Franchising at (nearly) 40

Safeclean is a well-established, nationwide, furnishing-care franchise used and recommended by leading retailers and furniture manufacturers. The network has a strong history of success, with many franchise owners going on to grow their business into management franchises.

It's services include cleaning of carpets, upholstery, curtains, mattresses, rugs (oriental and modern), stain removal and stain protection. Safeclean is the UK's leading stain removal company and now cleans carpets and soft furnishings with a unique organic system that out performs conventional methods.

Safeclean is affiliated with Guardsman, the UK market leader in Furniture Protection Plans, and is the only company used and recommended by Guardsman to service its 2.5 million UK policies. These factors combine to make Safeclean a low risk, high performance franchise option.

The first Safeclean franchise was sold on the 3 May 1970 - almost 40 years ago. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, franchising through thick and thin. Safeclean is a founding and full member of the British Franchise Association (bfa) and now has a nationwide network of more than 60 franchise owners.

Proven formula
"Safeclean operates in the highly profitable, friendly and loyal high-end domestic market," says Operations Director, Andy Earnshaw. "The Safeclean business model operates to a proven formula which we are continually monitoring and improving. This includes no cold calling or aggressive telephone marketing, which can often put off franchise owners and customers. Our 39-year history has continually proven the Safeclean format to be successful and very low risk."

Geraint Williams is one of Safeclean's longest serving franchise owners and started his franchise on the 1 May 1982. He invested in the franchise through the Safeclean founder Desmond Cook and Geraint believes that Desmond was a key factor in his decision to buy.

"I wrote to the bfa for a list of franchises in my price range, and Safeclean was one of them," remembers Geraint. "I liked Safeclean immediately at the time because of the owner. He interviewed me on the job, and made me do the cleaning while he went downstairs and had coffee with the maid! I just liked his style and what he was doing. And I took to the business like a duck to water."

When asked about the best change that has come in his 27 years of owning a Safeclean franchise, Geraint says that it is the modernisation of the systems.

"When I first started, we'd literally be cleaning on our hands and knees. I loved it at the time, and it was never as bad as people thought, but sooner or later, doing that, you're going to wear your body out. Now the home cleaning system has been fully mechanised and bought into the 21st century."

Even more effective systems
Safeclean continually strives to improve the systems, products and equipment available to its franchise owners. In the past few years this has included changing the products for even more effective systems which are also organic.

This has proved to be a major selling point. Safeclean franchise owners use the most powerful and effective machines on the market, and Safeclean has made a conscious corporate decision to use the most eco friendly chemicals available. As well as this, Safeclean has also listened to customers' considerations and uses systems that have rapid drying times, so time spent unable to use the furniture or carpet is kept to an absolute minimum.

This spirit of continuous improvement continues in the quality of marketing materials available to franchise owners. Safeclean has recently launched the Marketing Development Kit, a computerised system that allow franchise owners to customise and order marketing materials, changing details to suit themselves while remaining in brand.

Andy says: "We are confident that this system will become invaluable to our franchise owners. It means the concept, design and ordering of marketing materials can be condensed into one easy process, meaning that our franchise owners can have top of the range professional materials, bespoke to their business, and at the best price possible."

Having the business/marketing development centralised is one of the main advantages of the Safeclean franchise, leaving the franchise owner free to grow their business. Safeclean is an adaptable franchise in terms of business growth, but most franchise owners start it off as a van based franchise, doing the cleaning work themselves, and grow the business into a management style franchise, employing technicians when they feel it's time to take it to the next level. This is how Geraint grew his business, and he found a lot of job satisfaction at both levels.

"When it was just me doing the cleaning, I used to love the look on the customers' faces, when you've turned this dingy, dour old thing into a beautiful piece of furniture, good as new," says Geraint. "Transforming things like that is so rewarding. Now that I'm running the business full-time, every day is different, but my job isn't cleaning carpets anymore, it's communicating with people. I find it really exciting closing a deal - there's nothing quite like selling. Having the order in your hand is a brilliant feeling."

Best possible start
A Safeclean franchise comes with a training course lasting over two weeks, which covers all aspects of the business, including the hands-on cleaning training, sales techniques, budgeting and time management. Safeclean also runs an Intensive Mentoring Scheme, which helps franchise owners get off to the best possible start.

"The first three months are crucial to the success of a new franchise owner, which is why we offer such a concentrated period of support at the beginning of the life of the business," explains Paul Lewis, one of Safeclean's newest recruits. "This helps set the franchise owner up for the best possible start to their new business venture, and is one of the many reasons that our success rate is so high."

As well as thorough training and support in the early days of the franchise, Safeclean head office is always available to answer any problems, help with business development, provide bespoke marketing solutions and support their franchise owners in any way they can. Recent addition to the network. Paul explains, "The backup for Safeclean is unbelievably good - the training is second to none and there's someone guiding you all the way."

A further advantage to the Safeclean franchise is the company's relationship to Guardsman. Guardsman is the only specialist furniture care provider in the UK, and uses the Safeclean network to handle the call out work for its Furniture Protection Plans.

Safeclean is also recommended to Guardsman retailers, and each franchise owner has access to a database of Guardsman customers in their area (usually over 7000) to kick start their marketing with a guaranteed customer base.

All of these factors combine to explain why Safeclean has been franchising so successfully for so long. Each franchise benefits from a proven system, a guaranteed customer base, a strong start to training and unlimited continual support.

Constantly developing
The business is constantly developing and improving, whether that's updating the products, improving machines, using technology to assist marketing design system, or simply upgrading the vans for cheaper, more efficient alternatives. It is this level of attention to detail and commitment to the happiness of their franchise owners and the franchise owners' customers that kept Safeclean's success rate so high and seen them through the last 40 years.

"It is amazing the think of how long ago this started, and that some of our current franchise owners bought their franchises from the business founder," reflects Andy.

"Safeclean has come a long way in its 39 years of franchising, and we're all proud of that. You can't get complacent though - we'll never stop trying to improve the business, and make things better for our franchise owners. Here's to the next 40 years!"

Initial Investment Requirement

The package price starts at £16,350 + VAT. This includes: franchise licence, database, exclusive territory, training, equipment, van deposit, extensive marketing materials, initial marketing programmes, communications package and computer software.