A warm welcome to our newest franchisee!

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Rob Chisolm has just joined the Cleanhome family and will soon be launching his South Oxfordshire branch. We caught up with him to find out more about his background and why he decided to start his own domestic cleaning business.

What’s your business background?

My background is in the service industry. For seven years I built up from scratch a courier company which provided Decathlon Stores with an in-store delivery and build service for large stocked items like treadmills and table tennis tables. This was quite successful and I built it up to service all of their Southern stores. As things progressed further, I was offered all of the UK deliveries for these bigger items when they first launched their website.

However, I soon realised after running things through a really busy Christmas period that things were happening behind the scenes and they were tendering the work out for the bigger courier companies with the wider networks which could offer a much cheaper and less personalised service which I was never going to be able to compete with cost-wise. So overnight and without any warning, all the deliveries started drying up and it started to become impossible to offer the service. I kept going for as long as I could but it was becoming harder and harder to make a living and I found myself working longer hours most weekends just to make ends meet.

Then through a contact at Decathlon, I found out about an opportunity at the local deep sea container port. I was offered a position as a terminal operative at DP World London Gateway where I was trained to drive the heavy plant and container lashing. This was a great experience but due to the shift patterns and having to work most weekends, my social life began to suffer as well my health.

Then I met my girlfriend Clare who lived in Oxford and the lack of free time was becoming more of an issue so I eventually moved to Oxford and started working as a driver and labourer for a scaffold company. Although it was a very physically demanding job there was not much else to it. It was always going to be a stop gap until I found something that would give me the chance to build something again from scratch and have the ability to grow professionally and succeed. This was when my girlfriend asked me if I had thought about franchising. We looked at all the different options available but we kept coming back to Cleanhome. The more research we did the more appealing it became as we have always been looking for a trusted and reliable cleaner in our area and found it very difficult to find one. We thought that others had the same problem so there clearly was a demand for the service in the area.

What made you want to start your own business?

I really enjoyed the challenge of setting up my courier business from scratch, the excitement of the challenges that I had to overcome and the pride in creating and growing my own business and the rewards it provided.

I really like the idea of being in business for myself but this time, not by myself.

How has your Cleanhome experience been so far?

My experience has been very positive so far, the level of detail and understanding of the domestic cleaning market is clear to see and the in-depth training and support really gives you the confidence and the ability to build a sustainable business under the Cleanhome brand.

What are you looking forward to the most about running your own business?

The ability to control my own destiny and find a work/life balance, I like the challenges that come with it and the pride you get from building something you can call your own.

Do you feel that running your own Cleanhome franchise will help you improve your work/life balance?

It was definitely the reason I first looked into franchising. My main priority was that I would be able to improve my work life balance. I wanted to have the flexibility to control my own schedule and make time for the things I really enjoy doing. I know it won’t be easy at first but with a bit of hard work it will definitely be possible in the future.

Training Franchise Employees: A Recipe for Success

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Having spoken to our franchisees over the years, one of the biggest challenges they face is that as their business grows they need to bring in staff to help manage the business.

Many of our franchisees have taken the step of employing branch managers whose role it is to manage clients, cleaners, cashflow and the other day to day tasks which keep the business going, while the franchisees focus on the strategy and overseeing business growth.

Hiring staff is a big step for any business and it’s vital to employ the right people to reflect the business, the brand values and to ensure the business is running smoothly.

Everything their branch manager does impacts on clients and can help turn them into long-term clients or drive them to a competing brand.

For our franchisees, it’s all about finding people who will manage the client experience and train them to deliver the best possible results. In other words, the success of their franchise business is directly related to the quality of their branch managers’ behaviours and attitudes. One of the issues the often face, however, is that most of them have never had to train employees in the past. Our franchisees bring a number of skills and qualities to the table from their past work background and some of them may have even been in managerial positions but most of them don’t have any experience in training people to run their business so they can delegate with confidence.

This is why we recently ran a managers training workshop where we had the opportunity to ensure that our franchisees’ branch managers are up to speed with our latest systems and that the customer service they offer reflects the network’s values.

As a franchisor, we must take an active interest in the training of our franchisees’ staff to ensure that everyone who represents the business is doing it properly which will help the business to thrive and remain ahead of the competition.

We encourage our franchisees to hire for attitude, as we can help them learn the skills they require to run a successful Cleanhome brand. Turning an enthusiastic member of staff into a productive and efficient branch manager doesn’t happen overnight but with the right support and training it will become the key ingredient to the branch’s success.

The most important thing is to view the training of franchisees’ staff as an ongoing commitment, rather than as an occasional ‘as and when’ approach to fix any issues that may arise. We want to stop the issues arising in the first place!

If you’re thinking of investing into a franchise operation then make sure that the franchisor is not cutting corners when it comes to the training they provide not only to franchisees, but also to their staff. A franchisor who wants to make the network successful will consider the investment into the whole network operating at its best worthwhile.

