A little over 12 years ago, Ron Holt quit his high-paying corporate job in Atlanta to open Two Maids & A Mop, a small cleaning service along the panhandle of Florida. Friends and family members responded with skepticism and, in some cases, outright criticism. When the new business failed to gain any traction during the first few months, the criticism got louder, but Holt persevered.
Today, the Two Maids & A Mop system employs more than 200 people and cleans more than 400 homes per day across the United States. In 2013, Inc. Magazine recognized the company as the fastest-growing cleaning company in America. The company’s annual revenues exceeded $8 million in 2014 and recently, Two Maids & A Mop announced an aggressive expansion strategy to franchise the business across the country.
As a result of his success, Holt has been recognized as a regional semifinalist for the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and was awarded the 2014 University of Georgia CAES Alumni of Excellence.
To learn more about Holt and Two Maids & A Mop, visit twomaidsfranchise.com.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I grew up in a small town in southern Georgia. My childhood home was surrounded by dirt roads, cotton fields and tractors. It was a blue collar community and hard work was a necessity in order for a family to live comfortable. I recognized the value of hard work at an early age because of my parents. They both worked for the same employer for decades before finally retiring from their respective careers. In both cases, the retirement was earlier than expected and not 100% welcomed. This left a mark on me personally because both of my parents gave everything to their employers. In the end, their lifetime of hard work did not generate much value so a burning sensation of entrepreneurship was instilled as a young adult.
What are your fondest memories from your time at the University of Georgia?
UGA taught me so much about life and I’ll forever be grateful for the experience. My roots were grounded in a small town comprised of similar looking people and ideals. It was a culture shock to meet so many people from across the world. My world had been so small for so long and UGA proved to me that anything is possible in our great country. The classes and books were important but the overall experience forced me to think outside of the box and dream big for my personal future. There is no doubt in my mind that the dreamer inside of me was born on the campus of the University of Georgia.
What inspired you to launch a cleaning business? Was there a particular void in the industry that you thought you could fill?
My goal was to start a business within an industry that exhibited the following characteristics: recurring revenue was a must, consumer demand had to be increasing and the industry needed to be resistant to technology. The search for the perfect business led me to the residential cleaning industry.
Today, recurring revenue comprises approximately 65% of our business, consumer demand has more than tripled over the last ten years and our industry is still very resistant to technological improvements. So, I’m excited to look back on my original thesis for investment and proudly proclaim that my thoughts were spot on. Hiring a house cleaner is no longer considered a luxury and the demand has promptly increased as a result. Plus, the nature of our trade implies that technology is not important. Over the past decade, we have created a business model that is comprised of more than 400 pages of systems that fully automates every segment of the business.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the early months and years of Two Maids & A Mop, and how did you overcome them?
My wife can attest that cleaning a home has never been my strong suit. In the early days, I performed so many different roles; ranging from the company’s accountant to the company’s worst house cleaner. My business was the epitome of a small business and it took me more than 18 months to finally produce my first dollar in profits. Worse, my first paycheck didn’t arrive until two full years after my business’ grand opening. It was a struggle because I operated on an island without any supervision or assistance.
Looking back, those early struggles were my best friend because I was forced to dig deep inside the business and industry to learn as much as possible. I performed so many roles back then but I understand every aspect of our business today as a result.
Was there a particular moment when you realized that the business had turned a corner and that it would be a success?
I’ve always assumed that everyone works hard in their job. So, I never really looked in the mirror and patted myself on the shoulder. But about six years ago, we were lucky enough to receive an award from an industry association called Cleaning For A Reason. The award allowed our company’s story to become more popular and more visible to other organizations and publications. Since then, we’ve been profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine, Success Magazine, Better Homes & Garden and Yahoo News. Even better, Inc. Magazine has recognized our company as one of the fastest-growing cleaning companies in America for the past two years. The awards and publicity feel good and it’s humbling for so many people to be attracted by our humble start to the business. And to think that it all started with one innocent industry award is pretty crazy!
How did you initially become involved with Cleaning For A Reason?
We are proud members of a charitable organization called Cleaning For A Reason. As members, we provide free cleaning services to women undergoing cancer treatment. It’s staggering to say this out loud but we are proud to say that we have provided nearly $300,000 in free cleaning services over the past six years.
My story is very similar to so many other people across the world. My father fought gastric cancer for several years before passing away three years ago. He was (and still is) my hero so my dedication to cancer charities became a clear focus for me and my family. My goal is for every cleaning service in America to provide a similar service to a cancer-stricken patient. A free cleaning cost very little for the company but provides so much value to the cancer patient. Can you imagine a day when every cancer patient doesn’t have to worry about menial tasks around the house? My hope is for that day to occur one day in the future.
What does a typical day for you look like?
I pour my heart and soul into my workday every single day. My day is chaotic but extremely fun and rewarding. As the CEO, I speak to our franchise owners as much as possible and discuss the franchise opportunity with various people from across the country everyday. We are an emerging franchise concept with 19 locations located across the country. Every day brings new challenges but my goal is to create positive improvements by the close of a business day. Then, I race home and play hard with my three year old boy and baby girl. The most rewarding part of my day is seeing both of their smiling faces when I walk inside our home for the first time.
What’s the best meal you’ve had recently?
Gordon Gekko is famous for quoting that lunch is for wimps. I adhere to this philosophy and choose to work my tail off all day. Seriously, I routinely skip lunch because I prefer to work. I’m sure that it provides me with zero nutrition but I love it. That said, my wife and I do enjoy a good meal in the evening. Just last night, she cooked the meal that would eventually seal the deal for me. The first meal that she ever cooked for me was a Mexican soup dish. It was fantastic and the recipe has stood the test of time. So, my best meal occurred last night and the proud chef is my beautiful wife.
Aside from Gordon Gekko, are there any other business owners or CEOs that you particularly admire?
My favorite businessman is everyone else’s favorite business man; Warren Buffett. I have always loved his frugal way of living combined with his humble personality. Of course, he’s been pretty successful so it’s not that hard to want to follow in his footsteps. The Sam Walton story has always provided me with motivation and drive as well. The guy drove an old pickup truck everyday to work inside his corporate headquarters that served the entire globe. I’ve always admired successful people that have no need to show off their success.
If you could take a few weeks off and go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
My most guilty pleasure is to travel because I love everything about experiencing new cultures and environments. My business and family life keep me pretty busy so my ultimate travel bucket list is ever-growing. Of course, my favorite place on earth is anywhere in the Caribbean. Last year, my wife and I spent a couple of weeks in a private, beachside home located in the Turks & Caicos Islands. I would go back there tonight, tomorrow and the next day if my schedule permitted. It’s my happy place; hot, sunny and tropical.
What is the most exciting aspect of franchising Two Maids & A Mop, and what challenges do you expect to face along the way?
Franchising the Two Maids & A Mop brand allows me to partner with like-minded business people. That’s the true difference between opening corporate stores versus franchised units. Our franchise partners work with us and embrace our systems because they trust them. Most importantly, franchising provides me with a self-serving phenomenon because our brand’s growth potential is limitless. We can take over the world everyday and the energy within our home office is proof that unbridled passion can build just about anything. We expect to serve more than 100+ locations over the next five years and franchising provides us with the foundation to recognize this vision.