Father and son team, Harry and Terence Batwell opened their Minster Cleaning Services branch in Aberdeen in July 2011 after the two had spent many years living and working in various parts of Africa and Asia.
After deciding to return to Harry's homeland they identified Aberdeen as the ideal location for their office and commercial cleaning service. Aberdeen is unique in being the only major city in the UK that has an economy based almost entirely around the oil and gas industry.
Unemployment has remained relatively low; Aberdeen is one of the least hard-hit cities in terms of recession and is the British city best-placed to grow out of the economic downturn, according to a think tank report from the Centre for Cities research and policy institute.
As Harry explains, "We're within easy reach of a large business community. As well as being the Oil Capital of Europe, Aberdeen is an important centre of education, commerce and industry as well as a thriving fishing port and coastal resort with restaurants, hotels, guest houses, leisure centres, and golfing complexes - all perfect potential Minster clients."
He says they chose Minster for a number of reasons, "Franchising offered us the best chance of establishing a successful business quickly and office cleaning is an almost indispensable commercial service for which there is a demand whatever the prevailing economic climate. Minster has been providing office and commercial cleaning services in Scotland since 1992 so the strength of the Minster brand was also important together with their comprehensive range of support services which include IT, accounts, marketing, training, employment law, health and safety and environmental legislation.
"People-management ability is the most important attribute for a successful Minster franchisee, and Terence and I have many years' experience between us - mine gained as a Chartered Accountant working in a variety of construction and civil engineering environments and Terence's from various executive positions in the toll roads, bridges and power plant construction industries." Just over 18 months down the line and things are going well for the Batwells with a staff of 25 cleaners, month-on-month increases and new contracts being won on a regular basis. They were recently fifth largest branch in terms of net turnover growth.
"We have the advantage of being a locally based and owned company which is completely in tune with local needs but with the backing of a large, successful organisation," says Harry. "Many of the businesses that we speak to are frustrated by poor cleaning standards and an unreliable service but we are building our reputation on well-trained, highly motivated staff, reassuring quality control processes, managed absence cover and complete service flexibility.Our clients have peace of mind from knowing that their cleaning is in the safe hands of experts.And having such a large trading area - from Fraserburgh in the north to Stonehaven in the south and as far west as Aboyne - gives us more than enough potential for future expansion.
"Most organisations can benefit from our service.Apart from general office cleaning, we also offer floor treatment, washroom services, carpet cleaning, janitorial supplies and window cleaning.Our clients operate in different sectors and from premises of varying sizes; our flexible service means we can tailor a cost-effective cleaning plan that delivers the most appropriate cleaning times and frequencies for each individual client, whether it's a few hours daytime cleaning once a week or early morning or late evening cleaning 7 times a week."