Tuesday, October 17, 2017

From college side hustle to SWFL cleaning empire

“naples

In 1995, Naples resident Michelle Spitzer received a college homework assignment that would lead to her owning the most successful MaidPro franchise in the nation.

Spitzer moved to Naples from Illinois in 1995 and enrolled in Hodges University, then called International College, to finish her college degree. While taking business management courses, Spitzer decided to begin cleaning houses in order to make some extra money on the side. As fate would have it, one of her professors was Gene Landrum, one of the original founders of the Chuck E. Cheese franchise.

“He had a real outside the box approach to teaching. He wanted you to learn real-life things, and used a lot of success stories as examples,” Spitzer said.

The first homework assignment Landrum gave Spitzer was to create a business plan. Spitzer wrote a plan on how to turn her side job into a full-blown cleaning company, and was inspired to put that plan into action. The business turned into Michelle’s Classy Cleaning, which grew one employee at a time as the client list expanded through referrals and effective advertising.

Initially, Spitzer didn’t have the funds for an office, operating the business out of the back of a truck full of cleaning supplies. While pregnant with her first child, the entrepreneur moved her office into the space where all great American businesses start, the home garage. In 1999 Spitzer was offered the opportunity to expand by converting her business to a MaidPro franchise, which eventually allowed her to move the company into its current location on Pine Ridge Road.

Spitzer said that her ability to work closely with the founders of MaidPro allowed them to develop tools necessary for her franchise’s success.

“I pretty much grew up with them,” Spitzer said. “Together we formed the best practices that are utilized today nationwide. There are over 200 franchises nationwide and in Canada and we are the top revenue producing franchise out of the entire MaidPro system.”

The franchise now has locations in Fort Myers, Marco Island, Sarasota, and beginning in September, Port Charlotte. Spitzer said that this fifth office will mean that her franchise’s service area will extend from Bradenton down to the Everglades. The mother of three now manages 105 employees and expects to continue to grow her team.

Spitzer is also one of the founders of the company’s charity organization MaidPro Cares. Instead of the traditional corporate team building retreat, the company incorporates trips to countries like Peru to donate items like clothing, shoes, diapers, and baby formula to local orphanages. The MaidPro members also provide time and attention to the underprivileged children.

“I think one of the biggest gifts we are able to bring is giving them love and special attention that they crave,” Spitzer said. “They are very receptive to us being there and very loving and just wanted to be held and sit in your lap. When you leave these trips, and I have a lump in my throat now just talking about it, you leave a changed person with a whole new sense of appreciation.”

The company continues to provide support for the orphanages after they leave by providing materials, and it some cases building facilities, for the organizations.

When asked what trait is most important for a successful entrepreneur, Spitzer said determination was key.

“I believe that every single person has the same opportunities to create an opportunity,” said Spitzer. “If you’re unable to find a job, create one. Find a niche, find something you’re passionate about, find something that you love, and just make it happen.”


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