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Sunday, May 27, 2012

About US

How did I start A Perfect Shine?

A question I am often asked is how and why did I start A Perfect Shine Cleaning. Well that is a rather long story. For purposes of brevity I will give you the short version. I graduated from Chico State in the Spring of 1992. There I was with my shiny new Business degree and a beat up Kharman Ghia I had been restoring for the majority of my senior year in college.

I hopped in the primer gray Ghia and headed south. The car putt putted towards San Diego. I had to get on the shoulder when I hit the grapevine and I barely managed to climb over the pass. When I got home to San Diego I soon began to realize what a recession meant to a boy ready to conquer the world. It meant I had hit a brick wall!

Ghia in better days!

So that is when you decided to start A Perfect Shine right? No, not quite yet. Instead I got a job working for the Department of Social Services. Not quite working my way up the corporate ladder but hey I was helping people out and it felt good to be able to work in that capacity. My first big boy job.

The great part was that I had a 4-10 shift. I would work four days a week for 10 hours which allowed me to have 3 day weekends. By this time I had moved my way up the VW family and now owned a VW Camper Van. My 3 day weekends soon became 3 day trips further and furter south exploring Mexico and surfing and camping solo. I loved the freedom and always regretted the journey back North.

Looking West in the VW.

I was definitely missing something. I was being called to new journies and adventures. I needed a change.

So that's when I decided to start A Perfect Shine right? No... not yet. Instead I decided to join the Peace Corps. Yes, that's right the Peace Corps. My trips further and further into Mexico apparently had only been a precursor to my next journey.

I remember waiting in anticipation for the mailman to come to the mailbox each day. Finally the day came and I could barely breathe. When I opened the envelope from the Peace Corps I was filled with great anticipation and a minor dose of dread. "Congratulations you have been selected to serve 2 years in Nicaragua."

My first thought was, "Where in the hell is Nicaragua?" My first choice had been some remote Carribean or South Pacific Island. I pulled out the map and saw the Pacific ocean to one side and the Carribean on the other. O.K. I can deal with that for sure.

Esteli, Nicaragua

When my group of 13 volunteers met in Miami for a 2 day orientation before we left for Nicaragua, I remember one specific meeting. The trainer told us to look around at our fellow Peace Corps volunteers and then proceeded to tell us that out of the 13 volunteers, the statistics were, that 3 of us would return early and another 3 would marry local people. I looked around and laughed knowing I would never fall into either of those categories. Well 3 people from our group did return early and 5 people from our group actually did end up marrying locals. Including yours truly.

Peace Corps was a blast and a life altering experience. That is another long story.

My buddies and I biked and camped along the Pacific. Me spying a good campsite..

2 years later, I ended up marrying a local school teacher that managed to tug at my heartstrings and I couldn't envision living without her. So we married and headed back to the states.

So that's when we started A Perfect Shine right? No... not yet.

Actually I got a job working for a large mortgage company and climbed onto the first rung of that corporate ladder I had been searching for. Readjusting to the U.S. was a major challenge. My brain had a hard time wrapping around the 9-5 grind. Meanwhile my wife had been pestering me that she wanted to work. I told her to learn English and not worry about work.

Well, try telling an independent Latina girl what to do. One day she came home with a job cleaning houses for a referral agency. Basically they found the jobs and she paid them 40% of the take. She did all the work, she drove her own car, she paid all her own taxes, etc... It didn't seem like a fair deal but I was deeply involved in my new little corporate gig. Slowly being buried under a mound of stress and pressure.

This was during the leadup to the mortgage debacle and we were making loans to basically anybody with a pulse and I knew the whole thing was a house of cards. Every loan I tried to decline I was overruled by a V.P. trying to make his quota for the month. I was struggling and I knew I needed a change.

We struggled along for two years and eventually I knew I had to make a break. No, I didn't start A Perfect Shine then. No, I bought a cabover camper, a trailer and I hooked it all up to my beefy F250 and headed south again. Yes, I had about $13,000 saved up and we decided to move back to Nicaragua and live forever!

The rig somewhere in southern Mexico

A little Hurricane called Mitch had different plans for me. Hurricane Mitch came with a vengeance and began pummeling me and my truck down in southern Mexico. It took on epic proportions when we crawled our way to the border of Guatemala. I am talking rain coming down so hard you literally could not see more than 5 feet out the windshield. I spent a lot of time in the mud and pouring rain under the trailer trying to fix the suspension. Not the great surf/fish adventure I had envisioned!

