The Maids Franchise Startup Failure

Hourly Manpower Problems

Before opening this business, I'd spent around 40 years working in the oil industry and many assignments involved supervision of hourly employees so I thought I had heard every available excuse for not coming to work. I was wrong!  One excuse provided by and probably not heard before was "I have enough gasoline to get to work but don't have enough to get home and I don't have the money to buy fuel" .   Attempting to manage eight to nine dollars per hour female employees is a lot like trying to push a string. If you say "if you don't start doing your job properly you will be fired", they look at you as if you have lost your mind. All that means to them is they must invest a small amount of effort to locate another nine dollar per hour job probably located right down the street. When we first opened for business, a "no show no call results in termination" rule was put in place. We quickly realized that retraction of that rule was mandatory. If it had been enforced, we would not have had  any employees at times.  We concluded that " threat management" is not an option so how do we adapt?  We went to the other end of the spectrum.  In addition to buying basic breakfast food for everyone, Marlene frequently purchased doughnuts or baked things herself.  She greeted every single employee when they arrived for work a daily basis, provided feedback on their work quality in a positive manner,  posted positive comments from customers on the bulletin board in the work area, said goodbye to them at the end of the workday along with other supporting activities. She frequently loaned them money and in one case bailed and employee out of jail.  one would think that the indicated activities would result in some employee loyalty but that did not happen.

There is definitely something "different" about minimum wage or near minimum wage employees.  You can forget using the potential for termination as a deterrent for undesirable activities because they know they can go right down the street and find another job that pays essentially the same amount of money.  In our other business, employees earn a minimum of $35,000 per year, enjoy excellent working conditions and do not want to lose their jobs.  In fact, during the past 8 years I only remember 3 people who resigned.  All others who left us were terminated for cause.  In that arena if you said "do that again and I will fire you" the employee listens and alters their behavior.

In this part of the country, the majority of employees in this work discipline are Hispanic.  The Maids recognizes that fact and points out things that can be done to make members of the Hispanic community happy.  In several situations where we discussed business operation with other owners, I know that they have Hispanic Field Managers.  We tried that approach - twice with different results.  In both cases, the Field Managers did an amazing job and received frequent positive feedback from customers.  Over a short period of time, performance deteriorated to the point of being unacceptable.  Since promotion from within was encouraged by TMI, we took that approach 3 times.  It seemed logical that a person starting work at $8.50 per hour being promoted to a job paying almost twice that amount would become highly motivated.  That phenomenon was observed during the initial part of their employment as Field Managers but it quickly went away.  I believe that in some cases the problem was created by the spouse of the employee when the employee's income exceeded that of the spouse.  All I know as fact is we did everything we could to motivate Field Managers to reflect their appreciation for the opportunity with performance and failed.

Accepting as fact that you are going to be the person who is intimately involved with the day to day operation of a residential janitorial service is not something that is easy.  Everyone knows that owning a business means long hours will be required but there is a difference in working very hard to do things like market the business then ensuring that enough cleaning cloths have been washed and dried at 7 PM each day.   Realizing that you personally will be tied to the business from 7 AM until 7 PM every day is a shocking experience.  When we started we thought this aspect of the business was something we could hire someone to do but after 18 months of trying very hard we were still at the helm.

You are trained and encouraged by TMI to sort of "coddle" team members.  "Start with a positive" before disciplining for unacceptable behavior.  If you need to correct bad behavior, first tell the employee what they do well or pay them a compliment about their work first.  It is our belief that some bad behavior does not warrant a compliment first before taking disciplinary action.  We also noticed that many employees looked at the "start with a positive first" simply showed weakness and many were repeat offenders because of it.

Revised 4_20_14

Home Page

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"

Friendly Fire

Need Money - Find An Angel

Selling The Business

Owner Qualifications

Success Motivation


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