Award-winner launches new cleaning business, SOLVED365

October 1, 2018

A brand new commercial cleaning franchise, SOLVED365, has been launched by award-winner, Sharmin Akter (right), who holds the title of Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2018 English Asian Business Awards.

The company says that the franchise has been introduced to satisfy the growing demand for the services of Total Solutions Group (TSG), a successful, independently owned business that Akter launched in 2014.

SOLVED365 explains that it will offer exclusive franchise territories to ambitious franchisees, who with full training in TSG’s methods and procedures, will service both local and national account work under the SOLVED365 brand.

Akter said: “We have a phenomenal reputation with our clients and our services are in high demand all over the country. We have a large number of high value national accounts, and we want these to be serviced by our own network of franchisees, who have been trained to work to our very high standards.

“More importantly though, our franchisees are trained and supported to build their business first and foremost through locally sourced work. They do this through networking, great marketing and customer referrals, so when they do get national account work from head office, it’s a really nice bonus for them.

“This hasn’t been a hastily-made decision and we have developed a formal franchise structure with a BFA accredited consultant and piloted it successfully. We have undergone a feasibility study and we are really excited about not only what this growth will mean for us, but for the franchisees who join us.”

“Few services are as commonly outsourced as cleaning. Cleaning remains a necessity and the potential financial, quality and convenience benefits of outsourcing continue to provide an attractive proposition, even during periods of economic uncertainty.”

SOLVED365 franchisees will provide commercial contract cleaning services in sectors such as offices, GP surgeries, private hospitals, schools, colleges, warehousing and distribution centres, student accommodation, hotels, retail, care homes and restaurants.

The company adds that franchisees will enjoy tried and tested back-office services, including call handling, HR and recruitment support, health and safety support, ongoing in-house training, marketing support and 24/7 helpline. Its three-weeks induction training is a mix of head office classroom-based training and field-based training.

SOLVED365 currently has opportunities across the UK including areas in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Essex, Gatwick borders on the M23 and A23, Kent, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Surrey.

Source: Franchise World

‘If you go big, someone will be jealous’

August 6, 2018

The BBC’s weekly The Boss series profiles a different business leader from around the world. This week we speak to Rune Sovndahl who co-founded home services firm Fantastic Services.

Every entrepreneur expects a challenge or two in the early days of starting their business – but few expect to be on the receiving end of threats or even vandalism.

But two years after Rune Sovndahl and Anton Skarlatov started Fantastic Services in the UK in 2009, the tyres on about 10 of the company’s branded vehicles were slashed over a two-month period. Mr Sovndahl suspects a competitor was behind it.

“We’d already been receiving nasty Facebook messages saying they ‘will make your website go down’, then this happened at the same time,” says Mr Sovndahl.

“I think they realised we suddenly had more cars on the street than they did and they got jealous,” says the talkative Dane. “We had about 100 cars on the streets and they saw us coming from nowhere.”

While the threat soon disappeared, the 43-year-old says he took away a lesson from it. “I think as an entrepreneur you have to learn if you go big, someone will be jealous.”

Now offering more than 25 household services such as cleaning and gardening, Fantastic Services started after the pair were introduced at a party almost a decade ago.

A Fantastic Services cleanerFantastic Services began as a cleaning business

Mr Sovndahl needed a cleaner and Mr Skarlatov said he could help as he was managing a friend’s cleaning business. “I looked at his website and I thought they could be big,” says Mr Sovndahl.

“No-one had taken the industry seriously. A lot of competitors didn’t seem organised – for example, they didn’t know how to take card payments. It was like the Wild West of services.”

Eager to conquer what they saw as a potentially huge market, the duo each put £30,000 of savings into the business and launched it a few months later. “It was chaos,” admits Mr Sovndahl, who was working as a group SEO (search engine optimisation) manager for when he set up the business.

“Firstly we got too many cleaners who didn’t know what they were doing, then we had too many calls. Demand was so high we had to continually expand and outsource the call centre to Bulgaria – but then we bought that call centre and started running it ourselves.”

Unlike many of its competitors, Fantastic Services operates as a franchise model. “While everyone else was a marketplace, we changed the model,” says Mr Sovndahl.

