Leigh Prendiville started out in business in 2005 and in fact started as a franchisee too. Dissatisfaction with the lack of support from his franchisor led him to breakaway and start up independently a few years later. Leigh could see his business was doing OK but not as great as he thought it should be. He invested in a business coach and learned so much, not only about his business but about himself too.
In 2010 Leigh launched the first franchise of his now very successful cleaning business with coaching and support put right at the heart of what Domestique is all about. Prior to 2005 Leigh worked for many years in the transport sector as a manager at both Tesco and Royal Mail. Leigh is married and has two boys – one of which he tells me is already a budding entrepreneur at aged 9!
FranchiseExpo: What is the Domestique franchise opportunity all about?
Leigh Prendiville: Domestique is primarily a management franchise that happens to be in the domestic cleaning sector. Our franchisees are not cleaners – they manage every aspect of the business and their teams of cleaners. We are effectively an ‘agency style’ cleaning business. We do not own or operate any vehicles or supply any cleaning products or machinery nor do me directly employ any cleaners. This special way of working ensures we have a highly profitable model with very low overheads and the business is very tax efficient too.
FE: Who is your ideal candidate for a Domestique franchise?
Leigh: A mature person seeking a career change who is committed to start out on there own but values the security of having a proven business model to follow, regular ongoing training and support to help in personal and professional development.
FE: What type of training and support do you offer Domestique?
Leigh: After the initial intensive residential training course you will continue to receive full support from our dedicated team. I have been a franchisee myself and found the support far from good. At Domestique we are dedicated to provide ongoing support of real value. We are the only franchise of our kind that invests in ongoing professional business coaching. Every three months we hold either a national or local support day. The whole day is designed to allow you to step back from working in your business to get a clearer overall picture. We work with you to set new goals that will help you achieve the results you really believe running your own business can deliver. Your coach and I will work on five key areas of business development that when tackled simultaneously should catapult your business to super success.
FE: What are some of the advantages in being a franchisee?
Leigh: Apart from the planning days and ongoing support already mentioned we also run a call centre facility that handles all the raw sales calls so you don’t have to be waiting for the phone to ring. You can be out there growing your business, safe in the knowledge that you are not missing potential business. We also manage your highly effective Google Adwords marketing centrally ensuring you get a great return on your marketing investment. Our Google expert will constantly monitor your campaigns. All printed adverts are produced centrally too – just ask for a size of ad you need and we will begin designing it for maximum impact ad sales. And recently we added an online print portal with specially discounted rates to make ordering new contracts and marketing materials easier and cheaper.
FE: Are you a member of any Associations?
Leigh: Yes. We applied for membership of the BFA and our franchise agreements met their requirements and we were invited to join. We value membership of the BFA but took the commercial decision to join the AFA instead. The Approved Franchise Association is a lesser known but equal body that has the interests of franchisees right at the heart of everything they do.
FE: Tell us a little about the (industry) Market?
Leigh: The old adage 'Where there’s muck, there’s money’ has never been truer. Even in challenging economic times houses still get dirty. Our customers are primarily double income families with children and they value the benefit of having the house cleaned each week above the relatively low price the service costs. We jokingly say that actually sell Saturday Mornings rather than cleaning because it is really the free time that we give back to the client that they value so much.
FE: How successful is your company today and what are your future growth plans?
Leigh: We have recently signed up another two franchisees in Worthing and Wokingham. We are growing at a steady rate with roughly 6 new franchisees per year. It is important that we do not grow too fast because at very heart of our business is the franchisee support. We need to make sure we can still deliver real value for money support and planning days across the country. Growing too fast could jeopardize this. We have a three year plan to grow by a further 18 franchisees in line with our present performance.
FE: What are your franchisees saying about the business?
Leigh: Broadly speaking our franchisees are really happy and would recommend Domestique. However, they will all say that running their business is very hard work and requires concerted and consistent effort.
FE: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
Leigh: It’s a great option to be considering but be careful and do your homework. In my experience as a franchisee I have found the support to be generally poor or nonexistent. Ask lots of questions and make sure you are speaking to as many franchisees as possible not just the ones the franchisor steers you towards. I believe in giving you the full picture so you are welcome to speak to the star franchises as well as the ones finding things tougher.
FE: In your opinion, why do you think that Domestique would be a great opportunity for someone?
Leigh: We are the only franchise of our type that really invests in our franchisees. Our retained business coach, accountants and marketing experts are all highly skilled and greatly valued. The cost of these external professional if bought separately would be prohibitive for virtually any new business person. Our call centre and marketing design service are also really big pluses. With Domesique it’s all taken care of. We simply invest in you and give you the best possible chance of success.