We eventually made it to Honduras where the road literally came to an end. Hurricane Mitch had wiped out the highway systems and bridges in Honduras and Nicaragua. We ended up leaving our truck and all our worldly possessions with a complete stranger (an angel) and we hitchhiked and boated our way to Nicaragua.

The bridge to nowhere.

Central Americans are resilient and industrious. A guy would turn his truck into a taxi for the 2 kilometer stretch of freeway that was left, you would then hike for a couple miles until another stretch of road was available and another makeshift taxi would be there. A makeshift ladder where a bridge used to be and a guy at the bottom ferrying people over the river for a dollar. This is what we did for about a week until we arrived at our town and my wife's family home.

We were greeted with no running water or electricity for 2 months. Not a great reception and very little opportunity to start a new business in a country struggling to rebuild its infrastructure. We decided instead to build a house and that is where we put our energies for the next 6 months. As the house neared completion, my wife came to me one day and said she wanted to go back to the U.S. WTF? No way! Now life had definitely not gone our way but going back did not seem like a good option.

Building the house.

I thought long and hard over copious amounts of rum and cokes and when I finally made my analysis of our dwindling finances and future business prospects in a struggling country I finally agreed with my wife and came to the conclusion that I would return to the States with one caveat. I would never again work in an office or corporate setting and wear a suit and tie. No monkey suits! My wife agreed and once again we headed north.. .this time by bus!

Caribbean Coast. Good place to sit and think!

When we arrived in the states I had the great idea of becoming a bartender and I enrolled in bartending school. Meanwhile, my wife had gone back to working for the referral agency. I was still searching for purpose and meaning in my life and trying to decide where I fit into the grand scheme of things. The bartending gig never panned out.  I decided I could at least help my wife get some jobs on her own and not have to pay the 40% to the referral agency.

I started running ads for her and she started picking up jobs and getting busy and I would help her out on the weekends. Eventually I saw the potential in the cleaning business and

YES... that is when I decided to start A Perfect Shine Cleaning.

It was all a great gamble. My wife quit the Referral Agency and we were now at the mercy of our new business. We worked our butts off. We worked from 7 a.m to basically 10 PM Monday through Sunday. We would never turn a job down. It was just my wife and myself and we cleaned 5-6 houses a day. Fortunately my mom had been a cleaning fanatic and taught me how to properly clean a house from top to bottom so we created the business with core cleaning practices which included washing surfaces as opposed to merely cleaning.  We were fast, efficient and we were good. Still are!

Eventually it got to the point where we needed to hire a person and then another and another and on and on it went. Now here we are 15 years later and still going strong!

Mechapa Nicaragua

We still work our butts off but I work more on advertising and accounting. My wife runs all the crews. You can still get somebody on the phone at almost any hour. And we will still squeeze in jobs last minute.

We still have our core cleaning philosophy and our company is basically an extended family with many of her relatives from Nicaragua on cleaning crews.We feel as though our customers are our friends and extended family too. Yeah that may all sound corny. But hey, I don't care.

 We still try to get back to Nicaragua every year or so to decompress and regain our sanity. My dream would be to spend 3 months down south each year. I have found a renewed love for the U.S. and San Diego in particular. There really is no place like home!

My Peace Corps buddies working hard!

About 2 years ago we decided to open a small little Thrift Store called, appropriately enough, A Perfect Find in a little strip mall across the street from our office. We use a portion of the profits to send money down to Nicaragua to help out children and projects that help the people of Nicaragua. Full circle!

A Perfect Find. 6445 University Ave. San Diego, CA 92115

So when people ask why I started A Perfect Shine you can now see why I may have been reluctant to give a brief answer or share my story in the past. A Perfect Shine is more than just a business. It is a family. It is a philosophy. A Perfect Shine is an ever evolving ideology.

To this day, I have yet to put on the monkey suit over these past 15 years. I am still on my quest for higher meaning. I suppose we are all on that same quest. We are all on different paths that occasionally intersect.

Hopefully when our paths do cross we are each able to take something positive away from each other. Hopefully that positivity leads us one step closer to our ultimate destination. . .

Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Organization, Resolutions and the like....

Welcome 2012!!

With the New Year upon us, I think it is always a good idea to analyse not only our life but also our homes and see where we can best make progress into the new year.

