Spring Cleaning

Commercial and domestic cleaning is one of the most over-explored areas of industry for franchising and, as such, many businesses have been able to refine their offerings to operate at the forefront of efficiency. Gareth Samuel looks at how franchise owners of some immaculate cleaning businesses are enjoying a wave of prosperity.

The first thing to point out about most commercial and domestic cleaning franchise opportunities is that the role a franchise owner takes on is typically a management one. Franchises, including FiltaFry Plus commercial fryer cleaning, Merry Maids home cleaning and Minster Cleaning Services, provide franchise owners with a scalable business model which sees them taking on the role of allocating cleaning staff to a traditionally loyal customer base.

The management role that franchise owners take on enables maximised flexibility. For Ian Stringer, a Merry Maids franchise owner, taking on this business initially meant working from home. “For the first two and a half years, I ran the business from home,” Ian explains. “The box bedroom was the office, the dining room was the staff room and the garage was the storeroom. We experienced good growth from the outset, which must in part be attributed to the Merry Maids system and the excellent support received from the head office team, because I had no experience in running a business or cleaning. I was strongly encouraged to move the business to designated premises and this proved to be good advice as, without the distractions of working from home, I was able to concentrate more on the business and we experienced solid growth in the following two years.”

The recruitment of cleaning staff who correspond with and represent the ethos of a business is a vitally important aspect of a franchise owner’s job, as is the organisation and retention of business. Hence, franchising is the perfect model for cleaning businesses because the mistakes that are inevitable when starting a new, independent business will have already been made and ironed out. Franchise owners can invest in their own commercial or domestic cleaning business safe in the knowledge that the practices used are watertight.

Ian continues: “The business has been running now for 11 years and we have 16 staff. Some have been with me for the majority of that time and are great assets to the operation. I hope to continue to be a Merry Maids business owner for many years to come.” For Ian, it was being made redundant in the first place and a feeling of being undervalued that compelled him to invest in himself – he picked domestic cleaning, and more specifically Merry Maids, because he felt the franchisor really valued his application and genuinely wanted to work with him, also the business fitted his budget.

Once a franchise has a number of cleaning staff on its books, gaining the trade and organising the delegation of tasks is a major part of a typical franchise owner’s role. Business, for many cleaning franchises, is gained in a number of ways, but often centralised contracts make it easier for a new franchise owner to begin earning money from the word go – this is something to consider carefully when looking at cleaning franchises as a career path.

In the case of Minster Cleaning Services, one of the UK’s leading cleaning franchises, the level of service provided often ensures contract renewal is not a problem. For example, NHS Direct has used Minster Cleaning Services Hull for several years and has received nothing but positive reviews. In fact, the Estates and Facilities Manager, Tony Burns, reported: “I have no hesitation in recommending Minster Cleaning Services to other organisations,” – increasing the potential for referral marketing and extended business.

In comparison to the high-end food and beverage franchises, commercial and domestic cleaning franchises are excellent value – Cleaning Doctor, for example, makes its opportunities available to the right franchise owners for a reasonable £20,000. One of the other most appealing aspects of a commercial or domestic cleaning franchise is that despite the diminished investment levels, the earning potential is still comparatively high. Minster Cleaning Services for example, boast a £150,000 net profit potential figure for prospective franchise owners.

In recent years, in order to establish clear differentiation, more specialised cleaning franchises have emerged and been successful. In 1992, Ovenclean was launched as one of the original oven cleaning business in the UK and subsequently began franchising. Now, 22 years on, the business is an indisputably successful franchise offering investors the chance to run a specialised franchise with clear market potential. Other specialised cleaning franchises that have emerged include car cleaning and even golf club cleaning franchises. 2014, too, is expected to be a stellar year for commercial and domestic cleaning franchises, as more and more customers take up the services of what is quickly becoming a mandatory service in 21st Century Britain. As lives get busier, more and more homeowners are seeing the value in using the services of a domestic cleaning service that is professional, quick and extremely affordable. This societal realisation is seeing demand for domestic cleaning services soar. In addition, 2014 is set to see the return to fruition of the UK economy, enabling those who maybe wanted to employ a cleaning firm, but could not previously afford to, to re-explore the idea.

For Cleaning Doctor franchise owner, Kevin Jarvis, a domestic cleaning franchise has completely changed his life and business is booming. He told The Franchise Magazine: “For me the best parts of this business is getting paid at the end of each job, which is obviously great for cash flow. But it is having complete control over my diary that I am really enjoying the most,” – proving that, for some at least, domestic and commercial cleaning has been a spotless career path.