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Q&A with Merry Maids Multi Award-Winner Debbie Walker

We sat down with multi-award-winning franchisee Debbie Walker of Merry Maids of Croydon to discuss the value of a cleaner who cares.

During this year’s Merry Maids awards ceremony, we recognised many of our franchisees for their success and hard work.

Debbie Walker, the owner of Merry Maids of Croydon, who is currently a finalist in the prestigious HSBC BFA British Franchise Awards, picked up a whopping three awards in the A Great Place to Invest, Customer Service, and Great Place to Work categories.

I sat down with Debbie following her win(s) to discuss her formula for success and how she feels about having built a thriving Merry Maids franchise in this, her 20th year in business.

How does it feel to be a multi-award-winning Merry Maids Franchise?

“[I’m] so, so proud. Which is what I said to my team when we celebrated the day after.”

“I’m so proud of the team and of the business. Somewhat overwhelmed that we’d won three. A hat trick can’t be bad, can it?”

How did you celebrate with your team?

“I got the team together the next day and told them about what we’d been entered for, what the categories were and what we’d won, and explained to them how important that was and how very much they, as a team, helped to gain those awards.”

“And there was spontaneous applause from the team, [which was] rather lovely. “I was quite choked when talking to them about it. They were delighted. I think it’s that: ‘We’ve done that!’ It’s a real feel-good factor.”

“I think it’s also easy to forget that your staff are fundamental to what you do, so to me, they needed to be part of the celebration and recognised for their achievement. We bought all the staff a celebratory bottle of wine and an individual card.”

“What was also lovely was Nicky Morris at Merry Maids of Fylde and Blackpool sent us a beautiful big box of chocolates, which the staff are enjoying.”

In your view, what has been the basis of the success that you’ve had recently?

“An awful lot of hard work, not just on my part, but on the whole team.”

“We have 28 staff focused on doing their best work.”

“I also very much see that we have a wider team. People like our accountant, Wirehouse, whom we use for our health and safety, yourselves at ServiceMaster and the marketing team and brand manager Vikki, who have all been instrumental in giving a lot of support to the business and enabled us to keep fresh and constant.”

“I think it’s easy when you’ve been in business for nearly 20 years as we have to sit back on your laurels and think: ‘Well, we know how to do it.’”

“There are many things like social media that didn’t exist when we set up the business. But I think you’ve constantly got to embrace new ideas and technology, whatever they may be.”

How do you plan to keep up your momentum of customer service and all of those things going forward?

“I’m reassessing our quality management program to ensure we deliver our best service.”

“We are also looking at our management and administration structure to ensure that we have a broad breadth of knowledge across the team. This will free more time to support our recruits, who need thorough training and encouragement to integrate successfully.”

“We’re looking at an internal restructure to focus on different aspects of the business that I think are important moving forward because I think you have to be a bit like Madonna: You have to keep reinventing yourself.”

“I’ve not got the moves that Madonna’s got, though…”

Well, there’s still time.

[Laughs]

What makes Merry Maids of Croydon a great place to invest for your customers?

“Going back to [my] previous career, one role was working within the community with elderly and disabled clients.”

“I took what I learned there about the value of community and community support and brought it into my business.”

“It’s super important because we need to differentiate from other cleaning businesses and find our niche.”

“I think the world has changed for the better as a real value is placed on what companies do within a community. We want to be part of our community and a business with a heart.”

“Hopefully, it means that individuals looking to purchase from Merry Maids of Croydon appreciate the work ethic and the core values that we have within business and want to align with that.”

In your view, what is the value of customer service?

“Service is paramount, whatever organisation you’re in.”

“It goes from the initial contact, through the sales process to the delivery point where you’ve got staff going out to see the clients.”

“But it doesn’t stop there. Customer service moves on through the customer experience.”

“We still speak to the clients that have been with us for years to ensure we understand and meet their evolving needs.”

