Explore Lucrative Commercial Cleaning Franchise Opportunities in 2024 (Case Study)

Posted on January 4, 2024

The Path to Owning a Commercial Cleaning Franchise: A JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting of Atlanta Case Study

The commercial cleaning industry is projected to grow over 6% annually, nearing $180 billion by 2027. For entrepreneurs looking to buy into a recession-resilient business, a commercial cleaning franchise provides low startup costs with high-profit potential. But how realistic is franchise success, and what steps pave the path to business ownership?

This case study sheds light on the reality of franchising by featuring JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta and franchisee Sorrel Henderson’s journey. The study will cover Sorrel’s background, early challenges faced as a franchisee, strategies to overcome obstacles, and how JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta helped him establish a prosperous commercial cleaning business.

Choosing JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting of Atlanta for owning your commercial cleaning franchise.

Meet Sorrel Henderson, franchise owner of JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta. Sorrel comes from an IT background and works full-time in an office job. However, he was looking for ways to earn additional income and long-term business ownership. After considering several franchise opportunities, Sorrel decided to invest in JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting of Atlanta due to its established training programs, corporate support, low startup costs, and potential for growth.

In 2005, Sorrel took out a small business loan and invested $17,000 to purchase a JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting of Atlanta franchise aligned with $17,000 in projected annual recurring revenue. He funded working capital from his IT salary and severance package to provide six months of personal income while focusing full-time on the cleaning business.

The franchise model enabled Sorrel to own his business while leveraging corporate support functions like payroll, training, vendor management, and lead generation under their trusted household brand.

“Buy into the brand. You’re getting assistance along the way,” said Henderson. “If I put SORREL’s cleaning service up there, that’s not a household brand name.”

Early Commercial Cleaning Challenges

Sorrel admits facing a steep learning curve early on. While proficient with cleaning tasks from his diligent nature, he needed more client communication skills vital for retention and growth.

“I had no idea how important certain conversations were,” stated Henderson. “I just figured if it’s clean, it’s fine.”

This communication knowledge gap resulted in losing his first $305 monthly client only two days into operations. The discouraging event provided an early lesson on the intricacies of commercial cleaning beyond mopping floors.

Six Critical Key lessons to owning a commercial cleaning company

Through hard-won wisdom, Sorrel identified six critical drivers of success that reversed early setbacks and put his franchise on the path to prosperity:

1. Specialization, choosing what industries to clean

Rather than directly competing against larger cleaning providers, Sorrel targeted underserved small office clients.

He recalled, “It was easier to build with small accounts—an easier relationship with fewer people.” This specialization strategy increased account proximity, allowing for tighter route density and higher margins.

Sorrel’s niche specialization in serving small offices provided advantages beyond higher margins. With less square footage, his crews could clean locations faster with less employee churn. According to Henderson, “Specializing enabled our 3-person teams to service more accounts per day, increasing productivity.”

2. Diversification

Relying on a single niche as a commercial cleaning franchise can jeopardize stability when faced with market volatility. Henderson smartly mitigated risks by diversifying his revenue mix across complementary sectors.
Initially focused on Atlanta office cleaning clients, Sorrel branched into the restaurant and retail cleaning verticals to capitalize on evening and weekend capacity. His franchise now manages a balanced client distribution of:

  • 60% Office Cleaning: Primarily Georgia small business owners with dedicated daytime office maintenance and disinfecting needs.
  • 20% Restaurant Cleaning: Includes daily closing shift cleaning responsibilities for Atlanta metro area restaurants and cafes.
  • 20% Retail Cleaning: Such as grocery stores, boutiques, and shopping centers requiring flexible off-hour services.

“It allowed me to be in the cleaning business full time,” Sorrel said regarding market diversification.

Sorrel’s decision to diversify its business strategy has improved its operational capacity to serve a wider range of commercial cleaning accounts. This move has also helped Sorrel to reduce its dependence on any specific niche, thereby providing financial safeguards. The diversification has been beneficial as economic shifts that affect offices may not necessarily impact consumer-facing industries like restaurants or retail outlets at the same time.

3. Scaling a Cleaning Business Requires Building a Specialized Team
In the beginning, Sorrel managed all cleaning services as a franchise owner. However, he soon realized he needed to delegate tasks to grow his business. By gradually assembling a specialized commercial cleaning team, Henderson could focus on specific market growth areas. He stated, “I concentrated on hiring people who were seeking part-time work or extra income and who could meet our particular cleaning requirements.”

Strategic hiring reduced burnout risk while providing employees with a steady income and consistent schedules – increasing retention.