Mr Sovndahl and partner Anton Skarlatov
Mr Sovndahl (right) met his partner Anton Skarlatov at a party

“We have a number of franchisees in the platform and they’re all vetted, checked, and trained staff. We want to deliver the quality.”

Fantastic, which is available in UK cities including London, Liverpool and Oxford, has since expanded into other categories such as providing storage and helping with general home maintenance jobs.

The costs of services vary from anything from £12 for a cleaner to more than £150 for pest control. However, not everything has gone to plan – a move into babysitting was ditched six months in after Mr Sovndahl admits it “didn’t fit in”.

The London Bridge-based business says it carries out an average of 40,000-plus services a month in the UK. While total revenue for the most recent 12 months was almost £10m, profits were just £44,000.

“Profits are low when you reinvest in the company,” says Mr Sovndahl. “We have built a complete CRM [customer relations management] system from scratch – with two apps. This costs money.”

Fantastic has expanded into other categories such as general fix-it jobs around the home

Ever the opportunist, he says the company has in recent years launched in new markets such as Australia and the US, where it runs carpet cleaning in Atlanta and Las Vegas. However, the business has also reduced its headcount from 600 to 350 as more customers book online.

Although expansion has come at the expense of profits, Fantastic is now in talks with potential investors. “We want to expand more with the same model and look at more locations and service expansion,” Mr Sovndahl says.

Thomas Slide, senior retail analyst at Mintel, says the on-demand market has taken off as more consumers find they have neither the time nor the ability to do DIY themselves.

Presentational grey line

“Companies like Fantastic Services make it really easy to find someone else to do the work instead while also adding a level of trust by guaranteeing the work,” he says.

“It is also the result of improvements in technology, as Fantastic Services and similar businesses use the internet and smartphone apps to make it easier than ever to find a tradesperson – something that can be an intimidating task for those who are not used to it.”

Rune SovndahlImage copyrightKOOX ADVENTURE
Image captionRune Sovndahl enjoys cave diving in his spare time, so much so that he invested in a dive shop

However, Mr Slide warns of rising competition as the likes of Amazon and John Lewis have moved into the market. “Fantastic Services has gained the advantage of being an early mover in this space, but with some of the biggest and most trusted brands in the UK now trying to get in on the action, future growth may prove more challenging.”

Before setting up Fantastic, Mr Sovndahl was a chef in one of Denmark’s best restaurants, L’Alsace, until a shellfish allergy forced him to quit in 2002.

The Dane, who lives in central London with his wife and infant son, went on to launch a string of companies including a fashion content business, a telecoms firm offering cheap phone calls, and dedicated music and dance teacher websites – all while working in managerial roles for the likes of BT and Lastminute.

Even on holiday Mr Sovndahl admits he is “no good at just sitting on the beach – I need to do something”. Visiting Mexico five years ago, he decided to learn to dive.

“Then I got my open water advance [certificate], then moved into cave diving, going deeper [in the ocean] and seeing some places very few people see. It’s an incredible space – I go back there a lot to dive.”

Ever the entrepreneur, it’s also led to a canny business idea: “I love it so much I invested in the dive shop because all the expenses were adding up. So I made a deal with the owner.”

But for now, with a big investment deal on the horizon, he may have bigger fish to fry.

Source: BBC

Cleaning Franchises in the UK – Here’s All You Need to Know

July 31, 2018

Commercial & domestic cleaning franchises in the UK are among the safest, evergreen business opportunities. Here’s what you should know about them before you buy one.

Dozens of reasons can be attributed to the immense success witnessed by franchising business models in the UK over the past two decades. Whether it’s the last-mile penetration by big-ticket food and soft-drinks mega-brands or the modest but equally fascinating leap in performance exhibited by local players, this phenomenon definitely says one thing out loud – if you can make the demand count, the business will take off.

This, perhaps, is one of the reasons why some businesses that don’t – at the first glance – look good candidates for franchising are also among the ones that have benefitted the most from it. Cleaning franchises make a great example of this. Traditionally, a cleaning company would rely on a set of longstanding, familiar and local clients to make money. The resource-intensive nature of the business would often prove to be a millstone that automatically pre-empted growth attempts. Franchising, however, has – in more ways than one – set this industry free. Today, thanks to the power of franchising, many UK cleaning franchise businesses have seen tremendous success.

