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MOLLY MAID is the Look of Clean

What’s better than a clean house? How about a clean house that you didn’t have to clean? Molly Maid has been providing exactly that to thousands of customers nationwide with results that wow clients and empower employees.

Molly Maid has been providing professional residential home cleaning for more than 25 years, and some of its maids, known as Home Service Professionals (HSPs), have been with the company for more than 20 years. Though the company’s uniforms have changed over the years, its reputation for quality and reliability has remained.

David McKinnon, founder of Molly Maid, was originally from Toronto, Canada. More than 30 years ago, he was a ServiceMaster Franchise owner who, along with his partner, had built their operation into the area’s largest commercial cleaning franchise. McKinnon purchased the U.S. development rights to Molly Maid, a Canadian cleaning service. With his family, he moved just over the border into Michigan where he established his company’s corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor in 1984. The company is now found worldwide and has over 280 businesses across the U.S.

Molly Maid has a uniform specifically designed for use in the United States, and that uniform has evolved over time. It had typically been fairly traditional, consisting of a dress and an apron. About seven or eight years ago, Molly Maid decided to update its uniform in an effort to look more contemporary. It offered an option for pants and a more versatile shirt.

The uniform now consists of a blue and white pinstriped shirt and navy blue slacks. During the summer, employees have an option to wear shorts. Prior to the current uniform, HSPs wore either a one-piece dress or culottes. The uniforms continue to include an apron because it serves as a utility feature, enabling employees to use apron pockets to carry things around.

“Our new uniforms tend to be a bit more durable than before,” says Danessa Itaya, operations project manager with Molly Maid. “They are a poly/cotton blend partly because we want something that’s wash-and-wear fabric and also partly because this is a design we have worked very closely with our franchisees to develop in an effort to make Molly Maid uniforms as user-friendly as possible. We’ve also worked closely with Edwards Garment Co. to put together the fabrics used in our designs.”

Molly Maid receives their uniforms through ImageFIRST Professional Apparel, Wilmington, Delaware, a supplier that purchases shirts and trousers directly from Edwards.  ImageFIRST has been ISO 9002-certified since 1999. Compliance with ISO 9002 guidelines assures that the quality of their products and services are the best in the uniform industry.

To improve their customer turnaround time and satisfaction, they have multi-head embroidery and silkscreening capacity. These top-of-the-line machines allow them to ship stock items within 5 working days and rush orders within 24 hours. Because they embroider and silkscreen in house, theyre able to control the consistency of their customization and ensure it meets their quality audits.

Their in-house capability also allows them to ship out small uniform orders in a timely manner. ImageFIRST designs and digitizes logos which are always sent out for customer approval before an order is started.

There is usually a process involved with the development of the uniform in which you work out what the customer wants and come together with it, says Stephanie Thomas, regional accounts manager with ImageFIRST. It typically takes a little while as you are outlining what their particular needs are and what you have to do to meet those. Molly Maid has been a good customer for ImageFIRST, according to Thomas.

Molly Maid is big on brand identity within the industry, according to Itaya, and the firm has the company’s logo on the shirt. “People use Molly Maid service because they like the image and are comfortable with someone from our company coming into their home. The branding fits. When they see the pink logo on the shirt they associate it with an excellent service for the home.”

Though the majority of the company’s workforce is female, there are male workers. They wear the same uniform as the female employees. There is a men’s version of the shirt, which is also the same navy blue and white pinstriped shirt with the pink logo on it. This logo is placed on the upper left region of the shirt.

Molly Maid customers receive a free, in-home consultation to design a cleaning plan specifically for them. Two HSPs will be assigned to a house. They enter the home, clean it, and remove all dirt and refuse from the home. They continue to work with their customers closely in an effort to meet their cleaning needs, whether every week or every other week. On occasion they will do extra cleaning in preparation for parties, but the majority of their business centers on cleaning homes every other week for busy clients who simply don’t have the time to clean on a regular basis. Saturday chores are also completed, as are the cleaning of bathrooms and kitchens. These include mopping, dusting and scouring toilets.

