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FACES AND PLACES: Katie Stauss is a very merry maid

Katie Stauss positively loves cleaning. The manager of Merry Maids in Grand Forks and Fargo, Stauss strives to maintain an upbeat work environment, posting inspirational sayings and jokes on the business's lunchroom bulletin board. A bubbly, extr...

Katie Stauss
Katie Stauss manages Merry Maids in Grand Forks and Fargo. Jackie Lorentz, Special Features staff photographer

Katie Stauss positively loves cleaning.

The manager of Merry Maids in Grand Forks and Fargo, Stauss strives to maintain an upbeat work environment, posting inspirational sayings and jokes on the business's lunchroom bulletin board. A bubbly, extrovert with an infectious smile, Stauss believes that maintaining a positive attitude at work rubs off on her employees.

"It's contagious, and it will do the same thing to people around you. People do better in their day-to-day work when they have a positive attitude. It's just good for the mind and body to have a positive outlook.

"We try to make it fun here because it is hard work, what we do every day."

While cleaning requires using some elbow grease, it's something Stauss personally enjoys. She comes by her partiality to cleanliness naturally.


"When I was growing up, my mom and grandma were so clean... The joke was that you could be sitting with a can of soda. If you got up for two minutes and came back, they would have the can emptied, cleaned out, squashed and recycled, and they probably had the surface of the table polished where the can was sitting," Stauss said.

Inspired by her mother's and grandmother's examples, Stauss learned to clean the house at an early age.

"Every Saturday I usually cleaned and would get an allowance."

Stauss' son, age 9, and daughter, age 7, are following in her footsteps.

"They like to clean. They like to wash the floor. They really like to use the cleaning products," Stauss said.

A clean career

Despite Stauss' neat upbringing and desire to keep things shipshape, she never pictured herself managing a cleaning business.

"You don't think, 'I'm going to have a career in cleaning,' " Stauss said. Instead, she majored in math, a subject in which she excelled in high school. But after she graduated from UND in 1998, she heard about the job at Merry Maids and applied.


Stauss now is in her 11th year with the company and has helped quadruple the number of regular customers in Grand Forks and expand the business to Fargo. Focusing on providing quality service to customers and a strong employee training program and communicating with her employees about her expectations have helped contribute to her business's growth, Stauss believes.

And while her job is not in a math field, Stauss finds that she uses some of the skills she learned, such as attention to detail and problem solving, in her job as manager of Merry Maids.

"I like it because there are so many different aspects to it. I don't just do the same thing over and over again. There's the employee aspect, customer aspect..., the bookkeeping, the marketing."

Spring cleaning

This month is especially busy at Merry Maids as customers hire the company to clean their homes for graduation. The customers hire to have their homes cleaned, instead of doing it themselves, because it's one less thing they have to worry about when they are planning a reception in their homes.

"That's our logo: 'Relax it's done,' " Stauss said.

Stauss understands that and during the summer sometimes hires Merry Maids when she and her family go to their Minnesota lake cabin on weekends.

"The weekends are when I like to clean and usually have time to clean, but when we're gone, I'll have them come over and help me out."


Last weekend, Stauss and her family went to the cabin to open it up. Though she and her family gave the cabin a thorough cleaning last fall before they closed it up, she knew before she headed out that it would need another this spring, she said, and looked forward to readying it for the new season.

"The first time we got out there, I get myself psyched up for it. Then it's good to go for the summer and we can relax and enjoy it and not have any spiders living with us."


During the work week, Stauss doesn't leave her job behind when she heads home from her job at Merry Maids. She likes having a clean, uncluttered house, the lemony, fresh scent that lingers in the air when she's done and the sense of accomplishment she feels.

"The before and after feeling when you can see your hard work" is rewarding, Stauss said.

One way homeowners can make housecleaning seem less overwhelming, she said, is to start with small goals, such as cleaning one room at a time.

"Start with 'I'm going to clean the family room today,'" she said. Meanwhile, something that helps save time when cleaning is keeping clutter to a minimum.

"If you have a lot of clutter you have to sort through that first." Clutter, such as a pile of newspapers and magazines, like an unmade bed, makes a room look less tidy, Stauss said.


"I always think less is more."

Bailey writes for special features sections. Reach her at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to abailey@gfherald.com .

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