The King Street Office – Startup Serial #15

The King Street Office

I started this business in my bedroom and after a few months moved down to a dining table.

From here I had started renting a single desk space at www.meanwhilecreative.co.uk where I met some lovely people.

I utilised the University of Bristol for interns and needed more space, which I fortunately found in the same business. The business felt like it was becoming something: it wasn’t just me now and we had our own space!

The space we had was fine- it was rough around the edges in terms of its finishings, but it served its purpose, providing us with a private space we could use. We were here for four months when I found a great space that was up for rent.

It was on King Street, next to the historic landmark; the Old Vic. It was also finished really well and was available to be moved into immediately.

The rent was higher and it was too much space, but it was something that we could grow into, so I took it.

A prime location!
A prime location!

The extra space and resulting extra cost could be offset by hiring out desks, which would have the added benefit of introducing a diverse range of people to the office. In short, the newfound space had no drawbacks!

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Recruiting As A Startup – Startup Serial #14

Recruiting: Getting it wrong

Gleem was growing and it was feeling good.

I’d been in business for about 6 months and it felt like the right time to step it up a level: I was going to hire someone to work full time.

I had interns working part time, but this was a big commitment to the business.

I didn’t really know how to recruit, so I started reading online about it.

I posted some job adverts on free resources like www.indeed.co.uk and received a few applicants.

Then I got contacted by a recruiter. I listened to the perfected sales patter dismissively, but then they hooked me with one line: if you let the new employee go before their probationary period, I would receive a full refund.

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I interviewed a few applicants, and can’t say I was particularly impressed by the quality, which got me second guessing this recruiter. I gave him one last chance and he sent someone who I thought would work well in the business: A young London girl who seemed ambitious.

I decided to hire her and she started working whilst my interns finished up their work at Gleem.

Month 1 seemed to go quite well, I allowed her to find her feet, whilst offering up responsibility and she seemed to react well.

Then things started to take a turn. She had booked a holiday in Germany and for the fortnight before this holiday she acted as if she wasn’t working. She was lethargic and uninterested. I had to really motivate her to work, and generated a mediocre list of tasks to perform before leaving for her holiday.

I had sought someone who would be dedicated to the business and who would be viewing it as a great opportunity for growth, but when I discovered that half of this list of tasks had not even been attempted.

I realised I had made a bad hiring decision. I decided that even though she was only holiday, because of the level of commitment I told her that I expected that it would be ok to call her to clarify what had gone wrong.

I was greeted with an aggressive and dismissive person on the other end of the line, who may as well have sworn at me for interrupting her trip abroad.

I decided that I no longer wanted someone like that working at Gleem as it was not ‘on brand’, and so let her go.

When it became time to receive a refund for the placement fee from the recruiter, I discovered that this ‘full refund’ was actually a lie from a recruiter who was about to leave his post, and was looking to make a quick placement (and the subsequent commission).I had to fight with the company but eventually received my full refund.

It was great to have a try-before-you-buy opportunity due to the cheeky recruiter, however in hindsight I can see that I hired badly.

I let emotion play too large a factor in why I hired someone: I liked her, she was straight talking and I based my decision upon that alone. I didn’t reference check her or anything.

So that was my first hire. It went badly, but again there were some great lessons to take from the experience.

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Cleaning The Oven – Dinner Party Woes (Part 12)

Cleaning The Oven – Dinner Party Woes

Cleaning the oven (part 3)

oven

So, the inside of the oven, possibly one of the most feared tasks in the household rota. Yet, we at Gleem know from experience this is not the case, as with the assistance of valiant vinegar, the grime is extremely easy to remove!

Continue reading Cleaning The Oven – Dinner Party Woes (Part 12)

Managing Finances – Startup Serial #13

Managing Finances In Gleem

When I started Gleem, I did it with a very small budget. I also opted to not pay myself, because I’d prefer to hire someone and grow the business further. I do however pay myself a salary, but this takes the form of a director’s loan that increases in size each month.

This was the stance I decided to take. My outlook was that some sacrifice now would pay off in the long run with a larger business.

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This has been going on for about 18 months now. I have been resourceful in keeping my living costs low, however have struggled at times. Going out and doing things can be really tough if you are living in an overdraft…so I began to transfer small amounts to myself to fund my out-of-work lifestyle, not to the value of my salary, but enough to keep me hovering around the £0 mark.

However the first time I did this it was like turning on a tap: I had the ability to go out again!

I had taken a long term loan from my family and was now spending a portion of this, on the company card.

Initially I didn’t see the issue with this, as when I put beers with potential and current customers through on our books as 100% business it felt fine, but over a few months I realised how it could be deemed inappropriate.

Nowadays I transfer a small salary to myself, enabling me to enjoy my time with my girlfriend and friends, but avoiding taking money out of the company account.

This is the best way for me, as although I own 100% of the business, it felt like it broke a weird line between what is a work cost and what isn’t, and the sooner I made a distinction between the two, I felt much more at ease.

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Starting Social Media – Startup Serial #12

Starting social media and finding our feet

Social media is a powerful tool: free access to a HUGE number of potential customers. But how do you use it correctly?

