We caught up with Kevin Shaw, Managing Director at Homeclean, to hear more about his journey from franchisee to managing director of the largest and most successful cleaning agency in London.
Homeclean has been in the industry for 30 years. Can you share some key insights you’ve gained in this time?
From the outset, we were always aware of the scale of demand for reliable, experienced and trustworthy cleaners in the London area. Homeclean began as a very simple business that was operated from a one-bedroom flat in Islington with just a pack of flyers and a telephone. We very quickly grew to become the largest and most successful cleaning agency in London, with thousands of cleaners and – of course – thousands of clients.
As we grew in London, we were constantly getting clients who loved our service asking us if we could provide cleaners to friends or family members who lived elsewhere in the UK. We would also get clients who were leaving the London area but desperate to continue using Homeclean in their new town or city. It was clear very early on that we needed to find a way to grow the business to meet the demand out there across the UK.
You’ve worked at Homeclean for a long time – what makes the cleaning franchise special in your eyes?
The cleaning industry is incredibly resilient and, even when other sectors like retail or travel are struggling, the cleaning sector is always growing. Our clients’ lifestyles are changing and there is so much more emphasis now on maintaining a good work-life balance and mental wellbeing. Our customers work hard, and we can help them unlock their free time whilst giving them a beautifully clean home to enjoy.
The reason that Homeclean has done so well as a franchise is that our clients look for two key elements in a cleaning service. First, they want a household name – a big brand that they know and trust to provide a cleaner for their home. At the same time, they value local knowledge and want to deal with people who have met their cleaner. Homeclean delivers on both these elements.
Homeclean is also special because it focuses on the things that are important to our clients and cuts out unnecessary extras. For example, we don’t spend money on fancy uniforms, branded vehicles or expensive cleaning equipment. This keeps things very simple for our franchisees and means that savings can be passed down; we offer lower prices to our clients and higher profits for our franchisees. For this reason, Homeclean is usually the best value cleaning service in the area.
You were a franchisee before you became Homeclean’s Managing Director. Why did you make the decision to change roles and how did the transition occur?
I joined Homeclean with one franchise in the North of England. I had experienced firsthand how difficult it was to find a reliable and experienced cleaner. I came across Homeclean completely by accident – I had no previous cleaning experience and was curious to find out how big the opportunity was. After two years, I was operating Homeclean units in five territories and was demonstrating that the model could easily be replicated with equal success in any area.
It is fair to say that I have been extremely passionate about the Homeclean brand ever since I was introduced to it. Before changing roles, I had been working closely with other franchisees around the UK and had even been involved with training and developing Homeclean’s master franchisees.
Teresa and Matthew had build up such a special company over 30 years, and my involvement to that date had shown me how unique the business is and how much scope there is to grow the brand both in the UK and worldwide. I was really honoured when they approached me and asked me to take on the role of Managing Director. As our company’s focus is on growing the franchise network and supporting and developing existing franchisees, I feel my firsthand experience as a Homeclean operator makes me really well-suited to the role.
What is your biggest achievement at Homeclean so far – in any role?
It’s so hard to choose just one!
I think that one of our biggest achievements has been to break into the US market. We have a fantastic master franchisee based in Georgia who is as passionate about the Homeclean brand as I am, and we recently launched our first regional franchise there in Atlanta. It wasn’t an easy journey, as there were regional differences that we needed to embrace. But, ultimately, our simple and straightforward business model translated well in the US market and is already starting to disrupt things over there. This will be great for both consumers and our operators.
How do you hope to develop the business in the years to come?
We are the kind of business that never rests on our laurels. It can be easy to sit back and enjoy our success, but the world around us is constantly changing and evolving, so it’s important we keep developing to stay ahead of our competitors.
Here in the UK, we have already invested a significant amount of money in upgrading the custom-built software that helps our franchisees run their businesses. The CRM software is simple to use and means that just one person working from home can deal with a huge number of cleaners and clients very easily. We are always looking to develop this system and find ways to further streamline processes, whilst adding value to both operators and clients.
We have a dedicated franchise support team based in the UK. They already provide telephone and email support to all our franchisees, as well as practical training at our London and Manchester offices. We will be looking to expand this support in 2020, finding new and innovative ways to help our franchisees grow and develop their businesses.
