After a 30-year career with the Lloyds Banking Group, Kevin Lawley decided to use his extensive range of management skills to go into business for himself. He chose a commercial cleaning franchise and has trebled turnover at the Norfolk & Suffolk branch of Minster Cleaning since taking over in 2011!
Kevin’s roles at Lloyds included Global Head of Sales, Country Manager (South Africa) and Regional Manager (Africa) for Lloyds International Banking and Retail Branch Network Director (Central London) where he was responsible for managing risk and operations, customer service, delivery of sales income and managing a head count of some 500. He says that this broad experience helped him to develop the skills needed to run a successful management franchise and when an opportunity to leave the bank presented itself, he began to look for a suitable business to buy.
When he saw that the Norfolk & Suffolk branch of Minster Cleaning was for sale, he made a detailed analysis of the contract cleaning market and discovered that it is an essential commercial service for which there is a demand whatever the economic climate and, as it attracts clients from a broad range of sectors, there is a vast potential market.
He spoke to the head of franchising at Lloyds Bank who pointed out the significantly lower failure rates of a tried and tested franchise opportunity compared with a non-franchised business and that, as an established franchise, he would benefit immediately from cashflow, customers and staff.
Kevin explains: “I saw this as an excellent opportunity for me to develop a meaningful business. After spending time with the Minster head office team in Birmingham, I contacted several Minster franchisees and was impressed by the sizes of businesses that they had built up and by how long most of them had been with the company. I also liked the culture within Minster and the fact that franchisees are encouraged to put their own stamp on the business.
“Training, help and ongoing support is part of Minster’s DNA, so a comprehensive induction programme including learning all about the systems for finance, IT, marketing, etc., was followed by my shadowing John Whyte, the Leeds franchisee, and mentoring from other franchisees in the network. As a result, there were no unexpected challenges in my first year and I found that by following the Minster formula, I was able to get the right balance between existing customer relationship management and new business acquisition. By approaching the business in a planned manner with steady, targeted growth, we started to grow the business from day one and were able to win new contracts whilst making sure that existing clients have no reason to look elsewhere. Highly motivated staff, strict quality control processes, managed absence cover and complete flexibility are the hallmarks of the Minster brand and have enabled us to attract new clients from businesses of all types.
“We’ve been particularly successful within the healthcare sector and now have contracts with over forty medical practices. This is largely thanks to Minster’s expertise in implementing rigorous cleaning regimes which help the fight against healthcare associated infections and also help the practices with Care Quality Commission compliance. We’re also making significant in-roads into the education sector with contracts already in place for a number of primary schools, high schools and boarding schools including one 70-hour per day contract involving twelve cleaners.
“Today, our turnover stands at £1.3 million and we have over 170 employees. Minster has become a serious player in the commercial cleaning market in East Anglia winning more and more prestigious contracts every month. To cope with our growth and to provide room for further expansion, we have moved to premises which are four times the size of our previous offices. With plenty of large contracts currently in the pipeline, the prospects for the year ahead look excellent too.”