For myself: ORGANIZATION is always a top priority in the New year. I feel so much more centered and focused when I feel my life and all my possessions (junk) are in some organized and meaningful structure.

One of my top New Year's resolutions is to get better organized within my home. I think once you feel an inner calm within your home that this will radiate out to your work, your friends and your entire circle.

When you come home each day to a semi-structured and organized existence you are better able to feel an inner calm. You are better able to find your inner "Chi...."  

So where do we start?

Well first, we must sit back and gain an overall view of where we are and where we want to be. Don't just jump into organizing without a game plan. This will only lead to you being stressed out and feelings of utter despair.

Get a game plan. 

A good tip is to start at the top or back of your home. If you have a 2 story house, start upstairs. 1 story? Start in the back rooms and work forward.

Kids? No problem. Get them involved and teach them some structure in the process!
For the last few days I have been organizing my home.

I started with my living room and kitchen. Drawers are my nemesis. Opening drawers and seeing piles of misc items drives me crazy. Best way to deal with drawers is to just pull them out and dump them out! Don't try to organize them with all that junk inside! 

No! Dump it out! Organize it.... anything that doesn't belong gets pulled out.... trash gets dumped in the trash!

About this time... my kids are becoming interested in what I am doing.... Now it is time to work the transition from dread to fun. The ol' Tom Sawyer trick. "What are you doing pop?" Yes... they call me pop! 

"Oh, I am just organizing my drawers. It is so fun!" I reply. "Can we help?" they chime. "Oh no, I am fine you wouldn't like this type of fun!" 

"Oh please?" they yearn.

And with a malevolent smile I say...."Well do you think you would have fun organizing your rooms?" 

"Oh YES pop.... please can we????!!!" HA HA HA.... as I rub my mad scientist hands together....

So my 9 yr old son is already pretty organized so we just worked on 
organizing his drawers and closets. Pants w pants... shirts w shirts... you know the drill!

My daughter on the other hand was a hard task! This was also a good opportunity for me to see how much "stuff" I had purchased for her over the years. Trust me... I discovered that we had bought a lot of "stuff" for my 7 year old daughter over the last few years. TOO much! 

Also... I was beginning to realize that all these "dollar" stores were not really my friend in the battle of frugality yet they had become my nemesis in the whole battle of organizational bliss!

Organizing a 7 yr old girl's room can quickly become an exercise in futility so I soon invented a neat little trick. 

I told my daughter that I would pay her $2 for each trash bag full of clothes, toys, dolls or misc. that she was willing to part with. 

Man, those toys that she once could not live without, were soon being thrown into a trash bag quicker than she could switch channels from Wizards of Waverly Place to Sponge Bob Square Pants!! O.K. only some of you will understand that reference!

I ended up owing her $30 bucks. And, trust me, it was the best $30 I have spent in a long time! 

So organizing our homes can be a daunting task!

When we finally do decide to purge out the old.... it is imperative that you just  go for it! 

It may be hard to get rid of the "stuff" in the beginning but by the end of the day you are just whizzing through it and throwing stuff away or placing items in bags for donations like nobody's business!

When organizing drawers or items in a closet; The best and easiest method is to just pull everything out of the drawer or closet right from the start!

Don't even bother trying to organize a drawer with all the items inside. This rapidly becomes tedious and frustrating! 

Just empty out all the drawers... then put the items back that you truly need in a proper organized way and everything left over can go straight into the trash.

Yes, even those Christmas items you received over 2 years ago that you have never used, can go in the bin.

The philosophy you want to go with is this: If you haven't used "said" item  in over a year... just get rid of it! Why keep "shhhtuff" that you may use one day in the future?

No, live for today! Today you want to be organized! Today you want to be happy! So if one day in 5 years you want that nutcracker or that odd looking pot holder....oh well.... you have lived 5 years without it and you can buy a new one for a dollar. Right?

5 years of organized bliss is worth way more than a dollar, right?

So I have now organized my entire home! I am exhausted... my kids no longer see the thrill in organizing... but guess what? I feel great! I know where everything is, I have purged huge amounts of useless items, and I know where my screwdrivers are! 

It's the little things that make us happy! Now it is time to call A Perfect Shine to clean the home and have all the nooks and crannies of my home scrubbed. 

Then, my friend, this 2012 will definitely start out on a very positive foot!

