Poppies has been part of Kate Lawson’s life for as long as she can remember. As a youngster, she recalls going to her mother’s Poppies office in Farnborough after school where she and her sister, Rachel, would get stuck in – enveloping letters and sticking stamps! Throughout college, Kate was employed by Poppies Wokingham and Windsor, the franchise that was closest to where she lived and studied. In 2008, Kate officially took over operations of her beloved Poppies Farnborough from her mother, Tricia. With the birth of her own son on the horizon, Kate says she’s incredibly proud of the legacy business that she’s continued to build.
“After 17 years as owner of her Poppies franchise, my mum wanted to move and be closer to her elderly parents. As a family, we knew it was the right time for her to sell the business. I wasn’t looking for a new career but the more I thought about it, the more I felt the opportunity was too good to miss. After many discussions with my mum, I made a business plan and arranged a meeting with the bank. I was given a business loan which enabled me to wholly purchase the franchise.
“Poppies is, and always has been, part of our family. From when my mum ran the franchise to when I was employed as a cleaner during my studies, to now, being the owner, it’s always been there. Looking back, it would’ve been silly to let go of the business that mum worked so hard to build and that had an impression on all of our lives.”
Over the last 12 years Kate has grown a business that has allowed her both the financial freedom and the flexibility to enjoy a ‘jet-set’ lifestyle with her pilot husband, Chris.
“Poppies has given me the opportunity to take time out when I wish. If Chris was ever flying to a particular destination, I’ve always known I was able to be flexible around my arrangements to go with him. We’ve been all over the world – we even got our PADI in St Lucia allowing us to scuba dive in many different places. It’s one of the main aspects of business ownership that appealed to me and I haven’t been disappointed; the work-life balance, the satisfaction and the pride that it gives me is simply amazing!”
Established in 1980, Poppies is the UK’s first domestic cleaning franchise. Franchisees manage a team of dedicated cleaners who visit clients’ homes and provide a range of top-quality services. From basic housekeeping and laundry to party clear-ups, spring cleans and home-move assistance.
Integral to its best-in-class offering is the Poppies culture. The franchise proudly champions the wellbeing of its cleaners and believes in treating staff with respect and care and creating a fun, enjoyable working environment. Happy, loyal staff go above and beyond for clients and truly make the Poppies brand shine.
Today Kate employs 22 cleaners and services over 150 clients in the Farnborough region – covering the borders of Surrey and Hampshire. Whilst her team already provide over 900 hours of cleaning every four weeks, Kate is determined to develop the business in the future and has been able to ensure that her presence isn’t a prerequisite for growth.
“I’ve made sure over the last two years that I don’t have to be in the office every single day as I’m preparing for when my baby boy arrives… any day now! I’ve got two great people by my side, Suzie and Caroline, who are in charge of the office. They are integral to the day-to-day running of the business and it wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today without them. The team has grown drastically since I took over, but I would say that I’ve got one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with. They make me feel extremely proud.”