Keeping your values while expanding your network

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We’ve said many times in the past that one of the biggest advantages of investing into a franchise instead of going at it alone is that you become part of a bigger network which constantly evolves. However, as the franchise network grows and more franchisees come on board, it’s vital to maintain the brand’s core values and identity.

We have come a long way since we launched our first franchised outlet in 2013; We currently have 23 franchised outlets across the country and as our business family continues to grow, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our ways of working and our offering to our clients. This is why we want to ensure that all of our franchisees live and breathe our brand values and culture. Many franchise operations fail to realise that every location is different so can require a flexible approach to business however it’s still vital to ensure that the company value are consistent across the across the network.  As well as being business owners, franchisees are brand ambassadors so to ensure that the business continues to grow and develop it’s important to have cohesive brand values so that people know they are dealing with a company with a respected identity.

From franchisee recruitment onwards, the values of the business are always at the core of what we do. We put a lot of emphasis on what our brand stands for, how we do it and what we believe in. For us it all starts with practising what we preach, which is why our MD Karen is still involved in the running of her own Cleanhome branch in the Thames Valley, the first to be launched, in 2010.  Once those values are at the heart of the business it becomes easier to roll them out throughout the network and in any external communications.

Every franchisee and employee should understand the brand values and put them at the centre of how they run their business, whatever they’re faced with. It means that even during challenging times they will be clear on how to present themselves and be firm about what the business stands for.

Once you’ve set those values across the network, it’s important to keep it up. You shouldn’t neglect setting up regular check-ins with your franchisees to ensure that they still feel engaged with what the company stands for. Find out what works for your team, whether it’s monthly online meetings, phone chats or group meetups, and decide what works for the whole team.

Building your brand won’t happen overnight but applying your values across the network will enhance every single aspect of the network and the service offering.

We’re going paperless

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Here at Cleanhome we always want to make sure that our franchisees get the most out of the business model as we are constantly looking for ways to improve it in order to meet their needs. Our franchisees are out and about a lot and we think it’s important to find ways for them to have access to data and complete business transactions effortlessly and without having to worry about paperwork. This is the main reason behind our decision to start developing a system that will enable them to go paper free when it comes to business agreements and payment systems with clients.

Going paperless is a great way to further enhance the flexibility of a mobile business. With the use of our cloud-based system Genesys, our franchisees are able to keep track of their business from wherever they are, so enabling them to create all the documents and access all the data they need when they are away from their office is a massive benefit to their day-to-day operations.

Apart from the flexibility going paperless brings to the table, it can also improve the overall efficiency of the business when you take into account the time used for filing, storing and retrieving business documents and reduce stationary costs. Furthermore, there is no need to increase the physical space of the business as it grows and more clients come on board. You can also avoid information overload by setting expiry dates for documents. Most business owners, especially of smaller businesses, end up with a lot of paper as they get busy with the day-to-day running and neglect discarding old documents they no longer need. The security of that data is also improved as you can choose who has access to the digital copies.

Another major benefit of a paperless office is that it helps businesses offer a more responsive and comprehensive service to its clients ensuring nothing is lost in the filing mayhem and all the information is up to date. Digital documents are harder to lose and can be easily tracked down even when saved in the wrong place. Everything can be backed-up and updated on a regular basis without having to worry about anything being misplaced or having to go through endless filing folders.

Switching a business to paper-free may seem daunting at first as but it can make a huge difference in the long-term. It’s not an overnight process and businesses need to understand how they can make the most of it in a way that it’s both realistic and achievable. Our main goal for the next few months will be to develop a system that will allow our franchisees to run their businesses more efficiently and provide a better service to their customers. We will be sharing more updates over the next few months!

Connecting with your franchisees

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Ongoing support and training are two of the main reasons that people choose to invest into a franchise operation, such as our own domestic cleaning franchise, which is why franchisors should be focused on building strong relationships with their franchisees and communicate with them regularly through a range of platforms.

In today’s business world video meetings, emails and teleconferences are commonplace, however, it can be too tempting for franchisors to rely on online methods of communication and overlook the value of personal interaction. Despite the clear advantages in terms of efficiency, saving money and convenience, phone and email communication may not have the same impact that a face-to-face meeting will.

We recently held our first cleaning franchise training meeting for 2017 and it was great being able to share the most recent network developments with our cleaning franchisees but also to interact with them on a personal level and drive collaboration within the network.  It was also a great way to welcome our newest franchisees, who have only just launched their cleaning businesses, to the Cleanhome family.

