Company ProfilesJuly/August 2023Previous Issues

Clean Living

Three spic and span franchises to consider in the residential cleaning services sector

By Joelle Kidd

Residential cleaning franchises offer an important service for busy families and others who need help keeping their homes sparkling. This recession-resistant industry always sees high demand, but in the last few years has ramped up even more, as the pandemic opened customers’ eyes to the benefits of sanitizing their spaces. Franchise Canada spoke to three cleaning services franchises to find out why now is the time to enter an industry that’s sweeping the nation.

Merry Maids

Residential cleaning service brand Merry Maids offers its customers something more than just a clean home, says Tim Arpin, VP of franchise development for ServiceMaster Brands. “In the cleaning space, when it’s done well, what we are giving people—especially working moms or working families who are busy—is the freedom that comes from not having to spend the time in residential cleaning themselves. That’s what’s really unique and really great about this space: it’s a service-based industry. We spend our time in service of others, and it allows us to give that gift of time.”

Merry Maids currently has nearly 500 franchise locations, including 450 in the U.S. and 40 in Canada. “Merry Maids brings more than four decades of experience and an advanced, time-tested cleaning process designed to help busy consumers reclaim time with their loved ones,” says Arpin.

The brand’s prioritization of customer service means its franchisees focus on building trust and long-term, sustainable relationships with customers. “An ideal franchisee isn’t necessarily someone who comes from this space,” says Arpin. “We can teach you how to do this; that’s what we do.” Instead, he says, franchisees should have three traits: a customer service mentality, humility and willingness to learn, and “what we affectionately call ‘grit’”—the ability to work hard and push through whatever challenges arise.

The brand provides in-depth training for new franchisees, including virtual and in-person onboarding that covers marketing, back-office management, hiring, customer retention, and more. Once the business launches, a franchisee is assigned a business development consultant to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities that arise.

“This is underpinned by the data of your business, so we use numbers to understand where things are going well and where there are opportunities for things to grow and improve,” says Arpin. “As they say in business, you can’t hit a target you can’t see, so the business intelligence on the data side allows us to see where our blind spots are in the business and accelerate our growth.”

The residential cleaning industry “really stands outside of trend,” says Arpin. “The reality is, people will always want their homes cleaned.” That’s why success and growth come from providing customer service that goes above and beyond, like the case where a franchisee reached out to check in on the health of a regular client struggling with anxiety and depression. “We actually received a note from that customer to say how meaningful that was to them, to get that recognition and lifeline in a really important time.”

Merry Maids helps its franchise partners succeed not only by cheering them on, but through coaching and mentorship, says Arpin. “It goes back to our mission, which is service to others, with cleaning as the output of that.”

Mint Maids

The Mint Maids story began in 2016, when founder and CEO Vanessa Lazaroff was running her own business in a creative field. “It was a lot of work and not a lot of return,” she recalls. Balancing her ambition with her busy life with two kindergarteners, she knew she wanted to start a business that could grow and succeed while still giving her the flexibility she needed. “I wanted to be able to pick up my kids from school, I wanted to be present on the weekends. I was done with returning late-night emails. I really wanted balance.”

This idea remains at the heart of this franchise system. Along with comprehensive training and support in day-to-day operations of their business, Mint Maids franchisees work with a personal work-life coach who helps “create boundaries, set goals, and create healthy business routines that won’t lead to burnout,” says Lazaroff.

This holistic emphasis isn’t the brand’s only differentiator. A green cleaner, Mint Maids uses only eco-friendly cleaning products and practices. A sleek, modern look and an emphasis on leading technology also sets it apart.

“We’ve taken cleaning, a traditional business, and made it modern, for our customers, our own team, and our franchise owners. We really leverage technology,” says Lazaroff. This means online booking for clients that takes only 60 seconds, and flat-rate pricing that doesn’t require an in-home consultation or estimate. Franchisees run their business through an app and online scheduling system that removes the need for a brick-and-mortar location and allows them to work from anywhere. This tech emphasis put Mint Maids ahead of the pack when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, since they already offered contactless payment and booking.

The home cleaning industry is “massive,” says Lazaroff, and poised for even more growth. As for Mint Maids, “I think we’re about to explode. We’ve barely begun—you could call us a start-up—but it’s a really exciting time to get in on the ground level for franchise ownership. We have a really aggressive and strategic growth plan over the next three years, and we are really gunning for it, and really excited.”


A Canadian-grown success story, MOLLY MAID sets itself apart in the home and commercial cleaning sector by providing a quality clean, and an exceptional experience. The key to this, according to president and CEO Aaron Abrams, is a rigorous selection process to find only the best franchise partners to work with.

“With nearly eight in 10 Canadians familiar with our brand, we are truly a household name, which helps attract a lot of demand for our service,” Abrams says. “Our challenge, quite simply, comes down to labour and finding the best talent to work with us.” Prospective superstar franchisees must subscribe to the brand’s five core values: teamwork, caring, client-focused, leadership, and “all-in.”

“We can teach just about every skill to run the business. In our opinion, that’s the easy part. But they really must have these core values if they’re going to be successful in the business,” says Abrams.

This philosophy has been honed over decades, since MOLLY MAID was founded in Mississauga, Ontario in 1979. The brand started franchising just a year later. Families in which both adults work outside the home were just becoming commonplace in the 70s and 80s, Abrams notes, and founders Adrienne and Chris Stringer (along with Chairman Jim MacKenzie, who Abrams credits with making the brand’s reach global) wanted to create a business “that was going to support those families.”

Today, MOLLY MAID still serves many busy families, but Abrams notes that there is increasing demand from another demographic: seniors. “Seniors make up an extremely large portion of our [client base] now, because this senior cohort, the Baby Boomers, are retiring wealthier than any senior cohort in the history of the country,” says Abrams. “By having more disposable income, they can spend time doing the things they love and have us do the cleaning for them.”

The brand continues to evolve, with future plans involving a brand-new franchise model that allows MOLLY MAID to move into smaller territories. “We have some traditional franchises for resale and a few open markets, but we’ve largely sold out our large markets across the country,” says Abrams. As demand grew through the pandemic for cleaning services, MOLLY MAID launched a “Neighbourhood Franchise Model” to reach these smaller markets, which sees franchisees start as owner/operator/cleaner and hire as they grow their business.

When considering potential franchisees, Abrams notes that experience in the industry or in business ownership is far less important than value alignment. The MOLLY MAID training program involves independent learning, intensive in-person training, external finance and accounting courses, and on-site training when the business launches. Franchisees are also assigned a dedicated franchise coach, keep in touch through virtual training sessions and regional meetings, and have access to funds for lifelong learning.

Ultimately, Abrams notes, “this is a people business … when [prospective franchisees] come in talking our values and our language, we look at this and say, ‘This is the kind of person we want on our team.’”