Business Picks Up – Startup Serial #8

Business Picks Up

I was 2 weeks into running the business and energised by growing my own company.

We had received a few one-off cleans, where Olga and Karolina were doing a good job. I was meeting them at every clean, greeting the new customers and then flyering in the area around the clean.

I gave Olga a bottle of wine to put in her bucket at each clean. When they finished the clean, they left the wine and a thank you note somewhere subtle, with the intention of the customer finding it later in the day, providing a nice little surprise…

Hiding in plain view: a bottle after very clean
Hiding in plain sight: a bottle after very clean

A surprise gift: I’ve decided this was a great way to operate differently to other companies.

When was the last time a cleaner left wine, chocolate or flowers once they’d finished? Not very often. I wanted to maintain the surprise element to the gifts we offer, as it seemed like a more genuine way of trying to elevate the service we provide, plus it stops customers from expecting something after every clean.

I soon wrote this gift into the plan for the business: it would be a way to say thank you to our customers spontaneously.

It worked, with all of our customers loving the wine. In fact, 2 of our first 10 customers ended up upgrading to a regular clean!

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Building Foundations – Startup Serial #7

Building Foundations For Gleem

Building a workforce foundation

So now we were a registered business, had a nice website, smooth booking process and an enthusiastic founder.

The next task was a workforce and finding cleaners in Bristol.

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Two Gleem cleaners, Agnieszka (L) and Paulina (R)

I posted adverts on Gumtree and received about 100 replies, which was really promising: people liked the idea of what we were offering around Bristol area.

I started reading through the applicants and quickly realised that the majority of these were not relevant: no CV, no name, no number.This quickly reduced the list down to about 30.

Next were the telephone interviews: these went ok, but a large number of the applicants had no real knowledge of cleaning.

Down to 6, and time for some face to face interviews. I spent the day sat in a coffee shop, waiting on cleaning teams to show up: 4 did, a 67% success rate (one which would never be achieved again). Out of the 4 teams, only 2 of them were good enough for the final stage, the TEST CLEAN!

Both teams came back to my house and had 15 minutes to work on a room before I inspected it. Olga and Karolina smashed it, Luis and his partner less so.

So 100 teams of cleaners had been whittled down to a solitary 1 team: but I knew they were the best presented cleaners around Bristol, doing the best quality cleaning, and they also liked the idea of the business.

Time to get them to work building the empire!

We’ve grown ten folds since then, if you’d like to have a chat with us regarding your cleaning requirements, give us a friendly call at 0800-808-5544  or visit www.gleem.co.uk

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Gleem’s First Clean Startup Serial #6

Gleem’s First Clean

The First Clean

So I’d handed out some flyers over a 2 week period and was extremely eager to start receiving booking… but none came in.

I kept researching ways to provide the best clean in the world and how to generate sales, but from behind my desk I wasn’t generating anything.

So I got back up and started delivering flyers again. 8 hours a day walking up and down the roads of Bristol that I thought could have my best potential clients.

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A Gleem Flyer

One day, out of the blue, in an area nowhere near where I’d been flyering, I received a booking. Then I made the realisation that I hadn’t found any cleaners: I’d been so swept up in planning the business, getting the branding looking nice, the website working and the quality correct that I’d neglected the most important asset I needed…cleaners! So I roped a friend in, and we excitedly ventures across to the house where the clean was happening.

We worked hard; working our way through the checklist, making sure everything was completed. After a tiring 4 hour clean, we approached the customers with the checklist and asked them to inspect the property. Our lack of experience meant they were able to spot a number of items that we had not completed sufficiently, so we set back off to work and completed the cleaning of the areas we had missed. After all of this the customer was happy, so we gave them a leaving gift, picked up our bin bags and went on our merry way, happy that Gleem had completed their first clean!

Please visit us at www.gleem.co.uk or call us at 0800-808-5544 to have a friendly chat and see how we can help you.

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Low Funded Startup offering High Quality Cleaning – Startup Serial #5

Low Funded Startup

Bootstrapping

I had returned from my travels without much money and so starting a business would have to be done on the cheap.

This obviously wasn’t the ideal way to start a journey to a huge company, but fortunately cleaning has practically no barriers to entry – in the sense that with a bucket and a few different cleaning supplies, you’re pretty much set up to start!

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We would spend little, work hard and bootstrap by reinvesting any profits back into the company to achieve growth.

This meant decisions needed to be made carefully and frugally. I sourced cheap freelancers from other countries using www.freelancer.com, www.fiverr.com and peopleperhour.com, as well as investing hundreds of hours myself (some very inefficiently) into developing the business and the unique offering.

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We had to start locally (Bristol), as clearly our budget didn’t stretch nationally, but I knew in my head and my heart that there was potential to take this idea internationally.

The numbers looked solid and there is an untapped market that I estimate to be worth £2 billion per year in the UK alone.

I had a handful of logos designed from which I picked the best [attach original flyer], I continued taking any and all free business courses I could find, I started networking and I had flyers printed which I subsequently handed out myself (great exercise by the way!) .

On January 6th 2014 Tidy and Shiny began operations: time to put my (limited) money (and primarily time) where my mouth is.

Our website was up and running (built on the cheap by a mate), now it was time to wait for the bookings to roll in…

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How to be innovative – Startup Serial #4


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How to create an innovative cleaning company 

Finding a place in the industry

Right, cleaning!

I spent months researching the industry. I didn’t want to be like other companies, if I was going to do something, I was going to do it well and do it differently. I began looking into innovative ways of improving a service.

I connected with other cleaning companies – specifically ‘Maids in Black’- a cleaning company based in Washington D.C and run by Rohan Gilkes.

