The business was started by Rayner Davies who left school with one qualification. Rayner had her first child at 16 and second at 18 and was living off benefits. Rayner went in to providing care work at 19 whilst providing care she had a burning desire to prove to herself and to others she wasn’t just a teen mum who was supported by benefits. When she was 23 and wanting to go self-employed, Rayner put a hand-written sign in a window of a shop offering an ironing service. This soon grew and within four months Rayner gave up her care job to concentrate on her new found passion. Soon clients were asking Rayner to provide a cleaning service which she did and continued to expand. Since then, her husband Ashley – who has a background in sales, marketing, banking and has a very keen eye on the finances in the business - joined the firm and A&R Contract Cleaning has gone from strength to strength implementing KPIs, targets and ambitious plans for growth. The business was really started from passion for cleaning and hard-work and that has stayed with the business in its culture as its grown.

Our main challenges when starting the business

During the first three years, building the reputation was the biggest challenge. Getting people to know and trust a new company with no background was a challenge. Recruiting the first ever employee taught the founders a huge lesson that not everyone has the same drive. Learning to say no to the jobs that they knew would hold them back long term was also an issue as well as knowing that if they wanted to grow the business, they needed professionalization and systemisation in place.

Success Factor

Hard-work and passion – Ashley and Rayner know the service they provide has huge benefits to all clients and if needed they will get stuck in and clean along with the rest of the management team. They are on hand to support the management team although they have given them the skills to be able to deal with clients, staff, sickness and over all look after their sites and maintain a high retention rate. This has helped drive a supportive culture and one where the team will also go the extra mile. Strategy – The implementation of a successful strategy and refocusing the business on commercial cleaning has helped drive the growth of the business. They have understood that working on the business is far more important than working within the business and as a result this has meant reducing some of the services offered which, overall, has had a positive impact on the company leaving the founders to concentrate more on other services which are more profitable. Finally, marketing and a focus on what the business offers and to who, has really helped the company target the right customers. Investing in marketing has led to increased enquiries which have led to more revenue.

The Future

The next step is to start winning larger contracts such as shopping centres and chains. To do this, further diversification is needed into facilities management and accessing contracts. In terms of managing the growth Ashley and Rayner have put a lot of work into developing an autonomous and effective management structure, who take responsibility for clients and workload as if it was their business. This will ensure the growth is sustainable. And not forgetting the roots of the business namely that it was based on passion for cleaning and hard-work. As long as that stays with the business, and clients are happy, the business can’t go far wrong.