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How This Molly Maid Franchisee Built a Million-Dollar Business She started cleaning houses. Now Christina Clark is cleaning up.

By Lydia Belanger

This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Dani Fresh

The story of Christina Clark's career is quite literally one of rags to riches. Clark graduated high school in the mid '90s and got a full-time job as an assistant house cleaner for Molly Maid. Within six months, she was promoted to route manager. Eventually Clark took on even more responsibility and moved from the field to the home office. She became a deeply loyal employee, working at the same office for 17 years and taking college business courses on the side. In 2012, when her boss asked her to attend the annual Molly Maid convention in his place, she obliged and made an unexpected decision while on the convention floor: She decided to purchase her own Molly Maid franchise, and the next year became the owner of the Northwest Florida territory. Just five years later, Clark joined the ranks of the franchise's "million-dollar circle," consistently earning $1 million in annual revenue after purchasing a second territory in 2015. Now she's eyeing that $2 million milestone.

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What did you learn in your earliest days with the company that you still apply today?

When I was the office manager, the employees felt comfortable coming to me with what they liked about the job and what they didn't like about the job, because they were able to relate to me, given that I used to be in their shoes. By the time I moved into an ownership role, I had a good understanding of how employees felt and what areas we should focus on changing.

What's a change that you implemented?

Our attendance policy was kind of willy-nilly, and some employees were really taking advantage of it, which was affecting scheduling and business growth. Now we have an attendance policy we stick to. But it's still a little more flexible than some workplaces. The majority of our employees are single mothers. I wanted to make sure they had the time to take care of their kids, go to doctors' appointments, school plays, stuff like that.

Was it challenging to go from one territory to two? What's your support system like?

Angel, my general manager, is my right-hand person. She helps me with hiring, firing, interviewing, payroll and scheduling. Once we get Leon County, our second territory, a little bit more stable -- probably in the beginning of 2019 -- my husband, John, is looking at quitting his daytime job and working here full-time. He has a mechanic background, so he'll be able to really help cut costs on our vehicle maintenance.

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Do you still attend conventions and bounce ideas off other owners?

Yes, and sometimes I find their suggestions to be scary, but then I remind myself, This is why you wanted to be in a franchise. It's about having that support, that access to information. If someone tells me something is a best practice, I'm going to try it -- and normally, it works. For example, until recently, I'd been pretty lax about Google reviews. But other owners kept telling me how much they can help your business. So now, when customers schedule cleanings, we say, "After your service, feel free to leave us a Google review." At first, I was really nervous about it, because we're not perfect -- sometimes the teams miss something, or we get an unhappy customer. But overall, getting more reviews has helped the business. And if we do get a bad one, we reach out to the customer directly. Nine times out of 10, we can resolve the situation.

Lydia Belanger is a former associate editor at Entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter: @LydiaBelanger.

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