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Poppies Cleaning Service

In the UK
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It’s never too late to fulfil a dream!

For as long as Emma Ryan can remember, being her own boss was a fantasy. After spending almost two decades in the corporate world, a stark shift in the industry that she had grown to love left her looking for a new direction.

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With a distinct drive for client services and managing a team, business ownership started to look like a viable option for Emma. In 2012, her dream became a reality and she opened her own Poppies franchise in Stockport. Nearly 10 years later, the only thing she asks herself is: ‘Why didn’t I do it sooner?’

“I’d always worked in a safe environment and going into business on my own didn’t offer any security. I wanted to find something that would give me a comfort blanket, whilst giving me the freedom I craved at the same time. Poppies was the perfect choice! After eight years, my business has grown in ways that I never thought possible.”

Emma’s career started fresh out of college. Collecting 4 GCSEs and a Business and Finance BTEC, she secured an unpaid work placement at a large insurance company. She quickly excelled and was offered a permanent position. Over the next 20 years, Emma worked her way up into senior management, completing a Master’s Degree in HR on the way. Despite her successes, Emma had another ambition waiting to be fulfilled.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to travel so, after much deliberation, I bought a round-the-world ticket. I went travelling for a year to explore places that I’d never been to. I visited various parts of Asia, Australia and then onto the West Coast of America. I returned home and went back to finance – but culturally, things had changed, and it was noticeable enough to make me think about something new. I wanted a fresh start!”

The perfect opportunity was closer than she’d imagined. Long-time friend, Chris Wootton, who Emma had known since the early 90s, owned his own Poppies franchise and so naturally, the business had come up in conversation many times over the years. Chris, who could clearly see Emma’s passion and potential would often encourage her to become a Poppies franchisee in her own right.

“Chris always used to say, ‘have a Poppies! The work-life balance is so rewarding and with your skillset, you’d be great at it.’ I’d already got a basic knowledge of the business, having known Chris for so long and the thought of going into business alongside my best friends was incredibly appealing – as was being part of such an established and reputable brand.”

Established in 1980, Poppies is the UK’s first domestic cleaning franchise. Franchisees manage a team of dedicated cleaners who visit clients’ homes and provide a range of top-quality services. From basic housekeeping and laundry to party clear-ups, spring cleans and home-move assistance.

Integral to its best-in-class offering is the Poppies culture. The franchise proudly champions the wellbeing of its cleaners and believes in treating staff with respect and care and creating a fun, enjoyable working environment. Happy, loyal staff go above and beyond for clients and truly make the Poppies brand shine.

“I just thought, ‘if I don’t do it now, I never will.’ Once I’d made the decision, I was raring to go. I’m an experiential learner and I learn best by doing. As part of my training, I went to work with Chris in his office for a week, being taught the various systems and processes of the business. That was really beneficial as it meant that I could physically see things in action before doing it myself. That proved invaluable for when I launched my own Poppies office.”

Poppies Stockport opened its doors in March 2012. Initially operating from the comfort of her spare bedroom, Emma hit the ground running and by September of that year, had four members of staff. With the team growing so quickly already, she had no choice but to move into an office of her own.

“The first move was crucial however, continued growth meant we moved again to an office with a shop front in Egdeley, just outside of Stockport. That completely revolutionised the business. It’s introduced a real community feel as we’re on the corner of the street – it’s now known as Poppies’ Corner. It feels great to have that interactivity from the locals.”

Fast forward to present day and Emma employs a team of 22 cleaners that work with around 100 clients. Alongside her own achievements, recent developments in the Poppies brand have made Emma, and her fellow franchisees, all the more excited for the future. Friend, colleague and mentor, Chris Wootton, officially took over and stepped into role as franchisor in 2018. and Emma is fully prepared for the impact this will have on her own business.

“Chris has shown us a plan of what the future holds. It feels like the brand, and, as a result, our own individual businesses, have a much clearer direction of where we’re heading – to the top! New systems and technologies are bring introduced and the whole brand has had a refresh. We’re even getting an app that will change the way the business works. It will make everyone’s lives easier – mine, my staff, the cleaners and clients too.”

Having spent the best part of 10 years at the helm of her franchise, its success is something that Emma prides herself on. But despite her own wealth of experience, she still values the support and camaraderie of her fellow franchisees, all of whom are at various stages of their own franchise lifecycles.

“The other franchisees are fantastic and it’s really reassuring to have the rest of the network there to support you. It’s nice to be able to reach out to someone else if you’ve got an issue or problem as, chances are, they’ll have experienced exactly the same thing and are happy to help. We all have a common goal and it’s what I love most about Poppies.”

True to form, Emma has grand plans for later life, aiming to eventually take early retirement and move to Spain to be close to her mother. But her journey as a business owner isn’t over just yet. From once being ‘the dream’, to now being the vehicle for achieving the dreams of the future, Emma says Poppies is the best thing she ever did.

“It really has changed my life. It beats sitting on M6 for four hours a day and feeling stressed about going to work – I’ve achieved a great work-life balance that Chris originally promised. I’ve been able to get back into running half-marathons and going for walks with my two pugs, Hank and Burt, with my husband, Rob. Being a franchisee has made a huge impact and I’m kicking myself for not making the change a long time ago!”

As for the advice that she would give to anyone thinking about joining the Poppies franchise: “If you’re anything like me, just go for it – don’t be frightened. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. The satisfaction and rewarding feeling that you’ll receive will make it all worth it. I promise!”

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