Eleven years ago, Lisa Johnson, owner of Molly Maid Playa Vista in Southern California, realized she didn’t want her upcoming retirement dictating how she spent her time. The former clinical psychologist knew it was time to venture onto her own business but had no idea what type of business she would both enjoy and find success.(Image: Lisa Johnson)
While searching online, she was offered a free consultation with a franchise consultant and turns out, that was one pop-up box that she was glad she clicked on. After sharing key pieces of information with her consultant (e.g. work experience, likes and dislikes, investment level, etc.) her consultant recommended a few brands, and she ultimately landed on Molly Maid.
Idea of a Franchise Eased Her Doubts about Business Ownership
Johnson was not familiar with the brand, but really liked the business model, the operational support provided, and the investment level. However, she also had doubts. She knew that as a professional, she was good at following instructions and tasks, but had no experience in running a business. The franchise opportunity was unique in that it allowed her to be in business for herself, but not by herself; offering business plans and operational support already in place.
As with most new businesses, Johnson encountered challenges. She figured her previous work experience in screening and managing people would translate into hiring and managing a growing staff of housekeepers. She quickly realized it did not.
In her previous career, Johnson screened educated job candidates. In her new business, the population was very different. The majority that applied had little-to-no formal education, and some spoke very little English, with no written English skills. Additionally, she discovered that employee retention was a challenge in residential cleaning.
Turning Challenges into Positive Changes
Johnson recognized that she would need to make connections into the community where her workforce would be coming from; and that’s exactly what she did. Getting connected was the first step. Then she had to build trust within the community. Johnson shared that getting past the “outsider” perception was really important. It took time and patience, and now she speaks a little more Spanish and her employees a little more English—some of whom have been with her for the entire 11 years she’s been in business. She now has 16 employees in her Molly Maid franchise.
She attributes her overall success to superior customer service. And making it through the Great Recession gave a confidence boost she didn’t expect. She leverages technology to ensure appointments are made and kept, services are easily paid for through credit card auto pay, customer preferences are followed (e.g., green products), and automated surveys are sent.
Molly Maid residential cleaning services has home professionals that service more than 1.7 million homes annually, and has more than 450 units operating in the U.S. Johnson has leveraged the strong brand and all the tools the franchise provides to create a successful business.