Cloud for the most mundane use cases: Salesforce and MaidPro

We often hear about how cloud is revolutionizing high-profile and highly complex industries. Sometimes it's nice to hear about it being applied to the more mundane ones.

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Martyn Williams/IDGNS

Recently while attending Salesforce's Dreamforce conference (disclosure: Salesforce covered my travel and expenses to attend the event and is, at the time of writing, a client of Diversity Analysis), I was introduced to Jeff Wechsler, CTO of MaidPro, a cleaning franchise business with more than 190 locations in the U.S. and Canada. MaidPro was started in 1991 as a local house-cleaning operation, and in 1997 it started down a franchising path. The company has some 30,000 recurring clients that are serviced by thousands of individual cleaners. As an aside, and given the attention that on-demand services such as Uber have gained due to their use of contractors, MaidPro franchisees employ the cleaners. Wechsler believes that only through a close employment relationship can MaidPro ensure the quality of their service.

Anyway, Wechsler was brought on board at MaidPro in order to give all of the franchisees systems that would both take workload away from them, but also be very simple to use. MaidPro franchisees are generally small businesses without an IT resource; any system they use needs to be easy to operate. The master MaidPro franchise offers its franchisees operational systems, marketing tools, and business support: health and safety, taxation compliance and the like. It also gives franchisees a community of peers who they can call on for support or advice.

MaidPro used to utilize software that was running locally. This became problematic, as it required every franchisee to have a degree of IT skill. It also created difficulties in that the data was only synced periodically, and hence MaidPro couldn't get timely or accurate insights into how individual franchises were doing. Five years ago, Wechsler made the decision to move the business to Salesforce. The roll out was gradual, with MaidPro building out different parts of the application on Salesforce over time.

One of the interesting use cases MaidPro has is with their sales center. The company offers franchisees the use of a centralized sales center. In the sales center, MaidPro sales personnel can quote cleaning jobs to prospects. The complexity around this isn't insignificant, with every franchisee having a different pricing structure and approach. Sales personnel in the sales center can give quotes based on pricing models within Salesforce that were created by the individual franchisees. Once a quote is generated, it is sent through to the individual franchisee as an opportunity in Salesforce. This creates a seamless customer service process that helps the company close more deals.

MaidPro determined that the most profitable strategy was to keep their existing customers. To this end, their primary focus is on customer satisfaction and retention. MaidPro uses Salesforce to run email campaigns to existing customers - reminders, drip marketing and the like.

It wasn't all smooth sailing for MaidPro with Salesforce, however. Wechsler had to have his team build VisualForce reports to create the dashboards he needs. Despite its promise, Wechsler doesn't believe Wave, Salesforce's much-touted analytics and visualization tool, can really deliver their needs. Similarly, in Wechsler's view, Lightning, Salesforce's new user interface, won't work with MaidPro's highly customized system. That said, Wechsler believes what he can do with Salesforce is better than what he'd get anywhere else.

While some would disregard a case study such as MaidPro as being too small, too mundane, and too run-of-the-mill to matter, the truth is that for every high-tech poster child, there are several dozen "boring" businesses out there. MaidPro is getting good results out of working in the cloud, and that is the main thing.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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