Building a cleaning empire – Lexology
The ‘big OE’ is a rite of passage for many Kiwis, but for Grant McLauchlan and CrestClean’s Rene Mangnus, it was also the catalyst for a business idea that would see them become industry leaders.
It was in the 1980s when Grant and Rene met at the University of Otago, becoming friends through a common interest in surf lifesaving.
“We then won a national championship together. That’s when we learned a lot about how to work together and it’s one of the main reasons we’re such an effective team in business 30 years later,” says Rene.
After graduating, they traveled overseas together, brainstorming different business ideas, in between waves.
“We both came from entrepreneurial families and knew we wanted to be business owners. We’ve been to Bali, Singapore, Thailand, Europe, and the UK, and what we saw in all those different places was a big brand name company. At the time, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s were all we knew about franchising on Kiwi soil, so we started researching why franchising wasn’t really a thing in New Zealand.
Seeing its potential and after weighing the pros and cons of various trades, they opted for cleaning.
“It was a big industry, with recurring revenue, and it didn’t require franchisees to sign leases for retail or office space,” says Grant.
“Also, there was plenty of room for improvement – standards were lax, salaries terrible and training non-existent.”
In 1996 the friends purchased a small cleaning business in Dunedin and made the current owner CrestClean the first CrestClean master franchisee.
Fast forward 25 years, and the company has grown to 672 franchise teams across New Zealand, making it the largest franchise group in the country, on a unit basis.
With a total workforce of more than 2,000 people, made up of 59 different nationalities, the company provides approximately three million hours of customer service each year.
The company has developed a number of different programs to ensure that franchisees consistently provide professional service. In 2013 CrestClean established the Master Cleaners Training Institute, becoming the largest private trainer of commercial cleaning staff in New Zealand, and in 2014 launched its Health, Safety and Environment Management System on measure, SafeClean.
It has also responded to growing demand for its services outside the main centers with its “Move to the Regions” initiatives, which have successfully helped over 100 families and couples relocate to cities in New Zealand.
CrestClean’s success was recognized at the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards 2021, when it won the top award for Franchise System of the Year, as well as Business-to-Business Franchise System of the Year.
Judges from the Franchise Association of New Zealand described CrestClean as “a remarkably successful and very well-structured franchise system, with clear measures of business performance across all dimensions”.
“The award is the culmination of years of improving our system and the way we operate and recognizes how much we care for and support our franchisees, which we are very proud of,” says Grant.
AJ Park has had an important role to play in CrestClean’s journey from the start.
Brand protection is an integral part of a franchise system, says Rene, who leads CrestClean’s marketing and brand team.
“At the very heart of a franchise agreement is the license of the intellectual property of the franchise system. This is often defined as a right to use branding, logos and other collateral materials for the purpose to carry out the business. This right is often defined in a geographic territory, and it may be an exclusive or non-exclusive right, depending on the structure of the franchise system.”
From a branding perspective, logos and graphic images become the very personality of a brand because they face the public and their use conveys a company’s brand personality, Rene adds.
“CrestClean has over 700 branded vehicles across New Zealand, so the vehicle livery really becomes a moving billboard over time,” he says.
“Over the years, CrestClean has sought to protect its brand by utilizing the services of Penelope Catley and her team at AJ Park. Prior to our launch in December 1996, Penny applied for protection of our logos and the horse emblem. Then in 2005 we undertook a rebranding, and again Penny helped us with great advice, and we got protection around our CrestClean name and Healthy Clean Workplaces link. .
It’s been nice to be involved with CrestClean since the 1990s. Grant and Rene have always valued IP, which has helped build a strong IP strategy. Franchising is a real success story, paving the way for franchise systems in New Zealand,
Penelope Catley, AJ Park
“We also have branded accessory logos applied to our health, safety and environment systems and our range of chemicals. Having good protection makes it possible to avoid “passing off”. The cost of good IP protection is justified by all the subsequent advertising and marketing funding that goes into publishing the brand. »
And with CrestClean’s intellectual property protected in seven other countries, it is possible to license its franchise system overseas in the future.
“Once again, good early protection sets the stage for a successful international franchise system.”