By Deena Douara
Growing up, it was Matthew Hoskins’s dad who watched over his bed-making and room-cleaning. The product of strict boarding schools, cleanliness and tidiness was of the utmost importance to him. “They ran a tight ship.”
Today, it’s Hoskins who steers a team of cleaners who take on the cluttered lives of Torontonians.
He’s confident SixMaids will do a better job than you do of cleaning your home – and he focuses on making the process simple and straightforward. The website allows users to indicate the number of rooms/bathrooms to be cleaned and any extra services requested and the site will let you know the total cost and availability.
Just don’t expect six different maids to show up – the name is drawn from a combination of servicing “the Six” (Toronto’s new moniker), and also cleaning with the power of six.
Hoskins acknowledges that there are enough cleaning companies or individuals to service the GTA area. What he found there was not enough of, though, was accountability.
So he focused on that – accountability, customer service, reliability. That means knowing exactly how much you’re going to pay for what services; not getting cancelled on due to inclement weather or personal reasons; facilitating clear communication; and providing some recourse for disappointing outcomes.
“In the cleaning industry it’s not always like that,” says Hoskins.
Hoskins has always been an idea man. “A hustler since birth,” he jokes, explaining he’d sell his siblings’ artwork at his mom’s workplace, sell lemonade and shovel snow when he was young.
When he was about ten, he had his first booming business – one that lasts until this day (under different leadership).
“I come from a devoutly religious family. Super Christian, from Jamaica. Every Sunday you go to church, that’s how it was. It was a very big church, very animated and because of all those things service would run long,” he says. “For a growing boy, I was hungry. Super hungry.”
Hoskins figured he likely wasn’t the only one. It wasn’t long before he was pitching to his “angel investors” for seed money and making trips to Costco. With the help of his siblings and permission from the church, they opened the “Snack Shack,” selling pop, chips and chocolate bars to the rest of the restless churchgoers (with profits going back to the church).
Running a cleaning operation as an adult is a different kind of gig, to be sure, but Hoskins said that feeling is what continues to motivate him.
“The true feeling that I got that continues with me till this day is being able to solve a problem and creating value for people.”
The value he sees being created today is not just in creating a more attractive, clean environment, but runs deeper than that.
“It’s how people feel after,” Hoskins explains. “A lot of people feel free, relaxed, like they’re able to take a deep breath, like a weight’s off their back. Living in messy space or if your space is cluttered, you tend to feel cluttered yourself and kind of constricted by that.
“I’ve had a lot of clients say ‘thank you for sending this team. I came home to a clean place and just felt great.’”
Needing a bit more than seed money for snacks, Hoskins turned to Enterprise Toronto to get his business off the ground. But beyond the grant, he says the Starter Company Program gave him solid advice for how to put systems in place and set clear expectations so that his own cleaning business wouldn’t face the same industry pitfalls he was trying to avoid.
The mentorship received from Andrew Patricio, Starter Company lead, as well as from peers facing similar challenges and opportunities, was invaluable.
“If I had to pay $5,000 instead of getting it, I’d still do the program,” he says. “It’s fantastic.”