What makes Merry Maids of Croydon a great place to work?

“I think it has to be friendly and fun.”

“There is no doubt about it: cleaning is hard work. There must be a great team spirit, and that has to be built from the centre of the business. So, we’re very much about rewarding and recognising our staff for what they do well.”

“Every day, staff receive communication from us, whether they’re in the office or not. And it’s always uplifting. We try very hard never to be negative.”

“To me, both staff and customer experience are about understanding. That’s understanding people’s problems or what may affect them daily.”

“For staff, personal situations impact hugely on work life. If we can help in any way, that’s vital.”

“If we can be a listening ear and they feel that they can come to work, leave their troubles behind them, and have a happy, cohesive environment, that’s super important.”

“It doesn’t matter who it is, whether it’s a new member of staff who’s only been with us a few weeks or 16 years, we want them to feel they’re valued, and that’s how we try to go about it.”

Want an award-winning and caring cleaning service?

If you are local to the Croydon area, contact Debbie and the rest of the Merry Maids of Croydon team today by calling 020 8663 3268.

If you would benefit from regular or one-off cleaning services from one of our teams across the UK, contact your local cleaning experts today by finding your nearest Merry Maids business or book online through our online shop.

Merry Maids owner in West Midlands recognised as Great British Franchisee

A cleaning company boss who offers rare job security and long-service awards to the people he employs in the West Midlands has won a major industry accolade.

Tom Jackson, owner of the Merry Maids franchises in Dudley, Wolverhampton, Birmingham South, Solihull and Stafford, has won a Great British Franchisee Award, one of the most prestigious honours in the highly competitive franchise sector.

“It’s common for a high frequency of staff turnover in the cleaning industry,” Tom says, “but that’s not the case in my business.

“I offer long-service awards because, generally, many of our staff stay with us for a long time.

“Two of the admin support staff have been with me for 15 years and nine years respectively – each having started as cleaners.

“And even the original two members of staff that I employed 20 years ago still work for us.

“I believe our staff stay with us because we care about them, and they can feel it, but also because many have been part of our journey and have seen the business grow from just two staff into what it is now.

“I also think people are drawn to the job security that a business established for 20 years brings.”

The Future of Merry Maids

Tom, a former bingo firm manager, is proud, too, that some of his customers have been using the company for 18 years, and one has even had the same cleaner continuously for all that time.

He also actively supports the rest of the Merry Maids network and mentors new business owners like Mercy Ikeji (pictured) when they join us.

“I’ve grown my Merry Maids business from a zero turnover virgin business to, what is currently, the biggest Merry Maids franchise in the UK with 60 staff,” he says.

“It’s a far cry from when I started with myself and two staff using a spare office – but I’m not content to rest on my laurels.

“I’ve set challenging goals for the next three years of growth with a target to be the first Merry Maids with a £1 million turnover.”

Tom is not the only one who thinks he will achieve that.

“Tom is a real asset to the franchising world,” says Merry Maids Brand Leader Vikki Donnachie.

“He is passionate about everything business, from his customers to his staff, as exemplified by his industry-defying levels of staff and customer retention.”

Contact us

If you’re in Dudley, Wolverhampton, Birmingham South, Solihull, Stafford and the surrounding areas and would benefit from a compassionate and professional home cleaning service, find your nearest Merry Maids business to receive a free, no-obligation quotation from Tom and his dedicated teams today.

Q&A with Merry Maids Award Winners Helen Bielby and Becky Hewitt

We sat down with Helen Bielby and Becky Hewitt of Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield, who were recently awarded the coveted Merry Maids Award of Excellence.

During the recent Merry Maids awards ceremony, we recognised many of our franchisees for their successes and hard work.

Possibly the most coveted award of the ceremony was the Award of Excellence, which awards franchisees who exemplify brilliance in our network.

This was awarded to Helen Bielby and Becky Hewitt, who own and operate Merry Maids of Sutton Coldfield.

