Disruptive business models

28th of March 2018
Disruptive business models
Disruptive business models

Housekeep is an online platform which is currently disrupting the home cleaning service market in London. ECJ editor Michelle Marshall speaks to its founder and ceo Avin Rabheru about his business model, and his plans to enter the commercial cleaning market this year.

Founded three-and-a-half years ago Housekeep is a platform that takes the process of booking domestic cleaning services online. Currently serving the London area it is disrupting the home cleaning services market and its founder Avin Rabheru has ambitious plans for
its growth.

Rabheru was a venture capitalist and angel investor when he decided to seek opportunities to start his own company. He had solid experience in scaling businesses and through his connections from that time he has secured the backing of top investors who also offer him the full spectrum of their expertise. “What they liked about our business model,” explains Rabheru, “was that this is a very big potential market, it’s very fragmented, and we are offering a subscription service. Our investors are backing the size of the opportunity and the team that can make it work.”

Having raised over €1 million from top venture capitalists and angels Rabheru and his team scaled the business rapidly to over 10,000 subscription clients and more than 1,000 cleaners. Monthly growth has been 10 per cent since the company was founded and Housekeep is now profitable, turning over more than €11 million.

As a business operating online it relies on customer reviews and it has over 70,000 five-star, with a 70 per cent Net Promoter score. It is already the largest provider of house cleaning services in the UK, with just 0.5 per cent market share.

So how does the business work? Eighty per cent of Housekeep’s revenue comes from clients who have a weekly clean. “One-off cleans are not really worth the effort for us,” Rabheru explains. Customers book cleaners, manage their account and pay online, paying a simple price per hour. They keep the same cleaner for every visit and all cleaners are vetted and background checked. The customer has full control of the cleaning schedule and can send special instructions via the cleaner’s app.

Easy to use

Housekeep’s customers love the easy-to-use online platform, however what matters most to them is still the quality of clean, trust and reliability says Rabheru. “Their feedback has confirmed that very strongly. Ease of booking and payment are further down the list of priorities so we must fulfil all their expectations.”

To do that, the workforce is key and Rabheru understands how instrumental his cleaners are in building the business. So he monitors very closely that they are happy in what they do. “We aim to improve the lives of our cleaners when they work with us,” he explains. “They earn more than other domestic cleaners and they benefit from better levels of support. We seek their feedback on a regular basis and we have found their highest priorities are support from headquarters, respect and flexibility.”

The cleaners also make full use of the online platform. Each selects when they want to work and based on their availability the system creates a schedule of both regular and one-off cleans. The best route for the cleaner to take to that day’s jobs is then generated automatically so the schedule is as time-efficient as possible.

“Every cleaner works via our app which offers all manner of different data and information,” continues Rabheru. “They manage their whole day, billing is triggered which each job has been completed and a feedback email is sent to the client.

“Working in this way gives us total transparency, as we can also track the progress of each cleaner. That’s a key benefit for both parties.”

As with all cleaning businesses, one of the key challenges is staff turnover, which is fairly high. “Some housekeepers simply leave, some don’t get high enough ratings. We rely on ratings and the system triggers alerts when cleaners are getting low scores from customers.” There is no official training programme.

Housekeep’s target is to reach a turnover of €113 million through domestic cleaning only, just in London. However Rabheru is intent on building a much bigger business and he has already decided his next steps. “We will now expand to new cities and we will start to offer commercial cleaning services.”

He continues: “Small business owners, for example, often don’t want to bother having a specification and a contract for cleaning. Our cleaners sometimes have plenty of time between appointments and they could find a batch of jobs close to each other so they can walk between each one. That’s highly possible in London.”

Commercial ambitions

There’s also potential to work with contract cleaning companies operating locally he believes. “Some cleaning companies are experiencing challenges we may be able to help with using with our technology. For example we can turn on a postcode and source cleaners fairly quickly. We could work alongside contract cleaners, for example, to provide cleaners to fill in jobs at certain times.

“It’s the same cleaner base, same technology, with local digital marketing. Could the big companies work with us to make their core business more efficient? So we may have cleaners who do both house and office cleaning…”

As far as its own operation is concerned Housekeep sees small offices, shops, estate agents, etc as key target markets. “We can manage clients with multiple sites, we do have that capability,” Rabheru says. “We can also change billing to weekly/monthly for example – we could also issue invoices rather than insist on online payment.” He adds some office cleaning is already being booked via its existing online platform.

“Potential customers are easy to identify,” concludes Rabheru. “What we must do is differentiate ourselves based on the quality of clean as well as the online technology benefits we offer.”



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