Maid Brigade Taps a Growing Demand for Cleaning Help
Number of Locations: 400
Locations: U.S. & Canada
Market Growth: to $10.7 billion by 2014
By Eilene Zimmerman
Maid Brigade taps a large and growing market for residential cleaning services in both multi-unit buildings and single-family residences. Propelled by the needs of time-pressed working families, demand is expected to increase 5.5% a year, to $10.7 billion by 2014, according to J. Archer, Vice President of Franchise Development. Founded in 1979, the Atlanta-based company’s more than 100 franchisees operate more than 400 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Major competitors include ServiceMaster’s Merry Maids and Molly Maids (owned by Service Brands International).
Here’s an overview:
You provide maids to clean private homes. As an owner, you’ll run the business, taking care of payroll, marketing, and the like; you’ll hire others to do the cleaning.
The company provides extensive training to newcomers. “We do a lot of hand-holding during the startup phase,” says Archer. New franchisees work with an experienced mentor, learning how to hire, find and train staff, and help maids determine the best route for getting from one job to another. There’s one week of training in Atlanta, in marketing, management, and technology. Then there’s another week in Milwaukee of more practical, hands-on training.
“We do a lot of hand-holding during the startup phase.”
There is also ongoing support through more advanced training classes, online videos and webinars, and DVDs. At annual conventions, franchisees can get to know one another and, afterward, stay in touch, offering advice online or over the telephone.
The extensive training provided tends to be especially useful for immigrants who are still learning the ins and outs of American culture; they comprise about 10% of all franchisees. Also helpful for immigrants is the ability to contract with a Maid Brigade call center, which handles calls from customers and does prospecting for new clients. Franchisees pay only for those inquiries that are converted into customers.
The extensive training provided tends to be especially useful for immigrants who are still learning the ins and outs of American culture; they comprise about 10% of all franchisees.
What you’ll need
Many new franchisees lease or buy cars for their maids to drive, although it’s common for more established operators to use a van. The company supplies a branded wrap for all vehicles that functions much like a traveling billboard. All franchisees also need their own office—it can be small—as a place for maids to gather and for storing equipment and supplies; the company helps franchisees find space. Your office also should have access to a parking lot. Finally, you’ll have to buy cleaning supplies and equipment, which you can purchase for $3,000 to $7,500 from Maid Brigade.
Depending on the size of your market, the cost to buy a franchise ranges from $14,500 to $58,500; the larger the territory, the higher the cost, of course. The lower fee will get you the small-market option—a territory with 10,000 to 20,000 qualified households in the target demographic group of families earning more than $75,000 a year. The top price provides franchisees with 60,000 qualified households.
Other costs include supplies and equipment, ongoing payroll and operating capital, and a 2% fee that covers creative and marketing materials. Total investment for the first three months: around $41,000 for the low end; about $150,000 for the biggest territories.
The company doesn’t provide any help with funding at this time.
Return on Investment
Franchises can earn “in the millions,” says Archer, but that’s mostly true for the biggest franchisees, many of whom have multiple territories. Much depends on your marketing moxie, as well as the quality of the service you provide and the number of repeat customers.
Talk to existing franchisees when you’re considering a purchase, especially to other immigrants.
Tips for the immigrant buyer
In general, talk to existing franchisees when you’re considering a purchase, especially to other immigrants, says Archer. And make sure the franchisor provides adequate support services, including reliable staff you can call for help—and who have previous experience as a franchisee. “Support needs to be there anytime you need it,” says Archer.