John Whyte started the Leeds branch of Minster Cleaning Services in 1994 after selling his share in the software company that he founded and ran successfully for 13 years. His experience in management was the ideal preparation for a career with Minster and, since then, he has been Minster Franchisee of the Year three times whilst building up a large and thriving business.
Four years ago, John was joined by his stepson, Marc Goddard, whose management skills were gained at Asda and then in his own lawn care business which he sold in 2008. Marc, 43, joined as Business Development Manager and also spent time as an Area Manager before becoming joint franchisee in 2011; this has allowed John to reduce his involvement with a view to full retirement from the business within the next year or two.
Minster managing director, Mike Parker, says that exit planning is important in any franchise: "On average, our franchisees have been with us for 11 years and some, like John, are reaching the stage where they want to take things easier or retire completely, capitalising on the hard work they have put in. In order for them to get the very best possible return on their investment, we must ensure that they structure their businesses so they can be successfully sold or, if they prefer, passed on to another family member."
Keeping it in the family is certainly paying off in Leeds; Marc has won 13 healthcare contracts in the last twelve months. As he explains: "Primary dental care providers are now required to be Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered and to comply with the standards for registration, their premises have to meet a number of essential standards which include the maintenance of appropriate levels of cleanliness and hygiene. By demonstrating Minster's expertise in implementing cleaning regimes that satisfy these requirements, we have been very successful in this specialist sector."
All Minster franchisees can build valuable businesses and nearly a fifth of branches have achieved annual sales of over £1 million. Prospective franchisees can look forward to a safe and secure future whether they buy an established branch or choose a new area; Minster provides a recognisable and well-trusted brand together with support in all the main business activities such as bookkeeping, training, marketing and the complex fields of employment law, health and safety and environmental legislation.
Few organisations can claim to be entirely recession-proof but a solid business model makes Minster resilient to the effects of a weak economy: office cleaning is an essential commercial service; large, exclusive territories give franchisees almost unlimited scope for expansion; and, by providing cleaning services for such a broad client base, Minster branches are not greatly affected by a downturn in any particular sector. Research organisation, Key Note estimated the annual UK contract cleaning market at £6.42bn in 2010 and predicts that it will reach £7.13bn by 2015.
New franchise opportunities include Cambridge, 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. Also, there are currently established franchises available for resale in Surrey, South Wales and Dundee.