Someone asked me the question: How Quickly Can I Make Money In A Oven Cleaning Business Graham?
Oven Cleaner Makes £1K in His First Business Week…You Must Be Kidding!
Okay if you asked me this even just a few weeks ago if someone could make a thousands pounds a week in their first week in an oven cleaning business I would have laughed at you. “Seriously? You must be kidding! No one can make that sort of money from day one. It takes a while to build up your customer base, and to build up your business”. I would have told you and I would have probably have taken it further and got into a serious strop with you and had an argument with you as I remember the pain I had to put myself through to clean all those ovens to get my first £1000 week.
Which was about one year after starting. (I can’t remember when it exactly was I’ll dig out my diary and put the date in here when I know it).
So then back in 2004 and 2005 I was working like a maniac, charging £35 to £45 for single cleaning 4 to 5 ovens a day. I remember thinking when coping with my seriously aching arms every night “how can anyone sustain this?”. But I did and I pushed through it and grew my business, getting four employees to do what I was doing. All of us working like busy bees flat out driving everywhere, me myself sometimes driving up to two hours to get to a job, driving from Wiltshire to South Hams in South Devon to clean AGAs (Salcombe has always been a busy location for us).
So it has been a surprise when our new franchisee Lee Cole took £1004 in sales in week one of starting his new business. And then even more of surprise when he did again in week two. Week three was a bit lame with £340 but week four was over £1K again.
So we’ve been scratching our heads. And really the conclusion is that we can be a lot better at getting our business going than we think we can!
Lee bought an area from us we had already covered, down in Newton Abbot. As I said I been down there a lot in the past but really the only way that we have gained that business is by advertising on line. But being in an area and marketing locally really does help!
Looking at how Lee has got his work. He has been lucky with repeat customers booking in, recommendations from people who have used us before and by being super pro-active. He has cleaned lots of AGAs and range cookers. So our marketing is hitting the mark.
Oh and there was one small thing I’ve done – I’ve tried out a new way of advertising, well new for us really, using Google Adwords in a different way. I’ll do another post on this soon so look out for it.
Update: Lee announced at our AGM in January 2017 that in his first 15 weeks his total sales income for his business had been £16,000.
Update: Lee’s total sales for his first 12 Months was £47,000 which equalled his old salary as a Waitrose store manager.
So how was Christmas? It was busy as ever and we broke our records of the previous year because we took more in one day that we had done before. So, as we take payment in advance, we took by card payments the most we had ever taken in one day. And overall we had an increase in sales of 30%.
We cleaned about 400 ovens in December, our four guys were working 6 days a week doing about 4 a day, and I went out cleaning AGAs for a week or so.
We had some complaints and I have been going out to see people this week to find out what the issues were. In all we had 5 complaints – so just over 1% not bad but zero would have been better – and they were:
1. AEG oven – scratched inside, or chipped as the customer said. I went out and saw this lady. The scratch was about half a centimeter long and it was just a slight scratch were the operative had been trying to get some burnt off carbon from a ridge. The chips were old ones and what you often see in older ovens. I apologised and told her this was the first time anyone had complained about scratching the inside of the oven in 10 years of operation, and told her that the chips were a sign of age of the oven. She was happy about this and we agreed on us giving her a discount for her next clean.
2. Mercury Range – Hob racks have gone blotchy. I went out to see it. The hob racks were completely clean of burnt on carbon, and black and there were some grey watermarks on them. To me they didn’t look bad at all. The issue here wasn’t the standard of the cleaning but that we hadn’t told her that her perfect hob racks would be affected by the clean. This was an older Mercury range and the hob stands are cast iron and not enamelled. Normally when we dip these they go a light grey, though we can get around this with a quick dip. Most of the time when we come to clean these hob racks they are already light grey in colour because the owner has been putting the racks into their dishwasher which strips off the finish (I suspect some sort of oil). In this case the lady had contacted Mercury and asked them about cleaning; they had told her that if she put them in the dishwasher they’d go grey, so she had washed them in the sink in soapy water. As the cooker was 11 years old she had been doing this all the time and kept them clean. So that was the issue, blotchy top. I offered a refund and told her that the way to get rid of the marks completely (we had tried oiling them) would be to put a different finish on them, for example an enamel finish, which we could arrange, but we would have to look at putting it through our insurance.
3. Gas oven not going to full flame after clean. If I’m cleaning a gas oven this is something I check at the beginning and the end of the job. You turn the gas up to max for the oven and wait and watch the flame. It should stay low for about 60 seconds and then suddenly jump up to full height. If it doesn’t it is normally bits of flaky grease covering the jets. For this clean our operative didn’t check this. I’m now producing a new list of checks for the guys to do on cleans. She had the oven cleaned on the 9th of December. She phoned us on the 10th of December. We went back on the 11th of December and we couldn’t get it go up to full flame. We called out and engineering company. Then we didn’t hear anything until we got a letter in the post yesterday – 8th January 2015. The lady said that because the guy we had contacted hadn’t contacted us she had made her own arrangement to get it fixed. The worksheet she sent us showed that she had paid £85 for an engineer from Hotpoint. He had fixed the problem, which was – ‘fsd phial moved by cleaning company causing flame not to stay lit’ and door catch broken. Replaced catch and refit phial.’ Okay fair enough and £85 was pretty reasonable. But the lady had sent her credit card payment which showed the date she had paid for the service, she had paid on line for Hotpoint repair service with a set payment of £85 to include all parts and labour. The date on this statement showed that she had paid this on the 10th December! Why would you she have paid for the repair without waiting for us to see if we would fix it. So for a bit shady. She hadn’t mentioned this to us when we had spoken to her on the phone on the 10th or the 12th when we arranged for the engineer visit. I have spoken to her and said it looks dishonest but if she sent me the full invoice for the Hotpoint work I’d look at paying it – it had a bit missing at the bottom and didn’t have a VAT number. I expect she called them out to fix the door catch and then they put that we had broken it to justify us paying it. Whatever the Phial is, I’m guessing it something that if you just move slightly affects the flame control and perhaps they set this up for us to pay for the door catch.
4. Transfers missing after clean. An old New World gas cooker. The numbers had come off during the clean. I bought some replacement ones on Ebay not knowing it was a gas cooker. So when I got there to replace them the numbers didn’t go in the right direction, that is the knob turned anti-clockwise and the transfers I bought were for an electric oven so the numbers went clockwise and not to a high enough in the numbers. Again goes back to pre check list which we need to get right.
5. SMEG single oven range cooker. We replaced the bulb when we cleaned it. The bulb blew straight away and the oven stopped working. Our operative was unsure of how to fix it. I went out and pulled out the oven and replaced the 13 amp fuse in the power point behind the cooker – fixed. I didn’t put another bulb back in – I told th customer there may be problem with the circuit in her oven’ s light. As she had breakdown cover with Domestic and General. I told her to arrange a visit to see if they could fix it.