After a 30-year career with the Lloyds Banking Group, Kevin Lawley decided to use his extensive range of management skills to go into business for himself.
Kevin’s roles at Lloyds included global head of sales, country manager (South Africa) and regional manager (Africa) for Lloyds International Banking and retail branch network director (Central London) where he was responsible for managing risk and operations, customer service, delivery of sales income and managing a head count of some 500.
He says that this broad management experience helped him to develop the skills needed to run a successful business and when an opportunity to leave the bank presented itself, he began to look for a suitable business to buy. When he saw that the Norfolk & Suffolk branch of Minster Cleaning Services was for sale he made a detailed analysis of the contract cleaning market. He discovered that it is an essential commercial service for which there is a demand whatever the economic climate and, as it attract clients from a broad range of sectors, there is a vast potential market.
Kevin spoke to the head of franchising at Lloyds who pointed out the significantly lower failure rates that the tried and tested business model of a franchise offers compared with a non-franchised business and that, as an established brand, he would benefit immediately from cashflow, customers and staff. After spending time with the Minster head office team in Birmingham, he contacted several Minster franchisees and was impressed by the sizes of businesses that they had built up and by how long most of them had been with the company. He also liked the culture within Minster and the fact that franchisees are encouraged to put their own stamp on the business.
Kevin took over Minster’s Norfolk & Suffolk franchise in September 2011. He says: “I saw this as an excellent opportunity for me to develop a meaningful business. Training, help and ongoing support is part of Minster’s DNA, so a comprehensive induction programme including learning all about the systems for finance, IT, marketing etc., was followed by my shadowing John Whyte, the Leeds franchisee, and mentoring from other franchisees in the network.
“As a result, there have been no unexpected challenges in my first year and I’ve found that by following the Minster formula, I’ve been able to get the right balance between existing customer relationship management and new business acquisition. By approaching the business in a planned manner with steady, targeted growth, we’ve been able to win new contracts whilst making sure that existing clients have no reason to look elsewhere. We started to grow the business from day one and results have been well beyond my year one business plan objectives.”
Kevin’s management experience has served him well, as he explains: “I now have over 120 employees, an increase of 50% compared with my headcount 12 months ago. Highly motivated staff, strict quality control processes, managed absence cover and complete flexibility are the hallmarks of the Minster brand and have enabled us to attract new clients from businesses of all types. We’ve been particularly successful within the healthcare sector thanks to Minster’s expertise in implementing rigorous cleaning regimes and practices. These both help the fight against healthcare associated infections and also help medical practice clients prepare for registration with the Care Quality Commission - a requirement by April 2013 - and subsequent compliance monitoring.
“I believe that a combination of management skills together with Minster’s proven business model adds up to a formula that really works. We attract clients from a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, financial, professional, retail, general offices, healthcare, government and local authority and charities, so we are well protected during more difficult trading times and, large, exclusive territories and a huge target market give us almost unlimited scope for expansion.”