It is our OvenGleamers Birthday This Month.
It is 18 years ago that I cleaned my first ovens. I'm thinking it seems a long time to have been cleaning ovens.
On that day in April in 2004 I cleaned three ovens in one day. I booked them all in together and off I went to Wellington in Somerset to clean them. The customers were all older people. Sylvia was my first customer ever, followed by her sister next door and then about 5 minutes away the third customer. I can't remember his name but he was the person that really pushed me into getting my act together to start cleaning ovens.
I had been running a cleaning Agency for just over a year, and he phoned me to ask if I cleaned ovens. Then I was still in the making my mind up stage and I told him that yes I would probably be cleaning ovens in the near future. He then over the following weeks and months phoned me regularly to ask me.
So when I got everything ready to go I booked him in. And I got Sylvia and her sister from a small ad that I had placed in the Somerset County Gazette. Then I didn't know much about marketing and it was limited to putting out leaflets - as I was doing for the Agency - and putting small ads in the Gazette with the rest of tradesman advertising there, and putting small ads in local Post Office windows. I remember I was pretty motivated and was out leafleting every day.
Four weeks after starting I met my wife Catherine.and she helped me straight away with a few things - number one was to organise the running of the two businesses I then had - so that I was concentrating on one business one week and the other business the other week. The Agency carried on growing but OvenGleamers wasn't going as fast as I wanted it to go.
A couple of things changed to start the acceleration of growth of the business - one was I found Google Advertising. It was relatively new in 2004. I think I was the only oven cleaning company in the UK using it to gain business. I bought a load of books and worked out how to use it without wasting money which I found was very easy to do. The other was Catherine started answering calls in the day time. Up until then we had been letting the calls go to an answer machine and then we would ring them back at night. Some days there was a very big list. We both didn't know much about such terms as Return on Investment then or Life Time Value then so our advertising was higgledy-piggledy but OvenGleamers grew.
By the following year we had got married and Catherine's sister took over the running of the Agency and Catherine and I concentrated on OvenGleamers.
Our aim was to create a family life that we both grew up in. Our Son Christopher was born in 2007. And since then we have worked out how to grow our business to where it is today.
So now 18 years later we have 30 franchisees and a team of people working in our office in Bristol and five guys out working in our vans locally.
We will be getting together soon to celebrate our 18th - watch out for my blog post on that.