Beyond the UK, we have plans in place to expand into new territories around the globe. Selecting master franchise partners who share our passion and drive is key in these plans. We know that the business model and system can be a success anywhere in the world and we look forward to turning Homeclean into an international brand name.
What skills and attributes do you look for in prospective franchisees?
Our franchisees really do come from a variety of backgrounds and join us with diverse skillsets and experience. There is absolutely no cleaning experience required to run a Homeclean franchise, as our operators will never need to do any of the cleaning themselves.
Individuals who are organised and can manage their time well always make successful Homeclean franchisees, but the custom-built software supplied to each franchisee really does take care of this for them. It enables our operators to see what tasks need to be completed at the touch of a button, while mundane tasks like reminders and invoicing can be done automatically.
Many of our franchisees join us with previous experience of dealing with customers. This is very useful, as Homeclean is very much a ‘people business’, and building strong relationships with clients is very important. That said, our detailed operating manuals and training package mean that even if operators join us without this experience, we can get them up to speed very quickly.
The main attribute that we look for in a prospective franchisee is the drive and enthusiasm to succeed. This is something we can’t hand over in a software system or write down in a manual. We want our operators to have the most successful cleaning business in their territory. Many of our franchisees now run Homeclean units in multiple territories and we do all we can to support them as they grow their businesses.
What training and support do you provide for new franchisees?
The first thing to say about new franchisees is that, prior to sitting down and signing an agreement, we always make sure we have a very honest and open series of conversations with them. It is important to us that this is the right move for both parties and that the prospective franchisee has been able to ask any questions they may have.
Once they are on board, we will typically start by providing three days of training at Homeclean’s Head Office. This is usually delivered by existing franchisees and/or members of the franchise support team. As franchisees are paramount to our success, I still retain some involvement in the training of new investors, as this can be a great opportunity to get to know them better and find out how best we can support them in those early weeks.
The initial training will usually cover:
- How to set up your Homeclean business
- How to attract and retain cleaners
- How to market your services to clients
- How to deal with enquiries
- How to use the bespoke Homeclean software
We have a set plan of what we cover but we are also very aware that each and every franchisee is different, so we are happy to adapt the training to suit the individual. If the franchisee would like more than three days of training, then of course we will be happy to provide that.
After the initial training, the franchisee has access to our detailed operating manuals, which will guide them through running a Homeclean business. We also use online training videos and quizzes to refresh their knowledge.
Our dedicated franchise support team is UK-based and available throughout the week for telephone or email support. We also use online communication tools for franchisees to keep in touch with each other and share best practice.
Homeclean is a big name in the cleaning industry. How important is your ability to differentiate yourself in the market?
It’s true, Homeclean has been around for a long time. Prospective franchisees will often comment that they feel the market is crowded in their area. The fact of the matter is that Homeclean is able to offer the best possible service at the lowest possible price point. This is essentially down to the business system and the way in which client fees are structured. There is no shortage of cleaning companies in London, but we are by far the largest and most successful.
To be successful, you have to understand what your customers want and need, and then deliver it consistently better than anyone else. As companies are increasingly using automated processes, Homeclean is automating where appropriate but also retaining that all-important personal touch. Our franchisees live in the areas they serve and know the cleaners they use.
With our proven success, it could be easy to rest on our laurels – but we don’t. We are continually collecting feedback and suggestions from our clients and franchisees, and then adapting our business to make sure it not only works well now, but will do for years to come.
How do you make sure you maintain consistent levels of customer service across the franchise?
Homeclean is a customer service business, so consistency is vital to our continued success. That’s why we always make sure we select the right franchisees. These may be operators who have a wealth of experience in the customer service industry or have clearly demonstrated that they understand the importance of service in our industry.
The training we provide to our franchisees is also key in ensuring service consistency. We detail all the steps they will need to follow in the customer journey, and back this up with training and coaching on the interpersonal skills that franchisees need. This ensures the transaction is efficient and adds value to the client.
Once a new franchise is up and running, our support team provides the operator with everything they need to provide a consistently high standard of service. This includes regular coaching exercises and feedback from clients. As a result, we are able to continually adapt our offering and celebrate franchisees who consistently go above and beyond for our clients.
The Editorial Team, Point Franchise ©