But what exactly does a cleaning franchise business do? Who is better suited to buy or run cleaning franchises in the UK? How much money does it take to do so? What are the other cost implications?

Find answers to these and many other relevant questions in this comprehensive guide to running cleaning franchises in the UK!

Cleaning Franchises – Making the Most of Year-Round Demand

At franchise4u, we have discussed in great depth how the foundation of modern economics – the never-ending duel between the supply and the demand – is always the best indicator of the viability of a franchise business.

As far as the demand side of the equation is concerned, cleaning franchises in the UK have little to worry about. Unless there is a sudden and drastic downturn in the economy, there will always be people and businesses that want and need the services of cleaning professionals. The present state of this industry in the UK is a good reflection of this fact. Let’s review some key numbers in this regard to understand how the evergreen demand is one of the most important things in your favour if you are looking to buy a cleaning franchise business in the UK:

  • The professional cleaning industry was one of the first to recover from the global recession that started in 2008. Since 2010, this industry has grown over 21% per year, whereas the rest of the economy has struggled to touch the 17% mark.
  • In 2017, this industry saw overall turnovers exceeding £24 bn – a sizeable number for any service-oriented industry.
  • Over 700,000 people in the UK are employed in various capacities thanks to the growth of professional cleaning businesses in the last 5 years.
  • When it comes to start-ups, the cleaning industry leads the national average by a fair margin. Similarly, the ‘demise’ percentage of businesses in this industry is much lower than the national average.
  • Average wages in the professional cleaning industry have risen at a rate of 6.4% post 2010 – nearly triple of the national average that hovers around 2.3%.
  • Experts expect this trend to continue over the next few years. By 2024, the cleaning industry in the UK is supposed to generate close to half a million new job opportunities.

 Source: ‘The Cleaning And Support Services Industry Research Report 2017’ by the British Cleaning Council

What is a ‘Cleaning Franchise’?

Now that we have established that the demand can be counted on, let’s see what cleaning franchises are and what they really do.

A cleaning franchise is a standalone service point run by franchisees on behalf of the franchisor. The franchisor typically offers the equipment, training, knowhow and marketing infrastructure to help franchisees get started. The franchisees can then secure a given ‘territory’ to expand their business and profit from the same.

The cleaning franchises in the UK are typically expected to offer a variety of highly customised cleaning services to their customers. The clientele includes homeowners, businesses and government agencies.

Recommended: Here’s why children’s franchises are flourishing in the UK!

Cleaning Franchises in the UK – Major Types

All cleaning businesses in the UK are service-oriented businesses, as we noted earlier. There are, however, a few large businesses that also sell customised cleaning equipment, chemicals and other paraphernalia. However, in this article, we will be focussing solely on cleaning franchises as services, not products.

Based on this, such franchises can be classified into three major categories:

Commercial/Industrial Cleaning Franchises

Commercial and industrial cleaning franchises in the UK are large businesses that focus entirely on offering robust, customised solutions to a variety of businesses, corporations and government agencies.

If you wish to buy a commercial cleaning franchise in the UK, it’s imperative that you have adequate initial experience in the cleaning industry. If you lack in experience, the workload and business management can quickly become overwhelming, resulting in a general drop in the quality of services offered. As a commercial cleaning franchise owner, your job will largely be to acquire clients, hire staff, manage business operations and grow the business. It should also be made clear that commercial cleaning franchises are extremely difficult to run from your home, thanks largely to the nature of business operations and the number of people involved.

For commercial cleaning franchises, the list of clients includes hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, office spaces, warehouses, factories and other similar businesses.

Residential/Domestic Cleaning Franchises

As the name suggests, residential or domestic cleaning franchises concentrate on offering cleaning services to individual homeowners, landlords, townships, residential societies, dormitories and so forth.

It’s quite common for these franchises to employ a small team of people in the first few years of the business. Due to the personal nature of services and the small scale of operations, it is indeed possible to run a domestic cleaning franchise from your home.

Customised/Specialised Cleaning Franchises

Customised cleaning franchises, at times combining the features of industrial and domestic varieties, bring to the table speciality cleaning solutions. These solutions are often tweaked and finetuned to suit the project-specific requirements.

