How To Build Your Cleaning Business

cleaning equipment

cleaning equipmentPoints to consider when starting and growing a cleaning business. Assessing the market and marketing, considering franchising and ways to expand and diversify.

Starting and establishing your enterprise and moving to the next level

“Where there’s muck there’s brass” is an old saying very appropriate to the cleaning trade. It’s a huge industry with one national franchise operator estimating it to be worth in the region of over £2.8 billion a year; it’s an expanding industry with no signs of a slow down.

Expanding market

Indeed, with more people having less time, albeit with more income, many domestic chores are being sub contracted, with cleaning high on the list. Commercial cleaning is booming, too; the need to comply with ever more stringent health and safety requirements means cleanliness levels in the workplace must be of a high standard.

There’s scope for newcomers to the industry; some research undertaken amongst householders revealed that, of those who don’t use an outside house cleaner, some 20% say it’s simply because they can’t find one.

Getting started

Cleaning is a relatively simple business to make a start in; a handful of cleaning products and some flyers and you’re good to go – but it’s not quite as simple as that. Some pointers to consider:

Competition is rife: there are many involved in cleaning, from one person doing it part time for a handful of friends’ houses, to major national companies operating through a franchise model.

Demand: can people in your locality afford a cleaner? Assuming you’d look to start locally, check if there are potentially enough households to be your customers. If you’re leaning more to offering commercial cleaning, are there enough businesses of the right size locally?

Be aware that larger businesses probably use an established, specialist commercial cleaners and may not consider using a startup. Smaller businesses might though.

Set prices carefully: research the competition by posing as a potential customer and asking for prices, and maybe ask a few friends to do the same.

Budget carefully: while initial costs can be low, you’ll still need to invest to a degree – and don’t overlook marketing costs. Looking professional will be a big help so properly printed flyers and business cards are basics.

Marketing: while you may get a start with a few people known to you letting you clean their homes, the hard work is building up a sustainable customer list. Some activities you might consider:

  • Flyers – put them through the doors of your targeted homes and maybe businesses – and repeat regularly. Doing it once is counter productive
  • Classified advertising – worth a go with your local newspapers but, as with flyers above, you need to advertise consistently before judging it as people often need repeated exposure to advertisements before taking action
  • Online presence – a website is worthwhile and adds credibility. It needn’t be expensive. Also set up a Facebook page for your business.
  • Online advertising – your website could help you be found when people are searching online for cleaners, and options such as pay per click advertising may be worth considering (especially if you’re offering a niche service such as carpet cleaning)
  • Door knocking – fills many people with terror, but it does work and some people may respond better to at least putting a name to a face
  • Branding – not restricted to multi-million corporations, good branding and a business identity will help you to establish and grow your business. Logos and a consistent typeface you use in your printed materials is a good move – and good quality designs are available very competitively priced online through freelance sites such as Fiverr.

Once you grow a little, branded clothing such as polo shirts and so on can reinforce your professionalism and joining trade organisations requiring a certain standard from its members shows competence.

Franchising

If the idea of setting up from scratch doesn’t appeal and you have some money to invest (or can borrow some) then the franchising route may appeal.

Franchising is a popular business model in the cleaning industry with many options to choose from, including specialised cleaning sectors such as oven cleaning, kitchen hygiene cleaning, heating duct cleaning and chimney sweeping. If you invest in a franchise, you operate under the franchise name using their corporate identity and running a business often exactly to their prescribed ‘blueprint.’

Along with the initial costs there are usually further fees to pay in the form of a share of your profits along with maybe having to buy certain items such as marketing materials through them or their suppliers.

You may find it attractive from a business ‘done for you’ point of view, but you’ll still likely have to find your own customers. The franchisor should help with marketing support in terms of printed materials, maybe a centralised mailing campaign and online help such as providing you with a website.

Question of price

It’s tempting to focus on price especially when starting up, but this isn’t the best course to follow. In most businesses there’s always someone willing to ‘do it for less’ and it’s important to have a business that makes a realistic profit.

Once your business gains some momentum, you’ll require support from professional suppliers and service providers. For example, you’ll need access to and fast delivery of supplies and equipment, so choose a supplier of professional cleaning products carefully.

Legislation and licenses

There are no specific licences or stipulations required to start a cleaning business, but it’ll show professionalism and put your potential customers’ minds at rest if you undergo a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. If you go on to employ others at some stage, then getting them DRB checked will be worthwhile.

