Finding good staff and training them well is essential for companies operating in the services sector. That is according to Maud McGuckin, co-owner of home cleaning provider Maud’s Merry Maids.
McGuckin, who founded the Dublin-based business in 2008 with her husband Dermot, said that training, and the opportunity it provided for career development, was an important staff motivator.
‘‘Lauragh Bowe joined us as a maid in 2008 and now manages our regular maid service. We have five teams of maids and around 25 people providing our Maid4u service. Some of our maids would have just one customer a week, while others are working full-time,’’ she said.
Repeat business – the cornerstone
McGuckin also advised start-ups to think beyond simply securing new customers to improve their chances of keeping established clients on board. She said repeat business was the cornerstone of long term success.
‘‘A lot of small businesses spend plenty of time and money getting a customer, but make very little effort to bring the customer back. By being creative, you can come up with offers and promotions to bring the customer back time and again,’’ she said.
Responding to changes in the market is equally important. For example, with the recession hitting demand for home based maid services, Maud’s Merry Maids responded by introducing its new Team Blitz service.
One-stop-shop for domestic cleaning
‘‘The Team Blitz cleaning teams provide a one-stop-shop for domestic cleaning. No longer must landlords or home owners deal with separate general cleaning, carpet cleaning, window cleaning and oven cleaning services. We provide all these services under one roof at a reduced cost to the consumer,’’ said McGuckin.
The company charges an hourly rate of €13.60 for its regular Maid4u.ie cleaning service.
‘‘Our main challenge in 2010 was to find a low-cost business model to offer our regular customers a good service at an affordable price. With the Maid4u service, the maid is employed by the customer. We get an agency fee in each case,’’ said McGuckin.
The next step for the company will be to bring the service nationwide.
Franchising – a consideration
‘‘The next two years will be spent building our additional carpet cleaning, window cleaning and oven cleaning services. When we have all the systems in place, we will then consider franchising our market offering. Our business could be mirrored in Cork, Galway and throughout the country. That will provide an avenue of growth into the future,’’ said McGuckin.
McGuckin launched The Bellarose Foundation in November 2009 to provide home support to women recovering from cancer. On foot of the initiative, the company has been short listed in the Best SME Award category of Chambers Ireland’s Corporate and Social Responsibility Awards 2010.
McGuckin said that involving the company’s staff in Bellarose had benefited all concerned.
‘‘Our maids are very happy cleaning for the women and getting to know them.The publicity element also helps to boost our company.We have al- ready provided home support to over 100 women recovering from cancer, which in itself is a great milestone,’’ she said.