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.
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.