Introduction

Director Rob Davies told us all about how CleanerPlanner has helped Matts Home Services to transform its business model.

Hi Rob. Thanks for taking the time out to talk with us. Please would you tell us a bit about the background to your business?

Matt started the business around 10 years ago as Matts Mowing and refined the service offer to focus on providing a complete lawn care solution. Since then, we’ve built and established the brand across the South East, westward to Hampshire and northwards up to Oxfordshire. We’ve also diversified into window cleaning and hedge and tree care. As other lines of onsite ‘repeat work’ services, these are a natural extension to our core business.

Can you give us an idea of some of the key numbers around your business?

We have 12 independent operatives each with their own vehicle, servicing many thousands of customers across the region. On average they might complete 15 jobs each per day, so typically we’re managing 60 rounds with a total of up to 900 jobs per week.

We took the trial and spoke with the CleanerPlanner team, and the rest as they say, is history!

Would you explain how your relationship with CleanerPlanner as a technology partner came about?

Sure. We switched to CleanerPlanner at the beginning of 2017. We’d gone digital and moved off Excel and paper-based job management to a software platform some time before that. However, we were overhauling the business and restructuring how we did things.

Instead of the conventional approach where the company directly employs operatives, we were migrating to a franchised business model. We supply the brand and the jobs and manage the workflow with each franchisee working as an independent operative, in charge of their own small business.

We’d grown massively in terms of acquiring new customers and cross-selling, but there was room to improve profitability. Franchising was the way forward, but the old software system left something to be desired and we started searching for an alternative by Googling and following up on marketing emails we had received. We took the trial and spoke with the CleanerPlanner team, and the rest as they say, is history!

Where exactly did the old software fall short?

Don’t get me wrong, it worked OK, but it was complicated and almost had too many features. It wasn’t especially geared up for the volumes of work we deal with. That might be because it tries to be ‘all things to all trades’.

Software for ‘repeat work’ trades like lawn care or window cleaning requires a different emphasis compared to systems for contractors in heating, plumbing, electrical and other  trades like that.

Automated invoicing and automated email communication saves an awful lot of time.

So, what exactly does CleanerPlanner do better?

There are a number of things that come to mind here. The most important is automation. Automated invoicing and automated email communication saves an awful lot of time.  The volume of jobs means there is a lot of billing and it is essential that invoicing and payment processes are as painless as possible.

When it comes to taking payments, the integration with GoCardless Direct Debit is a real winner. This automates payment collection, enabling you to ‘pull’ payments toward your bank account rather than waiting for customers to ‘push’ them to you as cash and cheque payments.

The Bulk Edit feature is really good when you need to change the same thing over a lot of jobs at once, without going into each one. We’re also really looking forward to working with the Route Optimisation feature which automatically puts the jobs in each round in the most logical order and saves time working out how best to get round.

When it comes to taking payments, the integration with GoCardless Direct Debit is a real winner.

Why is CleanerPlanner particularly suited to your franchised business model?

Rather than have one account in the software with 12 operatives, plus management and administration users, we set up a separate account for each franchisee and then manage them that way.

For us as the franchisor as well as helping them to manage and organise their workload we are able to look at how well each franchisee is performing. Where there is the need to juggle and move jobs between rounds, CleanerPlanner lets us move jobs between accounts.

We wanted something that was easier to use and that just had what we needed. When you’re getting your franchised operatives up to speed with how to use the software, simplicity, ease of use and intuitiveness all help to smooth the process, because it all just makes sense.

…the software saves us half a full-time person per day. And across the team on the road, it’s probably around 15 man hours per day.

How much time do you think CleanerPlanner saves you?

On the administration side, I reckon the software saves us half a full-time person per day. And across the team on the road, it’s probably around 15 man hours per day.

But remember! We came from another software system, so we were already around two thirds of the way to where we are today. CleanerPlanner has taken us that final third.

Basically, if you were a business of a comparable size to us and moving over to CleanerPlanner from a manual system, you might expect to triple these time savings.

All our data is in one place and the CleanerPlanner mobile app lets them easily get at their job information and pass anything back to us we need to know

Can you summarise the headline benefits that you get from CleanerPlanner?

First and foremost, for a business like ours where the operatives don’t all start out from the same base location every day, it provides a central hub. All our data is in one place and the CleanerPlanner mobile app lets them easily get at their job information and pass anything back to us we need to know in a way that doesn’t get lost and fall through the cracks.

The cloud is the key here because it is the underlying technology that lets operatives get and send information as well as allowing admin and management to oversee it all, working from anywhere with an appropriate internet connection.

The support team is responsive, quick, helpful and friendly.

How would you rate support given by the CleanerPlanner team?

I think their support is really very good. It’s email-based, but that doesn’t mean they hide behind it. Running a business, I know it helps them to manage the support workload and prioritise correctly without being interrupted by the phone.

The support team is responsive, quick, helpful and friendly. First line support is not too techie so it’s user friendly, which is great when you are not an IT expert! Importantly, in the background, they have the technical expertise that is able to deal with the deeper issues that sometimes crop up.

…we look forward to the introduction of new features that we have suggested.

How do you see your partnership with CleanerPlanner developing over the next few years?

As we continue working alongside CleanerPlanner, we look forward to the introduction of new features that we have suggested. The team are good at listening, but I know not every suggestion is do-able. Even where it’s a good idea, things can’t necessarily happen instantly.

CleanerPlanner has supported our efforts to transform the business over to the franchise model so that we can incentivise our operatives, introduce more efficiency and achieve greater profitability. I would say that the level of efficiency the software has helped us to achieve is a platform for the next stage of growth of our business.

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