Happy New Year to all. I hope 2012 is not only positive and prosperous... but organized, meaningful and inspirational as well!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cobwebs, Cleaning, Advertising and the Net...

Those pesky cobwebs always seem to sneak into the corners... No matter how many times you knock them down... they always seem to creep back.

A Perfect Shine Cleaners get so wrapped up into getting the daily grime that accumulates on the counters of the kitchen, the goop accumulated on the stove and inside the microwaves..... the grime in the shower, the gunk on the floors and all the dust that builds on all the easily visible surfaces... they sometimes fail to look up.

They work so hard and become so focused in these principal areas. We remind them at our meetings that they need to look in areas they don't normally view.

Looking in areas not normally viewed is also a huge reminder for myself, as a President of A Perfect Shine Cleaning, when viewing our overall advertising and marketing strategies.

Such bold and fast movements in our society these days. It used to be that, as a company, you worked hard... put out a good product, placed an ad in the Yellow Pages and then managed your company.

In today's fast paced technological society; we are now tasked with not only working hard, putting out a good product, placing ads in multiple sources of media including print, and the internet. However, now as an added bonus, we have the pleasure to work almost full time working on the internet ads.

We no longer have the Yellow Page companies to design the perfect ad. We no longer have advertising company reps as advocates for our business. No, we must now work constantly on internet ads that change from day to day and to whom large internet company's only care in the world is how many "clicks" our company generates.

Now it seems that the main concern of the internet company is how much I am willing to pay for the next person to click on my website and possibly call to make an appointment.

Meanwhile, as a company that prides itself on consistency and quality in the cleaning business, I am still tasked with letting my crews know to clean out the cobwebs in the corners of the rooms when they perform their General Cleaning Services and reminding them to hit the light switch plates or areas that might not be noticed.

Our company cleans hundreds of homes each week. We have a wide following which we have amassed over the years. We take great pride in that.  Our end goal is to provide a quality cleaning job with a reasonable price. We are trying to build relationships in a world that often times does not value those relationships. At times, it seems the internet only allows the small negative minority to express their opinions. The vast majority of content clients are sometimes lost in that loud confusion of the internet....

However, I don't let all the negativity bring me down. I fight on. I love my employees. I love my company. I take pride in the work we perform. I know that many, many people enjoy a sense of calm and positivity from the work that we perform. I know that I am a fighter and I will change and adapt and move forward. I know that our company blows away the competition. I know that we work our butts off and I know that in the end....

Our strengths, overwhelmingly, outweigh our flaws!

Yet, even more importantly,  I know in my heart of hearts..... A Perfect Shine serves a noble purpose.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fidelity - A Perfect Shine Cleaning

Fidelity defined; 1. Faithfulness to obligations, duties, or observances

I feel that A Perfect Shine truly tries to live up to this one simple word. We started this company with the belief that we would offer hard work at reasonable rates. We would give all that we have and we felt we would be rewarded with reciprocal respect.

So far that philosophy has held true. Yes, on occasion we have been taken advantage of for our philosophy.

Yes at times, we may not have lived up to some person's expectations.

But if you look on whole, over 12 years of constant work, .... I think we are in balance and holding true to our beliefs.

At any point in time if our customer needs a last minute cleaning or to cancel a cleaning due to a problem we accommodate that request. We rarely raise our regular customer's rates. We have tried to hold our rates steady during these truly tough economical times. We never miss a scheduled cleaning. Hey, we may be a little late... but we are always there!!!!

We have volunteered our services to help out people w mental disabilities (hoarders), we have donated Gift Certificates to PTA,s and charitable organizations. We have helped out people that are being evicted and elderly on limited resources.

We are not a bottom line type of company. We have never tried to get the most out of our customers. We base our prices on our costs and add in a reasonable profit. We do not call our competitors and offer slightly less then their inflated rates!

We try so hard to be true to our core. All our employees are basically extended family. We strive to build something of meaning.

O.K. I really didn't intend to write some philosophical blog on our company... so i will just leave at this:

If you are a customer of A Perfect Shine: If you are ever in need, if you ever need anything... just let us know. Heck, email me personally:


Kevin Cromley

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Walking into clean home!

Ahhh yes.... walking into a clean home upon arrival from work, or from leaving the home for a few hours... what bliss....

I'm not quite sure why we experience that sheer euphoria. However, I do know it to be true, that we do experience that great sense of calm....

