We chatted with Anton Skarlatov, co-founder of Fantastic Services, and Jenny Farenden, Franchise Marketing Director, to find out how this fantastic franchise came to be. From losing a star banking client at the lowest point of the 2008 recession to building a franchise with 530+ successful franchisees, here’s a quick look at Anton’s inspiring story about how to rebound, rebuild, and come out even stronger than before.
The 2008 recession hit many companies hard. For Anton Skarlatov, who ran a small cleaning business that counted then-doomed bank Lehman Brothers as its star client, it was a devastating blow. Thankfully, the enterprising entrepreneur has been able to recover from this setback and build a thriving franchise with partner Rune Sovndahl.
We caught up with the ambitious founder, along with Jenny Farenden, who oversees marketing efforts aimed at prospective franchisees, to learn more about the property-maintenance franchise Fantastic Services. Keep reading to find out how this incredible network has managed to keep growing, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Offering essential recession-proof services
After the 2008 recession wiped out around 80% of his cleaning company’s clients, Anton had to find a way to pivot and use his expertise in another way. He was in the process of heading to Brazil, where he would spend time planning his next move while the economy recovered, when he met business partner Rune Sovndahl at a dinner party.
Anton explained that, at the time, there seemed to be a shortage of vital workers like cleaners, plumbers and housekeepers. So, using Rune’s website-building skills, which he had honed as Head of Digital at lastminute.com, the pair built a new business that could plug a gap in the domestic services market. And after reaching out to tradespeople across London, they realised there was an opportunity to establish a franchise.
In just a few short years, Fantastic Services was thriving. In 2011, when many businesses were still keenly feeling the residual effects of the recession, the network grew 400% year-on-year. And during 2020, when many services had to be suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions, the franchise still managed to establish itself in an astounding 20 new territories.
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Keeping up with the big players
The modern customer comes with a hefty set of expectations thanks to tech-based giants like Amazon and Deliveroo. Jenny explained how Fantastic Services has made it a priority to invest in its business model to make sure it can keep up with the biggest and the best.
“We’re constantly looking for new ways to grow and support our franchisees. We have invested in tech that allows us to compete with other major brands. It’s no longer a case of competing with companies in your own industry; customers expect the same level of service from small suppliers as they receive from companies like Amazon.”
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How multiple revenue streams have helped Fantastic Services
Fantastic Services’ franchisees offer an incredibly wide range of services, meaning that, in theory, franchisees can generate in excess of 100 revenue streams. Under normal circumstances, this diversity means each entrepreneur has lots of chances to bring in a healthy income. But in exceptional times, it’s proved to be a lifeline for many franchisees.
“Like everyone, we were scared during the first few weeks of lockdown. But we managed to get our franchisees together and look into the most profitable avenues as a group. And it’s worked! We were one of the first companies to offer what we call antiviral sanitisation cleaning services.”
“Our franchisees may have had a little less work, but they were doing more valuable jobs that helped them maintain profitability.”
The advantages of a global franchise
Right now, business owners across the globe wish they had a crystal ball to better understand what a post-pandemic world could look like. Fantastic Services, however, does—albeit one that technically looks just 11 hours into the future. Anton explained how the Australian franchisees had offered information on what consumer habits may look like once restrictions are lifted.
“Late last year, when everyone was on furlough and worrying about what the future held, we had valuable insight from our franchisees in Australia, where most of the lockdowns had been lifted. This information allowed us to strategically plan much earlier than our competitors.”
And even across the UK, franchisees and franchisors from all four corners of the country have come together during these difficult times to support one another.
“The pandemic has been a time for communities to come together. We’ve hosted online meetings, weekly calls, and even a virtual conference! Franchisors have supported each other with advice and knowledge sharing. It feels like Fantastic Services has evolved, rather than suffered, because of this situation.”
You can find out more about this franchise opportunity in Fantastic Services short video below:
Starting a business in a recession
While the true financial impact of the pandemic is yet to be felt, ongoing financial unpredictability is making many entrepreneurs nervous. But Anton believes that there’s never been a better time to start a business.
“I like to say that winter is our season. During the hard times, when everyone else is hunkered down waiting for an upswing, it’s the best time to start a business—not when everything is going well. It means your business will be established and ready to welcome customers when the economy is ready.”
Anton also highlighted one of the biggest plus points he has noticed about running a business during an economic downturn.
“When times are good, you need to spend a lot on marketing just to get noticed. But during a recession or downturn, people stop spending money on marketing. Advertising is cheaper at the moment, and it’s the right time to get in as no one else is spending money. I’ve actually been offered premium advertising on London buses for an incredibly low rate, so it’s the best time to get in there and start raising awareness.”
A bright and sustainable future
Jenny and Anton made it clear that the franchise has big goals for the future, including reaching 1000 franchisees and getting many of them to a £1million turnover. Fantastic Services is also keen to adapt its business model in a number of ways, including expanding its ‘Fantastic Academy’ online learning portal and prioritising sustainability everywhere from its vehicles to its cleaning products.
Anton shared one of his favourite proverbs to wrap up the conversation:
“There are two ways to grow: through pain or through wisdom. Buying a franchise means you’re growing through the wisdom of another and picking up on things another person has struggled and toiled to learn. I wouldn’t start another business from scratch, but I have invested in other franchises, and I believe franchising really, genuinely works!”
A fantastic opportunity
It’s clear that Anton’s ceaselessly enterprising approach coupled with Fantastic Services’ robust business model has allowed it to weather one of the toughest storms any sector has ever faced. We’re looking forward to seeing how this exciting franchise continues to expand over the coming months and years.
If you’d like to find out more about Fantastic Services, you can visit its client page to discover everything you need to know about its investment package. And if you’re looking to grow your business by becoming part of the Point Franchise network, visit the advertise page to find out more.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©