Tremendous Maid founders emphasize upward mobility
In her business, Tremendous Maid co-founder and CEO Victoria Amador understands that clean is the bottom line. But when she started her Jamaica Plain-based cleaning services company in early 2011, she had more in mind — she wanted to create a business that brought a new level of efficiency and customer service to the industry and also provided an opportunity for its cleaners to advance in the company and in their careers.
“There is a level of professionalism that is normally lacking in the industry, especially for residential cleaning services,” Amador said. “We want to change that.”
Amador also decries a lack of respect for the cleaners who are the heart and soul of the industry and do the work that makes her business possible. She admits a passion to fix this lack of respect.
She points out that many cleaners are immigrants from other countries, leaving behind careers as business professionals, doctors and lawyers to come to the United States to start a new life — and working as cleaners may be the only job they can get to start on their path.
“What we want to do with Tremendous Maid is really give our employees the opportunity to advance,” Amador said. “We want a higher retention, which normally in the cleaning business is very low. If we treat them in the right way and make it possible for them to eventually move on and achieve the American Dream — whatever that may be — it is easy to keep them and promote them to managers.”
At Tremendous Maid, the vision is to be able to move employees from cleaners to team leaders to supervisors to managers.
The company has partnered with People’s United Bank to offer its employees financial literacy classes.
For Amador, investing in her employees is investing in the company.
“We have a pretty good amount of the team members right now that are very serious about advancing and they are taking classes after hours and on the weekends,” she said. “For the ones that are trying, you really see a difference.”
Amador started Tremendous Maid with her sister, Nisaury Tejeda, and her mother, Rosa Tejada.
Amador came to the United States in 1995 from the Dominican Republican when she was 14. She graduated from East Boston High School and then attended Cornell University, graduating from the college’s famed School of Hotel Administration in 2004. She then took a job as assistant executive housekeeper at five-star hotel The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., before starting Tremendous Maid.
Nisaury Tejada is a graduate of Boston College and has a background in real estate and property management. She works as Tremendous Maid’s chief financial officer.
Rosa Tejada is the company’s director of operations and has 20 years of experience in residential and commercial cleaning and has worked at many upscale hotels and resorts, including brands owned by Marriott, Hilton and Starwood.
The company began just offering residential cleaning services in 2011, but expanded to commercial cleaning services under the division Boston’s Best Commercial Cleaning in mid-2013.
It has clients throughout Boston and in neighboring cities and towns.
The company ended year one with six employees and had grown to close to 20 by the end of the second year. It now has about 30 employees.
According to Amador, the goal is to have 400 employees by 2019.
“We are on track to do that,” she said. “We do have a pretty good long-term vision.”
With profit margins very low overall in the cleaning industry — typically around 10 percent for residential work — Amador said the move into commercial helps with the growth of the company because commercial margins can be as high as 20–30 percent.
Everything Tremendous Maid makes goes into developing the company as well.
“We are putting back whatever earnings we get until we feel that we are fully established,” Amador said.
She credits her time at The Breakers for learning the value and efficiency of high-level hospitality.
This includes a consistent training process, inspections of work, and feedback and meetings.
“I’d like to say cleaning is cleaning but at the end of the day that is not true,” she said. “We are always about the customer service. We are always putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes.”
While Nisaury Tejada was set in a stable job at a property management firm when her sister approached her about leaving to start Tremendous Maid, she said she was excited by the opportunity, especially for her own growth in the business world.
“She convinced me. I needed a change. It was the right time,” she said. “I have grown a lot personally in learning how to run the company and working with the employees.”
“There is a lot more growth opportunity here as we grow,” she added. “The bigger it gets, the more opportunity.”
Amador admits that when she was in college at Cornell she never thought she would end up opening a cleaning business, but she definitely knew she wanted to someday start her own business. She is thrilled so far with the results of Tremendous Maid.
“I honestly don’t think I can work for somebody else after doing this. It is a challenge. It is different. You can be as creative as you want. You can make this go as high as you want,” she said. “It is the best decision I have made in my life and there are no regrets. This is just the beginning.”