We talk to Kevin Shaw, Managing Director of Homeclean about how the market has reacted to the global Coronavirus pandemic and what he expects for the future of domestic cleaning.
What were your initial thoughts when news started to break about the Coronavirus?
I think that like many people, I was really concerned about what the future held for everyone both in terms of our health and wellbeing but also in terms of the business. There wasn’t really anything similar on the same scale to compare it to and of course that meant some uncertainty and apprehension about what we should do to take care of ourselves and our families.
What struck us very early on was how consumer awareness around maintaining good levels of domestic hygiene increased. We have thousands and thousands of clients across the UK and in those first few weeks we saw our regular clients increasing their frequency of visits and increasing the number of hours that they booked their cleaners for. The team worked really hard to meet the demand and we had some lovely phone calls and emails from clients.
What happened to business when lockdown measures were announced?
Because cleaners were considered to be key workers and because they weren’t able to work from home, our cleaners were still allowed to travel to and from work. The safety and wellbeing of our cleaners and our clients has always been our highest priority and so we did a lot of work in those first weeks to communicate safe working practices to both cleaners and clients.
There were so many variables to contend with, we had clients who were shielding who wanted to temporarily suspend services and others who had symptoms of coronavirus who needed to self isolate. We had cleaners who were unwell who needed to self isolate and others who were healthy but couldn’t work due to childcare issues. It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle but our franchisees and the Head Office team did an amazing job.
When did things start to change?
At the start of May, the Government clarified the position on cleaners in peoples homes. It had always been fine for them to continue work, but government measures were put in place which mirrored the work we had already done. For example clients were asked to stay in one room whilst the cleaning was being done and windows were to be left open to maintain good ventilation. We saw a massive change when this announcement was made. The vast majority of our regular clients recommenced their services and we saw an influx of enquiries from brand new customers.
What are your expectations for the next 12 months?
The UK cleaning industry is massive and contributes more than £24billion to the economy. It is very well documented that the cleaning industry is incredibly resistant to recessions. We saw our busiest year on record in 2009 following the recession then and our figures have grown year on year ever since. The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly causing us to enter another recession, and so cleaning is one of the safest industries to be a part of right now.
Because good hygiene and particularly good domestic hygiene is literally everyone’s top priority right now, this only strengthens my belief that the increased demand we are currently experiencing will continue and grow further over the coming months and indeed years.
How are you adapting to the changing needs of your customers?
We have a really solid and well established presence in the UK. Our clients love the service we provide and this is reflected in our client retention rates and the number of new clients who approach us as a result of a personal recommendation.
We’ve always worked off the philosophy of quality over quantity and so we haven’t necessarily added as many new territories as our competitors, instead opting to grow existing operations. We are however aware of massive demand from areas of the UK which we don’t currently cover. We are therefore ramping up our UK Franchisee Recruitment programme and we are looking to add a record number of new franchises this year to serve more clients than ever before, and of course help our franchise partners to build a solid business within their local community.
What would you say to anyone considering joining a cleaning franchise right now?
As I said earlier, the industry is massive and really robust even in difficult times. Cleaning businesses are set to deliver great results for their owners in the coming years, and owners opting to go down the franchise route are more likely to succeed and to earn a higher return much faster than going it alone.
There are a number of cleaning franchises out there, and no two are alike. My advice to a prospective franchisee at the moment would be to do your homework and shop around. You need to ask all the questions you need and go with a franchisor who you feel confident will be able to support and guide you to the success you deserve.
The Editorial Team, Point Franchise ©