7 Fatal Flaws That Will Kill Your Maid Service (And What To Do Instead)

Last Updated on April 25, 2024 by The ZenMaid Team

Mistakes are just part of running a maid service, and trust me, I’ve seen it all. I’m Sharon Cowan. My first step into this industry was purchasing a small local cleaning company with six employees. After experiencing a lot of my own ups and downs, I turned it into a multimillion-dollar regional cleaning company with over 120 employees. 

From running my own maid service to now helping hundreds of consulting clients, I know what mistakes can kill your business. And better yet, I know what can save them. 

1. Not Having a Plan

I’ve worked with countless maid service owners who are flying by the seat of their pants and totally overwhelmed because of it. Launching a cleaning business is often filled with excitement and optimism — as it should be! But it’s easy to get caught up in the rush without a solid plan.

The reality is that running a maid service is anything but easy. And without a solid business plan, I’ve seen maid service owners ready to call it quits within the first year. 

What to Do Instead: Strategize and Plan

  • Research Your Competitors: Knowing what others in your market are doing isn’t about copying them but understanding where the demand is and where you can position services.
  • Set Strategic Prices: Pricing your services correctly from the beginning is essential. It balances covering your costs and staying competitive. Here’s a guide on how to set your prices.
  • Manage Your Finances: Before hiring or increasing salaries, make sure you understand the financial implications. Ensure every decision contributes positively to your bottom line.
  • Ask for Help: Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. I’m here, along with a community of fellow maid service owners, in places like the ZenMaid Mastermind Facebook Group. You’re not alone in this!
  • Embrace Automation Early: Automating certain aspects of your business can save you a ton of time and headaches. From scheduling to customer management, automation tools can help you scale effectively and efficiently.

2. Ignoring Customer Feedback

While I know it can be difficult to receive negative feedback, disregarding your clients’ frustration is a guaranteed way to kill your maid service. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring customer feedback.

What to Do Instead: Actively Listen and Respond

  • Value All Feedback: As hard as it might be to hear, each piece of feedback is information that can help refine your operations and enhance customer satisfaction. Treat it like gold. 
  • Respond Quickly and Thoughtfully: Responding thoughtfully to feedback, especially criticisms shows you value your customers and are committed to continual improvement. Here’s a guide to help you handle negative feedback.
  • Implement Necessary Changes: Notice patterns in feedback? They may be signals that something may need tweaking in your business. Be adaptable and make changes that will enhance your service.
  • Keep Your Team in the Loop: Make sure your team understands the value of feedback and is trained on how to handle it.
  • Encourage Ongoing Feedback: Don’t always wait for feedback to come to you. Proactively seek it through surveys or direct customer engagements.

3. Being Resistant to Change

If you’re still managing your schedule on pen and paper, this one’s for you. In an industry that’s always evolving, being resistant to change will leave you behind. Clinging to outdated methods because they’ve worked in the past limits your growth and can make your service seem stale. 

What to Do Instead: Embrace and Initiate Change

  • Keep Up with Trends: Stay informed about the latest industry trends and technological advancements. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s also profitability.
  • Start Small with Tech: Overwhelmed by new technology? Introduce one tool at a time. Master it before moving on to the next. This can make the process less daunting and more manageable. And here’s a step-by-step guide to help. 
  • Promote a Flexible Workplace Culture: Lead by example and encourage adaptability among your team. Celebrate successful adjustments and support your team through the learning curves.
  • Experiment Fearlessly: Nothing is wasted time if you’ve learned something. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new systems — you might just find something that’ll make your life easier. 

4. Losing Sight of the Financials

It’s surprisingly common for maid service owners to shy away from the nitty-gritty of financial details. Whether it’s a distaste for numbers or feeling overwhelmed by financial statements, neglecting this crucial aspect can silently bleed your business dry, leading to unstrategic pricing and, possibly, failure.

What to Do Instead: Track Your Finances

  • Grasp the Basics: Begin with understanding key financial statements — profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. These are the windows into your business’s financial soul, guiding wiser decision-making.
  • Identify Key Metrics: Keep tabs on essential maid service KPIs like customer acquisition costs, average job size, customer retention rates, and profit margins. Monitoring these will clarify your business’s health and what steps you might need to take next.
  • Embrace Financial Tools: Use platforms that integrate easily with ZenMaid, like QuickBooks or FreshBooks to automate financial tracking and reporting. These tools can simplify financial management, letting you focus on strategic growth rather than getting bogged down by numbers.
  • Conduct Regular Reviews: Make it a routine to check your financials monthly. This proactive habit can help you spot and rectify issues swiftly, ensuring your business stays financially healthy.
  • Consult Experts: If you’re unsure about financial decisions, there’s no harm in seeking advice from professional accountants or financial advisors — in fact, I recommend it. Their expertise will clear up confusion and help you navigate complex financial waters.