Developing and growing your business

If you start off providing domestic cleaning you may be happy simply expanding your customer base and recruiting more cleaners as business grows. Alternatively, you may seek to move into other areas – maybe offering commercial cleaning services – or operating in certain niches such as carpet cleaning.

How you grow and maybe diversify will likely be informed by what your local market needs. As you become known and knowledgeable about the local market conditions, maybe you’ll be aware that people are crying out for good carpet cleaners and it’s an under-served market, for example?

You may prefer to be more of a manager than a hands-on cleaner in time, so might look to expand to the point where you’re recruiting and running a team of cleaners.

Tough but worthwhile

Starting any business is tough of course, and a cleaning business even in a high demand area takes some hard work. The low barriers to entry often mean many individuals and one or two person startups ‘have a go’ so you’re up against them along with the established local and national companies.

After a while though, if you build a solid reputation and become established then you could have a profitable enterprise with interesting possibilities for expansion and diversification.

Pancake Day 2017: 5 Gadgets You Need to Make the Best Flipping Pancakes

pancakes

Pancake Day is a day for gorging on the sugary, fried batter goodness, but did you know there are gadgets out there to make your pancake experience easier? We’ve rounded up the best pancake-making gadgets for you to use this Pancake Day:

A Quirky Stem Juicer

A stem spray is just the gadget for those who don’t like peeling zesty limes or citrusy lemons! To use this nifty little gadget, simply pierce the fruit and then press down on the top of the stem spray to mist your pancakes with a delicious hint of zest. It’s mess-free, quick and easy!

Egg Cracker

Crack or separate eggs in one easy squeeze of the handle, this egg cracker allows you to crack eggs easily, without having to fish out those annoying shell pieces. It’s a good little gadget if you’ve got a bunch of eggs to crack, and your hands will stay super clean in the process.

Twin Pan

We’ve all been there – you’ve got the perfect looking pancake, but it’s time to flip it to crisp up the sides. You flip the pancake and suddenly, it’s dropped out the pan and splashed everywhere.

Well with a twin pan, you won’t have that problem any longer! The non-stick coating will allow your pancake to crisp up evenly on both sides, and save you the hassle of having to do a messy flip.

Flexible Pancake Turner

If you do fancy flipping your pancakes this Pancake Day, why not try the OXO flexible pancake turner? This handy little tool is an essential for flipping and transferring your pancakes from pan to plate in one piece.

Pancake Creator

If you fancy getting creative, why not try a pancake creator? Bring out your inner artist and design unique pancakes for everyone to enjoy! There are plenty of YouTube tutorials if you fancy following a detailed design.

 

Hopefully these gadgets will help your Pancake Day run smoothly and leave the kitchen in a much cleaner state than last year!

12 Month Jail Sentence For Landlord Who Failed To Provide Fire Safety

slade lane - manchester evening news

slade lane - manchester evening newsManchester Landlord Put Lives at Risk in “Death Trap” Flats

A property landlord has pleaded guilty to 14 fire safety breaches relating to a network of flats above commercial premises in a deprived area of Manchester

The Manchester Evening News reported an interesting case of a landlord who was fined after failing to provide adequate fire health and safety in his properties.

Kamarat Hussain owns a number of connected properties on Slades Lane in Longsight, Manchester – these are commercial shops housing travel agents, a butchers and other small businesses, with eight residential flats above them.

Fire safety officers found numerous problems, including an absence of fire escape signs, missing or broken fire extinguishers, blocked fire exits and faulty wiring.

Child at a window

A hearing took place at Manchester Crown Court in December, at which Prosecutors reported that a fire officer was passing Hussain’s premises by chance in July 2015, when he noticed a child at an upstairs window and became concerned. On entering the building, he immediately saw numerous dangerous problems, prompting an official investigation that would last for months.

The officer issued an enforcement notice within weeks, and over the subsequent 14 months, he made 12 follow up visits in an attempt to bring the building up to standard. Despite this, little had been done when he made his last visit in September 2016.

Hussain was also unable to produce a fire risk assessment, despite repeated reminders and the fact that he claimed to have spent £700 on having one conducted.

Cost cutting

The Prosecutor described Hussain’s “flagrant disregard” for the safety of his tenants through cost cutting measures, that placed them at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire. All this, in spite of the properties generating more than £7,000 for Hussain in rent every month.

Hussain’s defence lawyer pointed out that he has had recent health and financial difficulties. He also stated that Hussain recently spent £2,000 on improvements and had not been deliberately cutting costs.

