The words “Love, Compassion, Integrity” greet you when you walk into the Bozeman headquarters of Mountain Maids of Montana, and you can feel true warmth and caring coming from co-founder Molly Bloomquist. She and business partner Kathy Patterson purchased the cleaning business ten years ago and immediately changed the way it was doing business. The previous owner was doing everything—cleaning, handling bookings, scheduling, accounting—and the new owners used their prior corporate experience to exponentially grow the business to six times its revenue.
Molly relied on her sales and marketing experience—”I could sell snow to an eskimo”—which played a huge role in the growth of the business. The savvy businesswomen also set about to systematize their entire company. “So if anybody were to walk out the door, someone can step right into their spot and it is seamless to the customer.”
Besides enjoying the challenge of growing a business, Molly says that the key reason she owns the company is to empower women. She had an “Aha!” moment nine months into running the business where she realized how important that was to her. Mountain Maids employs women who are survivors of domestic abuse who, on average, tend to be a bit introverted and struggle with self esteem. (We’ve previously featured She Has A Name, who has a similar mission). Molly’s goal is to give these survivors a safe haven and nurturing environment. She’s seen women who are really “beaten down” after years of neglect, and it is inspiring to be able to lift them up, turn them into professional house cleaners, and give them a steady income.
“She held her hand over her mouth during the interview and wouldn’t smile. Since she’s been with us and had access to our health insurance program, she’s been able to get new teeth and now smiles. She’s really blossomed with our company.”
One of Molly’s favorite success stories is seeing the transformation of a 60-year old women who had lost her teeth after smoking crack for many years. “She held her hand over her mouth during the interview and wouldn’t smile. Since she’s been with us and had access to our health insurance program, she’s been able to get new teeth and now smiles. She’s really blossomed with our company.”
The women employed by Mountain Maids value the experience they gain, and if they do leave the company they stay in contact. “They know that we actually care and that we want them to move on in their life.” She has found that the longest-lasting employees are those who aren’t in it just for the money. If they’re interested in the team camaraderie or really love cleaning, they’ll stick around longer.
Team building and leadership training is a main focus for Molly. She has a weekly meeting during which she uses fun activities to tackle looming problems. For example, last week they addressed the issue of honesty and went around the room with people telling either a true story or a false story and the group had to decide which was true or false. This showed the group how to detect falsehoods and what their impact is on the culture of the company and other people if they believed your fibs.
As part of team building, the group sometimes does overnight expeditions. Molly’s favorite trip was an overnight stay three years ago at a forest service cabin, “in the middle of nowhere—no cell service, no power, no running water. The whole team helped to bring in food and make a fire, because it gets cold in Montana. We all cooked together, went out for hikes together, played leadership games and did trust building exercises. A lot of the women had never done an overnight trip where they left their families and had no cellphone service. It made some extremely uncomfortable, where they were almost on the verge of small panic attack. It took a lot of coaching to get them there, but once there, they jumped in and did what it took. That team that went on that trip is still incredibly close.”
When people are interviewed for the job, they’re asked to determine what type of personality they are, based on the type of questions they like to ask, why vs. how vs. what. With this guide, trainers know how best to communicate with their new employee, telling a “how” person exactly how to do something, and explaining to a “why” person why they’re asking for something.
Besides empowering women within her own organization, Molly is a guest speaker for high school girls at Girls For A Change and volunteers with her community cafe that donates meals to the needy six nights a week.
When she was first getting started, Molly said she reinvented the wheel a lot. “I didn’t find out about ARCSI for four or five years. When I did, I wondered where I had been all that time—there’s this whole association that can help you with process, training, and any questions you have.” Now that she’s discovered this useful resource, she’s taken full advantage of the shared wisdom, and Molly is one of the speakers at the upcoming ARCSI convention in Las Vegas.
Even though running a business can take up a lot of time and energy, Molly balances her life by spending lot of time outside. “I hike 40 miles a week, play tennis, cross country ski, mountain bike, anything and everything. I take full advantage of the fact that I have a gorgeous playground (the mountains of Bozeman) in my backyard!”
To get an exceptional cleaning service in Bozeman or Big Sky, check out Mountain Maids of Montana.
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