Maid Pro Cleans Up With Expansion of Franchises
Boston Business Journal • October 2-8, 1998
Don't have time to clean? Don't want to clean? Well, you're not alone.
More than 9.4 million households paid to have their homes cleaned in 1997, according to analysts, and estimates set the professional housekeeping industry at about $7.5 billion. Of that, 96 percent goes to independent cleaners, with the remaining 4 percent representing cleaning company revenues.
Poised to take a chunk of that market is Boston-based MaidPro, a full-service cleaning company started in 1991 after founder Mark Kushinsky decided he was fed up with the poor service he had received from other housekeeping companies.
At the time, Kushinsky was a 25-year-old department manager at now-defunct Jordan Marsh Co. who had always imagined owning a business. After two cleaning companies left his apartment less than tidy, Kushinsky decided to start his own business.
With no staff hired, Kushinsky spent about $1,500 of his own money to create fliers that he passed around in the Beacon Hill area. Once he had about 20 appointments confirmed, Kushinsky hired and trained his first two housekeeping staff members and MaidPro was born.
"I had printed the marketing materials, but I didn't have a staff, so I scheduled appointments for a month in advance," said Kushinsky, who is president of the company.
Now, MaidPro has grown to include 10 franchises, and about 2,000 recurring clients -- those who have their home professionally cleaned regularly. MaidPro staffers do about 6,000 cleanings each month.
By the end of the year, MaidPro will expand beyond New England, opening a franchise in Arizona and Texas, with two more local franchises planned. In 1999, the company plans to open about 12 new locations, eight of which will be franchises, said Kushinsky. The company is on target to bring in about $2.6 million in revenue for 1998, more than double the $1.2 million revenue in 1997.
Considered the second-fastest growing employment sector, professional housekeeping services have grown more than 20 percent each year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 559,000 new jobs will have been created for professional house cleaners between 1994 and 2005, second only to jobs created for cashiers.
Bringing the business into the technology age was a challenge.
Kushinsky set about writing his own software program for his business after he found no existing programs to meet his needs -- not an easy task for someone who knew nothing about writing software and who had very little experience using a computer.
"I enrolled in software training classes and hired a consultant to help with the more difficult code," Kushinsky said of MaidSoft, the program that took nine months to develop.
Now, Kushinsky equips all his franchisees with the software, as well as cleaning supplies, marketing kits and free technical support -- all contrary to the typical housecleaning franchise.
"What attracted me, primarily, was the software," said Kevin Decker, the first MaidPro franchisee. Decker ran his own independent cleaning service for eight years before buying into MaidPro in 1997.
"My revenues have definitely increased since I signed on with MaidPro," he said. "I think they're going to the leader in this industry, because their philosophy is much more personalized than the mass production idea other companies use."
Kushinsky believes that hiring good people and valuing his staff is the key to the company's success. Job applicants must provide seven references and submit to fingerprinting and a background check before being considered for a job with the company. Kushinsky makes a point to check every reference.
In return, MaidPro pays 100 percent of its employees' health care premiums, sets workers up with a 401(k) savings plan and pays staff members an average of $10 per hour, said Kushinsky. Employees, said Kushinsky, are treated like professionals.
A four-bedroom, three-bath home of about 2,500 square feet on a biweekly basis would cost about $89 per cleaning.
While some people might wince at the costs associated with professional cleaning, Kushinsky notes that his staff is put through an extensive training process, and adds that his company has logged very few complaints.
"We're a very different kind of cleaning company," said Kushinsky. "I don't know, I guess
we're like the Starbucks of the cleaning industry."