Two Maids & A Mop opened its doors more than 10 years ago in Pensacola, FL. It quickly grew to become the area’s most trusted and respected professional maid service. Since its inception, the business has successfully built 12 company-owned locations across five southeastern states. In 2013, Inc. Magazine named Two Maids & A Mop the fastest-growing cleaning company in America.
We recently spoke with LA Martin, owner of Two Maids & A Mop in Washington, DC, about her rise as a house cleaner to franchise owner. Martin let us in on a few secrets, including what she considers her greatest success thus far, what online tool she would feel lost without and what advice she has for others looking to own a franchise.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Two Maids of Washington, DC opened for business nearly one year ago on September 15, 2015. My franchise is jointly owned with a group of very successful business executives that have a long history within the franchising industry. I partnered with superstar franchise executives Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman, co-founders of the nationally recognized franchise brand College Hunks Hauling Junk.
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What were you doing before becoming a franchise owner?
Prior to ownership, I was an employee within the Two Maids & A Mop corporate office. My most recent role was in Nashville, TN as the Territory Manager for Tennessee. In my years at corporate, I have literally held every position available within the organization; from a real, live house cleaner; Training Manager; Office Manager and all the way to a Territory Manager responsible for three office locations supervising more than 50 employees. My three offices combined to generate more than $1 million in annual revenues in just a few short years, and we were still growing every day when I passed the baton.
Why did you choose your franchise?
I have always taken pride in my performance with Two Maid & A Mop. When I first stepped into management, my fearless leader Ron Holt told me to treat it like it was my own business. That’s what I did from day one. I truly decided to make the transition from employee to employer when Ron asked me to help train the first franchise that opened in Tampa, FL. I was confident in my knowledge of the business and realized that I had the passion and necessary tools to make a dream become reality. I was able to envision big success for the brand and began seeking the right partnership for my new venture as an actual franchise owner. Nick and Omar are from the DC area and already own a highly profitable consumer services based business in the area. After researching the market we decided that it was a great fit for the Two Maids business model. Once the deal was done, I packed up my family for the biggest move of our lives!
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your franchise?
Being new to ownership and new to Washington DC, every single task I tackled in the few weeks before opening felt like a challenge. Some of my new responsibilities such as purchasing insurance policies and creating the accounts for QuickBooks left me feeling like it was the first day of a brand new job. Other tasks like the initial supply order and starting the hiring process were easy for me because of my background in opening stores for corporate. Once we opened our doors, I found learning the area, creating a business network and managing my time to be the most challenging aspects. I spent countless hours studying maps and researching Zip Codes and demographics. I attended as many networking events as possible, just happy to meet someone who could point me in the direction of purchasing used office furniture for a decent price. I learned to juggle everything from answering the phones while scrubbing a shower during business hours, to spending my evenings reconciling QuickBooks while boiling spaghetti noodles for dinner.
Where did you research or get advice about starting a franchise?
I used the old fashioned route of leaning on those well versed in owning a business. My dad is an entrepreneur and owns a mutli-million dollar textile company and proved to be quite valuable with his knowledge and encouragement. A close family attorney contact provided legal assistance. And of course, my franchisor provided me with a ton of training and support before and after my grand opening. It was a group effort with an overwhelming abundance of experience.
How much did you spend before your doors were officially opened?
Between the franchise fee, the office costs, stocking supplies and hiring the first team member, we incurred approximately $70,000 in pre-open development costs. We were fortunate to buy at a good time when our franchise fee was minimal, and the partnership with Nick and Omar proved to be quite cost-effective on the physical office costs because we were able to utilize a great relationship with their local College Hunks Hauling Junk office to share a space. A lot of the costs such as supplies were a large, first-time purchase that could easily be accrued over the opening months, and others are typical costs (such as insurance policy purchases) for any new business.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As the managing partner for the franchise, I am one woman who wears 20 hats any given day. We start our day at 7:30 a.m. with a morning huddle and dispatching the teams before the phone starts ringing at 8 a.m. The remaining business hours are spent juggling sales calls, sending emails, effectively resolving customer service situations, hiring, training, updating social media, scheduling, venturing into the field for quality inspections and in-home estimates, and keeping my team motivated to work hard with a big smile on their face! There’s also accounting, marketing, PR and business planning that happens at any given time of the day when that rare moment of silence happens. Usually for me, that’s about 8:30 p.m. when it’s bedtime for my daughter. Somewhere in there I fit networking events, lunches with referrals, quarterly celebrations for our team and cleaning in the field when we feel a growing pain and overbook ourselves!
