How do you nurture a small home cleaning service from a single shop to more than 120 independently owned business across the country? Easy to say but hard to do: Be an early adopter. In the relatively low-tech world of home cleaning service, MaidPro has grown rapidly, thanks, in part, to its CEO’s willingness to embrace the Web, the cloud, his vendors, and his own chops as a software developer to better manage nearly all aspects of the company’s field service, from employee dispatch and franchise expansion to fuel and route optimization.
InformationWeek‘s Kevin Casey explains how MaidPro’s CEO Mark Kushinsky initially grew the business by creating field service software for tracking appointments and collecting customer data. Later, he began to lean on more cloud-based tools (such as salesforce.com and Google Apps) which helped slash IT costs and free up employees from the drudgery and waste of administrative tasks by migrating 80 percent to 90 percent of business applications to the cloud. And according to Casey, that change paid off during the recent recession. Unlike most of its competitors, which saw revenues shrink as wary consumers decided to forgo the luxury of house cleaning, MaidPro managed to increase revenues each year of the recession.
Fuel costs have been another area of benefit for MaidPro, whose employees travel between customer locations: “A blend of appointment scheduling, driver routing, geocoding, and other tactics has led to a company-wide 50% reduction in miles driven. All of that data is managed centrally in the cloud.”
How might other small field service organizations steal a page from the MaidPro playbook for growth? Kushinsky offers the following tips for service organizations flirting with cloud-based tools:
- Be helped, not hamstrung, by cloud security. It’s important to understand each cloud vendor’s commitment to security, but Kushinsky cautions against SMB managers being too skeptical of cloud technologies as managing the same processes themselves is often less secure.
- Ease into it. Don’t try to onboard all applications at once. Commit to a gradual roll-out plan.
- Ease of use is key. If the technology’s not easy to use, employees simply won’t bother.
- Mix and match. When selecting vendors for your various web apps, make sure integration is easy between all providers. Incompatible solutions will significantly detract from the benefits of a largely cloud-based strategy.