‘I want to create 1,000 millionaires’: Founder of Fantastic Services on creating an army of franchisees and diversifying from cleaning

October 8, 2020

The boss of Fantastic Services has bold ambitions to a create 1,000 millionaire franchisees in the next decade.

Rune Sovndahl, chief executive and co-founder of the home services firm says there are currently six franchisees on the platform who have achieved £1million in turnover, specialising in general cleaning, removals and carpet cleaning.

This means they are well on their way to creating their own fortune, after expenses and costs are deducted.

The business was founded 12 years ago after Rune ran into difficulties finding someone to clean his carpet.

‘I looked online and I couldn’t really get an online booking. You had to make a phone call and it was really frustrating.’

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He met Anton Skarlatov not long after his online attempt went awry. Anton ran a cleaning business and promised to help him with his dilemma.

From this spawned a business idea to create a one-stop shop for all home services and led to a partnership that is successfully running today more than a decade on.

Rune explains: ‘I think it took us about one week or less from talking to each other to set it all up. I said “let me try and build you a website”.’

Launching in the financial crisis, the idea was to create a website which would bring all services together that the average person would need but couldn’t access immediately.

As well as cleaning, it now offers gardening, tradesmen, locksmiths, pest control and waste disposal, among a range of other services.

Rune explains: ‘Back then, the cleaning industry had no real structure and everything was cash in hand.’

It was his experience as group search engine optimisation manager at Lastminute that he drew on in building the Fantastic Services website and it wasn’t long after that he left the online travel and leisure retailer to start out with his business partner.

The partnership worked, not because Rune and Anton thought the same but because both men were able to bring something different to the table.

Rune explains: ‘I was able to draw on my skill set to build the website. Anton had the connections.

‘One of my principles is “do what you’re good at” and let others do what you’re not good at. Synergy is always better. If both of you come from a same background you’ll make both of you redundant.’

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‘We started with just £3,000 each’

The business has benefited from the funds they were able to generate themselves.

Rune says: ‘We made some rules about investing profits into building technology as we were up against some guys with really good marketing budgets.

‘We had no choice but to deliver a better service. Anyone can spend £40million on marketing but not everyone can make a business out of it. He adds that it was this philosophy that led to the name “Fantastic Services” and the franchise model.’

Rune says it’s the investment in technology that sets his business apart from similar businesses. ‘The comparison sites are one of the reasons I got so frustrated. You get three people calling you and none turn up.

Anyone can spend £40million on marketing but not everyone can make a business out of it

Rune Sovndahl co-founder and CEO of Fantastic Services

‘With Fantastic Services have real time availability and you can see what the price is upfront.

‘You make a booking based on your postcode. But everywhere else you make a request.’

Rune admits he wasn’t always a fan of the franchise model, but he’s found a way to make it work.

‘I think the reason is that there are so many out there that just give you a package and training. They don’t do joint marketing efforts.

‘We know there are levels of franchising. It’s very hard to get things working if you’re a single worker to owning four to five plumbing cars. I’m a fan of the Fantastic model but skeptical over the franchising model which just sells a training framework.

A basic Fantastic Services franchise starts at £1,900. But if you want more, such as rights to purchase an area franchise, which allows you to ‘own’ postcodes and sell your own smaller franchise you have to investment of at least £15,000.

The franchise with Fantastic Services will not include the vehicles or professional equipment – if you start a business with it you have to provide your own.

Related: Fantastic Services Franchise

The initial investment figure can increase if you want to cover larger areas. Franchisees will also pay Fantastic Services a percentage from their profits but this all depends on the services that they are getting from them.

Rune adds: ‘We sell our franchisees teamwork. For the £15,000 payment they get marketing, complete software systems, training, operations support and even coaching on business management. You can sell that on. Whereas if you’re just on a network you’re just getting leads.’

The 1,000 millionaire mission

More than a decade on, Rune is now on a mission to create 1,000 franchisees on the platform that can turn over £1million within in the Fantastic Services family.

Rune explains that it will take a certain personality to achieve this within the business: ‘They are good at organising staff, winning contracts and recruitments and chasing opportunities when they are there.’

