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Wayne Freebody

Wayne Freebody on maintaining consistent growth

By Wayne Freebody

Managing Director - A Plus Clean

With the expansion of his exterior cleaning company into maintenance services, Wayne Freebody has led his business A Plus Clean to rapid growth over the past year, doubling the size of his team and reaching over £1million in turnover.

Built upon Wayne’s hard work and perseverance, what began as a modest window cleaning business in 2007, has become a leading commercial and domestic cleaning and maintenance company in the south, specialising in supporting housing associations and councils as well as commercial and domestic clients.

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You've got several different sides to the business; can you talk us through the services that you offer?

We do a lot of work for housing associations and councils, as well as property maintenance companies. We do a lot of commercial work, but we do some residential work as well.

We predominantly do external cleaning: roof cleaning; gutter clearing using gutter vacs or access equipment like cherry pickers (we now own our own); wash downs of buildings whether its UPVC or metal and aluminium; window cleaning; render cleaning; graffiti removal; and pressure washing of walls, paths, car parks. We are also DOFF specialists, a machine that's high heat and low pressure used on Grade II listed buildings, and we do efflorescence removal using a specialist machine called TORC.

Just over a year ago, we got into the maintenance side of supporting housing associations and now we have a whole maintenance team doing everything from roof repairs to fascia's, soffits, and window replacements, plumbing, plastering, painting and decorating - the list goes on. I was given an opportunity to grow and took the Richard Branson stance of “say yes then work it out later” you don’t have to be great to start but you must start to be great.

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Have you seen much innovation in cleaning technology since you started in the trade?

I started out with a car, a ladder, and a bucket. Then reach and wash came along, which is basically long poles that feed water up to a brush head to clean windows from the ground and that was an innovation at the time. Then the gutter vac came in so you could clear gutters from the ground as well.
Over the years, there has always been innovation, now you have even got drones that can clean buildings.

What changes have you had to adapt to as a business?

Because we have moved into the maintenance side, I’ve had to learn all about that. Learning about different trades and different terminology has been quite a journey over the last 18 months.

I’ve had to learn how to do risk and method statements and several different forms for housing associations as well as procurement processes, so that’s all been a learning curve.

We’ve been through a couple of recessions now, as well as COVID. Luckily, the pandemic didn’t really affect us because our domestic side got really busy with people being at home and wanting work done on their properties.

"I started out with a car, a ladder, and a bucket. Over the years, there has always been innovation, now you have even got drones that can clean buildings."

What lessons have you learned along your business journey?

It has been quite a journey. I’ve been through some highs and lows, and I’ve had some really tough times in the business with various challenges along the way.

The old analogy of turnover is vanity; profit is sanity is definitely something that I didn’t really appreciate when I started. If I knew 16 years ago what I know now, I would have had systems in place to make sure that cash flow was consistent.

The other thing that I’ve struggled with in the past is consistent sales, and having a constant revenue of work through different sources has been something that I’ve had to deal with and learn. We’ve adapted and changed and now we’re in a good place.

Having a good team around you is invaluable, I’ve learned over the years that you have to look after your team, and they will look after you.

The business has grown notably in the last year, where are you hoping to take things in the future?

We’ve had steady growth this year, we’ve gone past the million-pound mark which apparently only 4% of businesses reach so I’m proud of that.
Going forward, the main driver is to have a happy driven team, and the bigger picture is to buy other businesses and to form a group.

"The old analogy of turnover is vanity profit is sanity is definitely something that I didn't really appreciate when I started."

Wayne Freebody - Managing Director, A Plus Clean

How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

A lot of my time is spent with my son’s football, he plays in goal for a team, so we spend time at football training and games with him. Other than that, I enjoy walking the dog, and spending time with my partner.
I tried a floatation tank recently which was good; it really did chill me out, so I definitely want to do that again.

What are you currently listening to, reading, or watching?

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to the James Sinclair podcast and a guy in America called Tommy Mello who runs a $200 million garage door company. I listen to books on Audible: Built to Sell by John Warrillow is a good book, and another good book I’ve listened to is They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan.

Wayne sat on stairs