The number of women entrepreneurs applying for a business start-up grant has nearly halved...read more
Karen Moore is passionate about providing flexible jobs for mums who want to work from home.
She had been working in an accounts environment since she was 16 and had been a self employed accountant when in 2009 she decided she needed a fresh challenge.
“I did not want to work in a corporate environment for the rest of my working life/. I needed something exciting and to go off in a different direction,”
she says. So she started up a luxury domestic cleaning service, Tailor Maid, and has recently begun franchising it to others.
Karen, whose own children are 29 and 30, says there was not a lot of flexible work available when they were growing up. She worked nine to three five days a week in a fairly rigid corporate setting. It was difficult to take time off when children were ill or she had school events that she wanted to attend.
So eventually she went to college to brush up on admin skills and started working on a self-employed basis from home. A friend told her that she was having trouble finding a good, reliable cleaner and had been let down regularly.
Karen thought about setting up a business to fill the gap. She already had experience running her own business as a self-employed accountant. She decided there was a gap in the market for an upmarket green, eco-friendly cleaning business.
At the time there were not many green cleaning companies around. She decided to go for a luxury holistic cleaning service for professionals working long hours where, not only would people’s houses be cleaned using essential oil-based products but they would have treats, including freshly laundered sheets misted with scents such as lavender and a sachet of herbal tea and an organic chocolate being placed by their bed next to a thank-you card with tulips and a lovely message on it. If it is a client’s birthday she also ensures that they have a special treat – a sachet of rose petals.
“We invite our clients to indulge themselves in our luxury holistic cleaning experience and to enjoy coming home to a relaxing and welcoming environment,” says Karen.
Even when she launched the company she did so with a view that it could be franchised anywhere in the UK. Tailor Maid in Lincolnshire was then formed and friendly, efficient and CRB-checked women were employed as domestic cleaners and were trained thoroughly.
Karen started from scratch with no funding. By the end of 2009 she had several teams of three cleaners which she grew to 33 by 2014. She wanted to ensure she had a good working model that could be taken on by franchisees. She also wrote a manual detailing the firm’s processes and the importance of maintaining high standards and kept a close eye on developments in the franchise world. “I thought if I can develop and grow my business during the recession, there is definitely scope for franchising it,” she says.
Originally she ran the domestic cleaning side of the business alongside a busy commercial cleaning company, but she realised fairly early on that her heart was in the domestic and luxury holistic cleaning side of the business. “I get so much pleasure from feedback from a happy client after the luxury cleans,” she says.
She now has three franchises providing luxury domestic cleaning services to professional people in the ABC 1 bracket. Tailor Maid’s own administrator has taken on the Tailor Maid Lincolnshire franchise while two others have come through adverts on Workingmums.co.uk – one in Westminster and the other in Chingford in Essex.
Karen says she works 10-12-hour days and is passionate about supporting her franchisees to be successful in their own right and to earn a good income. She does not expect the same long hours from them.
Her role now has changed and she is a franchise consultant and trainer and says she is loving the challenge. “I bound out of bed in the morning,” she states. “My husband says I am a workaholic, but I am happy to do the hard work so our franchisees are successful.”
For both her cleaners and her franchisees she is looking for people who are passionate about cleaning.
“I do have OCD and I think it is important to have high standards,” she says.
Her cleaners tend to be experienced in cleaning and have their own home so they know about cleaning. They receive full training, including three to five days in the classroom, DVDs, shadowing team leaders, booklets and duty cards. Clients are asked for their feedback in order to maintain standards. The cleaners usually work in teams of three and the team leader keeps an eye on any new recruits.
Franchisees go through the same training process and hire their own teams of cleaners. In addition to training, the franchise package, which costs £9,995 plus 10% of annual profits, includes the Operation Manual, a website, software, support, social media sites, marketing in places like Yell.com, local magazines and mums’ sites and lots more.
Karen says her new franchisees are very motivated. “They are so hungry for it,” she says. “They want to change their lives, work flexible hours around the family and work from home.
They want the full package. Working mums tend to be very motivated and committed. It is wonderful to watch them grow, become more confident and successful business people in their own right.”