City Wide Maintenance is a building maintenance management company.
The company was founded in 1961, by Frank Oddo, who started the janitorial business when he couldn’t find the right job. Frank established City Wide for the better part of three decades, until passing the reins on to his son Jeff. Jeff is a modern young man, with modern ideas, and during his presidency, he’s transitioned the company from the janitorial business to the management one. These days City Wide doesn’t clean commercial buildings; they manage the janitorial companies who clean commercial buildings.
I recently had a chance to speak to Jeff Oddo about the business, his time as a houseboy for a sorority and more. My questions are below in bold. Enjoy!
So, where did the idea for City Wide Maintenance come from?
My dad grew up working for his father, and they ran multiple grocery stores together. One of their biggest challenges was finding dependable people to clean the stores at night. Since they were having these problems, my dad assumed others did too. His hunch was right and he opened a cleaning company in 1961. CW went from a dream to a reality. Although he worked 20 years without vacation, he says it was worth it and he would do it all over again!
Why did you start franchising?
That’s a good question. I am a middle child and I really like pleasing people. I have always felt a little guilty for having so many blessings while others struggle. I honestly believe that our life purpose is helping others. I felt a calling to help other families achieve what we have been able to accomplish here in Kansas City. Franchising allowed me to help others be successful and helped me feel good about what I do.
Where do you see City Wide Franchise in five years?
In five years, we should have an office in every major city in the United States. By having a truly national footprint, we can do so much more for clients who require services coast-to-coast. Today, we have a very focused target market that we do exceptionally well with. In five years, we will be able to expand that market and serve even more people who can benefit from what we do!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I had to do it all over again, I would have paid to do things right the first time. I am a big believer in the saying, “you get what you pay for.” In the beginning, I tried to cut some costs and do things that were not congruent with those beliefs. Ultimately, it ended up costing us more money and time than it would have if the task was done right in the first place.
What does your typical day look like?
Meetings, meetings, meetings. I like to be involved at a high level with our team strategizing on the future. Regular meetings with the team help me stay in touch and focus on the important issues. Outside of meetings, my time is spent with clients or on email working on the tactical things. The goal today is to spend 80% strategic and 20% tactical. And last but not least, food and exercise. I try to have lunch with someone every day, either a client, an employee or someone I can learn and grow from. Eating out every day requires exercise, which is also an activity I love to do in my spare time.
What is one trend that really excites you?
Technology! I love it. Our mission includes the phrase, “saving time and solving problems,” which doesn’t only apply to clients; it’s for all of our stakeholders. I believe that leveraging technology will continue to help us live out this mission.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what have you learned from it?
Working on a farm! I learned I wasn’t put on earth to do manual labor. Even back when I first started, years ago, I remember thinking I could never make a difference in the world cutting grass and watering trees!
On another note, the best job I ever had was being a houseboy for the “Tri Delts” at Kansas State University. Although I spent two years cooking, cleaning and serving meals, I also got a wife and three beautiful daughters out of that minimum wage job!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do, too?
Every day, we have a relentless focus of surrounding ourselves with individuals who can bring new talents to the team, who clearly understand what we stand for and then, we as a team hold them accountable for living our values and executing our plan.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I love to learn. I don’t see my failures as “poor, pitiful me” situations. I choose to view every experience, whether good or bad, as an opportunity to learn and to grow. I have had my fair share of what others would call failures, but I choose to call it part of my advanced learning, doctorate degree!
What is one business idea that you are willing to give away to our readers?
Your people are your greatest resource, as well as your first and most important client. Provide an enjoyable environment where they want to stick around. Invest in them and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. From there, they grow with the company, and you have a sustainable business that puts people first
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Although we live in the greatest country in the world, the political system needs to change. If I had the time and resources, I would work to make an impact with a team who shares the same goals and high standards. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Dropbox.com because it allows me to share files and stay organized.
- Arete-hpa.com because it makes be a better person and
- Stumbleupon.com because it allows me to surf the web based upon what I want to see rather than the typical ‘if it bleeds in leads’ flow of bad news found in most websites.
What is one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The 10 Kidmandments – of course! A thoughtfully written book for finding happiness and success, especially when it comes to raising children!
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Twitter is very personal. You should follow people who help you become a better person in life. We are the average of the ten people we hang out with the most. Twitter provides you an opportunity to be influenced by others. You get to choose if you are following negative or positive people. I hope you choose to follow the latter.
Who is your hero?
Jesus. He changed the world. Whether you believe he is Christ or not, it is pretty difficult to find anything in his preaching that wouldn’t make us a better person. He lived and died for his beliefs and made a huge difference in the lives of billions of people. What more could you ask for in a hero?
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
Yes, my father. He taught me almost everything that I know about life and business. He is a great human and I am blessed to call him my father, friend, and business partner.
Tell us a secret.
My favorite secret is there are no secrets! Everything you want to know is at your fingertips. If you are looking for a one-stop-secret to obtain happiness or success, there is no such thing. Happiness in life comes from getting off your butt and making things happen!
What’s City Wide’s website?
Main site: http://www.gocitywide.com
Where can people find City Wide on social media?