Phoenix Cleaning Company: the importance of openness in peer networking
Since completing the Help to Grow: Management Course last year, Phoenix Cleaning Company (PCC) has increased sales by 45%. Sophie Price, PCC’s Business Manager who attended the course, attributes the growth to peer-to-peer learning and change to a growth mind set.
‘After the course, I began to focus on the granular to increase efficiency across the board. We improved internal processes and begun training our staff to a higher level. This improved the product, and it allowed us to consistently deliver to a high standard. This, in tandem with an enhanced marketing campaign, allowed us to secure three new large clients based on referrals. I believe all factors of a business are interlinked which is why making the small improvements across the company can have such a monumental impact.’
At a crossroads
Following 15 years of experience within the cleaning industry and a stalled attempt at their first company, Price and her husband, Paul Geddes, founded PCC in 2019. PCC is a Yorkshire-based commercial cleaning company that specialises in pressure washing and window cleaning.
Due to the contacts that Price and Geddes had accrued over the years, the fledgling stages of PCC proved prosperous. But as with all start-ups, challenges persisted, and the company plateaued. It was around this time that Sophie went on maternity leave.
Price comments: ‘We had grown since forming the company, but two years in we didn’t seem to have much direction or focus. We really needed that push to take it to the next level.’
Back to business
Towards the backend of her maternity leave, Price was looking for ways to get back into the swing of things. Price came across the Help to Grow: Management Course while scrolling through LinkedIn and enrolled despite not attending any formal training since completing her MBA ten years ago. The hybrid format of the course was well suited to Price’s needs as childcare responsibilities remained at the forefront of her priorities.
‘The way the course was structured, the lectures and the academics going through all the theory really wasn’t that intense. We had peer sessions fortnightly and reading to do in between the seminars. The access we had to all the materials and slides really assisted our learning.
‘It allowed me to make loads of little changes in the way I run the business. Lots and lots of little tweaks that we’re still working on. A lot came from notes I made in sessions and from the Growth Action Plan I created with my mentor. There are 100 things on this list. Some we’ve done and some we’re still working through. Some are future thoughts and ideas that we’re not ready for yet.’
The value of transparent networking
For Price, the most beneficial aspect of the Help to Grow: Management Course was the peer-to-peer learning and the openness that she experienced from other business owners.
‘I know loads of business owners, but there are very few that you can talk to openly about being a leader. It’s not all rosy and everything isn’t going great, but people act as though it is all the time as they’re trying to market themselves. I needed the outside perspective from my mentor to really see where I was going wrong. You can look at things until you’re blue in the face, but until you take a step back you might not always come up with a solution.’
Price adds: ‘We’re all looking for new business. But during the Help to Grow: Management: Course we were trying to improve our business, not market our business, so the space was different, and people were more open and willing to talk about their problems.
‘People aren’t going to networking events and saying “Gosh, our staff are all sick and we can’t find new ones”. It’s those kinds of conversations that can really help your business grow.’
Since completing the course in July 2022, PCC has more than doubled its employee count from four to nine. But as the company continues to grow, so too does the need for more staff. This is where challenges are persisting. To combat this Price has begun attending careers fairs and creating training videos to upskill current staff and attract new ones.
As PCC continues its growth journey, Price looks to develop her learning further too. She calls on her peers and other small businesses for more transparency as she feels these are the spaces in which she has learnt the most. She argues that there will always be challenges in SMEs, regardless of their size, but learning from these and sharing those experiences with your peers will benefit all.
To learn more about Phoenix Cleaning Company, click here.