Rainbow International Fire & Flood Restoration, Domestic & Commercial Cleaning

Membership History

Full Member
Joined 1997

Rainbow International Fire & Flood Restoration, Domestic & Commercial Cleaning

Membership History

Full Member
Joined 1997

Company Overview

Rainbow International is a national supplier of restoration and specialist cleaning services and the brand was conceived by the franchising giant, The Dwyer Group. Now owned within the UK by the global facilities services company ISS, we are the dedicated to providing disaster restoration and specialist cleaning services, in an industry that provides a need not a want, so  demand does not diminish with the country’s economic performance.

Franchise Overview

Having been successfully trading in the UK for 30 years, we now have over 60 franchisees who we work in partnership with across the UK, with a mix of new areas and resales available across the country.  Your sales will be a mixture of centrally generated work from our key national clients and those you have generated locally.


Our initial training lasts for 5 weeks. This will include everything you need to know to run and grow a successful Rainbow International franchise.  With a mixture of classroom and hands on practical training, we will cover everything form generating leads, converting them in to sales, delivering the work, invoicing and collecting the cash.

Daily Life of a franchisee

Our franchisees are responsible for the overall strategy and day-to-day operations within their territory. Strong managerial skills and commercial awareness are therefore key.
You must have the desire to drive sales and maintain a high standard of service delivery.

Your day will not be just about managing your team to ensure they exceed the exacting standards our clients expect but also growing the business by building local relationships

Andrew's Story

So far, Andrew has done much with his Rainbow International territory in Northern Ireland, exceeding business targets (and setting new ones) in his first year. We chat to Andrew about what it’s like to be part of the Rainbow family…

My background is quite eclectic. I worked as a project manager for quite a few years before moving to the oil and gas industry; then, in time, the restoration sector. I’d always worked with other contractors, so being my own boss seemed like it could bring welcome opportunities. Franchising promised the extra security I wanted.

Around six months passed until I acted on the idea, having consulted several contacts for advice. I was already familiar with Rainbow International, and the company seemed professional – the franchise team had a good understanding of what they were looking for, and I felt like I would be a good fit both in terms of my work ethic and background.

Eventually, I decided to take the leap by purchasing a territory in Northern Ireland, County Derry. I embarked on the recruitment process in September or October 2016, which led to the launch of my franchise business in spring the following year.

A day in the life of Andrew

At first, only my father and I worked for the business – there are nine of us now! My sister helped out a little with admin too. Anything I asked my dad to do, he did it, no question. Family is very important to me. Thanks to Rainbow, I’ve managed to give them a good job with the potential for huge rewards, which I absolutely can’t value enough.

My main strength is project management; multiple jobs tend to be running at the same time. There are no other technicians in the team either, so I’m out every day performing structural surveys, gauging how much manpower we need, and ordering fresh equipment. Inspecting satisfies me, but solving the basics is more crucial than the small, intricate details, especially when I have tens of claims to process at once…

The biggest thing I’ve realised is not to take anything on too quickly. Saying “Yes” can overwhelm you; this happened a lot in my first few weeks. But I went on to hit my annual target in Month Six… Back in August, Northern Ireland was weathering a couple of severe floods, and they doubled my revenue once more. As of October 2017, I’m working towards three times my initial Year One target.

Rainbow International have been integral to this success, offering guidance when I needed it most. For the first 100 days after training, they checked in with a daily call, overseeing my progress from afar. They also helped me set realistic targets that I could hit and even exceed. Getting through half of my first year was the hard part; now, I’m looking forward to building on this success as I grow my franchise business.”

Wilf's Story

Having survived and thrived in a recession, and passed the £1M milestone, Wilf has plenty of stories about his 15 years with Rainbow International. We chat to Wilf about his experiences so far, and how he’s grown a successful franchise business.

“At the turn of the millennium, I was working as an accountant at a big defence company. It was a high-pressure environment, and when I suffered from a stress-related illness, I decided it was time for a change.

A friend of mine owned a franchise, and inspired me to research franchise opportunities in the region. I heard good things about Rainbow International, so when the Brighton and Hove branch came up for sale, I purchased the business and embarked on my franchising journey.

