Building a cleaning empire

Client story  \  16 May 2022

The ‘big OE’ is a rite of passage for many Kiwis — but for CrestClean’s Grant McLauchlan and 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 went on to win a national championship together. That’s when we learnt a lot about how to work together and is a big reason why we’re such an effective team in business 30 years later,” says Rene.

After graduating, they travelled overseas together, brainstorming different business ideas, in between catching waves.

“We both came from entrepreneurial families and knew that we wanted to be business owners. We went to Bali, Singapore, Thailand, Europe and the UK, and what we saw in all those different places was big, branded business. At the time Pizza Hut and McDonald’s were all we knew of franchising on Kiwi soil, so we began investigating why franchising wasn’t really a thing in New Zealand.”

Seeing its potential and after weighing up the pros and cons of various trades, they settled on cleaning.

“It was a large industry, with reoccurring revenues, and didn’t require franchisees to sign leases for retail or office space,” says Grant.

“Plus, there was plenty of room for improvement — standards were slack, wages terrible and training non-existent.”

In 1996, the friends purchased a small Dunedin cleaning business and made the existing owner CrestClean’s first Master Franchisee.

Fast forward 25 years, and the company has grown to 672 franchise teams throughout New Zealand, making it the largest franchise group in the country, on a unit basis.

With a total head count of more than 2,000 people, made up of 59 different nationalities, the company undertakes around three million hours of customer service each year.

The company has developed a number of different programmes to help ensure franchisees consistently deliver a professional service. In 2013, CrestClean established the Master Cleaners Training Institute, becoming the largest private trainer of commercial cleaning personnel in New Zealand, and in 2014 launched its bespoke Health, safety and Environmental Management System, SafeClean.

It has also responded to a growing demand for its services outside the main centres with its ‘Move to the Regions’ initiatives, which has successfully helped more than 100 families and couple relocate to towns throughout New Zealand.

CrestClean’s success was recognised in the Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards 2021, when it achieved the Supreme Award of Franchise System of the Year, as well as Business to Business Franchise System of the Year.

Franchise Association of New Zealand judges described CrestClean as “an outstanding successful and very well-structured franchise system, with clear measures of business performance in all dimensions”.

“The award is the culmination of years of improvement in our system and the way we operate and recognises how well we look after our franchisees and support them, which is something we take great pride in,” says Grant.

AJ Park has had an important role to play in CrestClean’s journey since the beginning.

Trademark protection is an integral part of a franchise system, says Rene who heads CrestClean’s marketing and brand team.

"At the very core of a franchise agreement is the licensing of the intellectual property of the franchise system. This is often defined as a right to use the branding, logos and other such collateral materials for the specific purpose of carrying out the business. This right is often defined to a geographical territory, and it may be an exclusive or a 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, as these face the public and their use conveys the brand personality of a company, adds Rene.

“CrestClean has more than 700 branded vehicles all around New Zealand, so the vehicle livery truly becomes a moving billboard over time,” he says.

“Over the years CrestClean has sought to protect its brand through utilising the services of Penelope Catley and her team at AJ Park. Prior to our launch in December 1996 Penny sought protection for our logos and horse device. Then in 2005 we undertook a branding revamp, and again Penny assisted with good advice, and we obtained protection around our name CrestClean and our tie-line of Healthy Clean Workplaces.

It’s lovely to have been involved with CrestClean since the 1990’s. Grant and Rene have always valued IP and this has helped drive a strong IP strategy. The franchise is a true success story, paving the way for franchise systems in New Zealand,

Penelope Catley, AJ Park

“We have also trade marked accessory logos applied to our Health and Safety and Environmental systems and our range of chemicals. Having good protection helps prevent ‘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, there is the ability to license its franchise system overseas in future.

“Once again good early protection paves the way for a successful international franchise system.”

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