Joy Bennett knows it can be tough for a teenager in high school to find their first job. They are in school during the day and still have homework and social lives that they have to manage around something part-time. But where most employers see inexperience and risk, Bennett sees opportunity.
As the owner of Custom Clean, a commercial janitorial service for business, Bennett claims that she has probably employed more high schoolers than any other business in town since she first opened her doors back in 2001.
“All of my crew but one are high school students,” she said. “I’ve employed over 200 high school students. It’s my love to mentor them in their first work experience.”
Bennett’s business syncs up with high school aged teenagers schedules by allowing them to work part time cleaning businesses after they get out of school. The flexible hours has made Custom Clean a training ground for tomorrow’s work force, but Bennett sees herself as more than just their boss.
“I have the teaching gene,” she said with a laugh.
Bennett teaches the color guard at White Pine High School. Before that she taught piano. When she catches one of her employees texting on their phone or doing something unprofessional, she sees a chance for them to learn what is and isn’t ok in the professional world.
“They don’t that they shouldn’t have their cell phones out or they don’t know that they shouldn’t wear flip flops to work. I know that we are going to be their first step on the job ladder, I don’t expect them to stay my personal slave forever,” Bennett joked.
It’s a system that has allowed Bennett to grow her business from a one woman operation back in the beginning to being fifteen people strong taking care of over a dozen clients around town.
But working almost exclusively with high schoolers does tend to present problems that other employers never run into.
“Sometimes we end up with 16-year-old sophomores who only have a driver’s permit so that can get to be a bit tricky,” she continued.
The solution? Not much different than trying to find a ride to school.
“We do a lot of carpooling.”
Bennett takes special care in treating her staff like they aren’t in high school. The mother of two teenagers herself knows that teenagers are often seen as just that, “teens,” and that despite their youth, her employees are often full of potential.
They are just waiting for someone to see it in them.
“I believe they are all intelligent people who are trainable for whatever and that they deserve to be treated fairly,” the owner said.
This professional mentality extends beyond just her too.
“I make sure that my clients refer to my employees as staff and not as the kids.”
In turn, Bennett has found that hiring one good “kid” often lends to attracting more good ones. She is proud to have the president of the Honor Society in her employ as well as the President of the Rodeo Club as well as many other young people who are already showing promise.
She even gets the parents involved, taking the time to meet them and even go over what she expects from their children and what she hopes they too will get out of the experience.
For more information on Custom Clean, call Bennett at 775-293-1062.