Shannon column: Putting a price on moral exhibitionism
Moral exhibitionists are people who make a point out of taking a very public “moral” stand on an issue. This posturing costs them nothing and imposes the burden of paying for their sanctimony on others.
Examples include union organizers who don’t even own a lemonade stand demanding a $15 an hour “living wage,” wealthy leftists demanding action to fight global warming, and Members of Congress who want “Medicare for All” while knowing they will receive gold-plated, no-waiting health care.
Those hypocrites are why a recent WoePost story was so refreshing. Aaron Seyedian is refreshing because although he believes in the living wage, he isn’t expecting Uncle Sam to force someone else to foot the bill.
Seyedian is the founder of Well-Paid Maids.
(The name proves this is his first marketing effort. It’s an inward-directed name and a bit off-putting for customers. It”s like naming your investment firm “Fat Commissions Brokerage” or your personal injury practice “Filthy Rich Lawyers.”)
Well-Paid Maids is different because the 31-year-old Seyedian’s firm is “explicitly dedicated to paying a living wage.” And the other benefits aren’t bad either.
“[Aaron] pays the cleaning staff $17 to $19 an hour, which is well above the national median of $11.43 for house cleaners and the D.C.-area median of $13.12. Staffers also get 22 days a year of paid vacation.
“In addition, Seyedian offers a zero-deductible health plan, which costs about $8,000 per worker, and an employer-paid disability plan.”
Seyedian doesn’t Uberize his staff either. Every employee is full-time. There are no contractors paid by the weight of the dirt in the vacuum cleaner bag. Plus, it’s harder to join his staff than it is to become a cop. Only one out of every 15 applicants is hired.
Seyedian is new to business, and new to tooting his own horn. He said his staff makes about $35,000 a year, but that number is way low.
When you add the monthly cost of a bronze Obamacare plan and its punishing $5,700 deductible, neither of which employees pay, total compensation is closer to $46,232.00.
Why that’s high enough to make an American want the job.
Well-Paid Maids’ total compensation is almost double the $23,770.00 US News calculates is the average salary at Poorly-Paid Maids. According to Career Builder that salary puts one in the same neighborhood as biological technician, licensed practical nurse, mental health counselor or surgical technologist, all occupations that require an advanced degree or training.
Seyedian is one businessman Bernie’s Angel-of-Death-for-Capitalism should pass over.
Naturally the question becomes how much does it cost to have your apartment cleaned by someone that makes more money than you do?
This is where we can finally calculate the exact monetary cost of moral exhibitionism for those few actually willing to let their money back their mouth.
Homeguide calculates the average cost for a maid service to clean a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment is “$75 for standard cleaning.” The kind of money won’t get Well-Paid Maids to answer the phone.
The price to have guilt-free cleaning — without what Seyedian calls the “nanny tax” — is $159. Which puts the Moral Exhibitionism Markup at approximately 112 percent. It’s the difference between paying $1.00 at the Dollar Store and $2.12 at the Living Wage Dollar Store.
It would be cheaper to hire a Grievance Studies PhD., assuming they could operate a Hoover.
With those unsustainable rates staring me in the face, I assumed the target market for Well-Paid Maids is billionaires, cabinet secretaries and Meghan Markle, but that’s not true.
Seyedian is looking for “mission-minded customers.”
“Some customers feel uncomfortable that they employ people who don’t make enough money to live on,” Seyedian said. “Since it is not in your power to change the living wage overnight, by us doing this is a way for people to do something voluntarily that is at least in line with their views.”
And it frees cheaper outfits to work people like me into their busy schedule.
Aaron runs the business out of his apartment. He billed $300,000 his first year, $600,000 last year and is hoping to break a million in 2020. His customer base is about 1,500 with 40 percent being repeat clients. After paying all his expenses, Seyedian paid himself $90,000 in 2019.
Aaron’s business might be viable in recession-proof D.C., home of the never laid-off government “worker,” but I have my doubts about potential success in other markets. Still, there is much to admire about building a business model that supports his beliefs without resorting to government coercion.
My only suggestion as a retired marketer would be to do something about that name.
How about “Guilt-Free Cleaning” or “Ticket-to-the-Middle-Class Maids” or even “No Tip Necessary Maids”?
Michael Shannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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