It was only a small territory at the time, with a turnover of £100,000. However, within a short space of time I moved from being a ‘man in a van’ to managing a growing team with double the turnover. Today, we own 8 areas and employ over 15 people; last year, we brought in £1.3m.

A day in the life of Wilf

When I first started out, I was a one-man band responsible for everything – I scoped the work, completed the jobs, did the audits, and managed the admin. This didn’t last long; within two months, I’d hired an administrator and technician.

For the first five years, we relied on insurance work – fires, floods and other accident-related claims. However, when the 2008 recession hit, a lot of this work dried up. It forced us to change the business focus and diversify our client base.

We began pitching for big projects like factory cleaning, media blasting, large building cleans, and high access cleaning. It enabled us to not only survive, but to grow during the recession.
As an accountant, I understand money and how it works. I think that commercial awareness has helped my business survive and thrive. While other businesses went under, we gradually increased our market share.

Today, I’m rarely out on jobs, unless it’s a big contract that requires my project management expertise. Instead, I deal with finance, keeping a steady eye on profit, job averages, margins etc. I’m also on the Rainbow International Advisory Council, representing the region’s interests at a national level.

What’s good about Rainbow is that there is a direct channel between Head Office and franchisees. They appreciate that we have the ground-level experience on what will work and what won’t. I believe the fact that they consult with franchisees is one of the reasons why the business model is so strong.”

Noreen's Story

Our Glasgow West partner, Noreen, has been a Rainbow International franchisee for 20 years. So we decided to have a chat with Noreen, to learn about her journey so far, and what it’s like running her own business.

“In December 1995, we came home one night to find our neighbour’s house on fire. The next day, Rainbow International arrived to restore the damage, and we were amazed by the speed at which the team transformed their property.

The following year, we heard the Glasgow West branch of Rainbow had become available, and my husband, Kevin, invested in the franchising business. At the time, I was working in banking, but I helped out with HR, accounts and marketing occasionally. Eventually, I took on a part time role, having left the corporate world to start a family.

However, 8 years ago, my husband became seriously ill, so I stepped in to manage the business. It was a steep learning curve, but Rainbow and its franchisees offered invaluable support in helping us get the business on track to where we are today.”

A day in the life of Noreen

“Two days are never the same in this business. Every day presents a fresh set of jobs, problems, and rewards, which is exactly what I love about it. Most of our business is self-generated, meaning I spend much of my week promoting the franchise through networking, exhibitions, talks and meetings.

My field operations technical manager co-ordinates staff, so I can be as hands-off as I need to be. However, I’m passionate about ensuring our team does a great job every time, so I still get involved in day-to-day decision-making and problem-solving. It just means that I leave technical aspects of the work to those with the expertise!

As we now have 14 staff in the business, I’m gaining more flexibility with my workflow, and enjoying the lifestyle I always wanted – taking care of the school run, and being there when the kids get home on an evening.

I’ll never take my eye off the ball in terms of generating new business, training staff and investing in equipment, but I’ve finally achieved a fantastic work-life balance.”

David and Dayna Clarence

David and Dayna Clarence are a classic example of how the Rainbow model can guide people to success.

Within two years of investing in their Northampton-based franchise the husband and wife team have taken turnover to nearly £1m and are employing 10 staff. They now run six franchise areas.

They have invested in a new 3,500 sq ft fast response centre and have developed a strong income stream from specialist cleaning services in addition to delivering disaster restoration services to Britain's leading insurers and loss adjusters.

Why did you want to go into business for yourself?
We had worked for other people for many years and we were making a major contribution to the success of the business. We decided to take the opportunity to be our own bosses and start making money for ourselves as well as having the satisfaction of building our own business. We also liked the idea of working together.

Why did you choose franchising?
There are three main reasons why we chose the franchising route:

1. David had worked in franchising and understood the benefits.

2. We really liked the idea of having an established brand behind what and who we are.

3. We wanted to be able to draw on the support and experience provided by the head office team and from other members of the network.

We can say that franchising was definitely the right decision for us.

What attracted you to the Rainbow International franchise?
David had worked in a Rainbow International franchise for six years which gave him a great understanding of the business as well as the technical and business skills required.

