By Carrie Brenner
In just over three years, Vanguard Cleaning Systems has tripled in size, and the janitorial services franchise isn’t showing signs of stopping. The company is continuing its aggressive expansion and plans to lay down roots in every major metropolitan market in North America.
When company president Ray Lee bought the commercial cleaning franchise in 1995, it was little more than a local Bay Area cleaning company. Lee knew there was a huge market opportunity in the commercial cleaning industry, and he was ready to take advantage of it. He renamed the franchise Vanguard Cleaning Systems and set about turning it into the national powerhouse that it is today.
Vanguard Cleaning has grown phenomenally in recent years because of its master franchise program, which was implemented in 2003. The master franchise program requires a higher investment, and is ideal for executive-oriented individuals with experience managing others. Master franchisees purchase a given territory and then set up an office in that area and recruit new Vanguard Cleaning franchisees. Will Greene, vice president of the master franchise program, says the company is focused on gaining both new franchisees and new master franchisees. And while Vanguard Cleaning has its eye on new regions, it will only open franchises in areas where it can support growth.
Michael H. Seid, managing director of franchise advisory firm Michael H. Seid & Associates LLC, isn’t a fan of master franchise programs in general. He cites a weakening of brand performance and the economy of the relationship between franchisor and master franchisee as potential problems. However, he concedes that “It can work — it just depends on how it’s being implemented.”
In today’s troubled economy, Seid believes that it’s a good time for franchises that provide companies with the opportunity to outsource services. While businesses try to reduce their headcount and cut down on the benefits they provide, outsourced janitorial services are in even greater demand. And with reasonable startup costs of about $2,500 to $35,000, Vanguard Cleaning is also enjoying more popularity with new franchisees. The increasing difficulty of getting a bank loan makes it harder for potential franchisees to finance brick-and-mortar locations, but the fact that Vanguard Cleaning is home-based means it’s easier to afford.
The janitorial services franchise, which caters to commercial clients like schools, offices, restaurants, and gyms, also sets itself apart from other cleaning companies with its dedication to customer service. “We focus on treating everyone fairly and we try to provide a high level of customer service, both to our cleaning customers and franchise owners,” says Greene (pictured right).
Cleaning franchises are an especially viable option right now, but potential franchisees still need to do their homework. “Do not shortcut the process by doing it alone,” says Seid. Potential franchisees should get professional advice, work with a qualified lawyer, and be sure to learn the ins and outs of franchising first.
Visit the Vanguard Cleaning Systems profile in our Franchise Directory.
Carrie Brenner is a writer and editor based in Southern California.
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