Couples in franchising
After falling for each other Paul and Kirsten Dunn fell for Scotland, moving there from South Africa to take over Minster’s Edinburgh and Lothians franchise in 2016.
What were you up to before joining Minster?
Paul: We lived in South Africa where I’d been working in the hygiene industry since 1996 for a large corporate company that also had a commercial cleaning division so I knew a bit about the industry.
Kirsten: I was totally new to it though! I had my own pilates studio back then so it was a big change to give that up and come over.
Why Minster and why Scotland
Paul: I’ve got some Scottish heritage, we also honeymooned here and loved the place, it’s beautiful. So when we decided to leave South Africa and the opportunity came up we couldn’t resist.
Kirsten: We were ready to try something new and having looked at several other franchises we felt Minster was just the right fit. It was an established business and there was space in the company for two of us to take on different roles.
Paul: We’re even getting used to the weather.
How do your roles differ?
Kirsten: I’m in charge of the office – the bookkeeping, HR, banking and so on. Whereas Paul, because of his background in the sector, covers the commercial, marketing and operations side.
Paul: We have very different duties and are careful not to interfere with each other’s. It works really well, in fact we haven’t had a work based argument since we started.
Kirsten: If you knew us, you’d be amazed!
What are the advantages of working together as a couple?
Kirsten: When we first met, we’d have said there’s no way we could work together! But moving to a new country, starting a whole new life and taking on a business is such a big step and we’ve found working as a team has given us real strength. Also our complementary skills and experience in business and building relationships have helped us hit the ground running.
Paul: Yes, we really know we can rely and trust each other which are great qualities to have in a business partner. And on a practical note, somebody would be doing these jobs either way, so we’re not having to pay anybody else.
What advice would you give to other couples looking to take on a franchise?
Kirsten: Definitely consider Minster, they give such great practical and marketing support and know the commercial cleaning business inside out.
Paul: When it comes to working together our secret is to respect each other as colleagues in the office – we understand we’re business partners and not husband and wife – and we have an unbreakable rule that we don’t talk about work outside of office hours.
Has becoming Minster franchisees improved your work-life balance?
Paul: Absolutely. Our lifestyles have changed dramatically for the better, we have much more flexibility now.
Kirsten: I worked 12 hour days in South Africa so it’s transformed my life and given us both time to pursue other hobbies and interests. Which, when you work and live together 24/7, is pretty important!
And how is the business doing?
Kirsten: Really well. The great thing about commercial cleaning is businesses always need it. We’ve grown turnover from around £934,000 when we started to just under £1.1 million now.
What are your plans for the future?
Paul: There’s still plenty of opportunity for growth and we’re always looking for more business. In particular I’m trying to increase our landlord and developer client base. We’d also like to explore more of this amazing country, especially the lochs.