'The credit crunch is having a positive effect on my business'

Supported by a national franchise organisation, Hydro-Dynamix franchisees are able to weather upsets to their own personal situations as well as upsets to the economy in general. Facing dual challenges, franchisee Darren Metcalfe reflects on how being a franchise saved his business

In his fourth year as a franchisee, Darren Metcalfe has faced an injured knee and the credit crunch head on with full support from Hydro-Dynamix. 'Injuring my knee was one of the worst things that could happen because my job is physically demanding and my business is a one man operation,' explains Darren. 'So not being able to work for eight weeks and with no formal contingency plan in place, I had to find a way to earn an income without doing the work myself. 'Hydro-Dynamix has been incredibly supportive. Franchisees in neighbouring territories have helped me complete jobs, while the centralised call centre advised potential customers within my territory of my situation to see if they could delay their appointments until my knee was better. The remaining jobs that could not wait were then passed on to sub-contractors for completion.'

This ongoing support coupled with the franchise's ability to stay afloat even in this time of economic uncertainty has reassured Darren that he made the right decision to swap his banking career to become his own boss. 'I decided to invest in the Hydro-Dynamix franchise because it was a complete change from banking,' he reflects. 'Instead of being stuck in an office I am out meeting people undertaking a variety of jobs. I also get on well with the people at Hydro-Dynamix head office and over time our relationship has evolved. At our regional meetings and annual conferences I am able to talk on both a professional and social level to them.'

Hydro-Dynamix's buoyancy is due to multiple income streams from the straightforward cleaning of carpets, upholstery and hard floors to exterior pressure washing and graffiti removal. Franchisees can also offer specialised services such as leather cleaning which are great add-ons to maximise the profitability and versatility of the franchise. 'In the last few months the number of calls coming through has increased,' enthuses Darren. 'The credit crunch seems to be having a positive effect on my business because people are looking for ways to save money. Rather than replacing furniture and carpets with new, homeowners hire me to clean their home and furnishings for a fraction of the replacement price. Other homeowners that cannot afford to redecorate are also booking my cleaning service to 'spruce up' their tired furnishings.

'A lot of work is also coming from letting agencies, looking to get tenants in their properties as soon as possible. In order to get the edge over their competitors, the agencies are getting their properties professionally cleaned. To maximise profits on this, I have offered my cleaning service with a different local cleaning operation to ensure that any cleaning job the agency needs doing can be done by either of us. This ensures we do not miss out on valuable business.'

Hydro-Dynamix franchisees now also benefit from the extra work and income provided by the recent introduction of DAM-mit, Hydro-Dynamix's damage mitigation service joint venture, which offers a revolutionary concept in flood and fire restoration with franchisees working alongside loss adjusters and insurance companies to provide a full restoration and repair service to damaged properties. These services include drying, dry steam cleaning, validated hygiene cleaning, fire & smoke damage cleaning, offsite cleaning/storage, asbestos testing, pack out service, mould abatement, PAT testing and leak detection.

'Operating a Hydro-Dynamix franchise is hard work, however it is also very rewarding so I would definitely recommend the franchise,' says Darren. 'Within the next year I hope to recruit an employee to help with the workload, which will allow me to focus on building up the business and my turnover.'

Jess Sturman reports



INDUSTRY SECTOR: Cleaning Services

IDEAL FRANCHISEE PROFILE: Seeking confident, self-motivated people capable of running their own business with head office support. Age not important but should be physically fit and not looking for a nine-to-five job.

COMPANY HISTORY: Established 1999, franchising since 2000


INVESTMENT REQUIREMENT: Approximately £37,500