We talked to Noelia Novella, founder of Doinn, about the use of technology in cleaning and laundry services and this is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Noelia Novella: Working from home with the kids (8y &10y) homeschooling during the last year lockdown was extremely hard. Now I just think that life is beautiful as long as our kids are in school! Online lessons work well but they need real contact with other kids, this year of their childhood seems lost in terms of personal growth. We are grateful that although all of us four tested positive before Christmas, the symptoms were relatively light. It’s all so random, unknown, and scary! It´s a new era and I hope it brings more equality and empathy.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Doinn.
Noelia Novella: I fell in love with the short-term rental industry in 2013 during a round-the-world trip with the family, including 2 babies. She felt the need to change something: the cleaning of those properties had to be professional, as we all grow up with the cleaning standards of the hotels, and because cleanliness means safety.
After reaching several cleaning companies from the hospitality industry and deeply analyzing their needs in terms of tech to work with short-term rentals, Doinn was launched in May 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal. Our services are now available in 592 cities across the USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, UK, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.
How does Doinn innovate?
Noelia Novella: Our technology helps to optimize processes, reports, and tasks to property managers and cleaning companies so they can be more competitive, reduce management costs and manage more clients. But Doinn is not just technology, we have a dedicated team supervising that cleaning companies are beyond expectations, motivating them to keep their good work and making the industry give them the attention and respect they deserve.
That human touch on top of the technology (not just software or bots) is what allows us to raise the hospitality standards. Property managers don´t need to have an in-house operations manager anymore because our team and our tech, cover that part. We want them to take every single opportunity to manage a property in any location without the need of having a local team there and with the guarantee of having professional and certified cleaning and linen services with us.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Noelia Novella: It’s never been more important to guarantee professional cleanliness in private accommodation and at the same time Covid19 speed up the need for the digitalization of SMEs. It meant a great organic growth of both of our users, property managers, and cleaning companies and a high brand awareness due to the number of webinars, podcasts, and articles that we are getting invited to talk about cleaning protocols for short term rentals. Our problem is that our business model, commission-based, depends on reservations, and due to the pandemic, reservations dropped down 75%.
To compensate, we have been able to launch almost 500 new cities, especially in leisure areas that are in better shape than urban ones, and launched new services for other spaces such as offices and private houses. It changed a lot the type of clients we target: there are fewer short-term rentals agencies focused on leisure areas and more property owners, many small offices are just occupied a few days per month, and Doinn turned very handy to book punctual cleans, and digital nomads are booking cleans for their temporal house. Basically, our strategy was focused on B2B and changed to B2C.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Noelia Novella: We had to let go of 2 of our Doinners from the business development team which is always hard, but it helps to understand that it works better for us data-driven growth specialists than a traditional sales profile.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Noelia Novella: We also became more data-driven, as there is no space for mistakes launching so many new cities with a smaller team. We have invested in a good CRM with several modules to create, automate and track every single stage of the sales funnel.
Although part of the team used to go to the office before the Covid hit, Doinn has always been ready to work remotely as we have Doinners in 3 continents. But we definitely had to improve processes to work asynchronously to gain the flexibility to deal with the different personal situations attending children and seniors.
In terms of management skills, these times are times for the empathy to be enhanced, understand and use this emotional intelligence to keep the motivation up, not just with the team members but also with partners, property managers, and cleaning companies.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Noelia Novella: Our competitors are the same cleaning companies we select and onboard in our platform. The difference is that we have been investing in tech for 5 years and many of them just realize the need for digitization during the pandemic with the team on lay-off
They can now invest in a software house and try to develop digital solutions for themselves or onboard in our platform where they have the tech for free.
Your final thoughts?
Noelia Novella: I hope this pandemic really opens people’s eyes to understand that diversity promotes innovation, opens doors, and creates partnerships that fuel the economy. It´s a new world, full of new challenges but also full of opportunities. I wish all those resilient-by-nature entrepreneurs to stay mentally strong to drive society to a better world
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