Neel Parekh is the CEO and Founder of MaidThis, one of the top-rated national cleaning franchises. MaidThis offers hassle-free house cleaning for busy individuals and vacation rental hosts (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). MaidThis has been called “the franchise for millennials”, given its fully remote model and new-age spin on an old-school cleaning industry. As he built his business to reach millions in revenue, Neel traveled for five years while managing a fully remote team — he is now on a mission to help others achieve the same! A renowned business expert, Neel mentors other entrepreneurs on the do’s and don’ts of managing a company, essential tips for franchise operators, how to be a successful digital nomad, and much more.
Where did the idea for MaidThis come from?
When I was working in corporate, my goal was to start a side hustle and eventually quit my job… I wanted the digital nomad life of working remotely. Therefore, I focused on the traditionally ‘remote’ business model. This included things like creating an eCommerce website, dropshipping, blogging about pet hair vacuums (yeah, seriously), and more… none of it really took off at all. Eventually, I stumbled across a post on Reddit by someone who started a cleaning company — this inspired me to launch MaidThis!
Now, MaidThis is one of the top-rated national cleaning franchises, offering hassle-free house cleaning for busy individuals and vacation rental hosts (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). MaidThis has been called ‘the franchise for millennials’, given its fully remote model and new-age spin on an old-school cleaning industry. The top factor that sets us apart from other cleaning companies is that we are the first and ONLY US-based vacation rental cleaning franchise that exists.
MaidThis is a fantastic franchising opportunity for aspiring business owners because it is low-cost, very lean, and fully remote, allowing you to live and work from anywhere (and hopefully help you escape the rat race too!). Because MaidThis uses a lot of technology to make the customer experience seamless, it really is a new-age cleaning franchise — other cleaning franchises are pretty old school. Franchisees are able to follow our proven business model to build their own remote local business and get financial/location freedom.
The coolest part – franchisee owners can start this franchise as a side-hustle and eventually quit their jobs and manage it full time, which means there is lower risk.
There is explosive growth in the in-demand, fast-paced vacation rental market, fueled by Airbnb® and other popular short-term vacation rental websites. Franchisees are able to follow our proven business model and tackle the growing short-term rental market.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts the night before, with planning the next day’s schedule to the hour. I’ve never been much of a planner, but this small trick has changed my life and made my day 10x more productive. I always ask myself, ‘what is the most impactful thing I can do to move my business goals forward?’ Then I schedule that task as my first action item in the morning.
I start the day around 7:30 a.m. just getting ready for the day. I timeblock my day until 12 p.m., meaning no meetings until 12 p.m. (as much as I can help it, at least!). This morning timeblock is where the big strides happen… I work on the business and knock out the most important tasks. These tasks can range from writing articles to recording podcasts to researching… anything that I’ve decided would provide the most impact to my business.
The afternoon time is largely dedicated to meetings and coaching for our franchisees.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Careful prioritization and planning all new ideas is key to figuring out what is going to move the needle.
I have a Google Doc called ‘Plans’, in which I list all of my plans and ideas for growth. Once I decide that a new idea should be put into action, I first list all the steps needed for this idea to come to fruition and include dates that I need to get each action done by. I review the ‘Plans’ weekly, and incorporate each action item needed into my daily itinerary. Depending on how important it is, I’ll dedicate the first part of my day to getting that task done.
What’s one trend that excites you?
As it relates to my business, I think the trend towards remote work in a post-COVID world is huge. It’s something that we’ve been doing at MaidThis since day 1 in 2013, and something that our MaidThis Franchise program is based on.
Now that more people realize they don’t need to be tied down to a specific location, they’ll start realizing they can run their business from anywhere in the world. This is the ethos of MaidThis and why it was started in the first place — it is what our franchise owners are trying to achieve.
The entire crypto and decentralized finance movement is absolutely fascinating for me too, and I’m excited to see how that evolves over time.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The one habit that I’ve developed over time that helps keep me productive is always asking myself ‘What is the biggest thing I need to get done this week to move forward towards achieving my business goals?’. And then I write it down daily and make sure I take action on it.
