Case Study #72: Cleaning Up in Style: Ron Holt’s Exit of Two Maids and a Mop

Case Study #72: Cleaning Up in Style: Ron Holt's Exit of Two Maids and a MopWhen Ron started Two Maids and a Mop (now Two Maids), he was focused on finding an industry that was broken but still presented an opportunity for a company to sustain itself and grow. Many years later, in part due to a chance conversation with Fred DeLuca of Subway fame and a random sighting of a yacht at Key West, he was able to get an exit he could be proud of.

Recurring Revenue

In the early 2000s an industry that looked broken to Ron was residential cleaning. He saw a fragmented landscape with lots of mom and pop operators and not a whole lot of efficiency. But he knew that if he could gain clients, he could latch onto a dream for many business owners, recurring revenue that over time can grow like compound interest. A $150 house cleaning in that frame isn’t one-off revenue, but one that can repeat twelve or in some cases 52 times a year.

Influenced by Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, which emphasized standing out among other businesses, Ron started with a business model that allowed people to pay based on how satisfied they were with the cleaning. As he told this story to potential customers, as well as his goal to spread this sort of satisfaction-based cleaning to other parts of the country, people listened and hired him. While some gamed the system, and Ron eventually transitioned to a standard pricing model, the “purple cow” method definitely helped him get traction early on.


Back in 2003, most people and businesses had no idea what SEO, Search Engine Optimization, was. It was possible to create content that was locally relevant and within days you would be ranking well within Google and other search engines. Since most businesses didn’t know about SEO, neither did cleaning companies, and this SEO strategy was key to getting Ron’s second and third stores up and running before he saw franchising as a way to grow the company, using areas with the least SEO presence as opportunities for the biggest land grabs.


While Ron wasn’t entirely thrilled with franchising, he did want to learn how to do it better, which landed him at a conference. He took a break during one of the sessions and met a man sitting outside who struck up a friendly conversation with him. Soon enough, he had introduced himself as Fred Deluca, whose Subway chain had 42,000 franchises at that time. Suffice it to say Fred learned more in that conversation than he did at the conference!

One of the lessons Fred shared with him later (they would go on to have more conversations in the months and years that followed) was the importance of balancing franchisee requests with company profitability. In essence, franchisees would often come with great ideas that would often help make their lives easier, but didn’t necessarily make them or the franchisor more money. Fred warned Ron against being bogged down in dealing with these ideas instead of the larger strategic work he could do running the company.


Thanks to Fred’s mentorship and hard work from his team, Two Maids and a Mop continued to grow, and by 2021 had 91 locations nationwide. Around this time Ron’s mother-in-law had a really negative experience with a moving company and as Ron searched around the Internet he found that her complaints correlated with those of many in different markets. As he googled around, he found that same excitement at the opportunity Two Maids and a Mop had offered him so long ago: a chance to make a difference (and a profit) in a broken industry. That original excitement for home cleaning had fallen into routine for him and he realized it was probably time to make an exit.

Around the same time he had taken a trip down to Key West and had seen a particularly beautiful yacht that had so interested him that he went down an Internet rabbit hole trying to find out its owner. It turned out to be owned by a company that bought businesses like Ron’s, those involved around home services. While he wanted to go hat in hand to try to offer Two Maids and a Mop as an acquisition to this company, his business broker (wisely) suggested he take it to market and allow other people a chance to buy it.

Home Franchise Concepts (the owner of the yacht) ended up being one of the three finalists looking to acquire Ron’s company and when one of the rivals for the bid gave Ron an amazing offer with a ticking clock, Ron went to Home Franchise Concepts and told them that he would rather sell to them, as they were more aligned with values and would likely treat the company the way he wanted it to be treated. Home Franchise Concepts did what they needed to in order to counter the offer and Ron ended up selling to them, not so he could rest on his laurels, but so that he could go on to found Pink Zebra Moving, paying homage to Seth Godin for the ideas he gave him so long ago.


Three key lessons Ron shared with us:

  1. Be willing to be a purple cow. Ron saw that there were many players in the home cleaning space and he wanted to differentiate himself. His unusual pricing strategy caught fire and allowed him to develop a customer base.
  2. Seek mentors. Ron’s attendance at a franchising conference allowed him to make a valuable connection that had a significant impact on how Two Maids and a Mop developed.
  3. Always take your business to market first. Even if you have a preferred buyer (and you end up selling to that preferred buyer), you’re never going to regret taking your business to market so that you can validate the value and create an atmosphere of demand and desirability.

Are you looking to create a purple cow effect in your own industry? We’d love to brainstorm with you on how to do that. Give us a call.