Since the end of “Furlough” in 2021, Betterclean Services Exeter & Taunton has grown revenues well over 100% in the space of nine months, bringing them close to a £1M turnover. Caroline Spiller, Managing Director, expects this growth rate to continue and attributes it almost entirely to treating staff really well.
“I’ve always been very proud of the high quality of our cleaning services, which has resulted in very high client retention rates and growth through word of mouth,” said Caroline. “Like many service providers, our business was almost brought to a halt when the COVID pandemic first hit and, if it hadn’t been for the Furlough scheme, we may not have survived. Coming out of the pandemic, we decided we needed to grow faster to achieve a scale that would help us survive future economic shocks. We realised we needed to do this by focusing on the source of our past success, which has been about treating our staff really well” she explained.
In a sector renowned for fickle employment practices, Betterclean Services Exeter & Taunton has followed a different path. “Since my early career working for airlines and marketing agencies, I’ve understood the link between happy and motivated staff and high levels of service. And I’ve tried to bring this philosophy to Betterclean and the way we manage our teams” said Caroline.
“But, to achieve the scale we needed after the pandemic and in the face of chronic staff shortages in front-line service sectors, we realised we needed to redouble our efforts as a good employer.”
That journey has seen the business become a Real Living Wage Employer, with all staff paid a fair wage significantly above the minimum wage adopted by most cleaning companies. A benefits scheme has also been introduced in partnership with the leading rewards App, Perkbox, offering staff reward vouchers and shopping discounts with high street retailers. “But, above all, we’ve really focused on good management of our teams” Caroline explained.
“I spend much of my time talking to our managers about what our staff need from us. The topics are wide and varied, ranging from making sure we approve holiday requests quickly to giving additional time off to deal with personal crises, to helping people find housing or counselling resources. In addition to being supportive, we aim to be very clear about what we expect of people in their roles and we try to deal very quickly and fairly with any under performance or disciplinary issues.”
This focus on staff has really paid off. At a time when other cleaning companies are constrained by staff retention and recruitment problems, this is not a significant issue for Caroline. “We have won many new contracts this year as a result of other cleaning companies struggling to deliver service in the face of staff shortages and recruitment difficulties. This has led to high rates of referral from new clients who have been so pleased we’ve been able to bring their cleaning services back to good standards that they have been spreading the word” Caroline explained. "I see word of mouth marketing as a key success metric for the business and over the last 9 months about 80% of new business has come via referral”, she added.
As Caroline looks forward to the next 12 months, she is aiming to double the size of her business again, to about £2M turnover. “I’ve got such a great team in place that I’m confident we can grow. I’d rather continue to put my time and money into our staff, over other costs like marketing and sales, because this creates the solid foundation we need for our rapid growth. I also need that growth to continue providing career development opportunities for the staff that want them.”
Earlier this year Caroline measured the general motivation levels of all of her staff using an Employee Engagement App, Workbuzz. She was delighted with the results. An overall Engagement Score of 85% revealed that by far the majority of Betterclean staff were happy in their roles and committed to the company, significantly above service sector averages. So, it appears Caroline has good reason to be confident about the future.
Jakob Pii, Point Franchise ©