He had met lots of successful Rainbow franchisees who told him about how he too could be successful if he followed the Rainbow model and had a positive can-do attitude.

We both felt there was a wonderful opportunity to build a successful and enjoyable future with Rainbow.

How has business been since starting your franchise?
We have had two very successful years. We have had to work hard to build relationships but now we have some excellent relationships with our clients.

We took over an existing business and have rapidly built up annual turnover to close to £1m. We have continued to invest in the business and have grown our specialist cleaning services. An example of this would be investing in steam clean technology for kitchen deep cleans.

How do you manage the work/life family balance?
Believe it or not, we find it a lot easier having our own business than we did working for someone else. We have a six-year-old, a 10-month-old and another baby on the way. For us we didn’t just want to have our own business to make money (although that was one of the reasons!), we wanted to have a better life for our family and be able to see them grow up and we can honestly say that we do both; the latter more than we did when working for someone else.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone on how to win business what would it be?
Don’t try and sell! I have met with lots of clients from insurance companies, brokers right through to landlords and I have found what wins us the most and best quality work is just being yourself and listening to their needs. It’s very rare I will meet with a client and start reeling off our services etc. I like to meet with them, get to know them and offer the service they are looking for. Remember once you are in the door you can offer the other strings to your bow.

What business plans do you have to grow in the future?
Actually we have just expanded from a four-area franchise to a six-area franchise. This is very exciting as it means lots of new and existing clients to meet and greet. Both myself and David are very competitive people so we are always wanting to be at the top of every leader board and in for a chance to win awards.

What advice would you give those looking to start their own business?
The one piece of advice I would give anyone looking to get a franchise is listen to successful franchisees; they are successful for a reason. Soak up as much information as you possibly can and implement the same in your own business even if they are a lot bigger you can shadow the same methods but on a smaller scale.

The last thing I will say is if anyone is interested in investing in a Rainbow franchise: DO IT - it’s the best thing we ever did and we wouldn’t change a thing!

Geoff and Sharon Clarence

Geoff and Sharon Clarence have demonstrated how a can-do attitude can bring major success; within eight years of investing in a franchise they have grown to become the most successful franchise in the Rainbow International network and the first to exceed £2m in turnover.

The couple gave up excellent jobs to take on the franchise because they wanted to take charge of their own destiny and provide a sustainable business for their family.

They now have eight territories across Notts and Derbyshire and have bought two 5,000 sq ft industrial units. In addition, they have realised their ambition of creating a prosperous future for their family with a son running his own Rainbow franchise and a daughter also actively involved in the business.

Why did you want to go into business for yourself?
Both Sharon and I had been working in senior positions for multinational companies with long periods of service. Whilst we were rewarded accordingly, it was always at the back of our minds that we could lose everything we had worked for through reasons beyond our control, by way of redundancy or other circumstances.

When we looked at it, we earned large salaries, had expensive company cars, company laptops and mobiles etc. but we owned none of them. The only way we could ensure we had greater control over our destiny was to start our own business. I was 45 at the time and Sharon 35, and we knew that we both had the energy and experience to succeed. All we needed was the idea and then to find an opportunity.

Why did you choose franchising?
We chose franchising because a good friend and former colleague had started his business a few years earlier. We had kept in touch with him and his wife and in two years they had built what appeared to be a very strong and profitable business. That business was with Rainbow International.

What attracted you to the Rainbow International franchise?
We felt that there were transferable skills from our then jobs that we could bring into the cleaning and restoration business. I worked in sales and Sharon in marketing. Having been through the initial investigation period it became clear that the Rainbow model had substance and with the right application we had more than a fighting chance of succeeding. The good thing we found, and still find, about Rainbow International is that the training and systems are very professional and thorough and you never feel that you are alone. I suppose it’s the best of both worlds in that you have the comfort of a national brand but you are genuinely running your own business. We now own all the vehicles, computers, mobiles phones etc. and no one can make us redundant!

