Franchise Now Offers Pay Card Program

ServiceMaster's new service moves employees away from using check-cashing services.

In the lobby of ServiceMaster's headquarters are the company's philosophies, carved in marble: "To honor God in all we do," "To help people develop," "To pursue excellence" and "To grow profitably."

Last year, the company, whose brands include Merry Maids, Terminix and TruGreen, launched a pilot program it hopes encompasses all those statements. ServiceMaster's new pay-card program establishes accounts for employees from which they can withdraw some or all of the money from their paychecks. The service, which ServiceMaster has implemented for corporate workers and is planning to make available to franchisees' workers in the near future, costs $5 a month per employee.

"We began to employ a growing number of [people] who, for whatever reason, didn't have a relationship with a financial institution," explains Dave Aldridge, ServiceMaster's senior vice president for people (the company's equivalent to a human resources department). "Some just didn't grow up [using] banks, and those who did perhaps were in a situation where they had to use check-cashing services. That's a fairly costly service, and we felt if there was another way we could pay them, we could help familiarize them with a financial institution and save them money."

If franchisees take part in the program, participating employees will be given ATM cards and PINs. Franchisees will load the cards with employees' net pay on payday, and employees would then be able to go to ATMs and withdraw money as they need it.

The benefits to franchisees would include simplifying the payroll process-as the card eliminates the need for printing and distributing paychecks-and increasing the ability to recruit and retain employees. "This is job number-one for many franchisees today," says Aldridge. "In Merry Maids, some franchisees have had to limit their growth because they couldn't find qualified people to clean houses. Distinctive benefits such as the pay card enhance the work environment and help franchisees with their people needs."