The clientele for specialised cleaning businesses range from large scale chemical plants to small, local businesses and housing projects. Your neighbourhood carwash business is perhaps the best example of customised cleaning franchises. Similarly, window cleaners, pet store cleaners and hospital cleaners can also be regarded as specialised cleaning franchises. When it comes to the scale of operations, these businesses are closer to industrial cleaning franchises than domestic cleaning franchises.

Cleaning Franchises – Initial Investment and Working Capital

A large percentage of would-be and first-time franchisees don’t have the luxury of readily available working capital or credit. In fact, while choosing a franchise to buy, most franchisees have the initial investment as the first and most important ‘filter’ criterion. It does make sense too – if you can’t inject enough money into a new business, it’s impossible to make it grow or turn it profitable. Therefore, if you are thinking of buying a cleaning franchise, you should know how much it typically costs and how you can meet these cost requirements.

The initial investment, of course, depends on a number of factors. Some of these are:

  • The type of cleaning franchise you’re buying – commercial, domestic or specialised
  • The brand value that the franchisor brings to the mix
  • Training, equipment and marketing support on offer
  • Location of your business and the market value of the territory
  • Local competition and room for growth

As you can notice, these variables can contribute significantly to the initial investment, and, in return, to the overall profitability of your franchise business. A small-sized domestic cleaning franchise typically costs about £10,000 in initial investments, whereas a medium-sized variant in a more profitable territory costs in excess of £20,000.

These numbers are enough to give you an idea about how much money you will need to buy a cleaning franchise in the UK. There may, however, be other costs to consider, as well. These can be grouped together as ‘operational costs’, and include rent, staff salaries, utilities, miscellaneous expenses, insurance, licences, certifications, royalties to the franchisor and so on. The sum total of operational expenses for the first six months and the initial investment is approximately the working capital you will need to get your cleaning franchise business up and running. Hence, it’s safe to say that if you can raise £30,000 or more, you will be in a very good position to kick-start a cleaning franchise in the UK.

The initial investment for commercial cleaning franchises is higher, as can be expected. A medium-sized commercial cleaning franchise can cost you upwards of £25,000.

How Do UK Cleaning Franchises Make Money?

Unlike retail franchises or fitness franchises, the territory is more important than the location for cleaning franchises. You and your team will be expected to visit the client’s house or workplace to offer your services, and hence, choosing a territory with enough demand to cater to is of utmost importance.

A typical domestic or industrial cleaning franchise will initially align all its resources and efforts towards acquiring new customers. An extensive round of marketing is often required to get the word out. Many franchisors, knowing the importance of this, offer marketing support to all their franchisees. A domestic cleaning franchise operating in a mid-sized city or town will be expected to target a minimum of 10,000 to 20,000 customers in the first six months in order to establish its credentials. Securing the business of customers that can offer bulk contracts – think landlords, housing societies, hotels – often proves to be the most efficient way to meet these numbers.

Most cleaning franchises generate revenue with a subscription model. A fixed monthly fee based on the extent of cleaning required is the norm in this context. This business model can take many variables out of the picture, allowing you to estimate the profitability with much more certainty. This, while true for residential cleaning franchises, isn’t always true for commercial cleaning franchises. A commercial cleaning franchise can register profits by securing only a few sizeable contracts with large businesses. The revenue, in such cases, revolves around building customised, project-specific models that are flexible and offer the customers the benefits of bulk-ordering.

A well-run cleaning franchise with a steady base of customers can expect to break even in 15-18 months.

How Much Can You Earn? – A Representative Example

If you charge £50 per cleaning session, the largest chunk of it will go towards paying the salaries/commissions to your staff and paying for the equipment, chemicals, travel and other overheads. Nearly a third (based on conservative estimates) of the leftovers – let’s say £15 – will then go to the franchisor as royalties, maintenance fees, contract fees and marketing fees. This will leave you with £10, a fifth of which will need to be reinvested into the business. Of the £8 left as profits, nearly 40% will go towards taxes and other incidental charges. So, in essence, a £50 cleaning session will yield a net profit of £4 to £4.80.

Servicing 1,000 customers a month at this rate will thus generate an annual turnover of £600,000, and profits to the tune of £48,000.

