Clean Living Specialists Inc. Press Releases
From the Ottawa Citizen ... Friday June 25, 1999
Former nurse finds scour-and-scrub business pays off with shorter hours, higher pay Franchise owners clean up
BY JULIA ELLIOTT
Nursing and social work are obviously demanding professions. But leave them to shine toasters and fold toilet paper tails into points?
Not too likely, you might say, until you talk to Catherine Wilson and Deanna Twerd and get a literal take on professional polish.
Two years ago, Ms. Wilson traded l2-hour nursing shifts plus night and weekend work for a cleaning franchise. Has she regretted leaving her job at the Civic site of the Ottawa Hospital? Not yet.
In fact, she gets a lot of support from Ms. Twerd, a former social worker and president and founder of Clean Living Specialists, who today runs a seven-franchise operation in the Ottawa area. Each franchise—with about 20 to 30 prospective clients on a waiting list—is a part-time business run mostly by women who have young children.
Back in 1988, after giving up a two-year career in social work, Ms. Twerd tried cleaning. “I wanted to be in business and I understood house cleaning,” she says. Before long she had 98 clients in Orleans, seven employees and three company cars. But the faster the business grew, the faster she lost sight of quality control. Frustrated with complaints, she got out, bought a fast-food franchise, learned franchising for three years and then applied that know how to her old cleaning business.
Ms. Wilson, who bought a franchise from Ms. Twerd two years ago, says she couldn’t be happier dusting light fixtures, blinds and fans—and even doing inside windows. She shuns mops—she calls them bacterial traps—and prefers to wash floors the old-fashioned way—on all fours. Of course, the big pay-off is earning more than a full-time, 14-year nurse’s salary. An added plus: She works only five full days every two weeks.
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” says the 35 year-old. “I’m just so excited about it. It’s my business. I’m in charge:’
With four children—Samuel, 4, Benjamin, 2 and twin four-month-old boys Jack and Lucas —Ms. Wilson has her hands full without any outside work. But she says she still needs to feel she’s giving something to the household other than just bringing up children, doing laundry and putting dinner on the table.
Two years ago, after Benjamin was born she was very depressed about having to go back to work, and after repeated laments to the people cleaning her house, she was eventually offered a chance to buy a franchise.
“My first thought was: I couldn’t do this for a living. I was in school for five years and no thank you.”
A girlfriend encouraged her and that year she and husband Timothy, whose 2,700 square-foot Orleans home offers plenty of cleaning practice, paid $18,000 for a franchise.
She thought she knew how to clean. But Chantal Granger, another franchise owner, taught her a few tricks, such as how to see her face in the gleaming metal of a toaster side.
“I considered myself quite picky,” says Ms. Wilson. “But I had to improve my standards.”
In roughly four weeks, she had all the clients in Orleans she could handle, at roughly $60 per three-hour cleaning session—and she gets the work done easily working as a team with two other cleaners she employs. One does bathrooms, another does upstairs dusting and vacuuming. Ms. Wilson handles the main floor and kitchen.
“We’re always the same three people in the house,” she says. “We don’t have the big turnover of staff. So when we go back into the house in two weeks we know exactly where we are.
“The days we work, we work very hard. We clean six houses a day. But it’s nice. It’s a steady pace. It’s a good workout.”
Ms. Twerd hopes to take her Clean Living workout across Canada and the United States within the next 10 years—and with no modesty she says: “I want to be in control of the cleaning industry.