Interview with Vicky Price, founder of Best Choice Cleaning Company
Discover how a series of triggers, including the death of her mother, inspired Vicky Price to launch the Best Choice Cleaning Company.
What’s your career background?
I’ve had a very colourful career background.
My first job was in catering but it wasn’t for me so I left to work for Rentokil as an administrator. I quickly became bored sitting behind a desk all day so I asked if I could become a pest control technician. They agreed and I became their first female technician within the local area. I loved the job as I was able to travel around South London helping people.
I stayed at Rentokil for several years however, being young and needing a change from chasing assorted vermin around buildings, I made the decision to travel around the world. It was a great decision and an excellent education in life.
Whilst overseas I worked in a number of ‘character building’ jobs which included grading wheat in silos in the Australian Outback and spending three months on a prawn trawler in the middle of the ocean.
The prawn trailer job was hands down the most miserable and challenging job that I’ve ever had. Unfortunately as we were living in the middle of the ocean, without any land in sight, there was no escape!
When I returned to the UK, I hadn’t quite got the travelling bug out of my system so I moved to Ireland for a couple of years. When I eventually came back to London I didn’t have a job and I didn’t fancy returning to pest control. I wasn’t quite sure what my next steps should be.
Luckily for me, a dear friend of mine came to the rescue. She told me about a job opening at a hostel for the homeless and people with drug and alcohol dependencies.
The moment I walked into the hostel I just knew that I’d found my niche. I ended up working for charities focusing on homelessness and drug and alcohol addictions for many years and I loved every minute of it. I found the work to be immensely rewarding. However, after over fifteen years I decided that it was time to follow a personal dream. That’s how my business Best Choice Cleaning Company was born.
What is your educational background?
I left school when I was 16. I actually loved school and I enjoyed being around my friends but I found being stuck behind a desk very restrictive and deeply incompatible with my high energy levels. Academia isn’t for everyone and it certainly wasn’t for me.
I just wanted to get out into the big wide world, find opportunities and start working. I’ve since discovered that this is common amongst many entrepreneurs. We just can’t wait to get out there and start making things happen!
What was the trigger for you starting your own business?
There were a series of triggers that led to me starting my own business. They included burnout, being passed over for a promotion that I was promised and the death of my mother.
In terms of burnout, I’d been working with the homeless and people with drug and alcohol addictions for a long time and whilst the work was rewarding it was also demanding and physically, mentally and emotionally draining.
You constantly had to have your wits about you because a day could turn from peacefully quiet to a full scale riot in a matter of seconds. You also sometimes felt as if you were fighting a losing battle with endless red tape and clients either slipping back into addiction or losing their lives to it.
I started to question the effectiveness of the work and if I wanted to continue in the sector for the rest of my working life.
In the midst of this questioning, I was passed over for promotion for a role that had been promised to me. It wasn’t even a role that I particularly wanted but the fact that I had been overlooked dimmed my enthusiasm even more and made me determined to make my mark in the world on my own terms.
Finally worst of all, my mother died. She’d been my rock throughout my life and her passing really turned my world upside down. It made me take a hard look hard at where I was in my life and I decided to make some serious changes which included starting my own company.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I dealt with numerous cleaning companies in the course of my career in the charitable sector and most of them did a pretty poor job. On top of that their cleaners were in the main surly and uncooperative. We were paying these companies a lot of money, yet our offices were never properly cleaned and people noticed.
I wondered how many other organisations were having to deal with substandard cleaning services. That was when the idea for Best Choice Cleaning Company was born.
The more that I thought about it, the more it made sense. I loved cleaning, I was organised, I had repair and maintenance skills and I had years of experience in management. I thought why not combine all of these skills and be the change that I want to see in the cleaning industry.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
Once I made the decision that I was going to set up on my own, I just went for it. I’ve always been good at managing money so I had savings to help with the mortgage. I also took in lodgers and sold my beloved car.
I then called up every friend, relation, colleague and acquaintance that I had. I told them what I was doing and I asked if they could spread the word about my business. This turned out to be the best thing that I could have done.
One friend of mine pulled out all the stops for me and within three weeks of launching Best Choice Cleaning Company I had a healthy client list. I would strongly recommend anyone who is starting a business to reach out to their network. Sometimes all it takes is that one person who can join forces with you and help your business grow to the next level.
What’s your unique selling point?
Best Choice Cleaning Company is like a one stop shop. We offer commercial cleaning, deep cleaning and repair, maintenance and waste disposal services. So instead of offices having to contract several different firms they can deal with us for all of their service needs.
As a female led business, I employ a pretty even mix of male and female tradespeople alongside our cleaners. Our clients have responded very positively to this. It also means that outside of working for offices and office blocks, we’ve been able to secure contracts within women only spaces like shelters for female survivors of domestic abuse.
Our other USP (which shouldn’t be a USP) goes back to why I started the company. We’re all about giving the customer the best experience and the best service. We work hard and we go the extra mile to make sure that we exceed our customers expectations.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Our clients actually do a lot of the work for us. We’re very grateful as this is the best recommendation that a business can get. We also work on our marketing as we know how important this is to a business. Outside of this, I’m always out and about talking to people and spreading the word about our services.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Working on our SEO and utilising paid advertising on social media to drive more traffic and leads to our website.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
COVID-19. We work predominantly with commercial clients but most offices are closed as staff are working from home. Understandably this has impacted our business, so much of our work during this pandemic has been with businesses and organisations who are open and still in need of essential cleaning, repair and maintenance.
And your proudest moment so far?
There are three. Having our website go live, receiving great feedback on our services from clients, and building a strong and loyal team of workers.
Why is work so important to you?
I’ve always needed to feel a sense of purpose to be happy professionally. This was true when I worked in the charitable sector and it continues to be true now. It’s important to me to be able to make a positive contribution in the world. By having my own company I’m able to help my customers and create jobs.
Did you think you’d be running your own business 10 years ago?
I always had entrepreneurial traits but 10 years ago I was too deeply immersed in my charitable work to think about starting my own business.
Who inspires you?
All female entrepreneurs. It’s a tough world out there for entrepreneurs and harder still for women, even more so when you’re juggling this with motherhood.
People who don’t just talk about their dreams but actually go out there and make them happen. And people who go out of their way to make a difference to others without expecting anything in return.
And finally, the frontline workers who are putting their health on the line during this COVID crisis to look after all of us and keep the nation running. They’ve really inspired me personally and professionally
How do you maintain a healthy work, life balance?
Initially when I started the business I had very little down time. I did everything that I could to get Best Choice Cleaning Company off the ground. I lived, breathed and dreamed about work.
These days I make a big effort to ensure that I have a healthy work life balance. I switch off my phone after a certain point in the evening and I stay away from my laptop. I also ensure that I have nice plans at weekends and that I rest properly. It’s important to avoid burnout.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wan0ng to do something similar?
- I continue to be inspired by the book ‘Feel The Fear’ by Susan Jeffers so I would say be brave and take that first step. Once you’ve taken that first step keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard the struggle might be.
- You’re human so accept that you will make mistakes. See these mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your network for help. They know you and could be your greatest advocates whilst you’re working to get your business off the ground.
Find out more about the Best Choice Cleaning Company.