Different people have been impacted in very different ways by coronavirus and lockdown, but one common thread across the UK has been the desire to launch side hustles.

Rune Sovndahl co-founder and CEO of Fantastic Services

He assures that this opportunity is for anyone – even if they don’t have a university degree.

He says: ‘After we’d been running for two years, I was chatting to some of our cleaners. I asked “what made you become a cleaner?”

‘They said they didn’t have other opportunities because they didn’t go to university and didn’t speak other languages.

‘But I believe it doesn’t matter what your background is, where you were educated and who your parents are. I don’t think you need to go to university to become a millionaire.’

Twelve years on, Fantastic Services enjoys a turnover of just under £40million and services an average of 15,000 clients each month. But when asked, about its profits Rune refuses to divulge the figures, saying its market sensitive information.

Rune’s post-Covid growth plans include buying more small businesses and expanding the company’s portfolio to become the Uber of home services.

More interest during Covid-19

He appears unperturbed about the financial impact of coronavirus. When you consider Fantastic Services beginnings you can understand why he’s not concerned as he’s used to achieving a lot with very little.

Fantastic Services was bootstrapped from the beginning. Rune explains: ‘With about £6,000 we started in 2008 during the biggest recession. We’re quite excited about going in a recession now.’

He points out that anyone with money can go bust, adding: ‘One of our competitors was Google backed and spent $50million and then went away.’

The business started with four franchisees but now boasts over 530 franchisees and has over 2,000 professionals operating globally under the brand name with a presence in Australia and the US.

There were plans to expand further geographically but that was scuppered by Covid-19.

But this has allowed Fantastic Services to deal with the demand for franchises in the UK.

According to a survey they conducted themselves, more than 3.5million Britons have opened up a side hustle since the beginning of lockdown.

The company surveyed 2,000 UK adults – seven per cent of which said they had found a way to create an alternative income stream.

The trend, they found, is particularly prominent among millennials aged 24-34 with one in six (16 per cent) claiming to have started a side-hustle.

Rune says: ‘Different people have been impacted in very different ways by coronavirus and lockdown, but one common thread across the UK has been the desire to launch side hustles.

‘There are lots of potential reasons for this, and contrary to popular belief, a recession can actually be a great time to start a business.

‘At Fantastic Services, we’ve also seen a spike in entrepreneurial people wanting to open franchises with us rather than starting a new business completely on their own.

‘This makes sense in that new franchisees get the benefits of running their own business, while being protected from a lot of costs and uncertainty.’


Source: This is Money

Filta remains resilient in the face of coronavirus impact

September 16, 2020

Commercial kitchen services provider Filta Group has revealed its unaudited interim results for the 6 months ended 30 June 2020.

During these 6 months, the supplier generated revenue of £8.3m, a reduction of 32% compared to the same period last year, where turnover was £12.2m. This year’s total was substantially impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing restrictions.

The firm made an operating loss of £664k in these 6 months too, 207% down on the £614k profit from the same period in 2019. However, gross margin remained the same, at 41%.

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Nevertheless, Filta reduced overhead costs in Q2 by 23% in response to impact of Covid-19.

In fact the company had a strong Q1 followed by reduction in trading due to the lockdown and then good month on month growth in May, June, and July.

Filta clinched six new franchise sales in the period. Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, the group has been focused on supporting its franchisees and customers by reducing franchise fees and working with customers to prepare for re-openings in Q3.

Cost reductions were reportedly achieved through the lockdown period by making use of government schemes, wage cuts and reduced discretionary spending.

Plus the company launched its FiltaShield sanitisation service in May and recently secured an exclusive licensing agreement with NHS Trust owned support services group, NTH Solutions.

Filta is also reporting encouraging progress in North America and Europe, as continued interest from potential franchisees is said to have resulted in four new H2 franchise sales and a healthy pipeline.