The circle of social media
The circle of social media

I did research into other local cleaning companies and found that they all seem to post, tweet, comment links to their websites…and that’s it…not particularly inspiring.

I opted instead to ‘become the expert’: I bought a Readers Digest encyclopaedia of ‘Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things’, and set searching through it, identifying tips and tricks that could be distilled down to the 140 character twitter limit.

I invested 3 full days into the process, but at the end had 6 months of tweets scheduled into Hootsuite, waiting to go out, one per day, and differing times. The campaign had limited success: I did gather some new followers, but no bookings.

I decided to start speaking to some contacts I had: in particular Wriggle. Wriggle is an app that offers last minute offers to great independent bars and restaurants across Bristol and their social media interaction was awesome.

We realised that tips of the day, although useful, was actually pretty bland and so set out establishing a strategy and schedule to our social media, integrating a variety of them, including Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

We wanted to become ‘popular’.

The aim for Gleem isn’t to promote our deals, our offers and to directly aim for sales. We instead want to be an educational, interesting presence. If people like what we read, relate to it, and appreciate it, then hopefully, if they do ever need a clean, instead of searching Google (the modern equivalent to flicking through the yellow pages), they’ll think of Gleem and search for our website instead!

So, we have hired a new Head of Marketing to take care of everything that ‘marketing’ means.

We came up with a strategy, we push the right type of content (images, longer posts, short videos, etc) across the right mediums, and by maintain a variety to the content, we (hopefully) maximise our reach to relevant people.

 

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Oven Cleaning – Dinner Party Woes Part 10

Oven Cleaning

Oven order (part 1)

After one of Gleem’s staff mentioned their horror when she took out an oven rack to find her hands coated in grease, we realised the oven is another appliance which can take a hammering when cooking ambitious meals for numerous guests.

Continue reading Oven Cleaning – Dinner Party Woes Part 10

Gleem Cleaning Featured On Bristol Post

Gleem Featured On Bristol Post

Bristol cleaning business Gleem toasts 1,000th customer as it teams up with Frank Water charity

Gleem & Frank Waters

A cleaning company which started up a year ago has celebrated with a giveaway to its 1,000th customer and a new relationship with a Bristol-based charity.

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Bristol Mum’s views on Gleem Cleaning

A gleaming house clean with Gleem, Bristol

Gleem

As a mum, I have a lot of things to do and limited time in which to do them.

Looking after the kids, running a house, cooking, cleaning, keeping on top of the laundry, running my own business, seeing my friends – I find it hard to do everything and consequently something often has to give.

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We love our cleaners – Startup Serial #11

We love our cleaners

Our stock phrase here at Gleem is ‘adding sparkle’.

We use it to steer our customers away from the event of cleaning, and towards the idea of a Gleem clean being an experience: a seamlessly operated clean, with happy cleaners, who are friendly, professional and go the extra distance, ensuring our customers’ satisfaction.

Two of our excellent Gleem cleaners
Two of our excellent Gleem cleaners

But the metaphor ‘adding sparkle’ doesn’t end there; we use it to talk about our opportunity to provide clean drinking water to India through Frank Water.

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We use it to outline the professionalism and kind nature of our operatives on the end of the phone, live chat and emails.

The most poignant place we enjoy saying we ‘add sparkle’ is regarding our cleaners: I started the business because I wanted to build a business that people enjoy working for.

I didn’t want to feel bossed about and undervalued, and so why would I want anyone else at my business to?

From Day 1, we have focussed on finding cleaners who identify with the service that we are looking to provide.

We vet our cleaners thoroughly (http://www.gleem.co.uk/portfolio/meet-the-team) and so, when they start, we know that they are the right fit for us, we are the right fit for them and together we can provide an amazing service for Bristol and Bath citizens.

And it works!

My conversations with other cleaning companies mark this difference: the comparative churn rates of our workers.

Gleem has barely let go of any cleaners since the day we started, whereas other firms talk to me about the volume of turnover being the main sticking point in the businesses. They struggle to expand because they keep losing their cleaners, whereas we are growing strongly, primarily due to our commitment to finding the best: this may take more time, but it is worth it for the long term sustainability of the business.

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The Bristol Post, 16.04.2014

Tidy and Shiny Joseph is cleaning up as his business expands

A YOUNG entrepreneur who started a cleaning business in January is taking on staff and is set to move into new offices.

Joseph Edwards, aged 25, set up Tidy and Shiny from his parent’s home in Westbury-on-Trym just 10 weeks ago.

After winning four office contracts and 60 domestic projects in that time, with several more pending, he is now taking on two admin staff to look after the 15 cleaning staff he will soon be subcontracting work to.

With the aim of moving into offices near Temple Meads, Joseph plans to use his freed-up time to develop the business, first expanding in Bristol then moving to other cities around the UK with his web-based service.

Ultimately he hopes to be operating in 66 major towns and cities in the UK within three years.

Tidy and Shiny offers a standardised service, with set options for deep or light cleaning, and a money-back guarantee if customers are not satisfied.

Full story here