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Spick and span in lakes land: Fargo's TLC Cleaning expands to Detroit Lakes area

TLC Cleaning maids, Alicia and Veronica, clean a kitchen. TLC Cleaning has their own brand of cleaning supplies, which are all natural, something owner Trisha Lake says clients really like because they don't have any adverse effects to the smells or chemicals. Submitted Photo1 / 2
Trisha Lake began her business TLC Cleaning a decade ago while she was in nursing school. She never imagined it would become one of the largest maid services in the nation. Submitted Photo2 / 2

Fargo native Trisha Lake wasn't a fan of nursing school. She spent most of her time in class avoiding needles and wondering where her fellow nursing students found the passion and drive to memorize diseases.

After class, Lake would drive around cleaning houses in Fargo, a little self-owned side gig she had started up to provide for her daughter and herself while she was in college. She never imagined it would become what it has: one of the largest maid services in the nation (sitting in the top five percent), which has now gotten even larger after expanding into Detroit Lakes recently.

"My goal is to get to the top one percent," said Lake, now with a clear vision after 10 years of experience building her own business.

TLC Cleaning currently has 35 employees providing maid services to the Fargo-Moorhead area. After expanding to Detroit Lakes roughly a month ago, Lake has taken on three more employees with plans to only continue to grow as clientele demands.

"I'm trying to change the game for the cleaning industry," said Lake, adding that doesn't like the reputation maid services have these days. She says too many think of being a cleaner as a job to get when there's no other job to be had. "That's the exact opposite of what I want."

Rather, Lake is choosing to show just how great a maid gig can be by offering her employees quite the incentive package: full benefits, paid time off, and holidays off.

"This is a great job for people who want to be a mom," said Lake, adding that her daughter was the whole reason she chose to start her cleaning business in the first place.

The point being, Lake has chosen to invest in her employees rather than her clients.

"Companies always say, 'the customer is our priority'," said Lake, adding that while she does indeed care a great deal about her clients, she cares much more about her "supportive family" of employees. "We as a company invest our time and resources into our employees."

In turn, since Lake treats her employees well, the idea is that her employees will then give TLC Cleaning clients that much better service. Not to mention, she says it greatly decreases her employee turnover, which then saves her money—cash she can put back into her employee's pockets.

"Our competitors are having a really tough time filling spots," said Lake.

Meanwhile, Lake is weeding out employees, being a little "picky," choosing the ones who she knows will be the best fit for her Detroit Lakes expansion.

"A service like ours is meant to better people's lives," says Lake, adding that she takes her job very seriously—clients are trusting her with their homes.

Lake says when she started cleaning houses herself 10 years ago, she was just a newbie with no idea what she was doing, but she took every bit of criticism and turned it into a learning experience.

"You learn from your failures," she said, adding, "Every time we would take a step back and say let's not do it that way anymore."

The kinks are worked out for the Detroit Lakes area. Lake says her office staff in Fargo is so "amazing" that they will stay on as the mothership of the company. Then, the Detroit Lakes staff will be people who live in the lakes area, so their commute to work isn't too long. It's fairly easy to have her employees working remotely. They can clock in on their phones and enter an app to see a map of the houses they have to clean each day. Lake can also see where each of her maids is at any given day that way.

Clients will be able to pick from a number of different cleaning packages online as well.

As for the Detroit Lakes, Lake says her hope is to grow her business until she has a good 20 employees in the area but, until then, she's just getting her footing in the area, hoping to make connections, particularly with local nonprofits.

Right now, TLC Cleaning is partnered with Cleaning For a Reason, an organization that offers free cleaning services cancer patients. Lake says clients can sign up and receive one free cleaning a month for a few months, a service she's proud to offer.