Franchise Profile - Molly Maid: 'Premier brand in its sector'

With a solid base and phenomenal development opportunity, the UK has the highest growth potential of any marketplace that Molly Maid currently operates in. FDS Southern interviews the Molly Maid development team

Q: Peter, what is your role with Molly Maid?

PB: I have enjoyed being a member of the board of directors for Molly Maid International Inc for 20 years. I operate as an advisor and consultant alongside my role with the McDonald's Corporation, which I have been with for 30 years.

I have been part of McDonald's' executive team in Canada; was closely involved with the development of McDonald's in Japan; helped to build the Russian company to 135 corporately owned units; and was Chairman of McDonald's in the UK as well as President of McDonald's Europe. I am now in the corporate headquarters of McDonald's in the USA with worldwide responsibility for global brand strategy.

Q: How did you become involved with Molly Maid?

PB: I knew the founders personally, and they wanted my involvement on the basis of my experience at McDonald's and commitment to franchising.

Q: Are there any similarities between the McDonald's brand and the Molly Maid brand?

PB: Very much so. Molly Maid is a leadership brand. It is seen as the premier brand in its sector, as is McDonald's. Both brands share the fundamental principle of caring deeply about the franchisee.

The management of both brands recognise that for the franchisor to grow, we need to ensure that franchisees grow. In this regard, Molly Maid has introduced a sliding scale for royalty fees. This is to enable UK franchisees to grow their businesses and enjoy bigger margins as the business develops.

We also share a real commitment to thorough training. Ongoing training is recognised as the cornerstone to McDonald's success. At our USA headquarters we have a two-week executive training course at Hamburger University. Molly Maid equally is committed to in-depth training. Management of both brands are disciplined and focussed. There is a single commitment to the growth and development of Molly Maid in the UK by the management team.

Q: Kevin, what are the international origins of the Molly Maid brand?

KH: Molly Maid was launched in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, by Adrienne and Chris Stringer who founded the brand, developed the business systems and produced the original promotional leaflets. Shortly after, the current shareholders bought a major part of the business, which is now 27 years ago, and grew it throughout Canada by franchising.

Q: When did Molly Maid commence operations in the UK and how has the offering changed over the years?

KH: In 1985 (21 years ago) Malcolm Tall purchased the master licence from the Canadian owners and invited Pam Bader, OBE and past Chair of the British Franchise Association (bfa), to get involved - the rest is history.

Throughout the 21 years it has been a business format franchise offering.
More recently, the franchise package has been redesigned to be in-tune with the Molly Maid vision for the future. A greater proportion of the initial investment now goes into effective marketing to help the franchisee get off to a good start. As the business builds, they can then enjoy a lower Management Service Fee percentage. We also now put great emphasis on ongoing promotional activity, which has strong brand associations in marketing programmes.

Q: What would you say is the distinctiveness of the Molly Maid services as offered in the market?

KH: It very much relates to the reputation of the brand and its caring staff who are well trained and go the extra mile to offer excellence of cleaning services. That philosophy is backed by our commitment to issuing a guarantee to the customer that we will go back to rectify any problem.

Our guarantee is unconditional. Our motto is to deliver 'Consistent Careful Cleaning'. We have great staff loyalty as evidenced by the fact that many staff have been with us for 10 years plus.

Q: Pam, I note that you exude a great passion when speaking of Molly Maid?

PB: Yes, passion for the brand, franchisees and training, and development of people. Indeed, I received the OBE award for my commitment to training.

Q: We understand you have also won other awards?

PB: Yes, in 1994 Molly Maid won the bfa 'Franchisee of the Year' award. In 2001 and in 2005 we were finalists in the 'Franchisee of the Year' category.

Q: Does Molly Maid as franchisor have any measure of monitoring as to quality of services delivered?

PB: Yes, we go into the field and conduct business reviews and make sure that everything is up to standard. Our software delivers the Key Performance Indicators back to the franchisor, which enables us to quickly identify trends.

Q: Does Molly Maid provide a genuine opportunity for a white-collar management franchisee?

PB: Very much so. We agree a business plan at the beginning. We allow two years for franchisees to be fully trained. With this foundation, most franchisees' businesses are demonstrating year-on-year growth.

Q: Do you now have established franchised businesses for sale?

PB: It is happening. We help people with an exit strategy where appropriate. One recent sale was in excess of £100,000. Well developed successful businesses sell quickly and offer enormous growth potential.

Q: What are current developments in the sector?

PB: We have identified a new trend, which is that of selling our franchises to younger couples where both are fully dedicated to the business as a main income earner. Also, our customer base has changed. It is now younger people who want to buy our services. People are committed to their careers and purchase the Molly Maid services for the convenience factor. People increasingly value their free time and want more to enjoy leisure activities, etc. This is reflected in the type of houses we clean. This now includes starter homes, semi-detached and the full range of housing types. Our services have now become an affordable necessity for many.
Q: Do you have prime territories available?

PB: We have fantastic areas that offer a huge potential to grow and develop successful businesses. Great opportunity therefore awaits the right people in places like the South Coast, the Midlands and the West.

Q: What is your goal for the future?

PB: It is to have the Molly Maid brand, on a national basis, to be renowned for customer care. The management of Molly Maid International Inc have a dominant business in Canada and are now focussing on the UK because it has a solid base and phenomenal development opportunity. For this reason Kevin Hipkins - as the President of Molly Maid International Inc - has come to reside in the UK and be based at our support office here because he recognises that the UK has the highest growth potential of any marketplace in which we currently operate.