He shared his startup teething problems, his successes and techniques he found worked. He helped me with strategy, and every time I had an issue or an idea he ‘had been there done that’ and was always willing to share in a very selfless way.

After 6 months of planning, I still wasn’t running my business, but I was learning every day and energised by the opportunity in front of me.

I went to a business meeting with Rob Carter of Action Coach who summarised my actions at that point succinctly: I had been taking too look to ‘Ready, Aim, Fire’, when what I really needed to do was ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ and get out there and start growing, adjusting as we grew.

That was the push in the right direction that I needed, and soon after Tidy and Shiny – the original Gleem – was born, with the aim to craft out a new niche in the cleaning industry: Luxury Cleaning.

We dreamed up modern solutions to traditional problems the industry presented, such as the long-winded quote process, which we can proudly say we have successfully managed to overcome using the innovative 60 second booking process – have a look below to see just how simple it is!

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Our website is constantly being updated and improved – it’s testament to our progress!

If you’re a budding entrepreneur creating their own site, keep an eye out as we’ve got some ingenious, imminent developments planned all aiming to assist the consumer.

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How Paying A Responsible Wage Can Bring You A Lot Of Benefits – Startup Serial #3

How Paying A Responsible Wage Can Bring You A Lot Of Benefits #3

A Working Wage

When I was researching my competitors, I found the reviews could be a little sketchy to say the least. I wanted to build a top-class product for Bristol and Bath, and to do this I needed top notch workers.

We currently use 15 professional cleaners across the South West area and I am happy to say that all of these have undergone a rigorous interview process to ensure they’re the right candidates for the job.

However, this is not the only factor in a successful business model – generous remuneration is an obvious incentive for an well-presented worker and a good job.

When planning Gleem’s service, I suggested paying well over the minimum wage of £6.50 and as a result, our reviews our pretty exemplary – read a couple here and here.

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I was shocked to hear that employees are not a priority for other companies, such as East Midlands Crossroads, a firm which provides supports for carers of the disabled and the aged.

According to a recent government press release, EMC owes a whopping £37,000 to 184 workers, and even more shockingly, the firm is one of 70 UK employees who underpay their employees.

Business Minister, Jo Swinson has undertaken the responsibility for naming and shaming these employers – a measure that first came in in 2013. She declared that

and as an employer myself, I can’t help but agree.

New legislation will see companies not currently paying their employees at statutory levels fined a punitive £20,000 per worker, I hope this will result in a fairer working environment.

I personally will uphold at least a minimum level throughout my career – I realise how much effort my workers put into each clean, and to short change them would not only be terrible business practice, but from a personal perspective, it’s just not the way I operate!

As Gleem continues to expand into the commercial sector, I will seek to calculate the best possible wage for our employees and promote the Gleem Guarantee.

Let me know how you feel and share your opinions here. Its great to hear from like minded people.

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The Story Before Gleem – The Startup Serial #2

Before Gleem – Before Becoming an Entrepreneur

graduate

I graduated from the University of Leicester with a first class degree in BSc Economics. Ironically, I did so well because I was finally somewhere without pressure to perform, giving me a drive I’d never experienced before. This was very different to the Joe that had blagged his way through school – barely working – and who lucked his way into his first choice university even though I’d dropped 3 grades on the entry requirements (4 grades after I returned from my gap year).

In the final month before my exams I witnessed my friends performing a juggling act: revising for the most important exams of their lives AND applying for any and all graduate schemes that they could. I just didn’t know why! I knew l wasn’t ready for the world of work, so I focussed on doing well in the exams and fortunately it paid off.

Once I had my results, I jumped on a plane to New Zealand in time to watch the All Blacks winning the World Cup on home soil. I spent a year living in hostels and a van, working and travelling. I saw some beautiful things, learnt the value of a hard day’s work (vineyard labour) and about sales (turns out, I’m a pretty capable door to door milkman).

Once New Zealand was over, I was back in the UK but found myself with itchy feet. South America was my next calling and I spent the best part of a year teaching English, working in zoos and an animal refuge, as well as looking after orphans. It was an eye opener to life in less-developed countries – previously I had only seen places as a longterm tourist, and hadn’t given back to the less fortunate.

Like most, I have many travelling stories so please feel free to ask me if you’re interested: the monkey refuge in the Amazon basin, being held up at gun point in Bolivia, and 10 days trekking in Morocco with French people (I speak very little French!), are a few of my favourites.

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The Beginning – Gleem Startup Serial #1

The Beginning of Gleem

How I’ve started a cleaning company and what you need to know about starting a new cleaning company.

We are Gleem, and I am the founder Joseph Edwards. Gleem is a 2 years old cleaning company that is providing quality domestic and commercial cleaning services in Bristol and Bath.

It sounds simple, and when people hear the industry in which I decided to start my company in, it doesn’t sound particularly inspiring, but I promise it is much more interesting than it first seems!

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We have focussed on growing ourselves utilising the internet and social media via Facebook and Twitter and have so far found mixed success in our efforts in terms of response rate, interactions and inevitably sales.

We have decided to do something different, and we are doing it in the form of posting weekly on this blog. We are going to talk about the difficulties and challenges a startup faces in its journey to becoming exceptional. We plan to share everything on our journey to £100,000 in monthly revenue.

In short, we at Gleem will learn a lot – and hope you will too!

We will try to be very transparent, give you insights about how we have started and what you should know before starting.

Please feel free to interact, comment on and share our posts with anyone you think may be interested in the startup story, small businesses, the aspirations of a young company, or just cleaning in general.

We would like to make clear that we won’t be using this blog as a sales opportunity: it is more a way of tracking our clarity in vision and product market fit.

We hope you enjoy the journey with us!
Thanks,
Joe & the Gleem Team

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