Their dedication to the brand and to providing excellent service shines through at all times and makes them worthy winners of this award.

When delivering their award, Brand Leader Vikki Donnachie said of the business:

“They have fully embraced all of the support given to them. They’re a fantastic advocate and have seen some great results.”

“They get involved in network events and their community, and have had some brilliant results and have won a couple of awards from it.”

“They’re always looking to innovate and rise to new challenges. I think we all welcome the congratulations for these two.”

Following their win, we sat down with Helen and Becky to discuss what it meant to them.

Congratulations on your award! How does it feel to be a Merry Maids Award winner?

“We were so happy to win the award! We have worked tirelessly this year to develop new innovative ways to build our business and gain new customers, so having the recognition for this is incredible!”

Have you done anything to celebrate your win?

“We plan to have a team night out in September as soon as the summer holiday ends.”

How did your staff react to your win?

“They were all delighted to hear the news. It is down to their hard work, dedication and willingness to try new things that we have won this award.”

In your view, what has been the basis of your recent success?

“The development and marketing of our online booking system has made an incredible change to the business. We appreciate that people are busy. So, developing a way for customers to book their clean online in just a few clicks has been incredibly successful.”

“We have also worked hard to establish business connections and relationships with local estate and letting agents, which has meant we have been able to grow the business further.”

How do you deliver excellence to your customers?

“All of our team undertake a rigorous 6-week training programme when they start. This training continues throughout their employment.”

“We also spot-check cleans to ensure our standards are being met. We provide a great customer relationship experience from start to end.”

“We also make sure we retain our incredible team. They care about our customers and the service we provide to them.”

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Always listen to what your employees and customers need, and you won’t go far wrong!”

What do you think sets you apart from other cleaning businesses in the industry?

“We are professional and reliable. Very few cleaning businesses have been established as long as we have (24 years). So, whilst we will never rest on our laurels, we know we are getting it right 100% of the time.”

Want an excellent cleaner?

You have more important things to do than cleaning.

If you’re in Sutton Coldfield and need an excellent cleaning service, call Helen and Becky on 0121 313 1005 or book online today.

Or, nationwide, get a free quote on our services today by finding your nearest Merry Maids business.

Merry Maids Award winner Tom Jackson shares his secrets for success

We sat down with Tom Jackson of Merry Maids of Dudley, who was recently awarded the coveted Merry Maids Recognition Award.

The Merry Maids Awards are back!

And they spelt victory for Merry Maids of Dudley owner Tom Jackson.

Why?

Well, not only has Tom, who is celebrating 20 years in business and the acquisition of new territory in Stafford, but he is also the proud winner of the prestigious Recognition Award.

The award is a credit to Tom’s hard work, dedication and commitment to the Merry Maids brand and his business and staff.

Merry Maids Brand Leader, Vikki Donnachie, said when presenting Tom with his award.

“[Tom] always has a smile on his face and is always there to support not only his team but his peers too. He’s very supportive and works really hard, showing commitment to his team members, including inviting them to Merry Maids events and meetings. Despite some challenges, his positivity, passion, and desire to grow are always at the forefront of his mind.”

She added, “He also often gives me a call from time to time just to see how I’m doing. Which I think says everything about him.”

Following his win, we sat down with Tom to discuss what it meant to him and to share his secrets for success.

Congratulations on your award! How does it feel to be a Merry Maids Award winner?

“Really great! It’s fantastic to be recognised by ServiceMaster and the network of Merry Maids and receive the first recognition award.

In the 20 years since I started Merry Maids of Dudley, I have tried to look forwards and help Merry Maids head office by making sure I attend all the regional and marketing meetings, be a part of the Merry Maids representation at head office and also make sure where possible I help out other newer franchisees.”

Have you done anything to celebrate your win?

“As we have recently purchased the Stafford and Shropshire area, it is a manic time for us looking at recruitment for those two licences.

