- The Insider Newsletter
Student Maid began when founder Kristen Hadeed started cleaning houses during college to make money. Three years later, the cleaning company that employs students with top GPAs has become a Gainesville success story. Student Maid was named the 2010 and 2011 “Leading Women’s Enterprise” by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and recently moved to a new headquarters to accommodate an expansion out of the Santa Fe’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development. They invited us into their “top-secret” digs to share how they “Clean with Class.”
Student Maid has been in its current office since September. The new space’s warehouse-like location off of Archer Road was ideal due to its proximity to student (and employee) apartments and its storage space for cleaning supplies. The discreet exterior is intentional, and adds to the “hidden club” atmosphere that’s always open to employees.
Student Maid employs 40 to 60 students year-round, with a requirement of a minimum 3.5 GPA, but during the summer they may hire up to 300 high school and college students. For special occasions and to train new hires, Hadeed presents employees can have their own home cleaned.
Elaina “E-Money” Nichols started out as a cleaner. Every manager has been out in the field and cleaned before moving up. Student Maid has an impressive record of employee retention, often working with students from their freshman year to graduation. Hadeed says that while the industry average is only three months, Student Maid retains employees from two to four years.
The students will often study in the back room or bring in their dogs. The “Wow Department” is filled with arts and craft materials that employees use to create small gifts for both clients and fellow employees.
Student Maid provides snacks-from cupcakes and muffins to a smoothie station-so that employees stay energized and take fewer breaks.
The “Wow Wall” dominates the front office. Employees are encouraged to wow their clients and compliments are out in front for recognition and motivation. Hadeed encourages creativity and entrepreneurship; Student Maid’s book club reads business books. Student Maid presents scholarships of $250 to employees with bright ideas.
Hadeed makes sure that cleaning products are left out and visible so that the crew stays in cleaning mode, like when a small spill during our visit had her in action with a spray bottle and paper towels.
The office DJs were brought in after a staff vote. (They vote on everything). They spin from 9am to 6pm every day with a random office soundtrack. One day it might be rap, the next it could be country, but the office is always booming with sound.
Founder Kristin Hadeed, 24, and manager Elaina Nichols, 23, are the bosses, but they’re just as likely to have fun as everybody else. Elaina once brought a friend’s dog into the office and pretended that she’d found an office pet. Sometimes, the music gets so loud that they jokingly use an air horn to indicate when they’ve sent an email.