For example, Sorrel hired employees solely dedicated to handling:

  • Atlanta Metro Area Restaurant Cleaning Routes
  • Night and Weekend Retail Store Cleaning
  • Daytime Office Building Disinfecting Services

This specialized hiring approach provided advantages beyond relieving the burden on Sorrel alone. It also:

  • Reduced employee burnout risk through role clarity
  • Grew per-person productivity on niche cleaning tasks

4. Communication Skills
Interacting with daytime clients helped Sorrel improve communication, gain cleaning insights, set expectations, and retain clients.
In the beginning, Sorrel faced difficulties communicating with clients. As a result, they lost some of their initial accounts due to misunderstandings and cleaning errors. However, they learned from these mistakes and implemented standardized processes for conducting client surveys after cleaning and analyzing the feedback.
This allowed them to detect and resolve inconsistencies between the services offered and the customer’s requirements before they turned into an issue.
His franchise also developed mandatory pre-onboarding protocols for new Atlanta-based clients, including:

  • In-depth walkthroughs detailing client preferences
  • Commercial space cleaning requirement checklists
  • Documented processes adhering to niche compliance guidelines

“We leave no question on day-to-day cleaning responsibilities or unique client requests when taking on new office or restaurant partners,” Sorrel remarked.
This intentional effort to enhance client communication has resulted in a significant improvement in retention rates, with over 97% of clients returning year after year. Additionally, it has provided valuable insights on how to customize service packages to suit the unique commercial cleaning needs of each client.
Sorrel is a strong advocate for transparent communication platforms that strengthen partnerships between franchises and local small businesses in the janitorial services industry in Georgia.

5. Lean Operations

Henderson prioritized operational efficiency, enabling profitability with slim margins. This involved optimizing routes, minimizing overhead costs, and leveraging JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta purchasing power for equipment and supplies.

Sorrel was determined to optimize his franchise to achieve maximum profitability. He did this by negotiating with vendors not only on bulk purchase discounts but also on return policies and payment terms to facilitate better cash flow management. On the labor front, Henderson analyzed payroll output versus client cost analysis to determine the best cleaning frequencies. In his own words, “I met with clients to discuss tailoring office cleaning to high-traffic areas to reduce workload without sacrificing quality.”

Over time, Sorrel was able to make significant improvements in supplies and routing, resulting in small but substantial efficiencies. However, his biggest contribution in terms of cost-consciousness came from advising clients on opportunities to adjust the scope of their projects. This helped Sorrel maintain an excellent reputation despite slim margins, especially in a market with a low barrier to entry.

6. Embracing Mentorship

Despite initial challenges, Sorrel heavily relied on JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta for branding and cleaning systems, and his dedicated franchise consultant for advice to make necessary adjustments.

“When there’s a failure, you need support. The more support you get, the better the success you have. That’s with owning a franchise; you have a lot of support,” stated Henderson regarding mentoring.

Sorrel Henderson By the Numbers

Through applying the six keys covered in this case study, Sorrel grew his commercial cleaning franchise from $17K to over $325K in annual recurring revenue. His commercial cleaning business currently employs five full-time team members, allowing Sorrel to semi-retire and focus on advisory roles supporting new franchisees.

When asked about the factors that contributed to his market leadership, Sorrel emphasized the importance of his employees. He believes that the biggest asset of any business is its people. His strategic mission is to provide his employees with steady and well-compensated jobs. In turn, they are able to deliver consistent cleaning quality that helps the business retain and grow its accounts.

The numbers speak louder than words for what dedication and mentoring can accomplish. Let’s analyze Henderson’s impressive franchise results since 2005:

  • $325K annually
  • 5 full-time employed team members earning steady, reliable incomes
  • Over 85+ contracted commercial cleaning accounts
  • Averaging 9+ years of account longevity, showcasing retention success

JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta Paves the Path to Franchise Ownership

For motivated entrepreneurs who embrace hard work, the JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting franchise opportunity provides a proven path to business ownership. They supply the coach and playbook for tackling common pitfalls when starting an independent cleaning company.

Sorrel Henderson, an IT professional in Atlanta, became a commercial cleaning franchise mogul by using JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting systems. This allowed Henderson to focus on culture, quality control, and mentoring future franchisees, while JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting of Atlanta facilitated clients and delivered constant support.

“JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta enabled me to take my income to the next level through their brand recognition and corporate support functions,” stated Sorrel. “I get to spend time with family and live more comfortably from the success they facilitated.”

The story of his success is similar to the journey of JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta franchise, where they started small and achieved great success. This clear and honest case study has hopefully given you an insight into the world of franchising, which will help you make an informed decision about investing in a JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting in Atlanta small business opportunity.

To explore if Sorrel’s recession-resilient commercial cleaning franchise aligns with your skills, schedule a free discovery call today.