Economic slow-downs are very good for our business

An association with a world leading furniture organisation which provides instant leads for new franchise owners provides Safeclean with good cause for optimism

Gordon Patterson: How long has the Safeclean brand been franchising?
Paul Fennel: Since 1970. The company was founded by a past Chairman of the British Franchise Association (bfa). In fact Safeclean was a founder member of the bfa.

Gary Rigby: Could you please explain your connection with the Guardsman brand?
PF: Safeclean is the only recommended cleaning company to maintain the six million Guardsman warranties in the UK. We are part of an organisation in which the group turnover is US$3.6 billion.

GP: Have you got national coverage for the Safeclean services in the UK marketplace?
PF: There are 100 territories in the UK in which 65 are currently filled. To achieve complete coverage we, therefore, need another 35 franchise owners.

GP: What is distinctive about the Safeclean franchise offering?
PF: The strongest characteristic is the Guardsman link. It is the world's largest furniture warranty company. In the UK, only Safeclean is recommended and used by Guardsman. Typically, in the first year of the franchise, Guardsman will generate most of the leads for the business. Our other major distinctive feature is our unique organically based cleaning system. This system is based around the Papaya plant and other natural ingredients. We are even developing solvents from corn resulting in a totally non-hazardous cleaning system.

GR: In this challenging economic climate, how has Safeclean been trading?
PF: We are seeing a pattern which has been repeated throughout our 38 year history. Economic slow-downs are generally very good for our business. In the last quarter we have seen an average growth of 12 per cent as people decide to have their carpets cleaned rather than replaced.

GP: What kind of franchise package do you offer?
PF: The Safeclean offering includes a large exclusive territory, marketing launch, promotional tools, national website, comprehensive training in our dedicated head office in Abingdon, liveried vehicle, bespoke IT package and the exclusive Guardsman database. We also have a comprehensive equipment package that allows all of the Safeclean services to be offered from day one of trading.

GR: What kind of ongoing support do you provide?
PF: We provide individual marketing support, one-to-one business development reviews, a centralised marketing programme, regional workshops, an annual training programme that is free to the franchise owner and their staff, and IT support.

GP: Are there any particular target areas in which you are looking to recruit new franchise owners?
PF: Applications are invited nationwide as we have available territory throughout the country.

GR: What kind of person are you looking to appoint as a franchise owner?
PF: We are fundamentally not looking for 'carpet cleaners', rather people who want to make a business out of soft furnishing care. Successful franchise owners come from a great diversity of backgrounds.

GR: Paul, do I understand that you have been a Safeclean franchise owner?
PF: Yes, I successfully built a business for 12 years and have great empathy with the franchise owner. As Franchise Manager, I understand the other side.

Interview by FDS Southern Franchise Consultants Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby