Anita Robertson

ABC helps business owner shift gears

ANITA ROBERTSON - Make Ready Services

anita_robertson

Anita Robertson is a mother, business owner and ABC of Western Washington member (ABCWW). Anita runs Make Ready Services, a full-service post-construction and commercial janitorial service. Anita was in property management for 10 years before she turned her eyes toward the construction business industry and shifted gears to start Make Ready Services. Alongside her entrepreneurship, Anita participates as a member of the ABCWW’s Diversity Committee.

We recently caught up with her to see how she’s doing and why she still loves rolling up her sleeves to get into the nitty-gritty of her work.

What first gave you the idea to start Make Ready Services?

I saw a need for a one-stop type of vendor when I worked in property management. When we were converting some of the properties, we had to call multiple vendors­ for different services – carpet cleaning, carpet installing, housecleaning. There wasn't a company that you could call for all of it. My vision was a company the owner or manager could hand the keys to, and when they get them back the apartment would be ready ­– that's where I got the name, Make Ready Services, because in the industry we call that ‘make ready and turn.’

How did you enter into the construction industry?

I was attending a meet and greet for a project that I was trying to become the final cleaning vendor for and I met Linda Womack [ Program Director for the Minority Business Development Agency ] there and told her my story. I wanted to turn Make Ready Services into a full post-construction and commercial janitorial service – I had that vision already. So, she recommended I try ABCWW’s Construction Business School.

How has ABCWW’s Construction Business School helped you grow your business?

It changed my mindset. Dealing with the construction industry was really different than dealing with property managers – I didn’t know the process in construction, the paperwork, or just what was required.

It’s how I first got involved with ABCWW two years ago, and since then Wendy has been really amazing. She's always offered her help and her guidance. ABC has definitely helped me grow. ABCWW is helping me continue to grow because I’m not where I want to be yet!

What do you value about the ABCWW environment?

Everybody at ABCWW is so willing to mentor. If you have questions, you just need to ask. The networking events are amazing. If you just go and talk to someone, they're always willing to give you a hand and say, ‘call me when you need me.’ It's made me comfortable with where I am as a business. They’re trying some amazing programs. There’s the mentorship program that ABCWW is working on right now and we're also trying to bring more diversity into construction.

Through the Diversity Committee, ABCWW is trying to figure out how they can bring more minority- and women-owned businesses into the industry – and not only bring in, but help succeed, mentor and help them to grow. They want to know the challenges they face and how to go about making sure that people know that ABCWW has the resources to help.

Would you say that ABCWW membership has been a good investment for your business?

If you have a group and network where they value you, then they value your growth. Being a member is like investing in yourself. You're investing in your education and you're investing in safety – you're putting money into an organization that's going to give you what you need to make sure you succeed.

If something happens and you're not prepared for it, not educated on how to handle such a situation, it's going to be costlier than having a group of people like ABCWW that you can go to for help. ABCWW will save you a lot of time, a lot of heartache. They will educate you on how to handle things so that you're both productive and proactive.

You must have your hands full with management, but you still work in the field. Why is rolling up your sleeves and getting into the nitty-gritty important to you?

It keeps me grounded and I think that I will always want to be in the field. You want to know what your employees are going through. I was just at a site yesterday, physically working. I still roll up my sleeves and I clean a couple times a week.

By being out in the field, I think of it as building a better work environment. It helps you have better expectations because at the end of the day, you understanding what a hard day's work looks like. It really let’s employees know that they are appreciated and you understand.

What impression do you want your work to leave?

I want our clients to feel like they made the right decision when they hired us. We give the finishing touches so I want these impressions to be when we leave. I want them to walk into their space, and be really proud and really happy because we're complementing their hard work when handing off the final result.  

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