Way More Than A Maid: How One Housekeeper Inspirationally Pivoted Her Business During Covid-19 To Help Those In Need

Photo: Two Maids and a Mop
Way more than a maid: How one housecleaning business owner met her clients changing needs during the pandemic

Crystal Scott, owner of Two Maids and a Mop in Winston Salem, North Carolina remembers the day “life changed for everyone” right around a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic. “We woke up one day and we couldn’t go to work. Everybody was scared,” she says.

As the employer of 13 other women, many single moms who didn’t have any other supplementary income, she felt the weight of her employees, and the pandemic, squarely on her shoulders.

“I knew that I needed to carry them and try to survive myself at the same time,” Scott says. She worried about how they would feed their families otherwise.

So in just a matter of weeks, her cleaning business pivoted, meeting the needs of clients that they didn’t even know they had yet. Her business office became an overnight homeschool where the employees helped each others’ kids who had nowhere else to go while their mothers worked.

“We had some people struggling. I had some folks at home doing home school. Not only did we homeschool each others’ children but helped them homeschool [clients’] kids,” Scott says.

She explained how they all gathered around a common table regardless of their grade level or whose child was whose, and “did what they needed to do. Everybody was learning at the same time. It was a huge opportunity for everyone to see and learn what empathy is. We were all in it together.”

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Scott refused to stop paying her employees, even when some of her customers stopped paying (but not all). Her company provided free house cleaning to some people who couldn’t afford it anymore, and to those who were specifically struggling with COVID-19-related challenges. In particular, she remembers one widow who had recently lost her husband to the virus.

“She’d been with us since we opened. [We were] devastated but continued her cleanings even though she couldn’t pay, and the appreciation was huge. It was better than a credit card. It was something she couldn’t do herself,” Scott said.

Another family had a bored, young girl following them around, trying to get attention while they attempted to clean the house. Instead of shooing her away so they could get their work done, Scott and her employees made her a caddy and let her help. “It’s about making them feel included.”

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Some loyal customers kept paying Scott even when they weren’t able to welcome them into their house to clean. She says her attitude during the pandemic paid off as restrictions lifted: they lost just a few customers, but around 98% came back.

“And they didn’t come back because of free cleanings, but because we were loyal to them and now they are loyal to us," Scott added.

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For Scott, who has a background as a therapist, she knew that keeping busy was her coping mechanism.

She called customers just to check on their well-being. She reached out and delivered things to them when their groceries and supplies were low.

Her employees, including one who was a former stylist, even helped a customer color and cut her hair during the pandemic. 

“It wasn’t about maintaining a customer base but maintaining my own mental health.”  

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Alexandra Frost is a Cincinnati-based freelance journalist and content marketing writer, focusing on health and wellness, parenting, education, and lifestyle. She has been published in Glamour, Today’s Parent, Reader’s Digest, Parents, Women’s Health, and Business Insider. To read more of her work or to connect, check out her website.