This helps me define what a productive and successful day is, and helps me move forward on the biggest impact items on my checklist.
What advice would you give your younger self?
One piece of advice I would tell my younger self is to be more aggressive at the beginning and take more risks during those younger years. One quote that really stuck with me is ‘Success loves speed’ — when things are rolling well, you should put some lighter fluid on it and get it blazing even faster. Being able to go faster isn’t always the best option, but you’ll generally achieve more by doing than by waiting.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Pineapple on pizza is an abomination and should be outlawed.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
This is probably something a lot of entrepreneurs already do, but I’ll say it anyway: read books.
You can learn quickly what someone has spent their entire life figuring out, and you can grow so much faster because of it. A lot of the ‘a-ha!’ moments I’ve had in life come after reading a book. I’ve found that I’m pretty slow when it comes to truly understanding a point, so reading books constantly helps hammer home ideas and lets me achieve more clarity on my direction in life.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our internal team is split across 7 different countries, all to manage a local business in the U.S. We were able to grow rapidly, since we figured out how to manage a fully remote team well and find the right talent across the world.
We teach the same to our MaidThis franchisee owners now as well, so they too can have a fully-remote operation.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Only one?! Where do I start…
I’ve had a ton of failures and successes in business. One that comes to mind is how I handled conflict with team members earlier on. I avoided conflict, which led to a bad culture internally and a lot of problems.
I learned that problems, especially with people, don’t go away on their own. It’s the leader’s job to deal with these uncomfortable situations and keep the culture intact.
Now I try to deal with personnel issues head-on and embrace the discomfort involved.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s 2021 and people are STILL standing on scaffolding tens of stories in the air, washing windows. Drones exist…. why not have drone window washing?
You can often dominate a local business niche by implementing current marketing and technology (e.g. residential cleaning, which is how MaidThis grew). People often get excited about new tech (drones, for example) but their enthusiasm wavers before the breakthrough tech makes a sizable impact on the real world. There’s plenty of opportunity in implementing tech from five years ago, and I believe that is the case with drones for commercial use.
Action steps for this would be to investigate permitting in your local city and then possibly pre-sell window cleanings to several property managers (they often sign yearly contracts). Your selling point is that your clients will never have to talk to you again after signing up. You take window cleaning off their plate for a fraction of the cost of having a real-life person get on scaffolding to wash some windows.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A Roost laptop stand. It’s one of those stands where you can mount your laptop on it, and it is very slim when folded. I travel a lot and work from coworking places and coffee shops. Having a very light, easy-to-pack, and ergonomic workspace setup on the road is so amazing. I think it’s around $40, and you’ll also need to buy a slim external laptop and mouse. Totally worth it!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Asana to store any thoughts in my brain regarding things I want to look at in the future. It’s a great place to dump my thoughts and ‘someday’ items, so it’s out of my brain but stored somewhere.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One really impactful book for me was The One Thing, by Gary Keller. The premise is that the tasks you devote your time to are not all equally important. If you focus on the ONE single thing that can make the biggest impact on your goals, it will have outsized returns.
Another book that really helped me was Getting Things Done, by David Allen. I am not an organized person by nature at all. Getting Things Done is THE productivity book that helped me create my own productivity system. I’m now able to prioritize my time and get a lot more impactful things done in less time.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is:
‘Well, what can you do now?’ – my Dad.
Any time a situation or problem comes up in life, he just says ‘well, what can you do now?’ and carries on with his day unperturbed.
It’s the equivalent of ‘no use crying over spilt milk’. Can’t do anything about the present situation? Cool, don’t sweat it then. Deal with it and move on with your day. This helps keep me present and more stress-free in my business journey.
- The trend towards remote work in a post-COVID world is huge.
- Now that more people realize they don’t need to be tied down to a specific location, they’ll start realizing they can run their business from anywhere in the world.
- You can often dominate a local business niche by implementing current marketing and technology.
- Be more aggressive at the beginning and take more risks during those younger years.
- Read books!
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.