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Name: Sophie Evans
Business: Dirty Cows Ltd
Location: Chessington, England, United Kingdom
Industry: Personal Services
Reason for starting? I launched in 2009 with a very clear directive. Provide the best quality high-end housekeeping services, to pioneer the ‘Gift Cleaning Package ‘ and most importantly to make much needed changes to the way the domestic cleaning service industry functions in the UK, raising the standards and status of our employees. Our hard work paid off, we have just been announced as a finalist for a National Business Award for ‘Employer of the Year.’
Business owners must work just as hard on changing the social, economic and perceived status of their employees as they do on company image, product and service design. It is hugely rewarding to challenge the image of a poorly perceived, age old industry and really shake things up. It has not been easy and I’m not done yet, but what I sincerely hope to achieve is better working conditions, practices, opportunities and benefits for cleaners and housekeepers in the UK and most importantly to bring a genuine pride and status to such an important role.
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How do you define success? For me a successful business is not only about the bottom line. It is about improving and making difficult and often expensive changes to better your industry and your employees opportunities, ensuring you are a leader in your market for quality and consistency of your service. For my business, being the most progressive employer is our most valued company ethic. When every one of your employees is front house staff it is so important to ensure that every employee is as important as every client. Happy and valued employees are intrinsically linked to impressed and satisfied clients.
Biggest success: We are the first professional domestic cleaning company in the UK to provide our employees, (full and Part-time) with private health care for themselves and their dependent children, we offer a pension, professional training and opportunities for promotion. We also offer the same workplace discounts and privileges as large corporate organizations. Everything you would not expect from a stereotypical cleaning job. We pride ourselves on being a modern, forward thinking, progressive employer who spend a great deal of time looking for exceptional and talented people to join our company. We are extremely proficient at identifying what motivates each individual employee and we provide flexible working routines so that our staff can achieve a better work life balance. We have earned national recognition for actively raising standards and expectations for housekeepers and quality of cleaning service.
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What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Recruitment is the trickiest area for all businesses that care about the quality and calibre of their employees. Any employer looking to attract bright, intelligent people, with plenty of common sense has to foster a creative working environment that encourages and utilizes the talents and efforts of each individual employee. We pride ourselves on doing exactly this at Dirty Cows and raising the profile, pay, working conditions, benefits and very importantly challenging the image of a professional high end housekeeper is absolutely the key to our success. We spend a lot of money on high profile recruitment campaigns to raise the status and challenge the stereotype of who applies for the role of a housekeeper and it has had a dramatic effect on staff morale.
Running and growing business is hard, time consuming, expensive and at times completely exhausting. It is absolutely inventible that it will impact on your personal life. The most important coping strategy I know is to accept that something has to give, and that it is not possible to be all things to all people at work and at home all of the time. Once you accept this it becomes much easier to wrangle the challenges and make choices about what is most important for that day. I make much better business decisions today than I did 7 years ago and I organise my time much more efficiently. Deal with the difficult and most challenging problems first. Employ people who are good at what you are not and accept that you need have time for yourself as well as your business and book this in your busy schedule.
Who is your most important role model? For me a role model in business is somebody who challenges the way things have always been done and brings a new and vibrant angle to solving a long standing problem or difficulty in business. In my opinion the most successful businesses have always started with an understanding of what is currently not working in their sector and what changes can be made to positively impact on their business and deliver a unique and improved service or product. In my industry, many business are only interested in the net profit margins and this frequently leads to stagnation of quality, low employee morale and poor perception of the industry as a whole. My business role models are the ones who, like me, want kick an industries stereotype hard in the teeth and set the bar high for future like-minded entrepreneurs and pass on the baton.
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Edited by The Story Exchange