- Business: Group K&D LLC. Janitorial Services.
- Location: Charlotte, NC.
- Interesting Fact about Group K&D LLC: It’s a family business. Kourtnee’s husband, father, sister-in-law and niece work there, along with employees from outside the family.
- Interesting Fact about Kourtnee Howard: The first year of her business coincided with her second pregnancy–and a global pandemic.
2019 was a big year for Kourtnee Howard. She quit her job, got pregnant and launched a cleaning business all within the final three months of the year.
Sage advice from a business mentor led Kourtnee to ezClocker, which helped her manage payroll effectively right from the start. Little did she know the time-keeping app would also help her run the company safety and effectively during a global pandemic.
A friend suggested she look into the janitorial franchise, Jani-King. For Kourtnee, it seemed like the perfect fit.
Finding the Right Business
Kourtnee Howard has always been grateful for what she has. A loving, supportive family that lives nearby; a kind and smart 10-year-old son; and gainful employment are among the blessings she counts daily.
But in 2019, she got honest about one thing. Her job just wasn’t doing it for her. As a registered medical assistant for a large health care company, she worked hard and came home exhausted, with little time or energy to spare.
“The motto in health care is: ‘Do more with less,’” she says. “But that’s stressful when you’re an employee working for pennies.”
She had a hunch that starting her own business might win her back some of that time. So she took the first step and formed an LLC. Then she and her husband brainstormed what kind of business to launch. An in-home daycare? Online sales?
“We thought a lot about what would get us revenue quickly, where we wouldn’t have to focus on a specific market to get customers,” Kourtnee says.
A friend suggested she look into the janitorial franchise, Jani-King. That friend operated one of its businesses, and it was going well for them. For Kourtnee, it seemed like the perfect fit.
“The thing is, I love to clean,” she says. “In fact, I’m borderline OCD about it.”
With her savings, she put a downpayment on a contract with the franchise. Group K&D LLC finally had a business under its name.
A few weeks later, Kourtnee learned she was pregnant. It was going to be an interesting year.
“I thought: How am I supposed to keep track of employees and timesheets?”
For Kourtnee, contracting with Jani-King came with a lot of perks. The franchise offered its businesses thorough training on how to clean large facilities. Some of it seemed obvious to Kourtnee. Other techniques were revelatory–like floor care.
“I didn’t know how to strip and buff a floor,” she says. “There are chemicals you need to mix in with the gloss that goes on top, and certain pads you need to use. The machine glides over it, but you need to learn how to use it safely or it will throw you into a wall.”
For the first three or four months, she did a lot of the work herself. Pregnant and on her hands and knees, or dragging around the floor buffer, Kourntee did all the duties required of her crew. She didn’t mind. It was important to her that she understand the job from the inside out.
“I wanted to know how Jani-King expects it to be done, and determine how I would expect it to be done,” she says. “And, I wanted to get a sense of how long these tasks take.”
Other aspects of the job were new territory for Kourtnee. Like payroll.
“Things like bringing crew onboard, and making sure they got paid,” says Kourtnee. “I thought: How am I supposed to keep track of employees and timesheets?”
The same friend–now business mentor–who told her about Jani-King recommended she sign up with ezClocker. So she did.
“ezClocker is so simple, and never gives me issues. I can keep track of employees and see where and when they are clocking in and out.”
ezClocker Was the Perfect Fit
“I used ezClocker out the gate,” she says. “It’s so simple, and never gives me issues. I can keep track of employees and see where and when they are clocking in and out. And I can get payments out on time.”
It’s also provided a central space for communication between Kourtnee and her crew.
“My employees use the Notes section to tell me things like, they forgot to clock out, or they need time off,” says Kourtnee. “It’s proven useful for more than just time-keeping.”
A few months into her first business year, things were looking good. She had three big contracts, and was looking to grow her team of employees–which, up to now, had been limited to family members. Then, early in 2020, the pandemic made landfall in the United States, and the future seemed far less certain.
Given social distancing rules and stay-at-home recommendations, a remote time-keeping app proved more important than ever.
Of all the businesses Kourtnee had considered opening, her chosen one turned out to be the most pandemic-proof of them all.
Cleaning large facilities is considered essential work–especially if the facility itself is an essential business, as one of the buildings that Kourtnee cleans is. Kourtnee was able to maintain two of her three contracts. It wasn’t ideal, but it was enough to keep everyone employed, and for that she was grateful.
But there were other challenges. With the pandemic came new protocols for cleaning public spaces, as well as a heightened risk for everyone involved. Fortunately, Jani-King offered training sessions that covered new cleaning techniques and processes. Kourtnee and her crew learned everything they could. “The biggest concern is making sure our employees as well as the facilities’ employees stay healthy,” she says. “We’re very serious about that.”
Despite the dramatic changes to their line of work, some things remained the same–like ezClocker’s integral role in operations. Given social distancing rules and stay-at-home recommendations, a remote time-keeping app proved more important than ever.
Without ezClocker on hand, Kourtnee’s best option for time-keeping would be checking the visitors’ logs her employees sign upon entering the facilities. “That would mean driving to two facilities on a weekly basis and taking pictures of the log books myself, then inputting and calculating those numbers on the backend,” says Kourtnee. “And that is not something I want to do.”
If for some reason she couldn’t make the trip, she’d have to rely on her employees to take pictures of the log books and send them to her. That’s a responsibility they shouldn’t have to shoulder, says Kourtnee.
With ezClocker, no one has to take pictures of log books. Essential cleaning gets done, and Kourtnee can manage the process without ever leaving her house.
“Being my own boss, loving what I do, and being able to care for my family were the biggest motivations,” Kourtnee says about starting a business.
Looking Ahead to Better Days
Despite the pandemic and its impact on her business, Kourtnee remains grateful for a lot of things.
First, she has her own company, and that’s something she’s dreamed about for a long time.
“This is the first business I’ve managed, and it feels great,” she says. “I love the responsibility, and I love what I do. I’m fine getting on my hands and knees and cleaning, too.”
Second, that business is doing well, despite the pandemic. Her crew are still working, and thanks to ezClocker, Kourtnee can manage them remotely to ensure as little physical contact as possible.
Third, Kourtnee has her family to count on. Her father–now the crew supervisor–will make sure everything runs smoothly while Kourtnee is on maternity leave. And when she returns to work, her mother will take care of the new baby and Kourtnee’s 10-year old son.
Finally, she has hope that better days are ahead for herself, her family and her business. And while going door-to-door to sell Group K&D LLC isn’t possible in times of social distancing, Kourtnee is confident she’ll get the opportunity soon.
Right now, she’s happy with her choice to make the jump from employee to business owner. “Being my own boss, loving what I do and being able to care for my family were the biggest motivations,” she says.