From a personnel standpoint, Joni Garcia has it pretty good. For years, the owner of the Maids of Wichita hasn’t needed to advertise for employees.
“My employees bring people they want to work with and trust,” she said. “That’s how I get almost all of my people.”
Trust is crucial to the way Maids of Wichita operates, since the employees clean houses in teams of four. Each is assigned a different task – bathroom, kitchen, dusting and vacuuming.
“The next house, they switch what they were doing,” Garcia said. “It helps them with muscles and keeps them sharp.”
The system is one part of the operation that Garcia bought when she acquired the franchise 18 years ago. At the time, she said, her husband, Ron, was doing some accounting work for a person interested in buying the business. When that deal fell through, the Garcias decided to buy it themselves.
“You want to be your own boss, and we were looking for a business and an opportunity that we thought would be conducive to our schedule,” said Garcia, who had previously taught gymnastics and worked as a Wichita police officer.
Garcia said her husband, who is vice president and CFO of BG Products, helped set up the accounting system, while she is in charge of day-to-day operations.
There are over 160 franchisees of the Maids, which is based in Omaha.
Garcia said she uses different forms of advertising, the most effective of which may be the bright yellow cars her employees use to get around town. The company employs 20 people currently, all but one of them full time. The part-time employee is a client of Starkey Inc., a nonprofit serving people with developmental disabilities.
Garcia said most of her employees have been with her 10 years or longer.
Garcia said the benefits for being a franchisee include things like equipment and training. Her cleaners wear vacuums on their backs, which helps them get to ceilings and other hard-to-reach areas.
The employees use “environmentally preferred” cleaning products, Garcia said. “No bleaches or ammonia. I definitely don’t want our employees to be hurt.”
This spring, the business received a quarterly award from the home office that Garica says is illustrative her employees’ work.
When a cleaner noticed that the home of one customer was becoming increasingly cluttered, she notified a field manager. The manager went and talked to the client, who suffers from mental problems, and convinced him to let her help.
“She organized all his papers. She made a little filing system for him, then went back the next time to see him and he was doing OK,” Garcia said. “She made the extra effort to help him out.”