HOUSE CLEANING TORONTO
CUSTOM MAIDS INCORPORATED
In the spring of 1978 Des Breau needed a job, so he started an apartment cleaning service in the building where he and his wife Dana lived. It was a straightforward routine. Breau would design, print and distribute flyers throughout the building and then wait for customers to call. This simple but effective scheme quickly became a success, and Breau soon realized that this combination of direct mail marketing together with his service (offering a wide range of house cleaning services) held a great appeal for busy homes.
For the first two years Breau worked by himself, all the while accumulating more information about this new industry. In the fall of 1980, he asked his wife Dana to join the business. With Dana alongside, Des Breau decided to take full advantage of his innovative approach to this relatively open field, and the two partners incorporated the business in January, 1981.
The gamble paid off. With no initial capital to work with, Des and his siblings spent the next year delivering brochures door-to-door every night, then Des would join Dana at the office during the day to handle the telephone calls that would follow. Dana at first handled many of the cleaning jobs herself, but soon new employees were being added to the staff every month.
By the end of 1981, Dana was able to relinquish her cleaning rags in exchange for an inside position as chief administrator for the twenty cleaning people they now employed.
By the end of 1982, that figure had doubled. A year later, the number of employees had nearly doubled again, with seventy cleaners employed, and the forecast for 1984 promising that it would be the best year yet.
At this point growth was rapid. In early 1984, the company moved into new downtown corporate offices, computerized all office and scheduling operations, and decided to launch the most aggressive advertising campaign its now considerable resources would allow.
WE HAVE NEVER SOLD FRANCHISES.
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, WE HAVE
GENERATED ALL OF OUR PROFITS FROM CLEANING REVENUES ALONE.
WHEN YOU CANNOT RELY ON A FLOW OF CASH FROM FRANCHISE SALES, THEN
YOU'VE GOT TO BE GOOD.
WE KNOW THAT IF WE LET DOWN ON THE QUALITY OF OUR CLEANING, THEN OUR REVENUES WILL GO DOWN.
IT'S THAT SIMPLE.
First, a market research firm was hired to develop a demographic profile of a typical "maid service user" using Custom Maids' client files, which numbered in the thousands. Then, from this research, a complete mailing list was developed, consisting of 400,000 Metropolitan Toronto households. Upon completion, the company commenced an assertive mail campaign targeting these 400,000 homes - a campaign which would give Custom Maids the momentum it needed to secure its place as Toronto's market leader. As Dana recalls, "Once the mail campaign was in full swing, our telephone rang off the hook. We went from three telephone lines to seven and our office staff went from three people to six just to handle the influx of calls."
Utilizing all the revenue that this mail campaign generated, the company placed all of its resources into other forms of advertising. Custom Maids' billboards appeared in every Toronto subway station; outdoor advertisements circulated the city on the sides Toronto Transit buses; and radio commercials could be heard on Toronto's highest-rated stations. As Des Breau explained, "We wanted to wage a campaign that would ensure the highest possible awareness level for Custom Maids to ensure our longevity in the Toronto marketplace."
And that is exactly what they did. By the end of 1984 the company had popularized its logo in Toronto and had etched a permanent place for itself as Toronto's leading
maid service in the ever-growing maid-service industry. Dana recalls that, "By the end of 1984, advertising companies were coming to us. We received calls from radio stations, billboard companies, product manufacturers who wanted to do promotions with us, magazines, newspapers, even television stations."
By 1985, Des had appeared on the John Gilbert radio program; Des and Dana had appeared on CTV's national television program, Canada A.M.; and the company was written up in local Toronto newspapers, magazines and the national Financial Post.
In 1985, with revenues soaring and 150 full-time house cleaners on staff, Custom Maids began looking for out-of-town expansion. Montreal, the only other Canadian city large enough, was ruled out because of language difficulties. Therefore, they hired a research company to find the company another market that would fit its demographic profile. In September, 1985, Custom Maids went international with the opening of its first U.S. office in San Francisco.
While the past few years have seen a proliferation of maid service companies selling franchises all over Canada and the United States, the Breaus have not chosen that route for themselves. "We have never sold franchises," Des explains. "From the very beginning, we have generated all of our profits from cleaning revenues alone.
"When you cannot rely on a flow of cash from franchise sales, then you've got to be good. We know that if we let down on the quality of our cleaning, then our revenues will go down. It's that simple. From day one, our overriding objective of quality over quantity has worked for us, and we're not about to change that formula by selling franchises and losing our sense of control."
Although impressive financial figures have prompted recent buyout offers from a large Canadian-based company and an offer by a major American company to take the operation in the direction of a national franchise, there are no plans to accept either of these offers. However, a new market for Custom Maids is being considered as the next logical step in its growth.
2023 marks the forty-fifth anniversary
of the founding of Custom Maids.
Now well established as Toronto's leading maid service,
Custom Maids Incorporated remains committed to
Ontario as it looks to the future with plans
for further growth and expansion.
Dana Anderson (President) and
Des Breau (Vice President)
CUSTOM MAIDS SERVES TORONTO. Our service boundaries are :
HIGHWAY 427 in the west to PORT UNION ROAD in the east;
STEELES AVENUE in the north to LAKE ONTARIO in the south.
Depending on location, we occasionally venture north of Steeles.