Ken Young talks to Mike Parker

Ken Young, of FDS Midlands, talks to Mike Parker, Managing Director of Minster

Ken Young: Why did your founder, Alan Haigh, start Minster and how has franchising helped the growth of the business?
Mike Parker (pictured): Alan’s experiences as a major customer of office cleaning companies made him feel he could do so much better than the many suppliers he tried. Furthermore, Alan wished to run his own business and become self-employed. His research led him to conclude that office and commercial cleaning was a ‘near utility’ business – every office needs cleaning. Alan’s early motivation of service reliability and delivering consistently high standards are still at the core of what Minster does today. Franchising has provided all Minster’s growth since we no longer operate any company-owned branches. Our dedicated and committed franchise owners have been with Minster for an average of 13 years and have collectively driven the growth of our business.

Ken Young: When did you launch your franchise and how many franchise owners do you have in place today?
Mike Parker: Minster launched franchising in 1992. We now have 40 branches trading today.

Ken Young: Has the current economic climate affected your business in any way?
Mike Parker: The recession did have an impact but most branches, through sound customer and cost management, were able to protect profit. We are proud that we did not close any branches in the recession.

Ken Young: In what ways has the Minster franchise model evolved over the years and for what reasons?
Mike Parker: Our model continues to evolve as we develop new and improved processes for targeting prospective customers, developing existing clients and strengthening customer retention. We are also improving support functions such as IT, finance and training. These improvements are all aimed at helping our franchise owners grow their businesses.

Ken Young: What advice would you give to someone looking to invest in a Minster franchise?
Mike Parker: After an initial meeting with us, we take time to assess whether or not a prospective franchise owner has the right skills set and experience to successfully run and grow a Minster franchise. We encourage prospective franchise owners to take time to evaluate our business, including talking to any of our existing franchise owners. This enables them to make a considered and informed decision on whether to join us.

Ken Young: What kind of person do you look for when recruiting franchise owners?
Mike Parker: Someone with energy and enthusiasm to manage and develop a business, who comes to us with a broad range of management skills and experience.

Ken Young: How would you summarise the back-up and support services that you provide to your franchise owners?
Mike Parker: Feedback from a new franchise owner, who has now been with us for three months, has been excellent. He found the initial week of training and the continued support to be invaluable. On an ongoing basis, all Minster franchise owners receive IT, finance, marketing and operational support from our dedicated head office team.

Ken Young: What are your key objectives in terms of development for the next five years?
Mike Parker: Our primary objective is to open new branch territories. However, with some of our franchise owners approaching retirement age, we will also continue with branch resales as opportunities present themselves to bring new franchise owners into established and successful territories.