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Deciding on the right franchise could be one of the most important choices of your life. Looking at whether a brand has bfa membership is a good starting point: for a franchisor to be a member, they must pass a strict accreditation process that looks at all aspects of the franchise operation to make sure it is proven, ethical, sustainable and free of ambiguity and misleading statements.

Minster Cleaning Services began life in 1982 and has been a bfa Full Member since 1992. With so much experience of the commercial cleaning market and franchising, Minster gives prospective franchisees a business model that is a rock- solid proposition with considerable opportunities for growth; Minster's larger branches can employ upwards of 200 people and many have achieved annual sales in excess of £1 million.

The Minster brand is one of the company's most valuable assets – trusted, respected and recognisable. Minster's marketing department, headed up by manager Paul Stairmand, helps franchisees to capitalise on this in order to grow network sales and increase profitable turnover through both new business development and client retention. 22-year-old marketing graduate, Nikki Riddle has recently been recruited to assist in providing integrated marketing support for franchisees through both online and offline channels.

The bfa urges prospective franchisees to research the training and support packages offered by franchisors and these are areas in which Minster Cleaning Services excels. From day one, there is help for the transition from employment to self-employment and established systems are in place to cover important business activities such as bookkeeping, training 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. If ever a problem arises, there is always someone else who has had the same experience and has come up with a solution.

As an essential business-to-business service with multi-sector appeal, office cleaning is less susceptible to fluctuations in the nation's economy than most sectors and Minster's exceptionally large territories give enterprising franchisees virtually unlimited scope for expansion. Minster has weathered several downturns and is today one of the country's most successful franchises with annual turnover of £30 million. Average turnover is now well over £700,000 across the 41-branch network.

The massive and still-growing UK contract cleaning market has maintained year-on-year growth throughout the recession, but it is becoming ever more important to provide a sustained high quality service. This is good news for Minster as their success has been built on the provision of excellent service levels to a broad range of organisations year after year. Their continued success depends on selecting the right franchisees; whether for an established business or a new territory, they should have excellent people-management skills, ambition and resilience.

There are established franchises for resale in Bristol, Derbyshire, Dundee, Hertfordshire and the North West Midlands at a fee of £10,000 plus vat, in addition to the purchase price of the business.

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.

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