The Maids Franchise Startup Failure
Obtaining Exempt Help
We never quite understood instructions accompanied with comments about hiring Field Managers before attending Training but to the best of our ability complied with suggestions made by TMI. We did hire a person who we told she would become Field Manager after demonstrating competencies at actually performing the work and a second person who we told would become a Team Leader if she had required talent. Along with the suggestion to bring people with us to initial training, we were told that we probably wouldn't have them within a few months. Hiring someone and spending a lot of money taking them to Omaha for Training when you don't expect them to be long term employees doesn't make a lot of sense. We could see that if we were able to hire the right people having more people with Corporate Training would help us long term.
Enthusiasm simply didn't last. We never clearly understood the cause of the problem but did observe some symptoms. The most effective Field Manager we ever employed who was promoted from within asked her boyfriend to call us one Sunday to tell us she and her sister had been involved in a vehicle accident, she was in the hospital and would not be able to work the following day. I asked the hospital name and called after our discussion ended and she was not a patient. She called in sick every day through Thursday and only came to work Friday when Marlene "leaned on" her saying she had essentially be out a week. When she arrived at the office, there was no mention of the vehicle accident and it appeared to me that her facial injuries had been caused by a left hook. This Field Manager later described extensive physical abuse at the hands of her husband. Before we were through Training, it had become apparent that neither employee was going to last. All they did was sit around sending text messages on their phones and when told to stop they would for a short while. Within 6 weeks of completing training, both had been terminated.
When thinking about opening the business, we discussed the Field Manager position and the best approach for securing and retaining effective people in this position. This step is mandatory if owners ever expect to "get away" from the business. Someone must always be available for Teams asking questions, Route Sheets must be printed and distributed first thing each morning and someone must be at the office when the last Team returns at the end of the day. Depending on how many First Time Cleans (FTC) were on the schedule, waiting for the last Team at 7 PM really wasn't an unusual event. When they do arrive, someone must ensure that cloths are washed and dried for use the following day. Without a Field Manager, owners face very long days. Since hourly employees earn around $8 - $9 per hour on the average, we thought if we paid Field Managers $15 per hour surely they would do whatever was required to keep the job.
During the Saga which involved hiring and firing 6 Field Managers over a 14 month period, we tried every approach we could identify and those suggested by others. We promoted from within along with hiring outside being very demanding in qualification requirements. None were successful long term. We had 3 different Field Managers who started with a "bang" but "fizzled" quickly. At first, all were very excited about the pay along with indication of other promotional opportunities existing but the hours were demanding and they simply concluded that they preferred having extra free time than earning a comfortable income. Three of the first six were terminated not only for not performing necessary job duties like inspecting homes after cleaning, but we discovered they were doing other things during the workday that were not work related. One followed her boyfriend around some days because she thought he was cheating on her and another, (the one being physically abused) made several trips home throughout the day to appease her husband.
When we left for the first conference in Las Vegas during February of 2013, we were confident that we had the Field Manager who would be in that position for an extended period. She began work for us during September of 2012 as a team member then was promoted to team leader and finally to field manager. She was very well-versed in the system and had the respect of all other employees so it seemed that her qualifications would be a winning combination.
One afternoon, sometime after the conference in Vegas, around 2 PM I received a call from a customer complaining wildly about a job completed the preceding day. I was sitting in the office with Marlene and our field manager and after completion of the call I asked the field manager about which team performed the work and about the specific job assignments. She mentioned all positions except team leader then as I reflected on the job in question I realize that several employees were absent that day making the field manager work as a team leader necessary. Marlene and I proceeded to the customer's home to personally see deficiencies described. Not one function of the job had been performed properly. In one room I wrote my initials in the dust on a desktop. When we returned to the office and confronted the field manager asking how she could explain her being the team leader on a job where work quality was totally unacceptable. She had absolutely no justification for the situation and was terminated.
After termination of the field manager, we learned that she had a particularly enjoyable time while we were at the conference. We left for the airport around noon on Wednesday and she left the office around 1 PM and we don't think she returned the remainder of the week. We also learned that during the week when she told us she had been involved in a vehicle accident, she had been constantly bragging on Facebook about how she was enjoying hanging out with her significant other and drinking all day long.
Similar situations existed with the other five people employed as field manager. After terminating the sixth one hired during October of 2013, we concluded that the best approach would be for Marlene to act as field manager. The last person hired was recruited by posting an advertisement, phone screening numerous candidates and conducting interviews with several. This last candidate for field manager had seemed very well qualified and had significant experience supervising other people. The last field manager was terminated within two weeks because of an attendance issue. Now with the business shut down as I look back on the experience I don't have any better idea for recruiting and retaining effective field managers than when operating the business. Obviously it can be done because some owners have very effective people in these positions. It seems that you only succeed in identifying an acceptable candidate through a long trial and error process.
Summary of experience
The Saga - Detailed Account Of Franchise Startup Failure
Is Molly Maids Equivalent To The Maids?
Demands of Managing Operation
Hourly Manpower Problems
Professional Manpower Difficulties - Field Managers
Franchises Do Not Fail - They Just "Go Away"
Need Money - Find An Angel
Selling The Business
Owner QualificationsSuccess Motivation