In 1991, Richard Sparacio, BSBA ’92, co-founded MaidPro, which provides housecleaning services. Since then, he and his business partner have built MaidPro into a successful franchise company, with more than 150 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Sparacio returned to Suffolk recently to talk with students in the Business Foundations course and screen “The Founder,” a movie about another successful franchise business, McDonald’s.
Q: Talk about how MaidPro came about.
RS: When I was in my senior year, a very close friend of mine left the corporate world and said, ‘I’m going to start a business. Do you want to do it with me?’ And I said, ‘Sure!’ I basically walked out of the Sawyer Building, headed over to Myrtle Street, and opened up our first location in 1991.
Q: How did you go about building the business?
RS: The first five years we worked on just the business of housecleaning. Then we built the systems, the marketing, the technology, and the standard operating procedures to scale it out as a franchise model.
Q: Was it hard?
RS: It can be a transformative experience to put yourself out there as much as you do with consumers, with employees. I think people often underestimate how difficult it is to create something and go out and build it on your own. I think you have to have tenacity and resilience. You have to ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’
For me, I wanted to own my own business. So I felt very lucky to be in an opportunity where I basically got to run and operate a business right out of Suffolk.
Q: Do you see any parallels between your franchise success and the franchise success that McDonald’s has had?
RS: My business partner is the person who gets the credit for always looking for the next big idea. I'm very much a blocking and tackling guy. I'm more of a ‘let's do what's in front of us really well’ person.
I see the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc had a similar yin and yang going on. They needed each other. The brothers were very good at building the system. But scaling it up wasn’t in their wheelhouse the way it was with Ray Kroc. Just as it wasn’t in Kroc’s wheelhouse to build the model.
Q: What's one awesome business or franchise idea you see these days that makes you go, ‘That's a great idea’?
RS: Sensory deprivation tanks are starting to pop up all over. It’s a very simple model and it’s very different. It’s in the wellness wheelhouse, like massage or acupuncture. But it’s very scalable and something that may seem just as obvious ten years from now as massage therapy franchises.