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Jason Sayers, CEO of Filta, commented: “While the Covid-19 pandemic had a material impact during the first half, our results demonstrate the resilience of our businesses and the fundamental strength of Filta. I am extremely proud of the way that Filta staff have stepped up to challenges we faced in each of our markets, and I thank all our employees and franchisees who have worked tirelessly to support our customers throughout these challenging times.

“We entered the year with good momentum, but with the pandemic causing lower demand for our services and widespread closures across our customer base from mid-March, we quickly adapted, placing emphasis on supporting our employees, franchisees and customers and protecting the long-term health of our business.

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“Despite the disruption, we remained committed to operational excellence whilst developing new and creative ways of working; all of which will ensure that the company-owned activities in the UK, in particular, remain ideally positioned for future success. The strength of our North American business model has been evidenced by the continued profitable trading that we have enjoyed throughout the Covid-19 affected period.

“With customer demand now coming back, we can focus on leveraging our solid capabilities to drive revenues back up. We are well-prepared for the resumption of trading by our ongoing end customers and believe that there will be growth opportunities as businesses have to become more innovative and efficient.

“Moreover, with the appointment of a new and industry experienced MD in the UK to drive the business forward, we are confident that we are well placed to achieve strong revenue growth.”


Source: Catering Insight

Rare business opportunity to take on your own oven valeting business in South Notts

September 2, 2020

A rare opportunity has arisen to take on a successful oven cleaning business in the Nottingham South area following the retirement of its previous owner.

It offers the ideal prospect for those facing uncertain employment prospects, looking to defer their retirement, or simply searching for a change of career.

Ovenu Nottingham South combines a tried and tested product with a respected brand – together with the added reassurance of a comprehensive training programme and ongoing business support.

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Rik Hellewell, the founder and managing director of the Ovenu franchise, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to invest in an established franchise with a thriving and loyal customer base.

“Our franchise package is built on more than 25 years of experience and contains everything needed to operate a profitable business.

“An Ovenu franchise is designed to set people up for success compared to the very real challenges of establishing a start-up business in what are uncertain times.

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“It provides a valuable learning experience in how to run and grow a business. For others it is the ideal opportunity to take control of their lives and find that perfect work-life balance.”

The market-leading domestic oven cleaning franchise – which operates more than 100 franchises across the UK – was named a ‘Rising Star’ of the UK’s franchise sector by industry bible Elite Franchise earlier this year.

Ovenu stood out from many similar companies in the sector for the outstanding knowledge, help, support, and practical guidance available to franchisees

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It was also praised for its realistic and straightforward fee structure along with its client management system for generating significant leads.

Added Rik: “Ovenu Nottingham South is already well established in the area and the retirement of its previous owner provides an excellent opportunity for someone to further build on that hard-earned reputation and success.”

Source: WB Wire

Ecocleen Cleaning Million Of Square Feet Of Schools A Day

August 3, 2020

Ecocleen, a commercial contract cleaning provider, has been servicing 10 million square feet of schools daily to aid the reopening of education facilities across the United Kingdom, according to a press release.

With specialist cleaning expertise and local account management, the company adapted its offering to meet individual school needs and expectations during this unprecedented period. This adaption ensures education facilities remain a safe and hygienic environment for students, teachers and parents.

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The return to school has been controversial and unpopular with many parents and staff, who are concerned about the safety and practicalities of children returning to the classroom. Ecocleen has helped to provide certainty and reassurance by ensuring schools are fully and properly prepared when children return. Since schools started reopening in the U.K. in June, Ecocleen has adjusted its cleaning specifications and introduced daily cleaning throughout school hours, focusing on main contact points to help limit the risk of cross contamination.

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“The effects of COVID-19 have been paramount, and it’s had a huge impact on the education sector in particular. We’re proud to have helped students, teachers and parents return to some sense of normalcy by providing them with what they need to safeguard their school,” says Jean-Henri Beukes, managing director at Ecocleen. “Schools are not experts in cleaning — they are there to educate, as well as look after their teachers and students. We’re on hand to understand the unique needs of cleaning schools, colleges and nurseries, and help them feel safe as education facilities continue reopening.”

