Years ago, I met with a business broker in San Francisco who told me about an established local maid services company that was about to go on the market. I’m always exploring new opportunities so we set up a meeting and I learned a lot of interesting things about the residential cleaning business.
I was prepared to move forward with the negotiations, but the current owner was not. So that opportunity came and went, and I eventually opened a UPS Store franchise. But I’ve always wondered how different things would be had I purchased that business and made it grow.
Now, almost a decade later, I’ve decided to revisit the industry and see what’s changed. Apparently, not much. But that’s the beauty of this business model — it is constant, predictable, and stable.
The dilemma facing anyone interested in joining the home cleaning industry is whether to invest in a national franchise, buy an existing non-franchised local business or start a cleaning company from scratch. All 3 options are viable because most people know how to clean their own homes — or at least, it’s something that’s very easy to learn how to do well.
One of the leading names in the maids franchise industry is Merry Maids. These are my initial thoughts on the Merry Maids franchise opportunity:
1. Initial Investment
The franchise fee for Merry Maids ranges from $31,000 to $41,000, depending on the size of the territory. The total initial investment ranges from $52,550 to $70,450 (this includes the lease of office space and working capital needs). And the ongoing royalty is 5% to 7% of sales, depending on the level of sales.
This is still considered a low-cost franchise relative to other franchise concepts because the total initial investment maxes out at around $70,000. However, keep in mind that it costs next to nothing to start a small 1-2 person maids operation. On the other hand, it’ll cost you a lot more to buy an established non-franchised maids business. If I remember correctly, the preliminary asking price for the maids business I was interested in was around $350,000, which was between 2 to 3 times annual profits.
2. Marketing Support, with National Brand Recognition
This is where the franchise option really shines. The business model is very similar to a franchised hotel business, where reservations are centralized and farmed out to the right local hotel operator.
Here, a potential customer can go to the website of Merry Maids, fill out the appropriate form, and the local franchise operator will get in touch with the customer and take it from there.
Merry Maids’ brand recognition helps the local franchisee attract discriminating customers who value the additional security and peace of mind that comes when dealing with a trusted national brand.
3. Advanced Customer Information Systems
Merry Maids has developed a proprietary software that makes running the entire business a lot simpler. Tasks such as scheduling, invoicing, payroll, taxes, and ordering supplies are streamlined and simplified.
I’m sure there are many vendors out there who offer a similar software solution to independent cleaning companies, so I don’t think this is really a big selling point for the franchise.
4. Merry Maids Mentoring Program
New Merry Maids franchise owners are mentored by more experienced owners in neighboring territories. I think this program is invaluable because the most difficult aspect of running an independent business is not having any support during tough times.
A good mentor can share best practices and lead the new owner to the quickest path to profitability and eventual success. With the right mentor, a franchisee’s learning curve can be shortened considerably compared to his non-franchise counterparts’.
Overall, I think there are some real benefits to opening a Merry Maids franchise. If your desired territory is still available for franchising, I would seriously consider the franchise option to take advantage of the brand recognition, national marketing campaigns, and mentoring program.
Are you a current franchisee of Merry Maids? Is your Merry Maids franchise profitable? Do you work for the Merry Maids franchise organization? Can you share anything about the profit potential of the Merry Maids franchise?