David McKinnon, founder of Ann Arbor-based Molly Maid, which has more than 600 franchises worldwide, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about keeping up with the trends in the residential cleaning industry.
1. DDN: How big is the residential cleaning market?
DM: It (generates) billions of dollars. And most of it is done illegally. If you looked in the Chicago Yellow Pages when we started 30 years ago, there were probably one or two companies listed under house cleaning. Ten years ago, there were probably 20 or 30. Today, there’s a hundred. But if you add up all of the legitimate companies, I would guess we do less than 10 percent of the maid service that’s done in the United States. It’s mostly done for cash, and it’s done under the table.
2. DDN: What trends are you seeing?
DM: People are much more time sensitive today than they were 15 years ago, which is really important with scheduling timeslots. Some people just give us the key to their home, but we find more and more that in the rushed world we live in, customers want to have more control (over their schedule).
3. DDN: How do you accommodate this?
DM: We use technology very heavily in the running of our businesses, particularly in the scheduling. We try to give customers a time window (as to) when the team will arrive for the cleaning. We use technology that ties in traffic updates from Google where we can predict if we’re going to be late, and the customer will be notified by whatever preference method they selected — phone, email, or text. It’s pretty whiz-bang software — I think we’re on version 15 today. We actually won the Windows World Open for the development of it in 1997. The guy that wrote most of it and I got to have dinner with (Microsoft founder) Bill Gates that night.
4. DDN: What are your plans for growth?
DM: There are over 600 franchises worldwide, and we continue to open new units every month. We probably have room for another 300 in the United States, but it’s more important for us to find the right person to run our business. Our businesses tend to be fairly large, so when one opens up, they tend to grow very quickly — a large percentage are over $1 million a year in size. As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve never found a business as good as Molly Maid — it’s Monday through Friday. It’s daylight hours. It’s no accounts receivable. There’s no inventory, and it’s in high demand.
5. DDN: Where do you see the most demand?
DM: Wherever you have busy people, you have demand for our service. If you go to Idaho, there’s not going to be as much demand as there might be in Manhattan. But wherever you have dual-income households, you have a very high demand for our services.