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As a national service provider with regional franchise ownership, Ecocleen has provided schools with a local cleaning solution backed by nationwide standards, systems and support. This means the education community has benefited from shared specialist knowledge, advanced cleaning techniques and technological innovation. The team has also been available to provide advice and best practices to ensure schools and their staff completely understand infection control procedures and the importance of routine cleaning to reduce the spread of infection.

Source: Clean Link

Oven cleaning business Ovenu Cheshunt celebrates return to full order book with maximum five star reviews

July 27, 2020

The owner of Ovenu Cheshunt is celebrating after achieving a clean sweep of more than 100 five-star customer reviews weeks after reopening the oven cleaning business.

Paul Bernard, who took over the franchise in March 2019 after spending 20 years working in managerial positions in the motor trade, received the maximum rating from every client posting feedback on respected review platform TRUSTist.

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The coronavirus outbreak led to the temporary closure of the business, just as Paul was seeking to expand by adding extra vans and subcontractors. However, since reopening, he’s been delighted at the positive response of his clients and a swift return to a full order book.

He said: “I spent the downtime preparing to reopen and ensuring I had the right safety procedures in place to keep both myself and my clients safe and I’m really pleased that, since reopening, things have ramped back up so quickly.”

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“The phone has been ringing non-stop, with both new and existing clients and bookings are exceeding the lead up to Christmas which is always one of our busiest periods.

“I pride myself on delivering the highest standards, so I’m thrilled to have received the highest possible five-star reviews from every one of my clients posting on TRUSTist.”

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Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of the Ovenu franchise, said: “Paul has already shown he is a hardworking and successful Ovenu franchisee and I am delighted he has been rewarded with these maximum reviews.

“It is so important that clients rebook and recommend Ovenu services in order to grow the business, so I look forward to seeing his continued achievements and expansion over the coming months and years.”

Ovenu Cheshunt serves homes and businesses across Cheshunt, Waltham Cross, Potters Bar and surrounding areas.

By Paul Bernard

Source: BDaily

Ecocleen Names New Commercial Director

July 14, 2020

Ecocleen, a commercial contract cleaning provider, has appointed Mark McMullen as its commercial director, announces the company in a press release.

The former operations director of Sodexo UK, McMullen joins the company with over 20 years’ experience in developing and delivering plans to drive profitable growth and business transformation.

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With McMullen’s wide-ranging experience across several sectors including managed facility services, retail, hospitality and wholesale, he brings strength in B2B and B2C environments where collaborating with clients and being committed to customers are the key to success.

In his role as operations director at Sodexo UK, McMullen was instrumental in the turnaround of a more than £100 million business and successfully winning MOD’s first super-contract under Project HESTIA worth £200 million.

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“I am thrilled to be joining the Ecocleen team and look forward to building on the exceptional leadership of Henry Beukes and Jean-Henri Beukes, says McMullen.

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“Ecocleen colleagues and partners can be very proud of their achievements in supporting clients and customers, in particular during the recent pandemic, and I feel privileged to be one of the team. In the years ahead, we will work together to create an even greater organization, supporting more customers and clients by continuing to embrace new technology, playing our part in tackling climate change, enforcing high standards and ensuring Ecocleen is the UK’s number one choice for employees, clients and franchise partners.”

Source: Clean Link

Cleaning company joins our campaign to help local businesses bounce back from lockdown

June 19, 2020

A former Royal Marine Commando who has survived a brain tumour, a serious assault and business highs and lows has vowed not to allow coronavirus to halt his latest venture.

Ian North, from Barlaston, has gone through a lot in his 58 years, but has always come back fighting.

He has seen Zero Dry Time, the carpet and furniture cleaning business he runs alongside his wife Jayne, disrupted by the pandemic but has promised to start visiting customers again this month.

“Life has been eventful but through it all I have always been resilient and I won’t let a pandemic stop me growing Zero Dry Time,” said Ian.

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“The timing of the lockdown has not been kind, as we had spent 2019 building up work, following my recovery from a brain tumour.

“Zero Dry Time will be ready to emerge from lockdown in the next few weeks having ensured that we have taken all safety actions necessary to open up to customers again.

