While completing a bachelor’s degree in business at Hodges University, Michelle Spitzer ran a small house-cleaning company out of the back of her van. One of her professors, the founder of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant franchise, Gene Landrum, assigned her to write a business plan. Four years after starting Michelle’s Classy Cleaning, Spitzer converted it into a national franchise for MaidPro. It soon grew to the No. 1 revenue-producing franchise out of 250 locations and a multimillion-dollar business. Today, she and her 100-plus employees serve both residential and commercial clients in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Why house cleaning?
I fell into this industry in 1995 because my brother’s girlfriend was making decent money [doing] it at the time. I bought a book called Speed Cleaning 101 that had all these diagrams on how to do it efficiently. My mom thought I was crazy because I had the messiest bedroom growing up. But the business didn’t take long to grow, and I started adding staff right away.
In 1999, I came across MaidPro [housecleaning franchise]. I received their postcard in the mail and secret-shopped them to find out who they were and what they charged. I found they were looking for existing cleaning companies to convert to their franchise, and I was impressed with what I saw—I knew they could give me the support I needed to take it to the next level.
How does this service add value to people’s lives?
As women, we know how impactful having help in the home can be. For a working mom who is feeling overwhelmed and can’t get it all done, a cleaning service relieves her stress and lets her spend more quality time with her family. We say we’re in the business of saving marriages—how many household arguments are about taking the garbage out or doing the dishes?
How do you weather the storms—literally and metaphorically—when housecleaning is often one of the first things people cut from their budgets?
During the great recession of 2007, many people were losing their jobs, facing foreclosures, and canceling services. We had to make some difficult decisions to resize the business, but it made us even stronger and wiser.
More recently during Hurricane Irma, over 850 clients skipped services, which added up to $83,000 in lost revenue. Fortunately, we had the savings we had learned to accumulate after the recession to keep moving forward. We got back up and running within a week and a half, and ended up having the strongest October ever, which helped recover some of those losses.
Do you clean your own home?
No. MaidPro comes in three days a week and even does my laundry.