Interview with Bart Puett - President and CEO of Maid Brigade
With three decades of experience in operations, management and the franchise industry, John “Bart” Barton Puett has grown and transformed businesses through his leadership and consumer insight. Bart was appointed President and CEO of Maid Brigade, Inc., in July 2005. Prior to this position, he served as COO and Vice President for Maid Brigade.
Throughout Bart’s 28-year career with Maid Brigade, he has held a variety of operations and support positions at the company and brings this experience with him as he leads the franchise organization to new levels of excellence. Under Bart’s tenure, Maid Brigade has received numerous accolades including being named a Top 100 Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine and a Top 50 Franchise opportunity for both Minorities and Veterans by USA Today.
Before working with Maid Brigade, Bart started and ran five businesses during his professional career beginning with a retail hair salon in Atlanta, Ga. Willing to share his business expertise and first-hand knowledge with those around him, Bart is a guest lecturer at the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University. He is also involved with the International Franchise Association and the Southeastern Franchise Forum.
BeTheBoss - Tell us about the Maid Brigade concept.
Bart Puett - Maid Brigade is a professional housecleaning service with more than 400 franchised service areas operating in the U.S. and Canada. Maid Brigade offices are located in over 30 states and service more than 13,000 customers on a weekly basis. We are very proud of the fact that Maid Brigade is the nation’s leader in green cleaning. Established in 1979 Maid Brigade has always been committed to protecting consumers’ health and has a longstanding legacy of providing quality customer service and consistent and thorough cleaning. In 2007 Maid Brigade implemented a system-wide Green Clean Certified® and consumer advocacy program in response to reports from the Environmental Protection Agency linking chemicals in traditional cleaning products to a wide range of health risks. Maid Brigade’s green cleaning methods are just as effective as traditional cleaning chemicals but are much safer for consumers, our employees and the environment.
BTB - How and when did you become involved with Maid Brigade?
BP - I’ve had the privilege of being involved with Maid Brigade from the company’s inception. Over the years I worked closely with founder Don Hay to establish Maid Brigade’s presence as a major player in the housecleaning industry.
BTB - What was your background prior to joining Maid Brigade?
BP - I’ve spent my professional career in the franchise industry, the vast majority being with Maid Brigade helping the company grow into the industry leader in green cleaning that it is today. Prior to joining Maid Brigade I owned and operated several retail chain hair salons in the Atlanta area.
BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Maid Brigade franchisee?
BP - Maid Brigade ensures that we provide a well-rounded and all-encompassing system of support to all of our franchises. Our home office staff is dedicated to meeting the needs of every office and is continually testing and implementing new methods to better serve franchisees. As a Maid Brigade franchisee you can rest assured you will receive ample training on all aspects of the business along with on-going support. The home office marketing department produces various advertising materials and assists franchisees in creating effective marketing plans. Our technology department has developed customized software that serves as a powerful business tool for franchise offices. Maid Brigade franchisees have access to national partnerships and programs they would not be able to obtain at the local level. Offices can also choose to make use of the company’s National Sales Center to handle incoming inquiries or conveniently source cleaning supplies from the company’s National Resource Center.
BTB - Who is your ideal franchisee?
BP - We are looking for franchisees who have the drive and motivation to succeed combined with a passion for business. If you don’t love what you do, you aren’t going to be successful and we want franchise owners who are passionate about making their businesses grow. An ideal franchise candidate for Maid Brigade is a people person with great organizational skills, which are required to run a business effectively. It’s also important to be realistic and we look for franchisees who have adequate access to the resources and capital required to run one’s own business.
BTB - Tell us a little about the residential cleaning Market?
BP - The residential cleaning service market includes apartment buildings and condominium complexes as well as single-family homes. The demand for this industry is on the rise at a rapid pace as many dual-income families have less time to devote to housecleaning but are also better able to afford professional service.
BTB - What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
BP - The biggest take-away from my time spent in the franchise industry, and in the business world, is that there are no shortcuts to success. Often companies are looking for a quick fix or get rich fast scheme, but these do not ensure long-term positive growth and success. You have to employ, empower and energize a quality team of individuals and foster their success over time. Every day you come in and work harder than you did the day before. Then one day you realize that all your hard work has paid off. It might not be the easy option but it’s the surest way to succeed in business.
BTB - Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?
BP - Don Hay, founder of Maid Brigade, has served as a mentor throughout our many years in business together. I watched him lead this company, in the position I currently hold, and have a great deal of respect and appreciation for his ability to innovate. I am also inspired and motivated by individuals who achieve excellence with great passion for what they do. Whether they are an athlete, a CEO or an individual with conviction for a cause, passionate people inspire me to approach my work with the same level of commitment and ardor.
BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
BP - Do your homework. If you want to buy a franchise you need to know what your goals are, what industry is best suited to your skill set and which option provides you with the tools for success. Researching different franchise opportunities, you’ll find that not all are created equally. You want an organization that will provide you with solid training and ongoing support. Prospective franchise owners should look for an experienced business that has a track record of success. Fad industries will come and go, but a business with franchises that have stood the test of time is one worth considering.
BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Maid Brigade would be a great opportunity for someone?
BP - Maid Brigade is an experienced company with a track record of success and a proven ability to innovate and change in order to distinguish ourselves from the competitors. Maid service may not be the most glamorous industry, but unlike many hot franchising opportunities this business has a solid demand in the marketplace. Housecleaning is not a fad industry—Maid Brigade provides consumers with a valuable service that is an essential part of their daily lives. The housecleaning industry is also unique because it is less susceptible to changes in the market or technological advances. If owning a Maid Brigade franchise were compared to an investment it’s one with low risk and high returns.