“Together with Jayne and my former Royal Marine friend and colleague Mervyn, I’ll be visiting homes and businesses again. We will be wearing PPE and taking full social-distancing precautions.”

Ian took on the Zero Dry Time franchise for Stoke-on-Trent South, Stafford and Uttoxeter in 2015 and built the business up so well that he was named Franchisee of the Year, before illness struck him hard.

He explained: “I suffered headaches dating back many years. I sustained a serious head injury while in the Marines and this led to my medical discharge from the service in 1983.

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“More than 30 years later, I went to hospital for a CT scan and a mass was found in my brain. This led to a series of operations where I had my skull cut away. The surgeon and staff at Royal Stoke were fantastic but my recovery inevitably took time and I had to take time away from work.

“Having taken on the franchise in 2015 and built up the business, I had to put everything on hold, only getting up and running again in 2019 thanks to Jayne and Mervyn taking some of the workload off my shoulders.”

lan’s first wife died of breast cancer and, after eventually finding happiness again with Jayne, she was also diagnosed with the disease, before fortunately pulling through.

He added: “I joined the Marines straight from school, aged 16, and was extremely proud to serve.

“Sadly, the head injury meant I had to rejoin civilian life seven years later and I returned to Stafford, eventually securing a role as a fireman at GEC.

“My wife’s cancer changed my life again and I had to leave work. I was devastated and also needed to be at home with my young family.”

Life took a new turn when Ian, a highly skilled silversmith, set up a new business making jewellery.

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He made a great success of the business until cancer struck his family once again, and once again, Ian decided to put work on hold.

Following many months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Jayne pulled through and, seeking a new challenge, the couple took on a charity trek to Costa Rica, raising £50,000 for breast cancer care.

“Jayne was amazing, she had just nine months to get fit and ready for a 100-mile, gruelling trek, but she’s full of determination and was up to the challenge,” added Ian.

Returning to England, Ian and Jayne embarked on a new business venture, running a successful outdoor events business before deciding to take another career break following the extremely wet summer of 2014.

But Ian’s determination to work was still there and a visit to the Franchise Show led to a new career with Zero Dry Time.

He said: “I drew up a shortlist of franchise options and was most impressed with Zero Drive Time. I found the ethos of the owners to be fantastic and I could see they had built a franchise model that helped people make a successful career.

“It proved to be the right choice and over five years later, despite the trauma of major surgery, we have a blossoming business. Coronavirus has been a set-back as it hasn’t been possible to visit customers’ homes or offices since early March.

“Like most people, Jayne and I have stayed at home for the past 10 weeks, but we’re now raring to go again.

“I am a determined man and through amazing care at Royal Stoke, my devoted wife Jayne and the support of the Royal Marines Association, I beat my brain tumour, so I’m not allowing a pandemic to defeat me.

“We have bided our time as we didn’t want to jump straight back into work when the PM announced that lockdown would be eased.

“Our customers trust us to go into their homes and we see that as a privilege. We owe it to them to ensure safety is the number one priority once work resumes.”

The Sentinel and StokeonTrentLive have launched the #IAMOpen campaign to support local businesses left counting the cost of lockdown.

Source: Stoke-on-Trent Live

Horsham home cleaning firm gears up for a return to work

June 13, 2020

Home cleaning service Molly Maid is gearing up for a return to business in Horsham following the easing of lockdown.

Horsham franchise owner Hayley Emmett, who runs a team of 21 employees, said: “It feels great to be one of the first businesses getting back to work.

“The response from our customers has been phenomenal and our employees are glad to be back working.”

Although cleaning services provided in customers’ homes were never required to cease operating during the lockdown, Molly Maid decided it was the right thing to do to keep employees and customers safe.

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Hayley said: “It was a really tough decision to stop providing our home cleaning services – especially to our older and vulnerable customers. Most can’t properly clean their home themselves so it’s an issue of health and safety.

“But it is also about the health and safety of our employees”. She added: “If we couldn’t safely bring our employees back to work and safely provide our cleaning services to customers, then we would not be able to resume cleaning”.