The ruling QC, Judge Patrick Field, disagreed and said there had been deliberate cost-cutting. He noted Hussain’s previous convictions for food safety breaches, and remarked that he has a “tendency to disregard the law regarding the safety of others”.

Hussain was ordered to serve a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and £11,025 costs.

In agreeing to the suspended sentence, he remarked that Hussain was fully aware of the consequences for him if he failed to make the necessary improvements.

Bullish

Hussain was bullish in his own defence after the hearing, although his word of choice was slightly different.

He told the Manchester Evening News: “This case is 100 per cent bull****. They’ve done this to me because I’m a young man with a big building. I have done everything they told me. This building I’ve bought is a very big building, and I’ve worked hard for it. I’m not worried about prison because I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a 100 per cent bull**** – and I’ll come back and prove it.”

Is Golf The Next Business Team Building Trend?

golf team building

golf team building

Golf is less solitary than you think so makes a good team activity

When people think of golf, they often think of it being a ‘self-centred’ game with one person playing against many others. This view may be influenced by the amount of big ‘singles’ competitions such as the US and British Open that are part of the four major tournaments played each year with one person beating the field to win.

That said, golf can be a team game – witness the USA versus Europe Ryder Cup played every two years – and it certainly can make for a very sociable gathering.

Golf for team building

There are many corporate golf days and charity events, so golf lends itself to team building days. A day out in the fresh air, and various ways of competing including team configurations such as a Texas scramble, turn the game into a genuine group activity as opposed to ‘singles’ play. To top things off, there’s often the chance for everyone to get together at the end of the day’s play for a drink or maybe a meal.

The only drawback is that golf can be enjoyed better by those who play at least occasionally. It’s maybe not a game non-golfers can enjoy beyond crazy golf or pitch and putt level, and there’s the need for participants to be suitably equipped.

It’s not just the golf clubs (which can probably be hired), but other essentials such as proper footwear, as many golf clubs won’t allow people to play wearing trainers or similar. Many golf clubs also stipulate some type of dress code that must be adhered to on the course and possibly in certain areas of the clubhouse.

For a group of people who are all keen golfers, what better way to help team build and enhance morale than taking to the links for the day? If, however, not all the team play then taking a look at many other team building activities may be preferable and appropriate for a more diverse group of people.

Finding a golf club in London that may be happy to host possibly a large number of novice golfers may prove difficult in any event. Many might insist on players not only possessing a valid playing handicap, but one no higher than a certain level.

Other options

Getting ideas from a specialist organiser for a corporate team building event in London is an ideal first step. Choosing an activity that will appeal to your mix of personnel is key to everyone having an enjoyable time along with something appropriate to the time of day and year.

For example, a casino evening or a murder mystery might be just the thing for a winter’s night whereas a GPS treasure hunt or an ‘It’s a Knockout’ could be a great idea for a summer’s day.

A time honoured quiz is always fun, but expert events organisers often offer more than just a bunch of questions on a list. Interactive rounds using video and various options to tailor the quiz to suit the number of people and the time slot can be created.

A bit of fun mixing (literally) with something creative and mildly competitive can be achieved with a cocktail masterclass. Your people split into teams and, with the help of expert mixologists, create their own cocktail and compete with other teams to see who comes up with the most appealing drink.

As seen on TV

Activities inspired by successful television programmes such as ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The Great British Bake Off’ can be undertaken to help your people have fun and cooperate in a team environment, as can a series of pub games. Everyone splits into teams and completes a circuit playing a variety of pub style games while totting up their scores on each and seeing how they fare against their colleagues in other teams.

Seasonal activities

Rather than simply organise an office party or take staff out for a Christmas meal, team building activities run by expert organisers can be given a festive twist if desired.

It’s not just golf

While golf is certainly a popular team building activity and has long been a favourite corporate entertainment option, the innovation in team building and corporate entertainment in the hands of a professional events organising company means there’s much else to choose from whether in or outdoors.

Build A Stronger Team in 2017

team

teamGood Working Relationships Increase Happiness and Improve Productivity

Research has shown that employees rank their relationships with colleagues higher than having a competitive salary when it comes to enjoying their working day.

Every manager knows the importance of employee satisfaction in running a successful business. People who enjoy what they do will go the extra mile to ensure the quality of the products or services your business offers. And when employees are satisfied with their working conditions, they are less likely to look elsewhere, reducing staff turnover and the associated costs and management time in recruiting and training new staff.

