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Being a 'Molly'
by Jessica Garcia
May 08, 2009 | 1316 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - A ceiling fan is dusted by a Molly Maid employee.
Tribune/Debra Reid - A ceiling fan is dusted by a Molly Maid employee.
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Sandy DeTar and her employees get a peek into their customers’ lives that is different from most other business people. While other employers go off a resume and conversation with the people they work with, DeTar and her staff are in residents’ homes.

DeTar and her husband, Curt, the owners of a Molly Maid franchise in Sparks, are in the business of housekeeping and find the service-oriented career is an opportunity to be their own boss while providing some much-needed help for customers who may be more concerned about keeping food on the table than keeping their house squeaky clean.

“It’s interesting,” DeTar said. “During the holidays you get to see all the homes decorated and it’s a nice sight. But you do get a glimpse into a wide variety of living situations.”

DeTar personally consults with customers who can have all of part of their house or apartment dusted, vacuumed, cleaned, scrubbed, polished and straightened as needed. Employees work on baseboards, fixtures, appliances and floors of all surfaces. DeTar declined to give a range of prices because competitive nature of the industry, but said she determines her prices based on the amount of time needed to complete the requested cleaning. Cleanings can be on a one-time basis or fixed on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on need.

She has nine full-time employees and one part-time, on-call person to cover during vacations or special days.

“We have (customers with) very large homes that might be two-level and they want their whole house cleaned,” she said. “We will clean anyone who needs and requests for it. No job is too much.”

The only impediment to Molly Maid accepting a customer would be for health reasons, she said.

“We’re not going to clean a home that would not be safe for our employees, whether it’s a health or hygiene issue,” DeTar said. “There’s rarely an incident where that happens, but we would not go in and clean a house where there’s drug paraphernalia or a blood or safety hazard.”

The job is not without its challenges, DeTar shared.

“I had done an estimate on the house and the owners said they would pick up the house,” DeTar said. “But when we got there, it was totally in disarray and there were kids’ toys and clothes, dishes in the sink, the stoves were not cleaned up and had spills.

“Long story short,” DeTar continued, “the team could not clean the house at the amount I told the customer because they couldn’t run a vacuum across the floor with Legos and toys.”

Besides providing a helping hand to busy families, Molly Maid is useful for those who lack the physical capabilities to clean.

“We may clean for someone who is no longer able to do it, people that have had surgery and are temporarily unable to do it and they’ll hire a service for a while,” DeTar said.

It’s enjoyable work for the DeTars, who started the franchise four years ago after coming out of retirement from the Bay Area and moving to northern Nevada because of its climate.

“Along the way, we decided perhaps it would be wise if we developed some source of income,” she said. “But (Curt) is the one that did the researching on franchises. We both wanted to be our own boss but knew at our age it would difficult for us to find employment (in the 55 and older age group).”

Through the services of a company called FranChoice, which helps match a franchise to potential business beginners or seasoned professionals with a desire to start their own venture, the DeTars found Molly Maid would work well for them because it provided assistance in many ways.

“One of the biggest things (that attracted us to Molly Maid) was their incredible support system they have for us,” she said. “We have a Web site that is an owner-only Web site and we can problem-solve and have other owners come back with feedback.

“We’d heard horror stories about franchises and how they put you at the end of the diving board and throw you over into shark-infested pools, but with Molly Maid, that support is still there,” DeTar said. “We have franchise owners in excess of 25 years with Molly Maid because of the support.”

The company provides two meetings a year, an annual convention and a regional meeting. However, this year’s convention was canceled because of economic conditions. But at regional meetings, DeTar said, franchise owners can learn about personnel management, marketing and other important topics.

“We’ve learned about new cleaning techniques, although we have that one down to a science, but a new one now is cleaning green,” she said. “They teach us anything that will help us grow.”

The name of the business, Molly Maid, derives from the English and Canadian word for maid, or “molly,” DeTar said.

Being an owner of a franchise has its own perks, DeTar said.

“Outside of being your own boss, we certainly have developed a feeling of family with our employees,” she said. “We are still their boss, but we really appreciate the very hard work they do and we do, in turn, special things for them, like picnics and pizza parties to say thank you above and beyond a paycheck.”

DeTar said the experience of running a housekeeping service has been enlightening.

“I certainly learned about running a business,” she said. “It’s really a learning experience and very positive and very interesting.”

The Sparks franchise is located on 1320 Freeport Blvd., Ste. 108A and the phone number is 359-1503. Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., although DeTar said the business does receive weekend calls through an answering service.
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