Catching up with Cleanhome’s Longest Standing Franchisee, Richard Mathers, from Cleanhome Gatwick

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How long have you been running your Cleanhome franchise?

My partner and I were the first Cleanhome pilot franchisee and have been running the business for over eight years.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I can’t say it was something we had planned or spent much time thinking about, it pretty much happened. I knew Karen and watched her build the first Cleanhome branch in Thames Valley into a successful business. My partner and I both worked in the aviation industry as cabin crew and when Karen offered us the opportunity to become Cleanhome’s pilot franchisee (excuse the pun!), we decided to give it a shot. We knew the business model had worked well for Karen and we had the determination and transferrable skills to replicate her success.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

I was fully aware of the work that becoming my own boss would entail. The great thing about setting up as a franchisee is that someone has been there before you. Of course, every geographical area is unique and comes with its idiosyncrasies, but the nature of the work is the same. Even though we were first franchisee, we knew that the business model was going to be successful.

What is the most invaluable piece of advice you would give to someone looking to buy a franchise?

Firstly, do your research and take time to speak to existing franchisees. That way you can get a better idea of the network’s culture and understand what it will be like running the business on a day to day basis. Secondly, look for a franchisor which charges a set franchisee fee which will not increase as your business grows. You need to be the one profiting from all your hard work, not the franchisor. And last but not least, trust the process. Someone has already tried and tested everything so take their word for it!

In your opinion what makes a successful franchisee?

Being organised, not afraid of hard work and being determined to make it work for you!

What’s the most important lesson you have learnt?

Never leave a problem to fester. If something isn’t quite right, tackle it head on. It’s much easier to resolve a problem when it arises instead of ignoring it and having to deal with it later.

Have you seen any changes to your industry over the recent years and how have you adapted to them?

The way we get business has changed over the years. We now use social media and technology alongside more traditional channels including leafletting and face to face meetings.

Is there something that you think will always play an important role in the industry?

Despite today’s technology driven society, people skills are still important. Nothing beats face to face interaction and developing a personal relationship with your clients can go a long way.

What’s your biggest achievement so far as a Cleanhome franchisee?

We are extremely proud that we have the highest client retention within the network. I put this down to the fact that for us, our clients always come first.

Avoid the Winter Blues

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It’s that time of the year again; the days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping and the winter blues start kicking in.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in 15 people in the UK experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the sunlight-scarce days of winter. SAD, which is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year, can affect your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels, taking a toll on all aspects of your life including work. And for small business owners, anything affecting your mood can have a knock-on effect on your performance and your business.

Here at Cleanhome, we think it’s important to keep conversations about well-being in the spotlight. Regardless of whether you’re diagnosed with SAD or experience certain symptoms of it, it’s important to put measures into place to keep your good mood topped up during the winter months.

Set small goals

Setting small goals for each day can help you manage stress and boost your productivity. Working towards small achievable goals can help you feel that you’ve accomplished more which will give you a much-needed boost, warding off feelings of stress and worthlessness.

Let there be light

Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows. When sunlight enters the eye, messages are passed to the part of the brain that controls our mood, appetite, temperature and sleep. Light triggers the production of mood-boosting hormones which can help with your SAD symptoms.

Get out of the house

This is particularly important if you’re running your business from home. With the colder temperatures, you may be avoiding going outside which could affect your mood negatively. Try to take a few little breaks in the day to be outside. Soaking up some sunlight and fresh air can help the brain focus, bring a new perspective to your day, and clear the mind so wrap up warm and get out there!

Get social

Participating in social activities is vital in reducing isolation and helping you manage SAD symptoms. During the colder months it may feel more comfortable to retreat into yourself but try to be around other people even if you don’t feel like it as it can help boost your mood. Meet your friends or family more often or perhaps take up a new hobby where you can meet new people.

Eat well

Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimise mood swings.

Staying motivated while running a business during the colder, darker winter months may seem more difficult which is why it’s important to look after yourself and make changes to your lifestyle to help you stay focused and happy.