Here’s just some of the feedback we received from our franchisees about the meeting:

“Really good meeting and exciting things ahead!” – Roger Johnson, Cleanhome Haywards Heath

“Just wanted to say thanks for a great day, very motivational and appreciated.”- Sean Ghouse, Cleanhome Beckenham and Bromley

“We would just like to thank you both for the training day. We are both so pleased that we teamed up with some forward thinking people. We truly love being part of the Cleanhome network” – Phil and Sharon Bradley, Cleanhome York

Meeting face-to-face can be challenging for franchise networks as franchisees are usually spread across the country but the benefits are definitely worth the effort. Meeting people in person can help to build trust and a sense of a shared mission, both of which are critical elements to a successful franchise network.

Have you got your New Year’s resolutions in place?

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Christmas will soon be upon us and before we know it, we’ll be at the start of a new year, which for many, means making New Year’s resolutions. The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on the year past and make plans for the year ahead and January is one of the key points of the year where people think about what they really want to do with their lives.  If you have been thinking about starting your own business then it’s a great time to look at the opportunities open to you and where you want to be in a year’s time.

Whether you’re currently working full-time, taking a career break or are retired, the New Year is a chance for a fresh start. Consider the following steps to help you decide what would work best for you to help you fulfil your entrepreneurial ambitions.

Self-reflection

Do you want more time with your family? Do you want to work from an office or from home? These are all questions you need to ask yourself in order to decide what type of business you should to invest in. If you’re looking for a better work-life balance and would prefer working from home then running a shop isn’t going to be the best option for you. Be honest with yourself about the things you want and the things you don’t.

Research the market

Before you dive into starting a business, you need to make sure there is a real market for what it is that you’re selling. It sounds obvious, but for long-term success, you need to identify a product or service for which there is an ongoing and growing need. You don’t want to invest into a business, only to realise that there’s a lot of competition or that it has limited demand.

This was one of the deciding factors when I chose to go into domestic cleaning management. With busy jobs and hectic social lives, people are finding it increasingly difficult to keep on top of the day to day chores so the domestic cleaning market is constantly growing. In addition, cleaning is a regular requirement so our clients require an ongoing service which means there will always be a need for good value, high quality cleaning services.

Choose a business structure

Choosing a business structure is one of the main things you need to consider when starting a company. You might want to start as a ‘sole trader’ which is perfect for freelancers and consultants. The other options are registering as a limited company or a partnership. A franchise is also an attractive option because you can try something totally new, get a proven model for your investment and you will have a team of support behind you to help you succeed. There are several free resources available online outlining the benefits and drawbacks of each structure. Have a chat with an accountant to decide which one would work best for you.

Calculate start-up costs and funding

Regardless of your business structure, many businesses require an injection of funds to get started. You may need to invest into a franchise, buy equipment or develop your own website. This all adds up and costs money so have a look at the different funding options for your business. This could range from personal savings to bank loans to your pension pot. You should also check whether you’re eligible for any business start-up grants.

Making your dream of becoming your own boss come true may seem daunting but spending some time now to put your business goals into place for the New Year can go a long way. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day! If you’re interested in joining our leading domestic cleaning franchise network contact us today!

A Day in the Life of a Cleanhome Franchisee – Roger Johnson

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Running your own business can be stressful. As you build the business the hours can be long and it can be difficult to take time off and relax. Here at Cleanhome however, we think that your business will run more smoothly if you have a good work/life balance which is why we encourage our cleaning franchisees to find what works best for them and plan their work day around their personal life.

This month we asked Roger Johnson from Cleanhome Haywards Heath to describe a typical day at work.

08:30

Take the dogs out for a walk. It provides me with quality time to focus on the day ahead and think through work issues and the day ahead.

09:00 – 11:00

Each day is different, but I generally start by checking the business account and reconcile income using the rather marvellous, Cleanhome Genesys™ operating system. Genesys™ also flags up client invoices which need to be generated from the system and these are emailed out.

I have several client phone messages from the previous evening that I need to respond to which result in two appointments for later in the week.

12:00 – 15:00

With quite a catchment area, I do need to put the miles in if seeing clients In Brighton. Today for example, I have three appointments and I’m quite tight for timings. I find this part the most satisfying. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to provide a quality service and making a new sale at the same time. By the last appointment, I have two new client agreements to take back to the office. A good afternoon’s work to say the least!

16:00 – 16:30

Back at my home office, I follow up on calls that have come in and deal with anything that needs to be addressed.

16:30 – 17:00

I have a planned call with our marketing agency who has been helping with integrating my marketing campaign for the last couple of weeks. I’m pleased with the results, which should set me in good stead in the days ahead and increase the number of enquiries that come through.

18:00 – 18:30

The number of hours can vary on a day to day basis when running your own business. Today, I’m working a bit later and following up with new clients to make sure that they are satisfied with the service provided.

19:00

Today being no different, I do tend to finish off the day by going for a quick run (more like slow run!). It helps me put the work day to bed and puts me in the best frame of mind for family life.

If you’re looking for a healthier work/life balance, why not consider starting a business with Cleanhome, contact us today to discuss potential opportunities.