We were very proud to be the Liverpool Echo’s Small Business of the Week back in May 2014. If you didn’t get a copy, you can read it here or below.
No ‘Mrs Mop’ in the modern cleaning industry
Young James Morris quit a degree course at Leeds University to realise his dream of setting up his own business.
The entrepreneur from Waterloo was half way through his studies in bio medical science when he decided that that was not the life for him.
Instead, he set his sights on creating his own commercial cleaning business, inspired by members of his family who had already built up a wealth of experience in the sector.
But he was determined to succeed in his own right, so having returned from Leeds he took a job, first, with a debt solutions agency, before joining the call centre of Santander’s Bootle-based commercial banking operation in order to build up enough savings to avoid the need for bank funding or outside investment.
A year into establishing JCS Cleaning, based in The Women’s Organisation building in St James Street, the business is exceeding targets, and still doesn’t even need an overdraft facility.
Sitting in the office in jeans and sweat top fresh from a cleaning assignment, himself, he and his business development manager Zoe Yvonne Delaney, 25, explain the fledgling firm’s phenomenal growth which has seen it, so far, employ 65 staff to service 34 venues in Liverpool, and seven in its newly-focused operation in Manchester.
James said his team has immense experience: “Particularly our area manager, Gina Thomas, who has 27 years of experience in the industry.”
And he said having the right structure is also integral to knowing exactly what is happening throughout the business.
“We have site supervisors for our venues who train and look after our staff, and the supervisors report to a district manager and the district manager reports to me.”
The personal touch is also a key to business success. Zoe says they give their personal phone numbers to all their clients, and James adds: “We get calls at six in the morning.”
Zoe said: “Our personal skills set us apart from other businesses like us.”
They are also meticulous in their preparations.
A fair percentage of their clients are in the leisure industry, such as bars and clubs, and many have installed expensive marble flooring.
Zoe said: “There’s a science with all the cleaning products and devices coming out. It is different for each premises.”
James added: “We have to contact the supplier of the floor to find out what is the best chemicals to use on it
“We have also got a maintenance man who will do a deep steam clean of our premises periodically.”
The timing of the company’s formation may be fortuitous, as the economy now starts to accelerate from six years of downturn, but the pair say they have also put the hours in trying to attract new clients.
Zoe said: “In a recession one of the first things to go is cleaning because people think they can do it themselves.
“But a lot of our clients have spent a lot of money on marble floors and fixtures and fittings, so you need people who know how to clean things like that.”
They both attend many networking events to get their name out there, but they add there’s no substitute for getting out and about and making face-to-face contact with prospective clients, such as the city’s latest top class eaterie, Fazenda, in Exchange Flags.
Zoe said: “We’re right in the heart of the Baltic Triangle, so as new businesses move in we hope to get new clients.
“We spotted the work going on in Fazenda and went in and got that business.
“But we’re going after more offices now and have just got an NHS contract. It is a medical centre and is something different and a new direction for us.
“We specialise in bars and restaurants at the moment, but we are moving forward with new sectors, and we have also just got a contract for student accommodation.
“There’s a lot more business being generated and new buildings going up, so for us it is good because new businesses are being built.”
And she outlined their plans for even further growth: “We can aim for bigger companies and spread out across the North West.”
James said: “We have seven contracts in Manchester and Zoe is going to be based there two days a week.”
The aim is to have as much work in Manchester as Liverpool. Zoe explained: “We want to become more established in Manchester and by the end of the year we want a similar number of venues there.”
Their business plan was to grow the venture by as much as half in the first year and James revealed that they are more than satisfied with their progress.
“The target for the first year was to grow by 50% and we have achieved that. Turnover is more than £500,000, so we are 50% ahead of target.
“The long term plan is growth, and we want to get past the £1m turnover mark.
“But the most important thing you learn is that it is not possible to do it all yourself.
“You need people around you who are good at their job. You need people to advise you and help you implement your plans.
“For me, that has been a wake up call. You need people to do their job properly and you need to be doing your job properly.”