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21 Years of Franchising

Whilst working at Tandy Corporation, Alan Haigh came up with the idea to launch Minster Cleaning Services, now one of the country's most successful franchises and a leading force in office cleaning.

One of Alan's responsibilities at Tandy Corporation was to find cleaning contractors for the Tandy stores. He explains: "They were unreliable and the general standard of work was of low quality." Alan had also seen a Financial Times cleaning industry report that pointed out that, despite the fact that the market for this 'must have' service was massive, it was very fragmented and most cleaning companies were very small. It went on to conclude that the industry, as a whole, suffered from high turnover of both management and cleaning staff which, in turn, led to poor standards and high levels of customer dissatisfaction.

In November 1982, Alan set up Minster Cleaning Services. By 1990, he had branches in Birmingham and Accrington, turnover was £1million and both were very profitable.

Alan was confident that he could keep growing the company. Many of Tandy's branches were franchised and he had seen that these franchisees were much more committed to the business than those who were simply employees. He believed that Minster was perfect for franchising: the business could easily be replicated; the market was more than big enough for franchisees to build substantial businesses with high returns, and the business model had been proven over a 10-year period.

Today, after 21 years of franchising, total turnover for the group is £30million. On average, franchisees have been with Minster for over 10 years and average turnover is now well over £700,000 across the 41 branch network. Alan says that selecting the right franchisees has been key to the company's success: "They must be resilient and have people-management ability, as they could well be running a team of over 200 people within just five years. It is also important for them to be ambitious – all Minster franchisees have the opportunity to build valuable businesses and more than 30 per cent have achieved annual sales of over £1million."

Minster has been a bfa full member since 1992 and, whether franchisees buy an established business or a new territory, they are provided with a safe and secure business model. A high level of support starts with help for the transition from employment to self-employment, plus there are established systems in place to cover important business activities such as bookkeeping, training, marketing and the complex fields of employment law, health and safety and environmental legislation. Further help is available through national and regional meetings and via the branch network, where there is a healthy exchange of ideas and information between franchisees.

As an essential business service, commercial cleaning appeals to a broad client base, so it isn't greatly affected by a downturn in any particular sector. Furthermore, Minster's large, exclusive territories give franchisees almost unlimited scope for expansion. Research organisation, Key Note, estimated the annual UK contract cleaning market at £6.42billion in 2010 and predicts that it will reach £7.13billion by 2015.

New franchise opportunities include Cambridge, Doncaster, Durham, Leicester, London, Middlesex, Guildford, Peterborough and Swansea. Initial start up cost is £28,225 plus VAT which covers licence, training, computer software and hardware, stationery, machinery, equipment and materials. In addition, between £40,000 and £60,000 working capital will be needed – finance is available from leading banks subject to status.

There are also currently established franchises available for resale in Bristol, Derbyshire, Dundee, Hertfordshire, the North West Midlands and South Wales.

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