More than 10 years ago, Peter Robinson and Mark Wood provided a new perspective to a much older name in the maintenance market. Established in 1986, KleenIt have become one of the leading graffiti removal and surface restoration companies in Australia, with more than 40 franchisees across the continent. “Myself and Peter bought the business in 2004,” says Wood. “We could then recognise what the growth potential was, but realised that we couldn’t achieve the growth that we wanted using the employees. We knew that we really needed people who had invested interest in the business to service the customer in the way that we wanted to; that was why we went down the franchising path.”
In light of their current success – especially in Perth – Robinson and Wood are hoping to expand business reception in Sydney and Melbourne, as there is more room for franchise growth within these larger cities. As an added advantage, they have purchased and franchised leading local graffiti removal companies in both areas, and provide administration services through their head office to eliminate extra work for their business partners. Relationships with suppliers are also crucial to the growth and prosperity of the business, and KleenIt works closely with them in order to ensure that all needs are met for each aspect of the business; this helps ensure the solidity of the company’s multiple income stream system that operates within every franchisee base.
“We offer the whole range of services to each franchisee so we don’t have separate franchisees carrying on different tasks,” says Wood. “Each franchisee can build a business around the whole bunch of services that we do, which are high-pressure cleaning and varieties of the graffiti removal – anti-graffiti coatings, floor coatings, anti-slip floors for factories, and warehouse markings for health and safety; all those things are carried out by each individual franchisee. We will respond to a removal request immediately. If it’s offensive graffiti, we’ll be there within the hour, and standard graffiti we’ll remove the same day. In the terms of the way the business is segregated, graffiti removal forms the largest part of the business; but, anti-graffiti coatings are the second largest portion of the business. Basically, that is applying a protective coating to a building so that the graffiti can be easily removed and not damage the surface or leave any staining.”
The presence of multiple revenue streams allows KleenIt and its franchisees to remain prosperous despite their competition, as there is always more than one facet of service to reinforce the strength of the company. “We don’t actually have a competitor that we come across in all of the sales that we do,” says Wood. “Yes, we have competitors in graffiti removal. Yes, we have competitors in anti-graffiti coatings. Yes, we have competitors in the factory floor coatings market – but, there isn’t one competitor across all of those aspects of the business. Each of the competitors are in their own right, and must fight in their own field. Realistically, we want people to want to grow a business. So, we’re looking for business partners – somebody that actually recognises that there is potential to be gained from every one of the services, not just one in particular. Then, they can grow the business to a point where we encourage them to employ more people, to put additional vehicles on the road; that’s the calibre of candidate we’re looking for.”
The company’s external accreditations are also key to its business model; their ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS), Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) and environmental standards remain a pinnacle in their operations, and are also thoroughly outlined in the official KleenIt franchise operators’ manual. “Quality is an article of our systems, policies, and procedures,” says Wood. “The other two are basically how we aspire to look after and care for the environment with the products that we use, and health and safety – how we carry out the work, risk accession that we take before we commence work, etcetera. Accreditations are needed more and more, especially with government and local government tenders, which we do a lot for. So, it separates us from the rest as well.”
As a reactive business, Robinson and Wood have found that social media platforms haven’t been necessary to expand clientele, as most jobs are unanticipated emergency response calls. In fact, they have found that integrating technology into the business has been one of the biggest challenges over the years; however, use of a standard operation system has been in higher demand as the franchisee presence progresses.
“We’ve actually created our own job application and invoicing system, so all our operators actually carry a tablet that has our own simPRO system,” says Wood. “They can receive the job on the tablet, do the quote on the tablet, write the invoice and take the payment on the tablet. That, I think, was probably the largest hurdle to overcome – to, first of all, create the system that was actually a true reflection of how we did business, and then train everybody to use this system all in the same game. No two jobs are the same; there’s always variables and things that we haven’t considered. So, the implementation of that was definitely the biggest challenge we’ve every faced but I’m happy to say that’s behind us now and it’s working very well.”
“We’ve always got ongoing improvements on the agenda as well,” adds Robinson. “We never stand still. Once we’ve done one thing, we’re onto the next. We try to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Another main hurdle throughout the industry, according to Robinson and Wood, is the ever-changing economic status throughout the continent which, in some cases, has prevented franchisee expansion; however, the prominence of this issue does vary based on location, with a better economic platform taking place in Melbourne and Sydney. “In the states where the economy is so buoyant, we’re limited in our ability to grow because we only have a select number of franchisees in each of the states,” says Wood. “But, the business is actually bigger than the number of franchisees. So, I need recruit more franchisees so that we can actually do more business.”
Hailing from the same town in the United Kingdom, Robinson and Wood reconnected at a barbecue in 2004, and eventually decided that purchasing KleenIt was in their best interest. Robinson had previously owned Graffiti Systems, the company’s opposition, which he felt was an asset to achieving success under a familiar name. In 2006, the decision to franchise arose and, as Robinson says, “the rest is history.” Going forward, their aim is to reach 100 franchisees nationally. “We want to grow this business and we will grow it naturally by franchise recruitment,” says Wood. “In the past we’ve made a couple of acquisitions. I don’t know if we’ll do that again, but we possibly could if the right opportunities arose. But, we’re the biggest at the moment, and we want to be twice as large in five years’ time – there’s lots of options.”