After setting up the business when she left college, owner Hayley Koseoglu has grown Crystal Clean Service to a 130-strong team, with further expansion plans in the pipeline. Chris Coates spoke to Hayley about her business journey, and how she’s now using her experience to help others
Tell me a bit about the business
Crystal Clean Service is a multi-award-winning commercial cleaning company based in Sheffield, serving the areas of South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. We offer flexible commercial cleaning contracts and have a broad client base of offices, showrooms and industrial properties. As well as the daily contract cleaning services, we also offer commercial carpet cleaning, glass and window cleaning, computer and phone sanitisation, washroom hygiene solutions and tea towel laundering.
I set up the business in late 2007. I was 18, fresh out of college and it was only supposed to be a temporary job to keep me occupied. I was very enthusiastic about cleaning and I’m a bit OCD so that’s where the idea came from!
How has it developed over the years?
When I started, it was just me with a few bits of cleaning equipment and a car, but by April 2008 I had enough commercial work to start taking staff on. That was when I started recruiting cleaners and built the business from there. For the first four years it grew very gradually, and I was learning as I went along.
I went on to learn more about how to run the business more efficiently, started putting more systems in place and now we employ 130 people across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.
What are the key milestone achievements in recent years?
The biggest change we’ve made recently is we’ve moved all our systems and processes onto a new online platform built by Sheffield software developer The Curve. That has meant that we’ve gone almost paperless and it has significantly improved the efficiency of the organisation overall.
The new system also means there’s a shorter lead time from an employee coming on board and completing the initiation process which makes the senior team’s lives a lot easier. We were doing some things electronically before, but it’s only in the last two years that we’ve really transformed everything to using a slicker and more efficient system for everything that we do internally.
What sort of feedback do you get from staff about the company culture and workplace environment?
We get really positive feedback from our staff because unlike some companies in our industry, we pride ourselves on the way we look after them. We have really strong internal core values around quality, reliability, relationships and service, but the key element of the business is the people. They are our product, so it’s vital that they have all the training and support that they need to do the job to the best of their ability and to look after the client in the best way they can. Our employee handbooks and training procedures are designed to meet everybody’s needs – for example, we’ve had cleaners who struggle with reading and writing or have severe disabilities so everything we do is designed to tailor to each individual and their needs.
We have a staff benefits programme and support workers who can help with things like mental health awareness, and additional training for those who need it. In that respect we do quite a lot more than our industry counterparts.
What are your plans for the future to drive further success?
We are continuing to grow in our existing cleaning areas like industrial engineering and offices, but we have also started working with schools and the leisure industry. In the last two years we have got waste carrier licenses, enabling us to offer additional services such as removal of offensive hygiene waste and clinical waste.
We’ve also launched a new website with an online shop so people can buy the tried and tested products we use on a daily basis. We often get people asking us what products we use but many of them aren’t available to buy from shops or supermarkets so now they can buy them directly from us.
Having moved away from the day-to-day workings of Crystal Clean Services, Hayley’s main role is now a business advisor. She set up IEKOS (Improving Efficiency using Key Operational Systems) 18 months ago and now provides support to other small business owners who are looking to grow their brand.
Hayley told unLTD: “When I first started Crystal Clean, I tried to be the accounting, marketing, HR and health and safety person for too long. I made a lot of mistakes and spent a lot of money unnecessarily, largely because I didn’t have a mentor. I struggled to find someone that I was able to work with who understood my vision and what I was trying to achieve. That’s why I want to help other people avoid falling into the same traps that I did.
“Being a jack of all trades and master of none can be really straining and it’s the quickest way to lose the passion for your business when you don’t focus on the areas you enjoy. I’m a big believer in sticking to your strengths and getting other people in to do the things you aren’t as good at.
“There are a lot of consultants out there who will offer a one-size-fits-all package but in my opinion it’s not in the best interests of the client. I’m more about working one-on-one with the client to get the best for their money, business and what they want to get out of it. Everyone’s idea of success is different which is why everything I do is tailored specifically to the person and business I’m working with.”