Twenty-year-old Michael Silva-Nash's family bought the Greater Little Rock Molly Maid franchise in 2005. "If you were part of the family, you had to come to work at Molly Maid, folding rags, filing, weekends," he says. Soon he was making customer phone calls and beginning to take on marketing-related activities. Now he's appearing on a local television station sharing cleaning tips on the air.
About a year ago, they revamped their marketing. "We started doing radio with a local personality we enjoy listening to and who spoke to our clients, the women we were trying to reach. She's almost a personal endorsement, like a friend," he says.
For someone so young, he seems to have his fingers on all the right marketing buttons. "You have to adapt your marketing to the local area and tie all your marketing together," he says. That currently includes Twitter, Facebook, radio, ads, TV, and more.
Silva-Nash says he loves coming up with marketing ideas and seeing their effect on the growth of the business--which has one location, employs about 40 people, and cleans an average of 50 to 60 homes per week. Here are some of them.
- Text messaging, he says, is "a great way to get to the customer's pocket." And they've made it easy for people to sign on. "You text a word to a number and you're enrolled. Then we send you a text message with a special deal or reminder," he says. "With technology advancing so much, the best way to get a customer is to make them feel like you're right next to them, not like a distant corporate office."
- E-marketing. Using Constant Contact, they send an email newsletter once a quarter to customers who have opted in. "We talk as little about housecleaning as possible," he says. Instead, they focus on local events, their community participation, and simply keeping their name in customers' minds. They also post tips on Facebook, such as how to clean old headlights using toothpaste.
- Networking. For Silva-Nash, it's all about building relationships with people in the community. They've teamed up with a local television host, appearing once a month to talk about cleaning. "We don't push, we just remind them that we're there," he says.
- Internet. "It's a growing place to be, an important place to be. If you're not on it, you're missing a lot of potential business," he says. "Not many housecleaning companies around here are doing Facebook and Twitter yet. Starting early gave us a strong advantage."
Google Adwords drives traffic to their local website, and they're building relationships with "mommy bloggers." One such blogger, who has about 5,000 unique views per month, gets her house cleaned once a month in exchange for reviewing the service online. Gift certificates for Mother's Day, he says, boosted their SEO results, and corporate assists in boosting it further by posting his TV appearances on Youtube.
Their Facebook page is packed with customer testimonials, housecleaning tips, local news, links to corporate sites, discount offers, tons of photos, and an upbeat, fun-loving tone (e.g., the debate about which way to hang toilet paper). It's worth a look.
They've also hired a company through the corporate office to generate customer reviews of their services. He says the reviews are short (about 2 minutes), drive up their SEO results, and provide local endorsements that build trust with potential customers. If a negative review comes in, he says, "We give them an immediate callback to see what happened."
Then there's the economy. "This is a time when people are looking for the best deal," he says. And while they can't lower costs without cutting into profitability, they will offer a freebie once in a while through contests on television, Facebook, or Twitter on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and at back-to-school time, for example.
"We get them enrolled through incentives. Even if they don't win, they get updates, allowing us to have some space in their mind." The goal is to have people who need housecleaning to think of Molly Maid automatically.
And with all the optimism of youth, he adds, "Just because it doesn't work one time, you have to keep going at it again and again."