How has business been since starting your franchise?
Very enjoyable. We mean that sincerely. Make no mistake, it’s tough in the early days because we had to learn about the industry and the systems. But coming out the other side took about 12 months and it does get easier. We would say that the early days are about laying solid foundations, so it was more than worth it. The rewards are there for all to see and it genuinely is about getting out what you put in.

How do you manage the work/life family balance?
Our family are very much part of our business with sons, daughter, brothers and sisters all involved. That was very much part of the original strategy in that working for big companies was fine, but if we wanted to help family members on the road to employment or if they wanted to help us in our work life it was pretty much impossible. Through our efforts and with the support of key family members we are now in the position that we can employ our own family and therefore they should never be out of work. Given the current marketplace in terms of recession and unemployment that means a lot to us.

Don’t get us wrong, working with family members brings its challenges but in the main we all pull in the same direction and all share in the rewards. When we started our business our oldest son was just finishing his apprenticeship as an electrical engineer. He joined us from day one and after 6 years, left to run his own very successful franchise with his wife. You can imagine how much pleasure we gain from their success knowing that they are continuing the family connection with Rainbow International.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone on how to win business what would it be?
People buy from people. Be honest and deliver what you promise and always look at the bigger picture. You might knock on doors for a long time before you’re given a chance and remember that not every job will meet your profit targets. But if you provide a reliable and professional service your customers will continue to use you and the more profitable work will follow.

What business plans do you have to grow in the future?
We have just brought our second 5,000 sq ft industrial unit (not bad for a couple who owned nothing after working 25 years for the same plc!) and we are looking to grow the commercial side of our business. We are four months into a three-year contract with the local council for cleaning their empty housing stock. We are also the sole provider of restoration services to 14 local insurance agents.

What advice would you give those looking to start their own business?
Go for it. Absolutely go for it. You can work for any company in any industry at whatever level you are capable of, but one day someone and some circumstances can take all of that away. Running your own business means you are in control of your own destiny. Franchising gives you the business model to work within and the training, marketing and systems to support you. With all of that support and your efforts and endeavours, if you buy into the right franchise you will succeed.

Jonathan and Maureen Hargreaves-Townson

Jonathan and Maureen Hargreaves-Townson have demonstrated how to build a successful business from modest beginnings.

Their franchise started out literally as one man and a van, but from that they have built one of the top-performing businesses in Rainbow International's UK network, creating 17 full-time jobs in the process.

Their dedicated approach and reinvestment in the business has seen sustained growth, with a recent example of their success being the clinching of a specialist cleaning contract with a large supermarket group.

They are consistently winning plaudits for their service and in 2012 were voted Rainbow’s Franchisees of the Year.

Why did you want to go into business for yourself?
I wanted to give my wife and I stability and through observation I found that the only way to do this was to have people working for me. The bonus that has come from this is that we have also created stability for our employees who have become our Rainbow family.

Why did you choose franchising?
I was 30 years old when I started looking for a business and I soon realised that I needed an established business if I was to reach my goals quickly. Franchising gives you an established business with all the health and safety standards, policies and procedures in place. You basically buy a business that is 3 to 4 years ahead of a start-up business and you have more chance of earning a profit in your first year.

What attracted you to the Rainbow International franchise?
A friend of mine that I had worked with in the past has a Rainbow franchise and he had been paying more in corporation tax then I had been earning! He gave me lots of information regarding the business, which helped me then make the decision to buy a Rainbow franchise.

How has business been since starting your franchise?
We have run the business as it is supposed to be run and followed the system which has been ever-changing and adapting to suit our customers, and so far in the last 11 years we have made a profit every year.

How do you manage the work/life family balance?
My wife is a partner in the business and works with me. When starting any business the commitment in the beginning is very demanding. The hours are long and exhausting but the reward gives you the balance.

You need to create a team structure that allows you to delegate your workload, which in turn gives you more free time, but this can take anything from 3 to 5 years to get the right calibre of people in place, so you have to set this as a goal when you begin your business. Other franchisees ask me “how do you know when to employ someone else?” The answer I give them is “if your business is profitable and you are working more than 9 hours a day then you need to take someone else on. Always take a holiday for 2 weeks at least, away from the business, this will help you recharge and come back to work focused.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone on how to win business what would it be?
Think positively, negativity drains you and brings you down. Don’t be scared to go after new business. No amount of theory makes you an expert, you only become an expert by doing the work and learning from your mistakes. If someone asks if you can do a job the answer is always YES, it is amazing how you suddenly become an expert and people come to you for advice.

