Cleaning Your Way to Success
When Shelly Barless founded Dust Queen Maid Service in 1989, she was driven by her long-held desire to enjoy the freedom that comes with owning your own business. Now, as Dust Queen begins its franchised expansion across North America, Barless wants to offer that same experience to prospective franchisees.
An established track record
Based out of Edmonton, Alta., Dust Queen offers a wide variety of residential cleaning services, performed by fully trained and insured cleaning technicians. Driven by the motivation to make a difference in their clients’ lives, Barless says she and her team have spent the past 22 years striving to establish the company as the number-one maid service in the city.
Barless places great emphasis on customer service, striving for no less than 100 per cent satisfaction for her clients. Those efforts have been rewarded with seven consecutive Consumers Choice Award for Business Excellence and three consecutive Top Choice Awards for most-referred maid service, accomplishments in which Barless takes great personal pride.
Having established a successful way of doing in business in Edmonton, and seeing the potential to capitalize on a growing multi-billion dollar industry, Barless knew franchising was the next logical step.
“I’ve always wanted to franchise across North America,” Barless says. “I knew I would know when the time was right.”
While the decision to franchise was natural, it was not made lightly. Barless and her team have invested significant resources in their franchise plans, including working with a California-based firm to develop ‘geostrategies’ to determine territory sizes and growth tactics.
“We’re looking to sell franchises to the right people with the right-size territory and make sure everyone is successful,” she says, noting an emphasis on controlled, responsible expansion. “Our focus is getting the right people into our system and expanding from there. We’ll all grow together.”
Comprehensive franchisee benefits
Barless offers franchisees several benefits, including turnkey operation, purchasing support, marketing assistance and modular operational and technology packages. Perhaps most importantly, Dust Queen also places great emphasis on training.
An initial two-week session includes instruction on Dust Queen’s proprietary business software system, maintained on virtual servers, which handles everything from job estimates and work schedules to appointment booking and invoicing. Once this session is complete, a franchise consultant will spend three days with the franchisee at his or her location within the first month of opening your business. In addition, the company also provides ongoing training in the form of regular communication, internal newsletters and periodic site visits.
“Even Olympic athletes continue to train,” she says. “There are always new things to learn and we can always improve and grow. We pride ourselves on being the best and you can’t be the best if your staff is not trained properly. We believe in support and we’ll always be there to support our franchisees.”
Barless also places importance on the ecological impact of her business, noting that all of Dust Queen’s cleaning solutions and products are environmentally safe and biodegradable.
“We also recycle everything we can within our office,” she adds, noting that franchisees should also be prepared to run their businesses in an environmentally responsible manner.
Are you the right fit?
Dust Queen is not a home-based business; franchisees are required to operate out of a dedicated storefront or light industrial office space.
“We strive to be a higher-end, professional business, and to distinguish ourselves from competitors in the market,” she explains. The company offers prospective franchisees two territory sizes—mid-sized and standard—designed to suit both smaller and larger urban Canadian markets.
Barless says her ideal franchisee is an enthusiastic, computer-literate individual with excellent people skills, a good business sense and plenty of drive and determination. Candidates should also be able to balance their entrepreneurial spirit with the ability to follow a proven system.
“This is an exciting, fast-paced business, in which you’re meeting lots of new people all the time,” she says. “You can be very successful, but you have to have a strong work ethic and great leadership qualities. Providing the best customer service has to be on the top of your priority list.”
As she looks for new faces to join the Dust Queen ranks, Barless is also careful to stay true to the things that have made the company a success since she first opened her doors more than two decades ago.
“We believe strongly in teamwork,” she explains. “Anybody who buys a franchise is going to be joining what we like to call the Dust Queen family. Many of our office staff and cleaning technicians in Edmonton have said they want to spend their entire careers here, to ‘grow grey’ here. It’s wonderful to have that sort of dedication, commitment and loyalty from your staff. We want our franchisees to have that same atmosphere.
“We’re not just going out cleaning,” Barless adds. “Every single day we’re making a difference in people’s lives. That’s a great feeling.”
Dust Queen Maid Service
Franchise fee: $25,000 and $29,500
Investment required: $88,760 - $ $134,677
Startup capital required: $70,000
Royalty fee: 6.5%
Advertising fee: 1%