“I used to think that being CEO meant getting the big corner office. I’ve come to realize that those big offices put an unnecessary barrier between you and your employees. My advice? Choose a smaller office or don’t have an office at all! These days, I sit at a desk in the middle of the office (we have an open layout) and am able to communicate better with everyone. I have been able to build better relationships because of it.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Kushinsky, MaidPro Franchise CEO, 2015 Forbes #2 Best Franchise to Own, 2017 Entrepreneur Top Company Culture, and 2017 Franchise Business Review Top Leaders.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
MaidPro’s original office opened in the fall of 1991 in Beacon Hill in Boston. It was a tiny office about the size of a parking space. I and my business partner, Richard Sparacio, had two desks (one was a drafting table), no computer, and a partition wall that separated us from the cleaning supplies. We did some dumpster diving to find a filing cabinet and chairs. Since we did not have a computer, we used the computer lab at a nearby college. The carpet we purchased for the office was a leftover cut; it was just a little too small to cover the floor, so we painted some of the floor to match. But we felt like kings in our little business because each week, little by little, we were adding recurring clients. We were determined to run a successful and resilient business and we always felt lucky. Our beginnings were humble and we are glad to be able to say we have stuck to our original values for how we treat both our MaidPro customers and employees. The Boston area was in a recession when we opened MaidPro. Mark was affixing our MaidPro sign to our front window, making a joke and whistling, “We are starting a business in a recession.”
Fast Forward to 2017, we now have 250 locations across North America and have completed over 1 million home cleanings! We are proud to have been able to grow and expand while continuing to provide our customers with the professional services they need to lead happy and healthy lives.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When you are in the customer service business, especially when working with people’s homes, there are many “unique” and “interesting” things that arise on a daily basis. We’ve got stories of turtles in bathtubs, rubber spiders, and lost (and found) wedding rings. But the most interesting and heartfelt story is how MaidPro took our mission to better people’s lives and used it to help orphaned children around the world.
Every 18 months our MaidPro home office and franchisees take a trip to an exotic location around the world to adventure, talk shop, and bond. We call them Adventure Trips. In 2013, we took an Adventure Trip to Belize. While we were there, we stumbled upon an orphanage. We ended up spending the day with the children and staff and were able to provide them with a few essentials including clothes, foods, and medications. We felt so connected to the orphanage after only one day that we decided to start our own 501(c)3 called MaidPro Cares so we could continue to support them and other orphanages around the world. We still take annual trips to the orphanage and are grateful and proud to help the children learn, grow, and thrive.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We started this business to provide quality home cleaning that would help our customers to live healthy and happy lives. We want our customers to spend their time doing things they love, instead of having to clean. As we have grown and seen success, we are also able to help franchisees realize their dreams of owning their own businesses. Extending outside the scope of cleaning, we have also used our franchise platform to build a 501(c)3, MaidPro Cares, that works to help orphaned and high-risk children around the world. We currently support children’s homes in Belize, Tortola, Peru, and Boston.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why.
1. The enormous feeling of responsibility about people in the organization. As a CEO, you are not just responsible for the company’s bottom line but also for your employees. It’s an intimidating when you realize that your decisions can affect the lives and families of everyone in your organization, many which are friends. It takes some time and training to make executive decisions that will take care of your employees and your company.
2. To think about the culture from day one…and how fun it is to create a great one. I used to have the mindset: work first, culture second. Over time I’ve realized that if you create a great, fun culture you will also attract great employees. We provide our employees with pet-friendly spaces, in-house gym & trainers, corporate retreats, and more! Seeing our employees come to work happy and motivated every day has really helped our company grow internally and externally.
3. That you can do anything you want…as long as it’s legal. As you grow into your role as a CEO, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that YOU are the BOSS. At the end of the day, you can do whatever you want with your company (as long as it is legal). You need to have the confidence to make and stand by your decisions. Remember you were put in the CEO role for a reason!
4. To not have a big office…in fact, don’t have an office at all. I used to think that being CEO meant getting the big corner office. I’ve come to realize that those big offices put an unnecessary barrier between you and your employees. My advice? Choose a smaller office or don’t have an office at all! These days, I sit at a desk in the middle of the office (we have an open layout) and am able to communicate better with everyone. I have been able to build better relationships because of it.
5. You should often sit back and let your team figure things out. Just because you are the CEO does not mean that you have to figure everything out. You have built teams for a reason. Trust your people and teams to do their jobs.
Yitzi: I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
I would love to have lunch with Nicholas Vujicic. Nicholas is a motivational speaker with tetra-amelia syndrome. He has a very inspiring story about overcoming odds and has helped many to put their challenges and obstacles into perspective.