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Starting a business of any kind is always a big step – even a franchise, which has very high success rates compared with going it alone.

And there is a huge choice of franchises available – 929 in the UK according to the NatWest bfa June 2012 Franchise Survey; not all are the same and the bfa stresses the importance of choosing one which offers a proven business format with all the initial and continuing support that you will need.

Minster Cleaning Services was established in 1982 and began franchising in 1992. From day one, franchisees benefit from Minster's 30 years experience; training is an on-going process starting at Head Office with a programme designed to equip franchisees with the skills and know-how to get their business off to a flying start. A wide range of support services helps with the day-to-day business activities such as operational management, administration, bookkeeping, IT and marketing as well as the demanding, complex and constantly evolving fields of employment law and health and safety legislation.

Financial controller, Steven Seaton says that Minster is committed to the long-term development of systems which simplify routine office work and can help franchisees to provide a better service for customers: "Our computerised quoting module is being launched as the first part of Minster's six-figure investment into sophisticated customer relationship management software. This will not only streamline the quotation process at branch level, it will supply valuable data which we can analyse centrally and advise franchisees on how fine-tuning their approach to new business development can lead to more success."

Whilst predicting continued growth in the £6bn+ UK contract cleaning market, research organisation, Key Note warns that, with budgets being squeezed, it is becoming ever more important to provide a sustained high quality service.

This is good news for Minster Cleaning Services says managing director, Mike Parker: "We are ideally positioned to take full advantage of any growth. Our success has been built on the provision of excellent service levels to a broad range of commercial organisations year after year. Franchisees provide a service which is tailored precisely to the needs of their clients, this has led to success in markets such as healthcare where combating HCAIs (Healthcare Associated Infections) is a priority.

"The Minster brand is trusted, respected and well established in the marketplace. Our business model is rock solid and less susceptible to fluctuations in trading conditions than many other industries; it is an essential business-to-business service with multi-sector appeal; and the exceptionally large territories give enterprising franchisees virtually unlimited potential."

Minster Cleaning Services is a bfa full member; annual turnover is £30m – an average of more than £700,000 across their 41 branches. In larger branches there can be as many as 200 employees so potential franchisees will need a range of skills, attributes and experiences including people-management and leadership, problem solving, resilience and commercial awareness.

New franchise opportunities include Cambridge, Doncaster, Durham, Leicester, London, Middlesex, Guildford, Peterborough and Swansea. Initial start up cost is £28,225 + 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. On average, franchisees have been with Minster for 11 years and some are reaching the stage where they are planning their retirement. As a result, there are also currently established franchises available for resale in South Wales, Surrey, Dundee and North West Midlands.

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