The Coronavirus lockdowns gave a lot of people an opportunity to rethink their careers. For some, it was the push they needed to follow a long-term dream. Helen Cooke had been wanting to run her own franchise for years, but finally found the confidence and ability to do so in 2021.
For the previous six years, Helen had worked in different roles for the emergency services, as both a resource planning officer and then answering 101 calls. And while that had taught her a lot of people skills, it was her previous jobs that taught her everything she needed to make a franchise with Ovenclean a big success.
“For 30 years I was in sales management, and also had a business doing direct sales where I had to recruit distributors to sell household items,” she said. “That gave me the confidence I’d do well with a franchise. I’d looked at Ovenclean many years before, and a local territory was available for purchase, but I was a single mum at the time and didn’t have the financial backing.
“I much prefer being my own boss, and working for myself, so I kept franchising in the back of my mind.”
During lockdown, in a more comfortable financial position and supported by a new partner, Rob, Helen explored Ovenclean again.
“It made sense to me,” she said. “Every house has an oven, they all inevitably need cleaning. An oven is an important part of the home, and people like it to work perfectly which it can only do when clean. Plus, I’d be dealing with customers and responsible for generating new business – transferable skills I knew I had. I was very driven to make it work.”
Helen attended an Ovenclean open day to find out more, and gained everything she needed to get started. Eyeing up a future partnership in the business, Helen’s partner Rob supported her to get the business off the ground by delivering 30,000 leaflets in the local area. This, combined with Helen’s determination and customer service, saw the franchise get off to a flying start.
“Growth was steady but it was working,” Helen said. “Within five months, I was making enough money for Rob to join me in the business – something we’d hoped for, but didn’t expect to be able to do so soon. We were taking on four jobs a day, with me cleaning inside the house and Rob taking care of the bars and grills outside. I also oversee customer care.”
The business continued on an upward trajectory, with sales up 57% year-on-year.
Getting to this point hasn’t been without challenges, but Helen says it’s all worth it.
“I was still getting to grips with the business when Rob joined, so we had to learn a lot together and basically double the number of leads we needed to cover both of our salaries,” she said. “That doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a lot of extra time and effort. But we invested in local advertising and worked really hard to reach our target.
“It’s also great to be part of a national brand, as Ovenclean is a well-known household name. Alongside generating our own leads through local marketing , we also receive a large number of leads from their national marketing campaigns such as the TV activity, Social Media advertising, Google pay per click and national email campaigns. These have really helped in building our customer base. I have also found the franchise support team at head office to be of great assistance, especially when first starting out as they helped me with Facebook adverts and leaflet designs and are always on hand to answer any questions. They are an invaluable source of support to help grow your business.
“All the hard work was worth it because now we get to enjoy the many benefits of working together – we can take time off together and get to spend time together with our granddaughter.”
Never one to take a back seat, Helen continues to drive the business forward by delivering the highest quality results and customer service.
“I’m really proud of where we’ve come from,” she said. “We have a large customer base, and everyone seems impressed with the service. We’ve also achieved more than 450 5-star reviews on Trustpilot, and we’re so pleased to have got ourselves into this position.”
Wishing she’d made the leap into franchising much earlier, Helen is relishing all the benefits of running an Ovenclean business and the satisfaction that it brings on a daily basis.
“When you’re finished on a job, the customer will say their oven looks like new, they’re amazed and that’s really satisfying,” she said. “The wow factor keeps you going, and they’re always happy to pass on a recommendation. So, we think the business will keep growing and in future we might even recruit other people to our team.
“Ovenclean is a really good business model that works, and you’ve got the backing of a household brand name which is tried and tested. The only way you wouldn’t succeed is if you don’t put the effort in – you’ve got to be willing to work hard and if you do, you can take it anywhere you like.”