Understanding the needs of your franchisees is the key to innovation in franchising

You don't reach four decades as the leading business opportunity in the domestic cleaning industry without learning a thing or two about Franchising along the way.

Understanding the needs of your franchisees is the key to innovation in franchising

You don’t reach four decades as the leading business opportunity in the domestic cleaning industry without learning a thing or two about Franchising along the way. And, without a doubt one of the most important things we have learned at Molly Maid, is that the best ideas come from Franchisees and it’s these ideas that lead to the most innovative improvements in our systems.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise because Franchisees are on the front line engaging with customers and staff members daily, and seeing how your business model is working and could work better. We’ve lost track of the number of improvements that we’ve implemented at Molly Maid which have come from a problem or challenge that a Franchisee was having and either solved it themselves or solved it through a discussion with other Franchisees. It’s this strong belief in listening to Franchisees to understand their needs, that has led to the development of two initiatives that have helped us at Molly Maid take advantage of surging demand for housecleaning and compete for staff in a fiercely competitive labour market. Both initiatives are unique to the domestic cleaning industry and have greatly contributed to the record growth that we have seen in the past couple of years.

HomeSafe trademark jump started growth after the first lockdown

Just ahead of the easing of COVID restrictions we had put together a team of Franchisees to help develop new, and safe, operating procedures (teams of Franchisees working on specific functions in our business has been a practice we have always followed). Throughout the discussions the word safe came up time and time again. Could we safely clean customer homes? What procedures should we adopt to ensure the safety of our Franchisees, our teams of staff and the families we clean for? It didn’t take long to realise that the most important message that Franchisees needed to come through was ‘safe’ and with a little creative wordplay, HomeSafe was born.

We immediately filed an application for a trademark using HomeSafe, developed HomeSafe branded communication for our staff and customers and a new creative look for our website. All would be instrumental in reassuring staff and customers of our commitment to safety and resuming our service (even slightly before the restrictions were officially lifted). Equally important, HomeSafe had an instant appeal to the needs of our new customers, helping our Franchisees take advantage of the tsunami of demand we experienced as restrictions were eventually lifted, and it is still an important feature of our business system.

HomeSafe and its innovative branding and messaging wouldn’t have existed were it not for our Franchisees sharing the feedback they were receiving from stafff and customers, and ourselves listening carefully to clearly understand their needs.

Competition for staff heats up in 2022

By August 2021 it was becoming apparent that service industries around the UK were facing huge competition for staff and that this was going to extend into 2022. In our regular support meetings with Franchisees, staffing challenges were always the top of the agenda. Even more frustrating was that this was becoming the barrier to taking advantage of the extremely high demand from new customers wanting Molly Maid service. Our well-known brand and the shortage of options for customers wanting their home cleaned, were fueling a record number of service enquiries and most Franchisees had a waiting list of customers wanting service. A compelling value proposition to help Franchisees compete for staff and take advantage of the great market conditions was needed.

Paid holidays, payment for travel time between cleans, a contract of employment, company car, enrollment in a pension plan and a great working environment all contributed to Franchisees knowing that they had the most competitive employment offering in their local market. This message also came across loud and clear from their existing teams of cleaners who were often surprised to learn about all of the benefits they received when they joined Molly Maid compared to other jobs in the cleaning industry. Our Franchisees were passionate about what they were offering and their belief that what they were offering was the ‘best’ in the industry.

We needed a communication campaign, somewhat similar to HomeSafe, to convey this in a compelling way. Our Franchise Support team settled on ‘Best Employer in the HomeCleaning Industry’ and our Marketing Manager developed a logo that instantly conveyed what Franchisees had long believed and shared with us. Best Employer was launched in all of our employment advertising from January 2022, and combined with a large investment in Facebook advertising and aggressive social media strategy, Franchisees saw their employment applications soar. We eventually achieved a staggering 60% increase in the number of job applicants in the year (2022) which helped to bring on board the staff Franchisees needed to fill their surging demand. Once again listening to Franchisees, and their needs, had produced an innovative initiative that gave Molly Maid a clear competitive advantage.

These are just two examples of how listening to Franchisees to understand their needs drives innovation at Molly Maid. These two initiatives have helped Franchisees in the management of their business and reach new sales milestones, and are now key parts of the Molly Maid business system. They are a reminder, if any is really needed, that success in Franchising truly lies in understanding the needs of Franchisees. If you tune your ear to what they are sharing, you will be surprised at the innovation that will come.

Kevin Hipkins is the President & CEO of Molly Maid and is entering his fourth decade in the domestic cleaning industry, having worked with Molly Maid Franchisees in the UK, Canada, the United States, Portugal and Japan. Molly Maid is once again the highest ranked domestic cleaning Franchise in the Elite Franchise 100 and a top 15 finalist for the third year running. For more information on joining Molly Maid as a business owner and market leader, contact Aaron Watson by email at [email protected] or by phone 01628-583-765.

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