The Maids Franchise Startup Failure

Friendly Fire

When we attended the conference in Las Vegas during February of 2013, we were very excited when we heard that The Richards Group had been retained to provide Marketing services for The Maids.  They are the company who did Motel 6 “leave the light on for you” slogan and the Chick-fil-A cow advertisements.   The material presented was a total departure from historic approaches.  The colors used in all advertising was gone and they provided “white rooms” that were difficult to recognize.  The departure was so profound that we were initially reluctant in acceptance of the concept.  During the presentation, they showed a bunch of advertisement for cleaning services and pointed out how they all look the same.  When the new material was put in the mix it clearly “stuck out”.  Their point was use of the new approach would make The Maids look unique which would be beneficial.

During the summer of 2013, as I frantically looked for the cause of the revenue flat line, I thought about the new material and wondered whether it contributed to our business downturn.   We conducted a test sending 1000 of the classic designed every door direct mail and 1000 of the new stuff to the same neighborhood and used tracking phone numbers to record performance.  The original marketing material outperformed the new stuff by a factor of 4 to 1.   After I sent an email to a franchisee who was attempting to help us identify the cause of our problems, he forwarded my email to the responsible person in the Marketing department  in Omaha.  She replied saying something like “3 to 5 years will be required for acceptance of the new Marketing concepts”.  Email transcript available at TMI explanation.  While that is understandable, we did not have “3 to 5 years”.   We needed a solution now.  Our approach involved going back to the original material.   You could say we were torpedoed by friendly fire.  If we had been told about the acceptance delay at the conference we would have never used the new material in the middle of startup.

After studying our data for endless hours, I concluded that the “flat line” period had many factors.   One very significant contribution involved the enhanced Marketing expenditures which occurred during our early months of operation.  We had our finger in every available pie and all the way up to the first knuckle.   For example, we conducted a test where our web service provider optimized our local site while a similar service provider recommended by The Maids did the same with the corporate-provided site, tracking results to determining the best approach for long term use.  As a result, we essentially had two optimized web sites during early months of operation.   We also used approaches which were discarded once effectiveness had been established like door hangers.  During the first 4 or 5 months, we were spending money on Marketing at a rate which could not be sustained long term and we enjoyed the results in enhanced revenue.

As shown below, our Marketing expenditures during the first few months were at a rate that was impossible to sustain long term.  Justification of the high  spending rate was evaluation of Marketing techniques and was a good approach.

 

 

 

 

 

Once we leveled off at a Marketing expenditure rate consistent with recommendation of  The Maids, our revenue suffered accordingly.  I think that the combination of change in Marketing material and reduced Marketing expenditures were both significant contributors to the “flat line” period.

Revised 5_10_14

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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

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