What business plans do you have to grow in the future?
I have not looked at my business plan for the last 5 years because it was forever changing and to keep updating it meant that I lost focus on what really mattered, growing the business. I set myself long-term goals, and short-term goals to achieve my long-term goals, and once I have achieved a goal I set another one. An example of this is when I first started my franchise, my long-term goal was to win Franchisee of the Year; we finally did this in January 2012. I have now set a new goal to be the only franchisee to win it three times!

I have a key ring that I carry around with me that says, ‘NO GOALS NO GLORY’ – this constantly reminds me to focus on my goals, whether they are personal or business goals.

What advice would you give those looking to start their own business?
If you are 50 per cent sure that you can be a success at any business you are looking at, TAKE THE RISK, don’t be the person who looks back at their life and wish they had taken the risk. I am a great believer in old sayings, because these are passed down from people that have experienced life. The best saying to answer this question is “it is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all”.

Tom and Helen Cox

Tom and Helen Cox cover the largest geographical area in the Rainbow International UK network, stretching from Thurso at the top of Scotland, down to Fort William, Oban, Campbeltown and throughout Argyll. They also serve Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

In less than four years the couple have built a thriving franchise business and employ a 10-strong team from their base in Alness, near Inverness. Their skill and dedication has brought them a string of awards including the Don Dwyer Award in 2012 which marks their success through following Rainbow's business system.

Their team often have to battle through extreme weather conditions and across challenging terrain to bring aid to homes and businesses suffering from damage caused by floods and fires. At the same time they have expanded their specialist cleaning services and have invested heavily in training in order to provide high reach cleaning, bio-hazard cleans and high pressure power washing.

Tom and Helen have built a diverse business and have undertaken projects ranging from the cleaning of small flats to the restoration of castles and private estates.

Why did you want to go into business for yourself?
We wanted to go into business for ourselves as we felt we both already worked very hard and others were reaping the benefits of this. We also felt it could be a great way to secure employment for our two children.

Why did you choose franchising?
We chose franchising as we felt being part of a well-established organisation like Rainbow International provided a great advantage in securing new customers, especially in the initial stages of starting the business. We also liked the benefit of having a support network and working within a proven system.

What attracted you to the Rainbow International franchise?
We were attracted to Rainbow as Tom had worked as a manager for a Rainbow franchise for almost 10 years and it made sense to progress to owning our own franchise given his firm knowledge of the business. My background was admin and we felt our strengths combined would help us to grow together.

We also felt that Rainbow’s brand and position in the market place was well-established and respected in the industry. Like most people embarking on their own business venture, we were nervous about the future, but we had an element of comfort that Rainbow was where we belonged.

How has business been since starting your franchise?
Since we started our business it has gone from strength to strength. We were fortunate to be involved in one or two surges of work due to flooding and extreme cold snaps which gave us a great boost.

Also, as we have now been in business for almost 4 years, we can see our self-generated work increasing which we attribute to our continual marketing plan, local advertising and word-of-mouth from former customers.

How do you manage the work/life family balance?
This part of owning your own business is definitely the most challenging. We needed to teach ourselves how to switch off when at home which is very difficult to do when operating a family business. We do try to manage our time effectively to enable us to have quality family time on a regular basis.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone on how to win business what would it be?
I would advise people to try to use every marketing medium available to them. For example: the internet, advertising locally, using social media, sending marketing material by post and making face to face contact if possible with potential customers.

What business plans do you have to grow in the future?
We intend to continue to operate as we are and hopefully we will be in a position to increase our advertising locally and try to target specific markets at specific times during the year; for example, hotels and caravan parks following the tourist season.

What advice would you give those looking to start their own business?
I would advise them to be prepared for hard work and for the challenges being an employer brings. Furthermore, I would encourage them to try to enjoy the whole process as there is nothing more satisfying than receiving positive feedback from customers, work providers and peers and seeing your business grow.


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