Recommended: Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know About Franchising

Should You Buy a Cleaning Franchise?

We have already produced a thorough guide to help you decide if franchising can be a good fit for you, along with a handy checklist. If you haven’t already, we strongly suggest you go through it and learn what it takes to run a franchise business.

Going further, you can ask yourself the following questions to get a fair idea about whether you are suited to operate a cleaning franchise:

  • Have you previously run a business of your own?
  • Do you know how franchising can affect your personal and social life?
  • Have you familiarised yourself with the ins and outs of how cleaning franchises work?
  • Have you conducted a thorough market research?
  • Do you have a well-rounded business plan in place?
  • Are you passionate about the industry?
  • Can you manage the business well while also working closely with your on-ground and in-office teams?

Many cleaning franchises exclusively target women who are either retired or wish to work from home. So, if you happen to fall into that category and you want to establish a business that doesn’t eat up hundreds of thousands of pounds in capital, cleaning franchises can be an option worth exploring.

Pick Your Team Carefully!

Being able to generate employment is one of the most prominent benefits of running a business. But when it comes to hiring staff, you – as a franchisee – need to be very, very diligent and careful.

This couldn’t be truer for cleaning franchises. You not only need to hire trained, efficient personnel, but also be sure that they are just as trustworthy (online CRB/DBS check for employees).

Cleaning Franchises and Innovation

There’s no denying that being able to adapt, survive and innovate is essential to make a business grow and keep it relevant in any competitive market. So, it goes without saying that even when your cleaning franchise attains profitability, it just won’t do to expect it to run on cruise-control. You will invariably need to bring in newer, more efficient techniques and methods of providing the service to your customers.

A great way to do this is to find and secure a profitable niche while also focussing on your central services. For example, a domestic cleaning business can add customised pool cleaning or gardening services as add-ons to attract new customers and retain the existing ones. Similarly, switching to eco-friendly cleaning chemicals and adding recycling services can immensely benefit an industrial cleaning business.

Top Cleaning Franchises in the UK

If you are serious about buying a cleaning franchise, the following overview of some of the best-known names in this industry is a good starting point.

· Sanondaf

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £35,000 (approx.)
  • Type: Commercial/Industrial Cleaning Franchise
  • USP: Touchless disinfection and decontamination for hotels, hospitals and other businesses
  • Extensive training and marketing support
  • Popular in the UK and Ireland
  • Flexible working hours
  • High brand value

· Molly Maid

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £16,975 (Excluding VAT)
  • Type: Domestic/Home Cleaning Franchise
  • USP: All-inclusive home cleaning, specialty spring cleaning, tenancy cleaning and more
  • The franchise fee includes a marketing budget worth £9,000
  • Reputed brand, 30+ years of experience
  • Full BFA Member

· Safeclean

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £10,000
  • Type: Hybrid (Domestic and Commercial Cleaning Franchise)
  • USP: Carpet cleaning, furniture cleaning, stain removal, mattress cleaning, deodorisation, sanitisation and more
  • Large sales volume
  • Thorough training and support
  • 40+ years of experience
  • Full BFA Member

· Dyno

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £45,000
  • Type: Specialised Cleaning Franchise
  • USP: Commercial, heavy-duty drain cleaning
  • Finance support
  • Thorough training and personnel referrals
  • A well-established brand name, industry standard for 50+ years
  • Full BFA Member

· Techclean

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £19,500 (Excluding VAT)
  • Type: Commercial Cleaning Franchise
  • USP: IT equipment cleaning (printers, computers, ATMs, laptops, scanners, systems hardware and more)
  • Unique business model
  • Existing relationships with numerous charities, businesses and government agencies
  • Extensive training and transfer of knowledge
  • Associate BFA Member

· Oven Wizards

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £12,500 (Excluding VAT), plus £240 per month as management fees (Excluding VAT)
  • Type: Domestic Cleaning Franchise
  • USP: Systematic oven cleaning services
  • Allocation of large territories (100,000+ households)
  • Regular training sessions for staff
  • Full BFA Member

The Takeaways

  • Conduct a detailed study of the market.
  • Know your objectives and be sure that the franchise you select meets them.
  • Hire with care.
  • Innovate to expand and grow your business.