Mark Inwood's Story
Houseproud Cleaning Penrith - The journey so far
My background and why Houseproud Cleaning
For 27 years I worked in supermarkets doing everything from trolley boy to being Store Manager. The retail environment was becoming more and more competitive and with that came a lot of expectation and stress. This made me decide to look for another career path and explore the opportunities to run my own business.
I had looked at many small businesses I could run myself and eventually came upon the Houseproud Cleaning business. After a small amount of research and meeting Paul Mitchell and discussing the opportunity, it wasn't a hard decision to take up the opportunity as Paul had plenty of passion for his business and the asking price was very reasonable and thus low risk if I couldn't make it work.
So in July 2012, I became the proud new owner of Houseproud Cleaning Penrith. Since joining, I have found Paul and his small team of support staff to be a helpful and friendly bunch who are always willing to help out with any issues that have arisen.
The early days and my expectations
Wow, I finally did it! I have left the security of working for a major company and now I am out there fending for myself! Woohoo! Life is great - no boss, no annoying staff doing the wrong thing and no time clock, oh and no regular pay check!! Ok, reality check number one - being the business owner and all its perceived freedoms comes at a price, and that price is that you are now responsible for everything! From getting customers to paying yourself and everything else in between.
It probably took me a good 3 or 4 months to get over the "honeymoon period" of not being accountable to anyone but myself. Maybe I made the mistake of leaving my highly stressful job one week and starting the business the very next week without a break and time for my brain to adjust to this new way of life, it certainly was a big sigh of relief to finally leave the old job behind and I think mentally I needed time to adjust to that, maybe should of had 2 or 3 weeks off to rid my body of those bad corporate toxins before I started my new life.
To be honest, I was probably a bit lazy on some days during those first 6 months as I basked in the joy of having nobody to answer to, this is a trap I hope new franchisees don't also find themselves in.
Now let's talk about money and my expectations those first 6 months. You absolutely need to have extra money put away to supplement the income you will generate while you establish a customer base, this will depend on the individual person's circumstances but I would definitely be budgeting for the first 6 months?
Two other things that for me, we're crucial in those first 6 months. Firstly, become very good at accurately quoting the jobs you will be given, NEVER under quote to get the job, if you do, you are stuck with that price for a very long time if it is for a regular customer. Every time you clean for them, you will kick yourself that you are not being paid for what the job is worth -take this from my experience!!! Secondly, if you are working by yourself and don't have your wife/ husband cleaning with you, you will need to already be thinking about getting a contractor/ employee to help with the constant increase in customer leads you will get in those first 3 to 6 months.
I hired my first contractor 5 months after I started. 3 years in and I had 4 employees on the books. It is not a matter of if this happens, it is a matter of when!! Just so you know, after all employee costs, I make 30% profit from each of my employees so you can see that it is very beneficial to keep building your business through expansion. They say managing people is one of the hardest things to do in business, and through my experiences, I can tell you this is true.
I have had several team members now since starting the business - some fantastic and some duds!!! I can't stress how important it is to ensure a thorough recruitment process is followed, remember that they will be representing your business and will ultimately be in homes by themselves! My business was growing rapidly so I had to ensure I was recruiting before I actually needed them so that by the time new customers were here, I already had trained staff able to take on the work. This is a bit of a balancing act and will see you needing to invest money in giving the new staff hours you don't necessarily have in order to keep them interested while you build their customer base. You will definitely see a return on this investment down the road.
By now, I was a couple of years in with the business and things were humming along. The next challenge was to be very organised in terms of scheduling, quoting and record keeping. Not only did I have to do my share of the cleaning jobs, but I also had to do the girls rosters, keep customers schedules and info up to date and manage the lead generation and quoting side of the business too. I can tell you it is much easier if you do a little every day to keep all these things up to date. I enjoy this side of the business as I get to see how my business is performing and growing and also identify opportunities for future growth as well.
Here is my last pearl of wisdom!! Managing yourself is the hardest and most important thing you will do as a franchise owner. You will make the most money if you and not you employees do the most cleaning. I have made that mistake of giving the girls jobs that I could have done myself for whatever reason, this will greatly impact your margin on these jobs. Load up your days as if you were going to work for someone else, start early and finish at 5pm or so, regardless if there are jobs to do, do other work like paperwork or chasing new business, this work habit will be very beneficial - it is easy to knock off at 2pm each day, I know!!
I love being in business and I know that in a couple more years, I will have 6 or 7 team working for me and I will have a very strong business generating a very comfortable income. I wish the same for you!!
Here are some financials to give you an indication of how my business grew:
- First month of business $1245 in sales
- Hit $6000 in month 6
- Hit $12000 in month 21
- Hit $15000 in month 35
- My record of $17700 was achieved in month 37
Sales have grown at more than 50% per Annum for the first 3 years and will be approaching $200000 per Annum in year 4 of operation. This has well and truly exceeded all my expectations. The rate of growth is only determined by 2 factors - we keep doing a great job for our customers and secondly I keep recruiting great team to keep up with demand.
Make no mistake, this is a growth industry and we are all perfectly positioned to take advantage and make lots of money!!
I wish you well, Mark Inwood Houseproud Cleaning Penrith
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