HSPs bring their own supplies, including vacuums, two-step ladders, chemicals and cleaning cloths. “We do this because we train them to use these specific items and chemicals. This also ensures that they have the correct tools to clean the home with,” says Itaya. “The majority of our customers give us the key to their homes. This means a close work relationship and very specific times may be worked out. If there is an alarm in the house, any special instructions with that is worked out too.”

Employees work in teams of two, enabling them to be quite efficient. Depending on the size of the home, work can take anywhere from an hour to three hours. Workers arrive in a marked Molly Maid vehicle. This continues on the concept of keeping the brand of the company as visible and viable as possible, a main reason for the use of a distinctive uniform as well.

Each employee has his own specific responsibility as he goes into the home. Responsibilities are divided up into dry cleaning, such as dusting and vacuuming, and wet cleaning, such as bathrooms, kitchens and mopping floors. These assignments within the house are rotated so that one individual is not always performing the same work all the time.

Having workers go on assignments in pairs is a great way to get the job done effectively and proficiently, according to Itaya. This arrangement is also done for safety reasons. Should something happen in a home, for example an employee hurts himself or has a sudden health issue, there is someone there to help at all times.

The company works closely with Enterprise Fleet Services to provide vehicles to all employees. The majority of the Molly Maid fleet consists of Toyota Corollas or Chevy Cobalts. According to Itaya, the cars stay in the business parking lots most of the time, making this an excellent marketing tool since there are 20 to 45 cars lined up neatly in a parking lot.

The cars reflect the unique look of the uniforms. The autos are navy blue, just like the uniforms, with the pink Molly Maid logo. There are no hats included with the uniforms and employees are required to supply their own white tennis shoes. One of the main reasons for the tennis shoes is to have a good non-slip shoe for frequent cleaning trips without tripping into showers. They do have a vendor which is able to provide jackets for Molly Maid employees, but these are not required for use by workers.

Employees are trained and bonded, meaning background checks on all employees are run prior to the start of work. The businesses all carry the required insurances. “Unlike, perhaps, an independent cleaning service, we want to cover ourselves,” says Itaya. “If workers come in to clean and hurt themselves or break something while they’re cleaning, we want them protected. We understand this industry. Normally with an independent cleaning service, it would probably go against the homeowner’s own insurance policy. We also carry all of the worker’s compensation coverage and federal taxes; they are all covered.”

Franchise owners and office staff wear clothes that complement those of the house cleaning staff. The office staff wears pink button-down shirts and navy blue dress slacks. “This maintains our professional image. Among these components, there are options, such as going 100 percent cotton or with a cotton/polyester blend,” says Itaya.

“Molly Maid is very much known for the pink logo it sports on uniforms. We explored the idea of putting our teams in an all-pink shirt but found the pink just doesn’t wear as nicely when someone is busy cleaning up to four homes per day, five days a week. This goes along with the reason we don’t tend to dress our kids for too long in white shirts. Navy blue and white striped shirts forgive a lot of things during all the cleaning being done.”

The number of shirts, trousers and aprons issued to employees varies per business. Some businesses actually provide a rental service, so that each morning when workers come in to work, there is a fresh uniform ready for them. Others provide a certain number of shirts and pants and then the employees are responsible for laundering those before arriving at work each day.

“We will also follow the state laws and guidelines in place at each of our locations,” says Itaya. “Some states do require that the business or industry rents out or supplies clean uniforms on a daily basis. Everything depends on what the local or state laws require.”

Franchise businesses start out typically with an owner, an office worker and two or three employees. As the business grows, it may end up with upwards of 100 employees, depending upon demand in the area for cleaning services.

“We are not completely recession-proof, as sometimes a family will decide to cut an expense such as home cleaning,” adds Itaya. “But often it is one of the last things to get cut; they will cut out their Starbucks before they will slash their house cleaning service. We have great employees, and our uniforms help them feel confident and comfortable in the hard work they’re doing.”

CONTACTS:
Image First Professional Apparel
42 Lukens Drive
New Castle, DE  19720
PH: 302-656-2774 Ext. 3750
FX: 302-656-6277

Above story first appeared in MADE TO MEASURE Magazine, Spring & Summer 2010 issue. All rights reserved. Photos appear by special permission.
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