question were Temple Ohav Shalom and Berkeley Hills Lutheran Church, tucked away in the North Hills. As it so happened, Berkeley Hills Lutheran Church would stay on with them all the way up until the pandemic hit. According to Maloney, it’s rare to have a long term client like that in the cleaning industry.
By 2006, Maloney and Gossic would part ways, but Maloney kept the business as they began to expand their commercial clientele. According to him, it was always in the plan to incorporate commercial cleaning into their business plan.
“From the beginning, we were like, we’ll start with residential. And the reason you start with residential is actually because you get paid right away,” he said, laughing a little. “So you don’t have to wait thirty days for your money.”
Now, around 80% of their business is commercial with 20% residential, and they’re still growing as a company. But when the pandemic first hit, it was a different story. They had around ten clients stay on, but the rest of the residential ones decided to discontinue their service because of COVID-19 risks. By the summer of 2020, some of their clients had started to come back, but they were still down around 60% in terms of residential clients at the end of the year. The company made the decision to “just go status quo with the residential,” according to Maloney. In other words, the focus was no longer on growing for the time being, but rather maintaining relationships with the clients and employees that they had.
At the end of last year though, the commercial side of things were picking up significantly. According to Maloney, it was actually the most growth he’d ever seen in a short period of time. He said, “as bad as it was in 2020 is how good it is right now.” Local companies are looking for new cleaning services, and they’re turning to Dirt Doctors.
As a small business owner, Maloney believes in running his company according to their top core value, listed on their website: “To glorify God in all that we do.”
“How do you do that? How we did it, is a commitment to excellence, treating people with compassion and respect–employees, clients, vendors… anybody we have a relationship with–and then being extremely responsive in our communication.”
And as things start going back to normal after the pandemic, what’s next for Dirt Doctor’s Cleaning Service? Maloney paused a moment before answering.
“At this point it’s to focus on growing our business so we can help more clients and hire more employees which benefits everyone. It benefits society, growing a business, that is… We’re just excited about the future and continuing to provide quality service that people appreciate.”