2017 Year in Review: a Journey through the Cleanhome Family

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It’s been another great year at Cleanhome and we’re pleased to announce that in 2017 we increased our turnover by 50%. As part of our plans for growth we’ve also been busy implementing changes to benefit our franchisees and their clients, from switching to the paperless office to launching our online client signup. Here are just some of our favourite moments from 2017.

Meetings with our franchisees

Ongoing support and training are just two of the reasons that people choose to invest into a franchise operation which we why we started our year with a UK wide franchisee meeting to share network developments with our franchisees.

These meetings allow us to interact with allow our franchisees on a personal level and drive collaboration within the network, both of which are a vital part of running a successful operation.

Paperless office

At the beginning of the year we began the process of going paper free so we can enable our franchisees to be more efficient when it comes to business agreements and payment systems with clients. Our paperless office system is now fully implemented and it’s been transforming the back-end administration of the franchised outlets.

Going paperless has enhanced the flexibility of the business and has made it fully mobile.

That, combined with our cloud-based system Genesys, means our franchisees are able to keep track of their business from wherever they are.

Online client sign up

With technology advancing at a rate of knots, we’re always looking to stay ahead of the competition which is why at the start of the year we launched our online booking engine which allows our franchisees’ clients to find and book a cleaner online within minutes and be assured that they will still receive the highest level of service.

This helps our franchisees to enhance their offering and target consumers who are time pressured and expect to be able to buy goods and book services online.

Our first Scottish franchise

This year we welcomed Mark Bishop to the Cleanhome family, who’s set up the first Cleanhome franchise outlet in Scotland.

Mark set up his Cleanhome franchise in the Autumn after he decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship and we’ve been pleased to have the opportunity to support him on his journey to running a successful business.

Thames Valley winning that award

Our clients’ satisfaction is our top priority so we were delighted that our Cleanhome Thames Valley branch won ‘Best Domestic Cleaning Service’ at the Local Trade Awards.

This award is a testament to our ethos as a company striving to find the right cleaner for our clients and their needs. We go above and beyond to ensure we find the right person and we only operate locally with vetted cleaners to ensure our clients receive top notch service every single time.

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New Year, New You!

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A new year is a fresh start, a new beginning and the perfect opportunity to take stock and make changes. These can be simple resolutions such as eating more healthily, exercising more or de-cluttering. Other resolutions are bigger with the decision to make a career change being one of the most popular. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, more than one in five workers (22 percent) were planning to change jobs in 2017.

There are many different reasons you could be looking to make a career change in 2018. Maybe you prefer being outdoors but you’re office-based or maybe you’re after more flexibility. Perhaps you’re looking to future-proof your career or want to have more control over your day-to-day routine. No matter what your reason for moving on perhaps it’s worth stepping outside your comfort zone and considering starting your own business.

Taking the step to launch your own business may seem daunting, however franchising can offer you the opportunity to become your own boss without many of the risks often associated with entrepreneurship.

We have previously talked about the benefits of franchising and this month seems like the perfect time to revisit them.

Job satisfaction

If starting your own business has been one of your dreams but you feel that you don’t have an original idea to contribute to the market, joining an established brand can allow you to fulfil your ambition and create your own job satisfaction. And to paraphrase a famous quote, if you enjoy what you do then you never have to work a day in your life.

Be part of a family

Running your own independent business can be lonely and sometimes you may need some feedback or someone to brainstorm with. Joining a franchise operation will provide you with head office support and give you access to a network of like-minded people from different backgrounds. Any franchisor worth their salt will provide their franchisees with communication platforms which will allow them to connect and discuss any day to day issues they may face.

Join a growing industry

The franchise industry currently contributes £15.1 billion to the UK economy and many customers choose to purchase from franchised outlets as they believe they are more likely to receive quality services or products. This increases the business’s likelihood of success and subsequently reduces the risk factor.

Rapid Return on investment

Investing into a franchise means that you’re buying into a tried and tested business model which has been streamlined by the franchisor in order to give you the opportunity to see a return on your investment much more quickly than is you were to start your own business from scratch and have to learn from your own mistakes.

Also, the advantage of franchising is that when you advertise a known brand name in your market, customers are more likely to recognise the brand name which can get the cash flowing faster.

Have more ‘me’ time

Aside from running a profitable business, as a business owner of franchise, you have the opportunity to achieve the work/life balance you want. You’ll still need to put in the hard work to build your client base and get your business off the ground and offer quality services or products on an ongoing basis, however being your own boss means you can be flexible about some of the hours you choose to work, which could allow you to have more ‘me’ time or to arrange your work around your family.

Whatever career route you decide to take next year, we want to wish you the best of luck with your New Year’s resolutions. Make 2018 one to remember!

Why you shouldn’t fear change

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Every market sector, regardless of its nature, experiences changes in its environment and if in today’s fast-paced business world companies can’t keep up with changing demands, their ability to grow will suffer.

And while these should always be at the heart of the business, franchisors need to overcome their fear of the unknown and constantly take steps towards developing innovations which will increase business efficiency.

We recently implemented a few changes to our systems which have already made the day to day running of the business easier for our franchisees and we are constantly looking for ways to innovate.

Here are our top tips to combat the fear of change:

Understanding

Before setting out to do anything, it’s important to understand where the fear of change stems from. Change can feel scary but what’s the basis of your fear? Is it because you are not 100% sure that the time is right? Is it because you don’t know if you have enough resources? Identifying the root of your fear can be a great place to start as it will help you deal with any obstacles you need to overcome.

Communication

Whatever the change you’re looking to make, ensure that you speak to your franchisees and team first and find out what their opinions are. In our meetings we always go through any suggestions for improvements and take our franchisees’ feedback on board. By communicating your plans for change, you can alleviate any fears you may have or come up with new ways to approach the change you plan to make. Another important thing is getting the ‘early adopters’ to talk about how easy and effective they have found the changes – as well as share any tips they may have – to encourage the ones who haven’t used the new system yet.

Inclusivity

Often in business, big changes are made by management without proper consultation with the staff. Franchisors should be doing it differently when it comes to change. Franchisees are responsible for their own businesses so they should be involved in every step of any planned changes. Involving them in the decision-making process will ensure that you’re on the right track and will also make them more receptive to change.

Support

Once you’ve implemented changes, make sure you’re there to support your franchisees and answer any questions they may have. Make sure everyone understands the new systems and processes and coach them along the way. Change will only yield positive results if everyone feels supported on an ongoing basis.

Fear of change is understandable but if you and your team of franchisees are prepared for it, you should be able to expand and innovate to ensure the long term success of the business.

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!