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.

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