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.
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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.
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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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.