The evolution is here

The start of a new year, let alone a new decade, is exciting at the best of times; there's so much positivity and promise for the future.

The evolution is here

Poppies is the UK’s original
cleaning franchise. On April 1, the brand will celebrate its 40th
anniversary. Founded in 1980, the first franchised office was sold in 1984 –
and is still going strong today! Franchisor, and long-standing franchisee
himself, Chris Wootton, bought the prestigious brand in 2018 after the sad
passing of its founder, Sue Rorstad. Chris reflects on two solid years of
evolution and innovation that sees Poppies ready to welcome the next generation
of franchisees to its family.

The start of a new year, let alone a new decade, is exciting at the best of times; there’s so much positivity and promise for the future. This year, to be officially launching what I’ve affectionately come to know as the ‘next generation’ of our franchise opportunity is something that I’m incredibly proud of. And it’s very poignant. My mission has been, and will always be, to continue the legacy of my dear friend, Sue. Poppies is a franchise with a heritage, and a heart, that is quite unique. It’s now also one which stands out from the crowd for its systems and technologies, its digital presence and its culture. All of which provide leverage for both the franchise and customer-facing sides of the business.

I’ve been a franchisee for over 23 years, having launched my franchise in West Lancashire on April 1, 1996. Sixteen years to the day since Poppies was born! The knowledge and experience gained in my time as a Poppies franchise owner are, I believe, some of the strongest assets I now bring to the role of franchisor. I know what works and what doesn’t, I’ve lived and breathed the business and seen how and where improvements and efficiencies could be made.

I learnt from the best – our founder, Sue – and as illness robbed her of the ability to run the business, I stepped up as franchisor in training. A role which I held up to and after her untimely passing. Whether it’s fate, or just profound coincidence, my purchase of the brand completed on April 1, 2018 – Poppies 38th birthday. I tell you this not to pull at the heartstrings, but to impress upon you my love and commitment to the brand; to our staff; our customers and our network of franchisees. And to those who are about to join us in this most exciting of years.

For the last 18 months, I’ve been implementing changes to systems and processes, and investing in the improvements I knew were needed, to propel Poppies to the forefront of the industry. From a complete brand overhaul and marketing update, to back-office software and business coaching programmes for franchisees. Make no mistake, the Poppies franchise works! Our 22-strong network turns over more than £5millon a year. This was always about evolution, not revolution. The outcome is a franchise opportunity that isn’t just fit for the new decade, it’s future-proof. It’s leaner and more efficient, focussed on helping franchisees to achieve robust growth and profitability. It was vital though, that amidst the introduction of paperless systems, a new training academy and even a mobile app, Poppies retained its culture. We care. We are truly a family.

Culturally, there are obvious differences to other cleaning franchises of course, such as our approach to our staff – each of whom is employed on a contract and not asked to be a self-employed agency worker. Though, personally, I believe that should be the norm and not the exception. The Poppies culture is about more than paying staff well and treating them with respect – that’s what should happen as standard. It’s also about more than having franchisees who feel supported and heard. We’re a group of people who are connected on both a professional and a personal level, through teamwork, togetherness, enjoyment and genuine affection for one another. Put the whole lot together and you’ve got something pretty explosive. That’s really what the last 18 months have been about. The countdown is over, the doors are open.

Whilst in reality, there are no fireworks or marching bands to announce our ‘re-arrival’, in my head, the fanfare is worthy of an audience. It’s now time for our next generation franchisees to step into light and reap the rewards of everyone’s hard work. The evolution is here

Chris Wootton
Chris Wootton