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The company has introduced several changes as part of ‘HomeSafe’ procedures including daily health checks of their teams following NHS guidelines, implementing social distancing measures between teams, customers and within customers’ homes, along with the use of a sanitising cleaner.

Hayley added: “It’s important that local businesses like ours help our community get back on its feet.”

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Related: Molly Maid Franchise

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By Sarah Page

Source: WS County Times

Ecocleen targets franchise network expansion

June 4, 2020

Ecocleen is creating a host of new franchise opportunities within the UK following a record year in 2019, which saw the company grow by over a third. As a result, Ecocleen has created seven new franchise territories across England and Wales, each with an established client base and operational infrastructure.

“Last year, we implemented a strategy to build-up our client base in areas without an existing franchisee, taking advantage of a rising number of business enquiries due to our growing brand and reputation,” said Jean-Henri Beukes, managing director of Ecocleen. “On the back of £2.5 million worth of new business across the network and the acquisition of Regency Cleaning Company, we now have a number of territories with a sizeable turnover that are ready for an entrepreneurial franchisee to step in and expand.”

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Ecocleen has created substantial turn-key regions for incoming franchisees that are designed to maximise growth potential and provide the opportunity to develop significant and robust client portfolios. The available areas currently include Bristol, Bath and South Wales; Tees Valley; The Midlands; Oxfordshire; Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire; North London; and South London.

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“Our aim is to attract quality franchisees, from the UK and internationally, who are high performing individuals with a business-minded attitude,” continued Beukes. “We are not necessarily looking for people from the cleaning or facilities management sector, but want people that have an appetite to learn, grow and work in an industry that offers growth potential and uncapped earning opportunity. In the current state of lockdown, there will no doubt be aspiring and budding entrepreneurs taking time to re-evaluate where they are and what they want to achieve in the future, so it is these ambitious individuals we want to engage with.”

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Source: Cleaning Mag

Telford oven cleaning business to donate 10 per cent of takings to Severn Hospice

May 29, 2020

Ovenu Franchise UK – A Shropshire-based businessman who has just reopened his oven valeting business will donate 10 per cent of his first three months’ takings to Severn Hospice.

Andrew Bowcott, 40, from Doseley, the owner of Ovenu Telford South, had been trading for just over three months when he was forced to temporally close his new business following the coronavirus outbreak.

He has now returned to work and is determined to support the independent charity which helps families across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales living with incurable illness.

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“Both my wife and I were widowed young, so we know what an important role hospices play in families and they need all the support they can get,” he said.

“I’ve been inspired by the many stories to emerge in recent months that highlight the dedication of health care workers and wanted to show my appreciation for a charity that supports many thousands of people every year.

“As a result, I’m donating 10 per cent of all my takings until August 31 to help contribute towards the hospice’s fundraising appeal.”

He decided to reopen the business on May 18, once the government guidance had been published to allow people to work inside people’s homes, and immediately received more than a dozen new bookings as well as with rebooked appointments that had been cancelled.

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Andrew is accepting bookings at his discretion, with the strict stipulation that both parties observe the two-metre social distancing rule, along with following guidelines on hygiene and cleanliness. Payment can be accepted electronically, and it is possible to complete the whole valeting process with minimal or zero customer contact.

He added: “I, along with many other tradespeople across the area, had to temporarily close my business – a very difficult thing to do when it is your livelihood.

“Since then, I’ve been preparing to reopen at the appropriate time with the correct measures in place. It feels great to get back to work but my priority is to keep myself and my customers safe.”

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Previously, Andrew spent more than 20 years as his own boss, with business interests including a seafront ice cream kiosk, a newsagents in Aberystwyth, and more recently a refrigerated transport company.

Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of the Ovenu franchise, said: “Andrew has taken a very responsible approach to reopening his business and has clear guidelines in place which I hope will reassure his clients.”

The Ovenu valeting process involves dismantling key components of an oven and placing them into a design-registered tank, using non-caustic cleaning products.

By Rob Smith

Source: Shropshire Star