There is, however, more to employee satisfaction than offering a good salary and benefits package. In 2012, Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 200,000 people on the subject of happiness in the workplace and found that good relationships with colleagues was second only to being appreciated for one’s work in driving workplace happiness. Salary was way down in seventh place.

No wonder so many leading companies see team building events in London as one of the most valuable investments they can make to protect their business’s most unique and valuable assets – its people.

Why team building?

Team building activities bring a whole host of benefits, but most managers agree that the most noticeable is a marked improvement in the way people communicate and work together. This applies both to colleagues who rely on each other to work effectively and to the way employees and their managers interact with one another.

By helping employees to feel relaxed and comfortable together, the workplace is a more pleasant environment. It becomes a place where people have the confidence and motivation to take on new challenges and reach new heights.

The sense of camaraderie brought about by achieving something as a team can be truly inspiring. One only needs to watch members of a sports team celebrating a win to see the positive energy that is created.

Many team building activities are designed to encourage creative thinking. This is a great skill to take back to the workplace, whether it is to drive the business forward through new product and service development or to come up with better ways of doing day to day tasks.

The ability to think creatively can also be of critical importance when it comes to problem solving or crisis management, something that every business, no matter how successful, has to deal with from time to time.

Different types of activities

To some, “team building activities” just conjure up images of people getting covered in mud while they build makeshift bridges across rivers. Great fun, but maybe not everyone’s first choice in the middle of winter!

However, there are many other types of activity too, including less physical activities that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or fitness.

At this time of year, indoor activities are particularly popular, and the possibilities are numerous. Many take inspiration from popular TV shows, including the Crystal Maze, the Great British Bake Off, the X-Factor and others.

Staging a team building event does not necessarily mean taking the workforce away during office hours. Evening events are a great way to bring people together, and around this time of year can provide a memorable twist to the traditional Christmas party. With the whole workforce together and full of festive cheer, what could be a better time to build happier and more productive teams?

Making Tax Digital

making tax digital

making tax digitalHow Will New Tax Accounting Processes Affect Individuals and Small Businesses?

In 2015, the UK Government announced plans to introduce online reporting processes for taxpayers. What does this mean for businesses and individuals?

In the March 2015 budget, the Government announced a £1.3 billion programme that would revolutionise tax reporting. The five-year plan will introduce online accounts through which taxpayers can interact directly with HMRC.

The new system envisages quarterly updates that will effectively signal the end of the tax return as we know it.

As with any major change in financial reporting, the rules and timelines are still being finalised, but the current deadline for digital records is April 2018.

The change might seem daunting, particularly for the thousands of small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs in the area, who should consider taking advice from their local tax accountants in Peterborough while there is still enough time to get prepared.

Making tax easier

In December 2015, HMRC published a document (.pdf) that fleshed out the Government’s budget announcement. In his foreword, David Gauke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, heralded digital tax as part of Whitehall’s “digital revolution” stating that it would “transform the experience of millions of taxpayers” by introducing a system that is easier, more efficient and more effective.

The document also set out a timeline for implementation. Like any major project, we can expect some dates to be fluid, and a detailed consultation that was originally scheduled for spring 2016 was the first to be pushed back while ministers waited to see the results of the EU Referendum.

Nevertheless, the April 2018 deadline for the first online submissions remains in place.

Impact on individuals and businesses

The Government has published a series of case studies detailing how digital tax can affect a cross-section of individuals, including landlords, pensioners and small business owners.

The case studies certainly point towards a much easier and less frustrating system than the current method of tax reporting. Using smartphone apps to regularly update pre-populated data fields looks far less onerous than the task of manually filling out pages of information once a year. But can it really be that easy?

The right technological tools

Research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) suggests that many small and medium sized enterprises are not currently in a position to meet the 2018 reporting rules.

In its paper “Digitalisation of Tax, International Perspectives,” the ICAEW analysed similar projects in other countries around the globe. It found that digital exclusion is the biggest obstacle to full implementation of such programmes.

Businesses below the VAT registration threshold are particularly at risk in this respect, as these businesses are unlikely to have existing bookkeeping software. Indeed, an ICAEW survey earlier this year revealed that only 25% of UK businesses maintain electronic accounting records.

Be prepared

The good news is that for businesses and individuals alike, there is still time to get fully prepared for this aspect of the digital revolution.

In the long run, putting tax accounts online should make tax reporting quicker, easier and more accurate for everybody. Get the right advice and support to make sure it represents a positive change for you and your business.