5. Nurturing a Toxic Work Environment

Of course, no one intentionally sets up to do this, but I see it all the time. The cost of a negative workplace extends beyond unhappy employees — it directly affects customer satisfaction and your bottom line. In an industry where team spirit is everything, letting toxicity fester can be especially damaging.

What to Do Instead: Cultivate a Healthy Work Culture

  • Root Out Negativity: Stay vigilant about your team’s dynamics; identify and address toxic behaviors like gossip, bullying, or undue resistance to management.
  • Keep Leadership Present: The most common time your employees will complain is when an owner or manager is not around. Make sure there is leadership present any time your employees are together in a large group. For example, in the morning while gathering supplies or the team meeting that starts the day.
  • Separate Toxic Attitudes: A toxic attitude spreads faster than a wildfire. If someone on your team is struggling with their attitude, be mindful of who you schedule them to work with. 
  • Promote Open Dialogue: Foster an environment where employees feel safe expressing concerns to leadership. Regular check-ins and an open-door policy can prevent small issues from becoming big problems.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Develop and enforce clear policies about workplace conduct. Make sure everyone understands the rules and the consequences of toxic behavior.
  • Take Decisive Action: If an employee consistently undermines team harmony and doesn’t respond to interventions, it might be necessary to let them go to protect the overall health of your team.

6. Expanding Too Soon

I see this all the time. Rapid expansion can be tempting as a sign of success, but without a solid foundation, it can lead to resource strain, diluted service quality, and operational chaos.

What to Do Instead: Strategically Scale Your Business

  • Evaluate Your Capacity: Before expanding, assess whether your current resources can handle growth without compromising service quality.
  • Set Measurable Objectives: Define what successful expansion looks like for your business — more clients, new services, or new locations. Establish clear, achievable goals.
  • Plan Thoroughly for Each New Venture: Whether it’s exploring a new market or adding a service, create a detailed plan outlining the necessary resources, potential challenges, and growth targets.
  • Ensure Financial Readiness: Expansion requires investment. Make sure you have the financial capital to support growth without jeopardizing your main operations.
  • Monitor and Adapt: Keep a close eye on how expansion impacts your business across various parameters. Be ready to adjust your strategies based on real-world feedback and performance data.
  • Seek Guidance: Expanding your business terrain can be complex. Lean on the advice of mentors or industry peers who have successfully scaled their operations.

7. Succumbing to Burnout

This is the #1 reason why business owners leave the cleaning industry. The intense demands of running a maid service can lead to burnout, significantly impacting your ability to manage effectively. 

What to Do Instead: Prioritize Your Mental Health

  • Recognize Burnout Signs: Learn to identify early symptoms like persistent exhaustion, cynicism towards work, and a drop in performance. Early recognition can lead to faster intervention.
  • Establish Boundaries: Define the work-life boundaries that matter most to you. Then, plan your business around those priorities.
  • Delegate Effectively: You don’t have to shoulder all responsibilities. Delegate tasks to trusted team members or consider hiring a manager.
  • Take Regular Breaks: Integrate short breaks and/or exercise during work and plan for vacations. Time away can recharge your energies and renew your perspective.
  • Leverage Systems: Utilize technology to streamline operations and reduce workload. Effective systems can help prevent burnout by making day-to-day tasks more manageable.

Skip Our Mistakes

Let our past mistakes help you skip them. But it’s not just about avoiding mistakes; it’s about proactive management and continuous improvement. And remember, there’s no mistake you can’t come back from. 

Here’s to your success in steering your maid service towards growth and sustainability.

If you need help along your cleaning business journey, don’t hesitate to reach out

If you found this article helpful for your maid service, you may also like:


Amar is the founder and CEO of ZenMaid Software, Inc. He started and ran Fast Friendly Spotless, a maid service in Orange County, CA. With the help of customized software to automate work he successfully operated the service in under 30 minutes per day. He created ZenMaid scheduling software to help other maid service owners do the same.

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