But I have a senior staff meeting planned this month where I will ensure I thank my team for their help and support.”

How did your staff react to your win?

“The team thought it was well deserved as they can see the effort we put into our business and helping other Merry Maids throughout the network.”

In your view, what has been the basis of your recent success?

“I think the success is down to my drive to be the biggest and best Merry Maids in the UK.

And my desire to keep growing and pushing the limits of a Merry Maids business in the country.

The team have taken on board my ethos and desire to grow and be successful.”

Leave the cleaning to the professionals

You have more important things to do than cleaning.

If you’re in Dudley, Wolverhampton, Stafford and their surrounding areas and would benefit from 20 years of cleaning expertise, or would like to work for a business that puts its staff development at the forefront of their work, call Tom on 01384 242809.

Or, nationwide, get a free quote on our services today by finding your nearest Merry Maids business or book online in select locations.

Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield wins BNI Networking Award

Helen Bielby from Merry Maids of Sutton Coldfield has won a networking award from the BNI in her area.

About the BNI

The BNI (Business Network International) is the largest business networking organisation in the world, with multiple chapters around the world that span a variety of industries in a vast network. Each chapter in the UK holds seats for around 20 business owners, each representing a different sector. Membership in BNI offers members access to business training, peer learning and opportunities to network and do business with hundreds of thousands of BNI members around the world. Each group in the UK meets once a week to network and discuss happenings in the businesses.

Merry Maids BNI Partnership  

This August, our very own Helen Bielby from Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield joined her local BNI Premier chapter to represent the cleaning industry on referral from the occupier of the charity seat who represents the Buddy Bag Foundation. The setup of the network is designed to allow members to bring in new business through referrals, which are logged in an app that allows members to see direct links to new business. Helen and Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield have received some recent business via referral from the network’s printing company, for example.

Helen says that although she had visited the chapter as a visitor, she was unsure about how the businesses would work together, particularly as the referrals would be for vastly different industries a lot of the time. However, in practice, she has been pleasantly surprised by the results. She says that being part of the chapter, even for just a couple of months, has made her realise that she is part of a further-reaching business community than she had thought. She says that even just attending the meetings has been beneficial in seeing how other members of this community run their businesses and are dealing with the same challenges that are currently facing small businesses across the UK like the cost of living crisis.

“For all small businesses, it’s a difficult time,” Helen says. “Whether it’s an insurance broker or a wine importer, we can see how other people are coping, you know you’re not alone.” Having already brought in an estate agent, Helen adds that she is now “Really hopeful that we’re going to work more to get referrals [as] the group is always expanding further. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and seeing what we can do for each other,” she says.

And historically, BNI businesses can do a lot for each other, with their “UK and Ireland members [generating] over £429m of business between them” in the last 12 months.

The BNI Awards

The BNI awards recognised the efforts put in by its chapter members for a variety of areas. Helen was surprised to take home the Notable Networker award as recognition of the noticeable growth that she has managed to bring to the network in just the past two months.

“I’m really pleased to win the award after only being a member for a couple of months,” Helen says. “It proves we do know people, and we’re really interested in getting to know other businesses who might want to come and work with us.”

As Helen says, the BNI meetings are a real commitment, particularly because each meeting takes place first thing on a Thursday morning! But she knows that not only will she reap the rewards for her business, but also that it has helped her feel more involved in her local community of other small businesses, and find “her small business tribe,” as she describes it.

This has also given Helen a great opportunity to promote her business through other channels, as she has been using it as an opportunity to promote the new online shop that is now running at Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield, which allows customers to book a range of domestic cleaning services from Helen and her team with the press of a button.

Book a Merry Maids clean

See how Helen and the Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield team can help you today by giving them a call at 0121 313 1005 or booking a clean online now.

Or, to find out more about Merry Maids in your area, find your nearest business to learn more about our services and book a free, no-obligation quotation today.