Like so many before him, he eventually grew weary of long days and a gruelling commute. Nigel craved a better quality of life. Whilst on the lookout for an opportunity that would not only change his own life but his young family’s too, his wife, Hilary, suggested he launch his own Poppies business. They recognised the demand for a personal and quality cleaning service in their local area, as well as the chance to establish a better environment at home. In the new year of 1995, Poppies Sheffield was born.
“I loved my job and the people that I worked with, but there was something missing. I wasn’t able to spend time with my wife and new-born daughter, Emily – things had to change. I worked 12-hour days, plus a one-hour drive to work each day which started to take its toll. Poppies appealed as it gave me the significant amount of freedom and flexibility to see my daughter growing up. Although my children are now young adults, I still have that time for myself.”
Fresh out of school, Nigel had no idea what he wanted to do. His father – who worked in the banking industry – tried to entice his son to work alongside him but Nigel wasn’t sure that this was his destiny. Instead, he applied for a place on a management training course, was accepted, and very quickly progressed to secure a role as Deputy Manager at Sainsburys when the course was completed.
At the time, the supermarket chain was embarking on a huge expansion programme and Nigel became an integral part of the process. Although he was being recognised for his hard work; rewarded with a generous salary and impressive company perks, things were far from perfect. After 12 years of loyalty to Sainsburys, in 1994, Nigel handed in his notice with the full support of Hilary.
“I knew that it was the right thing to do because, almost immediately, I felt that a huge weight had been lifted. My parents were both self-employed and I noticed that their quality of life was much better, and they still had time for themselves. It was clear that I needed my own business. It was actually Hilary who looked into franchising and came across Poppies. She recognised the real potential of creating a successful business in the cleaning industry and once I did my own research, I saw it too. I also felt confident in knowing that I’d get the support to create a long and lasting business – I had the skills to manage the operations, I just needed guidance on running the business. A Poppies franchise created the perfect solution.”
Although Nigel was adamant this was the business for him, he still visited a franchise exhibition to consider other options. He came across a competitor of Poppies, which only confirmed his thinking that Poppies was the franchise for him: “Immediately, Poppies was miles ahead of the competition. From the brand’s expertise, to their ethics of treating the cleaners fairly and with respect, I knew that I wanted to be involved. Not only that, but it would give the flexibility and freedom that I was looking for – it was the whole package.”
Back in the nineties, Nigel spent time at various Poppies offices across the country, receiving on-the-job training from existing franchisees and company founder, Sue Rorstad. Although that is still very much integral to the training programme today, new franchisees benefit from an extensive course that takes them through the history of Poppies and how to build a successful business. Franchisees gain insight and learn the skills to help their businesses thrive in their local community from franchisee turned franchisor, Chris Wootton.
Chris launched his Poppies franchise in West Lancashire and Formby just months before Nigel did. The pair formed a strong relationship, supporting one another in their new business ventures. It’s a friendship that is still blossoming today. In 2018 Chris bought the business and took over from Sue as franchisor.
“In the time that Chris has been at the helm of the franchise, I’ve seen an incredible amount of investment into systems, communication, training, support and time. He has been – and remains – a successful franchisee in his own right so to have him, my friend, now steering the ship makes me extremely proud.”
When he’s not in the office, Nigel enjoys a few rounds on the golf course and is captain of the local club. He takes great pride and comfort in knowing that he has the freedom and flexibility to enjoy the fruits of his own labour, all whilst continuing to provide a trusted, quality service.
“For those looking to break free from the restrictions of your daily routine, then Poppies is the opportunity for you. It’s turned my life around, allowed me to receive significantly more satisfaction from the work that I do and given me precious moments with my family – right from when my daughters were born, to now as they live their own lives. My quality of life has improved tenfold. Whereas before I grew tired of working and experienced major burnout, today I’m able to physically feel the benefits that it’s had on my livelihood. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
This article comes from Poppies Cleaning Service, the UK’s first home cleaning franchise and a full member of the British Franchise Association.