In the tumultuous early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Minster Cleaning’s finance team really came into its own.
“We helped our franchisees access all the support on offer to maintain the cashflow that is the lifeblood of their businesses, including applying for the furlough scheme,” says Minster Cleaning financial controller Andrew Proverbs.
This quickly put franchisees in a strong position to ride out the initial storm. And although turnover across the Minster Cleaning network dropped by around 37% in the first two months as offices and other commercial premises shut up shop, they were back to pre-pandemic levels by October.
Now, franchisees are able to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the sector. “There is understandably a renewed focus on hygiene and cleanliness, and the vast majority of customers are coming back. On top of that we’re winning healthy volumes of new business,” says Andrew.
The manner in which franchisees are bouncing back is testament to Minster Cleaning’s robust foundations both in terms of its recession resistant business model and the support its finance team and other departments provide.
Finance support is equally comprehensive in normal times and is built around a team of six highly qualified professionals providing a variety of services. This ranges from dedicated assistance on day-to-day finance issues such as invoicing, billing and payroll, right up to advice on accounting systems, business plans, HMRC compliance and data analysis.
“Our franchisees come from lots of difference backgrounds. Some have really valuable skills in marketing or sales, but perhaps haven’t experienced running a finance department,” says Andrew. “That’s why we tailor our support to each new franchisee. We’ve been in the business a long time and are one of the UK’s leading commercial cleaning franchise, which means we have a huge amount of knowledge to share and can take away some of those finance headaches.”
This starts with two weeks of intensive training for new franchisees on Minster Cleaning’s systems, followed by a high level of support throughout their first year and beyond. “We’re always at the end of the phone no matter how long you’ve been a franchisee,” adds Andrew.
Like all areas of a business, finance doesn’t stand still, and Minster Cleaning is constantly looking for ways franchisees can stay ahead of the competition. For example, it is rolling out a customer relationship management (CRM) system that will automate billing and paying cleaners, enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of its operations.
The finance team also provides an annual branch health check. By auditing a branch’s performance and providing a comparison with others of a similar size, it helps identify where improvements can be made.
Scaling up tech solutions and offering the kind of in-depth analysis that helps franchisees grow, is only possible because of the size and expertise of Minster Cleaning’s finance team. It also means when unforeseen challenges arrive it can respond innovatively, such as the incentive scheme it has created to help franchisees recover quickly from the pandemic.
Andrew explains, “Removing the royalty fee for any new customers franchisees win up to December 2021 has led to a real uptick in sales since we launched the initiative in December 2020.”
Franchisees are also helped by the large and exclusive territories they have access to, giving them a huge potential customer base and scope to quickly build a thriving business. The numbers certainly back this up, with the top branches turning over more than £2million per year, half of franchisees bringing in annual revenues of £1million+ and some franchisees generating in excess of £200,000 in net profit.
Of course, it takes plenty of hard work to hit these heights and there will be bumps on the way. But the comprehensive support of such an established brand and its network support team really gives franchisees a head start.