Women in Franchising – Minster Cleaning

Former pilates instructor Kirsten Dunn, 40, left South Africa with her husband, Paul, to take the reins of Minster’s Edinburgh and Lothians franchise in 2016. And it’s been on the up ever since.

Why did you make the change?

My husband and I wanted to leave South Africa and we’d always fancied living in the UK. That’s when we started looking at franchise opportunities – Paul’s experience in the hygiene sector made Minster an ideal choice.

How did you find out about franchising and Minster?

We were looking at various franchises and found it for sale online. Once we’d met the current owner and the people at Minster we knew it was right for us. They’re very professional and have such high standards.

Describe the onboarding process

We had initial meetings in March 2016 and we’d signed up and moved to Scotland by June that year! We had so much support, including five days at head office going through every aspect of the business. The previous owner also allowed us to sit in with him for two weeks.

What attracted you to this opportunity? I wanted to live in the Lake District or Scotland, so when the Edinburgh and Lothians branch came up it ticked all the right boxes.

What ongoing support is available? Lots if you need it, from an IT department to all the other franchisees who you can share ideas with. But Minster allows you to run your business how you choose, which is great.

How is your franchise doing?

We bought a solid business – what we were sold was definitely what we got. Now we’ve settled in it’s really starting to grow and we’ve hired a sales person to drive that.

Any standout moments so far?

When we reached £1million in turnover. But we’re not stopping there!

Describe a typical day

I come in at 9am and leave at 3pm (lucky me!), although my phone is always on. First, we address any issues that have come up overnight and Paul has meetings with the staff. I then focus on finance and admin, processing the accounts and payroll and dealing with HR issues. While Paul concentrates on the operations and commercial side of the business.

How has life changed since you became a franchisee?

I owned my own pilates studio and worked 12 hour days in South Africa so didn’t have any work-life balance. Now if we need to stay late we do, if not we head home and have time to ourselves.

How have you found being a woman running her own business?

Scotland is really supportive of women in business and it’s never been an issue with any of our clients. But there’s definitely room for more of us – at franchise meetings I only ever see two or three other ladies. I’d love to see more.

What qualities do franchisees need?

You need to have some business acumen and be good with people. You’ll have lots of staff with different needs, being a good mentor to them is an important part of the job.

What are your ambitions?

To be the biggest franchise in the group! There are some strong ones taking in double the amount we do, but we’re aiming high.

Would you recommend franchising to others?

Absolutely! Yes, as a franchise you pay a royalty, but it comes with huge brand recognition and lots of support.

Do you have any advice for aspiring franchisees?

Dealing with staff needs has been one of the steepest learning curves. I’ve found the best way is to put myself in their shoes and let them know we are there for them. Having said that it’s important to leave any drama in the office.

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