MaidPro

MaidPro

MaidPro aims to expand and become more of a household name.

By Mark Lawton, Knighthouse Media

Some people take a while to figure out their career. Not Richard Sparacio, president and co-founder of MaidPro.

“We launched in fall 1991,” Sparacio says. “I walked straight from my senior year in college and moved into operating MaidPro with Mark [Kushinsky].”

The idea for the company came from Kushinsky, who had hired a maid service to clean his apartment. He thought the price was high but was anxious to free up his time. When he came home after the maid service had cleaned, he wasn’t impressed. He hired another maid service that charged even more and found their work equally disappointing. After a discussion with Sparacio, they decided to open a business.

They started with a 200-square-foot office that contained two desks, two phone, no computer and a filing cabinet and chairs gained by dumpster diving. The two initially promoted their business by hanging paper flyers on doors.Maidpro info box1

Over time, MaidPro gained repeat customers and in 1997, it began selling franchises. Today, MaidPro has a staff of 70 and has sold 275 franchises around the United States and Canada. It has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top franchises to own by Franchise Business Review and, in 2015, was ranked by Forbes Magazine as the second-best franchise to own.

Much Competition

While there is a lot of competition in the home cleaning field, the majority of that is independent contractors. “People who have a car, mop, bucket and vacuum; that’s an underground market,” Sparacio says. “It’s people who are independent standalone businesses. There are also people who run more professional companies. They are all over the map. Then there are the franchise brands that pay workers compensation and offer accountability to the consumers.”

MaidPro differs from its competition by being “tech savvy and culture savvy,” Sparacio says. On the technology side, MaidPro hired a programmer early in its existence to write a software program called MaidSoft that would handle paperwork, billing and schedules. It has since updated that software and put it on the cloud. More recently, MaidPro launched a more efficient method for franchise owners to text messages to their employees.

On the culture savvy side, Sparacio says, “we want to make everyone happy all the time. It’s not a new thing but we work hard at it.”

Getting Bigger

In 2019, Sparacio anticipates selling 20 to 25 franchises. “The demand for owning a house cleaning business continues to increase” Sparacio says. “More [potential franchise owners] realize you are not doing the cleaning yourself.”

MaidPro even grew through the Great Recession. “Not as fast as in past years but we grew,” Sparacio says. “A lot of people went back to work and said, I need a housecleaning company. The consumers would rather give up something else other than house cleaning, like cutting out entertainment.”

On the consumer side, “people don’t want to clean their homes anymore,” Sparacio says. “It sells relief and time to homeowners and lets them spend more time with their families and not on cleaning during weekends.”

Franchisee Support

“Compared to other franchises, we offer an amazing level of technical support,” Sparacio says. “Franchises get coached on all the different complications of franchising including the cleaning, general business and financing and accounting. We can point you to resources for staffing.”

MaidPro also offers in-person opportunities for franchise owners including meet-ups, seven twice-a-year regional gatherings that Sparacio and Kushinsky will attend plus its annual convention, which is being held this year in San Diego.

While there are a number of qualities that franchisees need to be successful including organizational skills, time management, math and basic accounting, Sparacio says the most important is people skills.

“Cleaning is hard work,” Sparacio says. “If you don’t know how to treat people well and treat them with respect, your business is not going to work. You can’t be a grumpy boss with an employee.”

That’s equally true when it comes to working with customers. "There needs to be an understanding that you are entering the customer's personal spaces,” Sparacio says. “It can be tricky. You have to know how to handle different situations, perceptions, and how to communicate with different personalities.”

Starting costs for a MaidPro franchise vary greatly depending on the size of the territory purchased. It ranges from $75,000 to $250,000.

Happy Employees

While the unemployment rate remains low, MaidPro’s corporate office does well when it comes to recruiting new employees. It has been ranked several times as a best place to work by the Boston Business Journal and Boston Globe.

The company works at keeping its home office employees happy by offering opportunities to work remotely, flex time, a health and wellness program, internal promotions, letting the employees use a condominium near a ski resort in Maine and taking employees on trips to places like Spain and Croatia. “That’s not something you usually hear when talking about house cleaning,” Sparacio says. “It’s not a sexy business but we finds ways to really connect with people.”

How to Succeed

What do most people not know about cleaning services? “It’s more affordable that people realize,” Sparacio says. “It’s also a business about how you treat the employee. Some employees fight to [clean] for certain clients because they know they are good to work for. We are selling a human service. We want people who treat people well.”

On the customer side, Sparacio suggests clients prioritize the main areas they want cleaned and unclutter their space before a maid arrives. “We will do a better job cleaning if we are not moving stuff around,” he says.

He also suggest customers keep open the channels of communication. “Give us a heads up if you need to cancel,” Sparacio requests. “If we do a good job, tell us. We have a feedback system. We want you to be picky and tell us what you want.”

Household Name

“In five to 10 years, we see ourselves as being more of a household name,” Sparacio says. “We want to be known as the brand you can trust.”

Sparacio would also like to launch complementary franchises of home services using the infrastructure built up for MaidPro. It has already launched FlyFoe, a spraying service to eliminate mosquitos and ticks in homes.

 

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