What is your secret to success?
Everybody measures success differently. For me, I believe true success lies in the happiness of others. Whether it’s happy clients spending weekends with their families instead of cleaning, happy team members excited to come to work every day, or a happy daughter that knows mom is coming home every night for dinner. I find their joy to be my greatest success. My secret isn’t much of a secret at all. I consider myself a leader of leaders. I encourage growth and development in my team and push them to improve their skill sets, practice positivity and gratitude, and take ownership in their work. They invest their career’s future in me just like I invest my company’s future in them. In return, they are helping me build a solid business foundation that is focused on women helping women. That translates into long-term relationships that can weather any storm a small business can encounter.
What would you do differently if you had to do it all over?
The only thing I would have done differently would have been more research on our location before settling in. In a dense metropolitan area like Washington DC, five miles does not equate to five minutes of drive time. My early research on the local market logistics did not account for the heavy congestion so our service radius has changed since our first day of operations. In lieu of that, where we chose to open our business will allow us to expand and open more satellite locations as we develop and service the entire DC territory.
Where do you see your business in five years?
That is my favorite question! In five years I see Two Maids of DC generating over $1.5 million in annual revenues through at least five locations scattered throughout the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia. I see us employing at least 50 of the finest house cleaners in the area, and cleaning over 500 homes on a regular basis. We will be members of the Two Maids Pink Blazer Club, which is an exclusive society reserved for the top 10 percent net margin producing locations within the franchise system. And, we will have the highest Customer Satisfaction rating in the residential cleaning industry.
What is one trend that really excites you?
I really like the shift in our customer demographics. I think once upon a time having a professional house cleaner was perceived as a luxury for only the wealthy. As we see families’ schedules filling up with soccer practice, PTA meetings and both parents’ hectic work schedules, we are seeing a shift between the “want” and “need” for a professional maid service. Social media platforms like Facebook and Yelp are allowing us to reach those clients in more personal ways because they’re doing their research and know about us before they request a quote. They are women in our community just like me who are trying to balance career and family. It makes this a great time to be a woman business owner because the connection becomes real!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- Facebook — I absolutely love using Facebook to reach my clients and celebrate my team. I love that we can create an audience for specific ads and use that personal connection to fill it with content our clients relate to. It’s very advanced in target marketing, but also very informative for the curious browser who stumbles upon our page.
- Quickbooks online — Accounting on the go lets me work from the comfort of my couch, so I can focus on our customers and the operational tasks during business hours.
- Career Plug — I use our application tracking software for every step of our hiring process. Career Plug is great because it organizes all of my applicants, grades their compatibility each step of the hiring process, posts to job boards in my community for me and centralizes the background check process. It even allows me to fine tune my hiring ads and application process as I learn more about the women in our community who are seeking this type of employment. I would be completely lost without this system in place.
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
When I began my journey with Two Maids & A Mop, I looked to our founder and CEO, Ron Holt, as my mentor. He has always shared his vision with me and pushed me beyond my comfort zone in the name of personal success. Ron has provided me with inspiration throughout my career with the company. Since beginning this new venture as an owner, I have been fortunate enough to meet many other inspiring women who have developed their own business and hold true to similar core values like integrity and positive reinforcement. I still lean on Ron when I need that reminder of my capabilities, but I’ve also learned that each person that comes into your life can bring a different kind of wisdom and leave a different mark you.
What advice do you have for others looking to own a franchise?
Don’t wait! This is an exciting time to become a Two Maids & A Mop franchise owner. As my mother used to say, “You’ve got to get, while the gettin’s good!” There are some exciting markets available for development right now and the home office is predicting very fast growth in the near future. Making the decision to open a franchise allows you to create your own success from a model that’s already been proven to work. It’s so much easier to open a franchised business rather than trying to reinvent a new wheel.
Would you recommend others be franchisees? Why?
I would absolutely recommend a Two Maids & A Mop franchise to anyone who believes that helping others can truly create a successful business. It takes a passion for people, knowledge of business and a little bit of a competitive spirit to really enjoy starting a new franchise, but anyone who believes that hard work pays off will find this brand to be a great fit.
Where can people get more information on Two Maids & A Mop franchise opportunities?
Visit the website here.
Where can people find your Two Maids & A Mop on social media?
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