Laurie Weber runs Royal Maid Service for the Pasco area of west Florida with her husband and her 75-year-old mother, Audrey Wagner. They promise to “clean your home like you are royalty,“ minus the bowing and scraping normally seen in the presence of the blue bloods.
Family-owned and run
The family purchased the cleaning franchise from neighbors who were moving back home to England when they realized it could be a good opportunity for them. “I worked in cosmetology and did nails for thirty years. I needed a change. My mom (Audrey) just wanted to get out of the house!” said Laurie.
Audrey is a role model for her daughter. “She’s a workaholic and never stops. I have to keep up with her! She’s a go-getter at 75, coming into the office 6 days a week and working non-stop as office manager and doing accounting,” Laurie said.
Occasionally, Laurie’s son helps out by cleaning windows. Paige, Laurie’s thirteen-year-old daughter, calls herself the “Little Boss” and comes into the office to give inspirational speeches about teamwork to the crew. She also draws them pictures and sings them songs to keep everyone’s spirits high.
Transition to cleaning business owner
After thirty years of painting and filing nails, Laurie was accustomed to the thrill of being self-employed. “The challenging part was getting used to having employees, it was a huge transition for me, very new and different. Especially when I had to fire my first employee, which was hard to do. It’s difficult to have the responsibility of having to feed all these families. We become friends with our employees and have to make sure everyone continues to have work,” she said.
The company employs thirteen full-time staff, four of whom have been with the team the whole time, forming the core group of trusted maids. Laurie also puts herself into the rotation when necessary and isn’t shy about sharing her favorite cleaning products.
“I LOVE the Swiffer Dust & Shine Multi Surface spray. It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world. You can use it on stainless steel, leather, and countertops. And Swiffer dusters are amazing. I can’t live without them,” said Laurie as she rifled through her supply closet looking at cleaning products that she uses when she goes out on a job.
Everybody thinks they know how to clean
Like most cleaning business owners, Laurie finds hiring difficult. “Everybody thinks they can clean, but they can’t. They say they clean their mom’s house or their friend’s house, but when you put them to work you find that they can’t clean. They seem motivated but when you get to the third house of the day, they say ‘This is so much work!’” Laurie said. All the details that go into a good house cleaning like dusting and vacuuming seem to be missing for a lot of people who promise they have cleaning experience.
She’s always on the lookout for staff that are a good cultural fit with the rest of the team, in addition to having cleaning skills. “Fitting in with a group is hard, too. It’s not that we’re snarky or anything, but when you have a group of women you have to find your niche and some don’t,” said Laurie.
Her current staff is made up of superstars. They’ve been understaffed lately, but Laurie pointed out that her maids have really stepped up to help out. “They’ve had our backs. It hasn’t been an easy road. I’ll be honest, it’s been tough. And I don’t want to hire just anybody,” she said.
Favorite clients & weird clients
Laurie and her mom threw out several names of clients they enjoy working for. “They’re sweet and kind people. A handful of clients always compliment us and our team. Our girls get compliments all the time, but we really appreciate it when someone compliments the back office as well, because we work just as hard.”
When I asked Laurie to describe anything strange she’s seen on the job, she mentioned that all people are different and unique. “Sometimes you go into places that don’t have any photos of their children on display but lots of photos of their animals. And all the toys were lined up nicely, which was weird. Their kid is two years old, those toys should have been all over the place.”
A good cleaner is a good listener
After so many years of face-to-face communication with her cosmetology clients, Laurie has perfected her people skills. “I really like helping people and beautifying their homes. I go out to client homes to give estimates three or four times a week and if they start chit-chatting about their families I can spend up to an hour with them, listening,” she said.
There are other similarities to cosmetology as well. Laurie drew the connection, “When you go to get your toes done, they always last a little longer and look a little better. It’s the same thing with a cleaning service. Your home looks better, smells better, and lasts longer.”
When not working, she takes her daughter to ride horses and her son to football practice. “We spend a lot of time with horses just horsing around,” she laughed. If you’re looking for a trusted local cleaning service in West Florida, check out Royal Maid Service!