What’s the story behind your business? How did you get started?
In my previous life I worked as a MIS Manager within the Further Education sector. No-one ever knows what this means – the role was part of the audit and compliance function, dealing with learner data. Unfortunately, I was made redundant twice in two years and so decided that a change was in order. While I was contemplating my next role, a friend suggested I did some cleaning jobs to fill the gap. I never in a million years thought I would be doing this line of work, never mind owning my own business! Things have taken off from there; I started cleaning for people I knew and through word of mouth my diary filled up and I was in the position of taking on my first member of staff within a month! Now I have a great team behind me, who I couldn’t run my business without. This year I secured several contracts with prominent local businesses, which has led to me growing my team even further. We have undertaken cleans in hotels, public areas, offices, cinemas and restaurants to name but a few! We also clean local holiday lets, carry out builders’ cleans, and I work with a local estate agents carrying out end of tenancy cleans. I have also managed to fit in time to gain two cleaning qualifications.
I get woken up by my two-year-old little girl each morning, we have cuddles in bed and then it’s off to nursery. I start my working day at 8am. Every day I am cleaning something, either somewhere by myself or alongside one of my cleaners, which can be in a variety of settings depending on the job. As well as the practical work, I try and keep on top of admin throughout the day, such as answering calls/emails, planning workloads, account management, cleaning audits, staff payroll, invoicing, washing cloths/equipment and trying to develop the business. When I collect my daughter from nursery, we spend a few valuable hours together until she goes to sleep and then I start work again! Being self-employed brings so many benefits, and I love the independence and having the flexibility to fit in my most important responsibility of being a mum, together with all of the other tasks associated with running my business and managing my team. There is only myself running the business, so I do everything!
What’s the toughest part of running your own business?
The hardest part of running my own business is recruiting the right people. With a good team you can achieve anything but with unreliable staff the wheels can come off and create difficulties, putting pressure on the rest of the team. Investing the time in recruitment is key; my business model is flexible and allows me to offer great employment terms to a wide variety of people – what I look for is commitment and for my team to take pride in what we do. I have encountered some challenges but I could not be prouder of the team I have built for my business. Over the last 12 months I have developed so many new skills: I’m leading a team of motivated staff, managing the back office tasks to ensure our operations are efficient, and delivering a service to a variety of customers and small businesses across Richmondshire. At times it can feel like a lot of pressure but being my own boss is also liberating, and the view from the office as I travel between my cleans isn’t bad either.
I love all the people I have met, customers and staff alike, that I would not have met otherwise. It feels good to help people and a lot of our customers rely on our service. People lead such busy lives and housework gets pushed down the list: I spent years in the corporate world and now, as a mother to an active two year old, I know how important is to prioritise what’s important – but often it can be challenging to get the balance. Owl Clean Your House can tick one small thing off the ‘to do’ list and it can make a huge difference for my customers and how they spend their time. Also, some people struggle to care for their homes so changing someone’s bed and taking care of their home is a very important task. I am also very passionate about developing my team, whether they wish to progress in their cleaning career or go to university or find new employment in another sector. I have had the pleasure of seeing several members of staff develop and grow and pursue their dreams.
What are your top three business goals for the future?
1. Grow the commercial side of the business.
2. Continuous improvement in our existing service.
3. Aim to be as sustainable as we can be, and help protect the environment by using eco-friendly products and re-useable washable cloths, rather than disposable plastic equipment.
What’s your top marketing or social media tip?
I find Facebook a useful tool for advertising and recruitment. Having presence on the internet is so important – try and post and engage with others to maximise exposure.
How can people find out more about what you do?
My website will be up and running in the new year, but in the meantime please check out my Facebook business page.