Current Issue Franchisee Success Stories November/December 2021

Day in the Life: Sweeping Success

MaidPro franchisee David Buckler shares how his daily routine has changed with two successful franchises in Alberta

By Jordan Whitehouse

When David Buckler opened his first MaidPro location in Airdrie, Alberta back in 2009, as he puts it, he “was the business.” His days would typically start at 7 a.m. and end at 7 p.m., and he was the main person in the office. Throughout the day, he’d usually be the one dealing with every employee and customer, aiming to attract new cleaners so that he could gain more clients. Back at home, he tried to live like a college student, keeping expenses down until the business could start paying for itself. Those early days were tough, Buckler remembers, but also rewarding.

MaidPro was founded by Boston natives Mark Kushinsky and Richard Sparacio, and Buckler’s location was the first in Canada at the time. He says the relationship with the U.S.-based corporate team was—and continues to be—“very good.” From day one, it was marked by collaboration, empathy, and a lot of two-way communication. “That kept me in the business,” says Buckler. “If they were just telling me what to do, I don’t know if I would have made it this far. But [instead] it’s been a really cooperative brand building.”

Besides, those early tough days didn’t last long. Within six months, Buckler’s business broke even operationally, and then he reinvested and opened another location in Calgary. Today, he has a full team of staff to handle everything from sales to hiring for both locations.

He isn’t “the business” anymore, but because this is a people business, he says it’s important for him to be present every day. “I look at my days now as just feeding fuel. I’ve already built the machine, I’ve got some wonderful people operating it, so I have to supply the fuel, which is both employees and clients. My biggest concern, especially right now, is: how do I get more cleaners? Once we’ve got enough cleaners, how do we get more business?”

A typical day

Now, Buckler’s day typically starts at around 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. His first task is usually combing through emails, and then zeroing in on any client feedback he’s received. Sometimes he’ll deal with that feedback himself or send it to the proper person in the office to handle.

Next, the focus turns to recruitment. As with many service businesses in Canada struggling to find employees post-pandemic, Buckler’s needs cleaners. He’ll review any applications from the day before, call applicants personally to tell them more about the job, and then invite them in for a face-to-face interview with the manager of either the Airdrie or Calgary branch. 

“Because MaidPro has really good training collateral, we find it easy to train good cleaners,” says Buckler. “So, really, we’re looking at personality and making sure it’s a good fit, because at the end of the day, it’s a customer service business. You can have a fantastic cleaner, but if they’re horrible with people, they’re not a fit for us.”

Before noon, Buckler turns to fueling his second major concern: new clients. Although he does have a salesperson, Buckler says it’s important for him to stay on top of that side of the business. He’ll get in touch with any new potential customers, introduce himself, and give them an opportunity to know exactly who they’re dealing with and what the business is all about.     

In the afternoon, Buckler’s attention turns to more macro or long-term aspects of the business. That could mean examining employee recruitment advertisements to see how they’re performing and deciding if he needs to change them. It could also mean reaching out to some of the other 10 MaidPro Canada locations or 200-plus U.S. locations to figure out if there are any issues they need to take to corporate.  

The pandemic in the room

That daily routine hasn’t changed all that much for Buckler during the pandemic, but he says that because there’s such a need for cleaners right now, he does focus on the recruitment side of the business more than he has in the past.

Business is also booming, so client relations also take up more of his time. During the first month of the pandemic, business was down 70 per cent, but it rebounded by the end of 2020 to 80 per cent of 2019’s numbers. By June 1, 2021, when many pandemic-related regulations were dropped in Alberta, business “went crazy,” he says. Both locations are now doing better than they were in 2019.

In fact, the pandemic may have actually helped business, because some of the independent cleaners in the region left the industry. Buckler estimates that those independents made up about 90 per cent of the home cleaning market, and so when they weren’t available, clients migrated to professional services like MaidPro. “There’s definitely a budget difference, but those clients are also realizing it’s worth paying more for a professional who knows how to keep you safe, is using hospital-grade cleaning products,  knows the rules, and will keep somebody home who has a cough.”   

As for the skills that have helped Buckler deal with the up and down days of the pandemic, they’re the same that have helped him since day one with MaidPro: his people skills. He has a knack for empathy in particular, he says, and he uses it with clients, employees, and even other franchisees. “One of the things that I did a lot during the pandemic was just calling other offices and owners saying, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ I know what it’s like to struggle, and there were a lot of people who just didn’t know if they were going to make it through. So that empathy can really help people during times like these.”

A sprinkle of daily advice

It may not be surprising, then, that Buckler says new MaidPro franchisees should be people oriented to be successful in this business.  MaidPro franchisees come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including engineering, administration, and more blue-collar sectors. But it’s the ones who can understand and empathize with customers that particularly thrive, he notes. 

You also need a strong work ethic. “The offices that I’ve seen fail tend to be the ones with an absentee owner,” he adds. “I have phenomenal staff and I trust them to run my business, day in and day out, with me here or not. But it’s human nature to get comfortable, and so the owner has to be the one to keep their foot on the pedal.”

Thus, one of Buckler’s big pieces of advice for new franchisees is to be actively engaged in your business. That includes doing things like getting on coaching calls, attending workshops, talking to other franchisees, and participating in conventions. “For years, we’ve noticed that the ones that struggle are the ones that don’t reach out, don’t engage with the community, and don’t ask for help.”

Buckler’s other big piece of advice is to follow the franchise system, especially for the first couple of years. “One thing that I really love about MaidPro is that they’ve got about three rules and 300 suggestions. But they also know how to build that first business. So don’t deviate, call your coach for everything—that’s why you’re paying them. Then, once you have a good grip on the business, you can adapt it to your management style, to your clients, and to your staff.”  

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