Lucy and Julian Fernando from Reading have seen their home service business flourish over the past 18 months, despite the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19.
The couple, who took on a master franchise with domestic service provider, Fantastic Services in late 2019, have seen steady growth for their cleaning and gardening services with demand so high, they have been able to hire 15 new team members over the past 12 months – and are looking to appoint more new hires this year – as their franchise continues to expand.
The pair, who met in 2011 whilst working in retail, have been business partners since 2018 – and today operate their own cleaning, gardening and handyman franchises across the Berkshire region.
Lucy, 28, says “With my skills in admin and marketing and Julian’s knowledge of numbers, I think we make a great team. Just before the pandemic, we wanted to take on a new challenge and develop a new business as a couple. As we both had previous experience in franchising, we thought this would be a great way to go – so took on a regional franchise with Fantastic Services offering cleaning solutions.”
Lucy continues, “Like everyone, we were extremely worried about the economic impacts of Covid-19 when we went into the first lockdown -especially having just started a new franchise. Whilst the government has provided lots of support to business generally, we fell between the cracks in the support schemes available.
“In having a young family with two boys aged five and eight, initially we were extremely concerned but stayed positive, focused on what we could do and have seen our franchise flourish as a result.”
Julian, 38 says, “Despite the lack of government support, as a franchise business, we did receive great guidance from our franchisor – helping us to navigate the difficult economic landscape, providing us with regular booking enquiries and leads.
Julian continues “Having a support system above us, not only meant we could get by, but that we could grow and ultimately create jobs for other people in the local area as a result.”
Today Lucy and Julian have 6 franchisee teams with 15 members of staff offering everything from oven cleaning to end of tenancy cleaning – creating jobs for people who had been made redundant due to the effects of the pandemic.
Julian says, “Having a franchise is like being a start-up business but without the risk. The support systems, technology platforms and innovations we have access to have been our lifeblood and have meant we have been able to develop our business without fear. Equally, we are our own bosses and work from home, so we can prioritise family time – like being able to pick the boys up from school – or provide their home-schooling during lockdown. However, the best thing has been growing our team and providing others with the opportunity to work.”
One franchisee of Lucy and Julian’s is David, a cleaning supervisor from Reading who was made redundant from his job during the first lockdown.
Lucy says, “David has been terrific for us and now runs his own specialist deep cleaning and antiviral sanitization franchise in our region, earning up to £600 per day on some jobs.”
Lucy continues, “There’s no doubt that being part of a franchise has helped us in these uncertain times, more so than if we had still been working in retail or ran our own independent business.
“Our target for next 12 months is to double our revenue and double the number of teams. For us, franchising has been the best thing we’ve ever done.”