Perhaps somehow it is internalized.... osmosisized... inebrecized into us from our parents complaining about having to clean the house when we were young. Or worse yet... forcing "us" their kids to clean the house. Please don't fault me for my liberal distortions of adjectives, expressions and liberties I partake on the English language.

I only hope to express a feeling of content that we all feel when we come home to a clean home.

That is quite a different feeling that we experience when we are personally subjected to partaking in that same physical action! Cleaning is such a negative and physically demanding job. Hey, I know. I used to clean homes daily! Imagine cleaning your entire home, scrubbing the toilets and shower, mopping the floor, dusting all surface areas, cleaning countertops, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning mirrors... sweating and moving.... o.k. now imagine going to another home and starting all over!

Then off to another house..... UGGGHHH!!!!!!!!

Yes... cleaning is such a tough and extremely hard and physical job! A job that I personally did for a long time building A Perfect Shine. Even after I had my Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration! O.K. my degree was from the infamous party school of Chico State... but, hey I still worked by butt off in college and I didn't slack off! Well that is a little s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

I digress.... my point being is this: Don't feel bad about using a service to clean your home. But also... realize that the people cleaning your home are working their "butts" off too. Don't get uptight about a small item missed here and there. look at the big picture.

Also... BE content walking into your clean home! This is a great feeling... enjoy it! Embrace it! You deserve it! These are life's small pleasures that few people truly understand. You belong to that club! I now am happy to belong to that club too, on occasion!

I love walking into my clean home when I manage to break a crew free from their busy schedules to clean my home!

We work very hard here at A Perfect Shine. This is a tough business all around and I am proud to own such a successful and hard working business. So here comes my pitch... Wait for it....

If you have felt any enjoyment from our services... help us out by writing a positive review for us on,,, citysearch,com...or all of the above! Or any other online review site!

Your reviews and recommendations help us succeed and thrive now and into the future. Also feel free to "like" us on Facebook. Yes, we have a facebook page.

But hey... if that doesn't float your boat, don't worry about it. Either way, we appreciate your business and we are working hard for you!!!

Above all... I wish you all much joy in life for this is paramount and imperative!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Cleaning Time Top 3 Tips

It's that time of the year for Spring Cleaning. Time to get rid of the clutter and dust and start the year in a clean, organized manner.

Top 3 Spring Cleaning Tips

1. Start from the top and work your way down. Clean ceiling fans, dust walls, use dusters with poles to get the spiderwebs in the corners, clean light switch plates, windows, window ledges and then baseboards. Save the floors until the end.

2. Make a list. Write out all the tasks per room that you would like to accomplish. Take your time. If it seems too overwhelming, work on one room at a time. Take a break and reward yourself after finishing each area. Split the job up over a few days or weekends.

3. Call A Perfect Shine Cleaning. Take a "me" day. Go shopping, catch a movie and have a glass of wine. Come home and say..."ahh... look at my shiny house." (619)269-1745.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kids and Cleaning

Anyone who has children can tell you what a challenge it can be to keep a house clean when there are little ones running around. Even professional cleaners, like those at A Perfect Shine, come home to a variety of messes left by our children. How can you have kids and a clean house? Here are some tips:

Have cleaning routines. Even the youngest kids can be taught basic cleaning skills, even if it is something as simple as putting their clean clothes away or putting all their stuffed animals in a basket when they are done playing.

Prioritize. If your family schedule looks like ours, you are constantly on the go between school, scouts, and sports. This can leave very little time for cleaning, so decide on a few key areas that are not negotiable when it comes to cleaning, and give yourself a break on the rest.

Call in the professionals. It is so much easier to keep your house in tip top condition when you start out with a deep cleaning. A Perfect Shine can come out to your home and do a deep clean of your house for you on a regular schedule so that you can stay on top of your housework more easily. Imagine what a relief it is to come home to a house where someone else has cleaned your bathrooms and mopped your floor for you, freeing you up to spend important time with your family.

We have found that having a crew come to our own house has even helped our kids to keep their rooms cleaner. When they know the cleaners are on their way, the kids have to pick up all of their toys and clothes, and make their beds. This has led to them keeping their rooms neat and tidy much of the time.

Having a professional cleaning crew come regularly to our home has not made our kids lazy when it comes to cleaning, but gives them the clean, orderly foundation that is much easier for them to maintain. Call our office today to schedule a cleaning of your home, it will be a gift your whole family will benefit from.