Born and educated in North London, Carlos left school at 16 and began his career in banking. He joined NatWest Bank as a machine room operator moving on to the customer focused areas of the bank and progressing to Mortgage Advisor.
Wanting a more challenging role Carlos left NatWest in 1993 and joined the Spanish Armed Forces, where he earned a Commendation for Outstanding Achievement of Service, managing the Transportation Division. On returning to the UK in 1995, Carlos took his place in the family business after his parents' retirement with a pledge to maintain the very high standards of service already set.
The success of Total Clean today stems from Carlos' commitment to operational and service excellence. Carlos has built and maintained a loyal team through exceptional leadership - delivering ultimately unrivalled levels of client satisfaction and retention. The continued growth of Total Clean has allowed Carlos to set his sights on national ambitions and in 2013 Carlos launched the Total Clean Management Franchise model with the vision to duplicate his winning formula across the United Kingdom.
FranchiseExpo: What can you tell us about the beginning of Total Clean and how it got started?
Carlos Garcia: My parents, Pedro and Maria Garcia, started Total Clean in 1988 with only one client, Wolff Olins. It was at the insistence of Mr Olins that they set up on their own and even to this date, Mr. Olins is still a client. As an owner-operator business, Total Clean grew organically through referrals and recommendation when in 1995 Pedro and Maria retired and handed over the reins to me.
Although I had been working in the business for some time, the defining moment was when my mother handed me the 'handbag' in which she always carried the keys to the client premises. On the day my parents left England to return to Spain, they instilled in me how important it is to maintain what they had built with the following, now immortal, words: “Don’t let Mr. Wally Olins down!!”
FE: What is your franchise opportunity all about?
CG: The Total Clean Management Franchise Opportunity operates within the £multi-billion, recession-proof, growth market sector of Contract Commercial Cleaning. It represents a £1m opportunity with high profit margins for the right candidates; it is a proven turnkey system that can be run inexpensively from your home. This is an opportunity for quality individuals to run their business with all of our support and no constraints in a marketplace that continues to be in the ascendency.
FE: What are the qualities you look for in your ideal Franchise Partner?
CG: We are looking for Franchise Partners to grow our brand across the UK and maintain our great reputation for excellent service levels. Our Franchise Partners must be willing to learn and follow a proven system in order to replicate our success. To achieve this, they must be client focused, have a desire to succeed, have great interpersonal skills, an ability to interpret client needs and to translate them into practical, workable solutions.
FE: What have some of the challenges been in establishing your franchise and how have you overcome them?
CG: The main challenge for us was the sheer scale of the project of building the franchise model. From the outset, it was a massively long list of what needed to be done and I thought, "how is this possible in the timescale?" - but due to the great team that we have in place, we have got there. Unsurprisingly, it was also very difficult to get everything from the last 18 years that I have learned and do by rote out of my head onto the pages of the model's documentation. Simon, our Development Manager, was very thorough and, of course, very patient with me!
FE: Do you feel that franchising is a great way for individuals who wish to start their own business?
CG: Yes, particularly in today's economic climate, franchising enables people to start their own business with comparatively limited risk. From day 1 they start safe in the knowledge that they are not on their own and that they have the support and back up of a proven, workable model. Starting a franchised business really does help someone achieve their financial and lifestyle goals without nearly the same level of risk involved in 'going it alone'.
FE: Any success stories you’d like to share with us?
CG: The success that I am most pleased with on a regular basis is when one of the very few clients that leave us, come back having experienced the competition. It is always sad to lose a client but very satisfying when they come back again to experience the service levels that we insist on in the operations of the business.
FE: Do you belong to any associations or networking groups?
CG: None, apart from our provisional bfa membership. We have promoted the business via online methods with great success. We have also reaped the benefits of a strong service ethic in the form of regular and constant referrals and recommendations.
FE: What do you do in your spare time?
CG: The core business and the franchise project take up a tremendous amount of my time. I am a very keen family man and I spend as much time as possible with my wife, my little girl and my twin boys. I am also a fan of good friends, good food and good wine - preferably all at the same time.
FE: As a business owner, who has been your greatest inspiration?
CG: I guess most people will often say Richard Branson or similar. I have to be honest and say that my mother and father, Pedro and Maria Garcia had the greatest influence on my approach to business. Having been involved as a boy in the early days when Mum and Dad were building the business, it was their attitude to client service and devotion to detail that I have carried through to continue the great success that they started.
Mum and Dad also instilled in me to deal with people with kindness. I hope that I have been able to continue this ethos - it may have contributed to Total Clean keeping both staff members and clients for nearly 25 years.
FE: In your opinion, why do you think that Total Clean would be a great opportunity for someone?
CG: All of our Franchise Partners can feel that they are part of something that is ethical and will always operate with absolute integrity. As a business model that has been well proven since 1988, we have a track record for significant growth. The model is very practical, very workable and provides the Franchise Partner with the opportunity to grow as quickly as they wish in order to meet their business and life goals.