When Martin Francis decided to leave South Africa after 23 years, he looked at business opportunities all over the world before returning to his native UK to take over the South Wales Minster Cleaning Services franchise.
The 53-year-old had already identified office cleaning as a business that would make best use of his skillset gained from a career in banking management followed by 10 years running his own security business.
Martin says that he was able to set about 'reigniting' the Minster Cleaning Services franchise from his very first day. "The branch opened in 2003 and built up a strong, stable customer base with a capable management team; this has allowed me to concentrate most of my efforts on growing the business. Much of our business is currently within the Cardiff area, which has undergone significant regeneration over the last few years. It is one of the UK's fastest-growing cities and a major centre for the retail, finance, media and tourism sectors, providing ample potential clients for Minster. As we also cover all the CF (Cardiff) and NP (Newport) postcodes, we have almost unlimited scope for further expansion."
Support for franchisees is seen as a priority at Minster and has benefitted from substantial investment during the company's 32-year history, as managing director Mike Parker explains: "We have developed sophisticated systems to take care of many of the routine day-to-day business activities such as IT, accounts, marketing and training and we employ the services of outside professionals for advice on employment law, health and safety and environmental legislation. This helps franchisees to build thriving businesses – average sales are over £700,000 across our 42 branches with many having reached an annual turnover of over £1 million."
Martin says that the help that he has received has been invaluable: "There's quite a lot to learn when you take over a business but, when you join Minster, you can call on specialists in every area as well as having access to advice and guidance from the rest of the franchise network."
As an essential commercial service which attracts clients from a broad range of sectors, office cleaning is relatively recession-proof. Minster Cleaning Services has been providing commercial cleaning services since 1982 and is one of the country's most successful franchises. It has been a bfa full member since 1992 and annual turnover is over £30 million.
Whether taking over an existing area or in a new-start situation, Minster franchisees can all create valuable, saleable assets. Mike Parker confirms: "A Minster Cleaning Services franchise could turn out to be an excellent investment for the future. We give franchisees a realistic, tried-and-tested plan to follow and, if you are prepared to work hard, you can build a successful and lasting business. As a management franchise that can employ as many as 200 people, the most important attributes are people-management ability, commercial awareness and resilience."
There are currently established franchises available for resale in Bristol, Derbyshire, Dundee and Hertfordshire at a fee of £10,000 plus vat in addition to the purchase price of the business. New opportunities include Cambridge, Doncaster, Durham, Leicester, London, Middlesex, Guildford, Peterborough and Swansea. Initial start-up cost is £28,225 plus vat, covering licence, training, software and hardware, stationery, machinery, equipment and materials. Between £40,000 and £60,000 working capital will be needed – finance is available from leading banks subject to status.