For Lottie Francis, running Malmak Cleaning Services wasn’t her original plan, but today, she is the proud owner of the Lafayette-based cleaning business serving residential and commercial companies.
“I didn’t envision a cleaning service,” Francis said. “I envisioned a different kind of business. But once I really buckled down and started getting the legal aspects and the paperwork together it felt good to say I was a business owner.”
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF RESOURCES
Francis originally launched Malmak, named after her daughters Malika and Makiya, in 2012 as a side job but felt that her business was at a standstill. Enter One Acadiana’s Small & Minority Business (SMB) Program, which allowed Francis to turn her cleaning service into a full-time endeavor in 2020.
Facilitated by Corey Jack of Jack & Associates, One Acadiana’s SMB program provides resources and services for all businesses that qualify as small, women-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned, all free of charge. Through the SMB program, Francis took the critical steps to formally launch and grow her small business. In January, Francis received help to register her business as an LLC with the Louisiana Secretary of State, and in February, she successfully obtained a Small & Emerging Business and Hudson Initiative Certification through Louisiana Economic Development, the state’s economic development organization. With this, Malmak Cleaning Services became eligible to bid for state and federal contracts. Later in 2020, Francis took advantage of the SMB program’s marketing and brand consulting, and now Francis is in the process of hiring a designer to brand her business and create a new logo.
“It’s easy to say ‘I’m going to clean an office’, but once you establish you want to grow, and you want a business that’s going to be around, and you want people to notice you, and you want them to know your name, that takes work. If you don’t have the right resources or know the right people, then that can slow you down. Coming into contact with One Acadiana and Corey has definitely provided me with the right resources and great help. Whatever I needed or whenever I had questions, they were available. That eliminated some of the fear. That helped a lot in being more business-minded and treating my business on a professional level.”
PIVOTING DURING COVID-19
As corporations, organizations, and small businesses pivoted to adjust to the pandemic, 1A’s SMB program also pivoted to assist with navigating COVID-19 loans and grants. In August 2020, Francis worked with the program to apply for the Lafayette Business Recovery Program.
Francis also found a way to pivot, investing in electrostatic equipment capable of disinfecting and sanitizing work and living spaces. Her investment in gloves, masks, and a special suit, completed her ability to offer COVID cleans.
“I’m very excited about that. I’m also thankful and blessed to still be in business during the uncertainty of COVID.”
TACKLING CHALLENGES, OVERCOMING FEAR
The SMB program’s network of partners has allowed for Malmak Cleaning Services, LLC to receive referrals to Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (LaPTAC) and enter into their RFP database, receive referrals to the LEED Center for the North Lafayette Business Initiative, and connect with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s best and brightest marketing students. Taking her on as a client, the UL Lafayette marketing students are currently conducting a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the business to assess further areas of growth and marketing for the enterprise.
“One Acadiana helped me tremendously,” she said, “Fear has held me back, but ever since I got help, I’ve been pushing forward and looking to the next steps. I am confident my business will grow and succeed on a level that will blow my mind.”
BUILDING MORE THAN A BUSINESS
Francis says Malmak Cleaning Services more than just a business to her, it is a “personal relationship with the home-owners.” She says she wants people to go into a clean environment and wants their space to feel like home. Her mission is to make her clients “feel good and comfortable in their work environment.”
“I’m proud to be a woman business owner,” Francis shared. “I know it’s difficult to have a business and to be someone people trust in their home and business and still to be operating despite COVID-19. It’s a different type of feeling to be a business owner. I would recommend others go for their business dreams and I want them to know there are resources and organizations out there to help them.”
With her new-found confidence, Francis has launched her own non-profit, Appointed Hands Shelter. The mission of the non-profit is to help the homeless population and assist them in any way possible. Through Appointed Hands Shelter, her immediate goal is to continue making cooked dinners and her long-term goal is to open a shelter, to further her personal mission of helping others.