If you’re wondering how to make a career change that will allow you to combine freedom, flexibility and profit, look no further than franchising in the cleaning industry. Specialist areas like chimney sweeping are a great place to set up a business, as they strike the perfect balance between level of demand and level of competition. In this article, you’ll discover how to become a chimney sweep (and a business owner).
Franchising is a unique business model, and one very well suited to an entrepreneur with all the drive but a lack of experience. If you want to start running a franchise, but you’ve never set foot in the chimney sweeping industry before: don’t panic. An extensive programme of expert training and ongoing support, courtesy of your franchisor, has you covered.
What does a chimney sweep do?
A chimney sweep cleans the chimneys and flues of open fires and other heating systems, including coal, gas, oil and wood-fired. Chimney sweeps generally work on the go, travelling to client locations to deliver their services, and they work across the commercial and domestic sectors. The common daily tasks of a chimney sweep are:
- Inspecting chimneys and flues
- Advising and communicating with customers about chimney/flue safety
- Protecting and preparing the area surrounding the chimney/flue
- Using brushes on extending rods to clean the chimney/flue
- Removing dislodged soot and debris with an industrial vacuum cleaner
- Examining the chimney/flue (with, for example, CCTV cameras and smoke-generating machines)
Chimney sweeping is an extremely necessary service, as a clean chimney lowers the risk of a chimney fire. There were 4,300 recorded chimney fires in the UK between April 2018 and March 2019 [HETAS]. Though it’s always enjoyed a certain level of demand, this level is actually currently on the increase, as more homeowners embrace older architecture and recognise the value and beauty of a real fireplace.
Recent demand [for chimney sweeps] shows a significant growth thanks to the increasing interest in renaissance architecture and in fireplaces in general. This means that more people are more likely to engage in our services today.
- Wilkins Chimney Sweep
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How to start a chimney sweep franchise
If, having discovered the day-to-day responsibilities of a chimney sweep, you feel that you could thrive as a franchisee in this area, it’s time to discover exactly how to get that chimney sweep franchise off the ground. When you’re preparing to invest in a chimney sweep franchise, there are three crucial questions that you’ll need to ask:
1. What training does a chimney sweep need?
Outside of franchising, chimney sweeps can enter the industry in a few different ways. They might take a training course ahead of starting work, or train alongside the job, gaining a Level 2 Certificate in Chimney Sweeping or a Level 2 Diploma in Chimney Engineering. As a franchisee, you’ll usually be able to enter the industry without experience and complete this training and accreditation on the job, with the help of your franchisor.
That means you don’t need to know the chimney sweeping sector inside out before you make your investment. Still, construction, engineering or cleaning experience would be helpful to you, and you’d be best placed to thrive in the industry if you possessed the following transferable skills:
- Attention to detail and concentration
- Patience and the ability to stay calm under pressure or stress
- Physical strength
- Physical coordination
- Customer service
- Basic computer proficiency (useful when examining chimneys with, for example, CCTV devices)
2. What research should you do prior to investing?
There are two different areas of research that you’ll need to cover before you invest in a chimney sweep franchise: the industry and the range of opportunities. In terms of the industry, you should look at the latest news and trends in chimney sweeping, while also taking a glance at trends in the wider cleaning industry (with a view to understanding how these could impact your business).
In terms of the franchise investment opportunities, you should be researching and assessing each one based on how it fits your needs. Is it a financial fit, not just in terms of initial fee but in terms of ongoing costs? Is a suitable territory or location available to you? Do you feel you’ll be able to thrive and enjoy your new professional life as a franchisee within the franchise network?
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3. How should you do your due diligence?
When you’ve narrowed it down to an ideal opportunity, the next step is a really crucial one. You must do your due diligence before you sign the franchise agreement, discovering all that you need to know about the franchise in order to enter into the contract with your eyes wide open. The last thing you want is to invest expecting one thing and then receive another, because you didn’t cover your bases from a legal standpoint.
From multiple sources (including your new franchisor, existing franchisees in the network and legal professionals), discover answers to all of the following questions before you ever sign on that dotted line:
- What is the franchise’s reputation with customers?
- What is the franchise’s reputation with franchisees?
- What is the franchise’s financial track record and current financial situation?
- What is the franchisor’s track record?
- What support and training will you receive?
- How long will it take you to recoup your initial investment?
- What operational rules and guidelines will you need to follow?
- What advertising, operating and royalty fees will you be charged?
- What is the length of the franchise term, and is it renewable?
- How will your franchisor handle territory border disputes if they arise?
Franchise opportunities in the chimney sweep industry
Chimney sweeping is a small niche within the wider cleaning industry, but even in this niche, there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you. One of these opportunities is a franchise investment with Wilkins Chimney Sweep. Wilkins Chimney Sweep is a leader in its field, one of the oldest providers of chimney sweeping services in the UK, and right now, the company is looking to expand its UK franchise network.
- Becoming a Wilkins Chimney Sweep franchisee: You won’t need previous industry experience, but you will need the financial means to cover the investment and ongoing costs, as well as plenty of passion for building a successful business from the ground up.
- How much you need to invest: You’ll need to make a minimum initial investment of £5,500, with a total investment cost of £13,100.
- What you get for your investment: You’ll be provided with an exclusive operational territory, branded clothing, an operational manual and a software license for Wilkins’s booking system. You’ll be fully trained initially and offered support on an ongoing basis.
Make a profitable career change and start running your own business today
There are few sectors of industry as robust as cleaning, in terms of customer need and demand. Regardless of the ways in which the world changes, there will always be a need for domestic and commercial cleaners of all kinds, from chimney sweeps to oven cleaners.
If you like the idea of starting a cleaning business, but you’re not set on sweeping, consider expanding your research into the wider industry. Why not discover the top 10 cleaning franchises in the UK, or the six reasons why commercial cleaning franchises are always in demand?
Cara Squires, Point Franchise ©