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Cleaning Franchise

Unit Franchise in Focus: Alvin Flanagan

Before Alvin Flanagan, of Valrico, Florida, bought his own Stratus Building Solutions franchise his life was completely different. He was in the cleaning industry, cleaning his clients’ office buildings. OK, it wasn’t that different — after all, Stratus is a leading green commercial cleaning business. For about 14 years, Flanagan was running his own custodial service that he called Cleaning 101. Obviously, he could have kept doing only that, but his wife, Leah, heard about Stratus Building Solutions, and it intrigued her. She mentioned the business to Flanagan, who was also eager to learn more. As he puts it, “I went and talked to Kevin (Martinez, a Stratus Master Franchisee in Tampa), and that’s pretty much when he laid it on the line, explaining what Stratus was about and what Stratus could do for me.”

What could Stratus do? Flanagan says that by buying the Stratus Building Solutions franchise he could drastically simplify his life. Not having to wear seemingly a million different hats would give him more time to do the janitorial services that pay the bills rather than spending precious time working on the paperwork side of the business. For instance, Flanagan says, “They do the invoices, man. The more customers you have, the more you have to invoice clients, and that can eat up a lot of time.”

But, of course, if you don’t invoice, you’re cleaning for free. If you put it off, you’re upsetting your cash flow. Simply put, invoicing has to be done. Because Flanagan was stretching himself so thin with his cleaning business, he felt stuck. He wasn’t growing fast enough. That, however, has changed.

Flanagan has been a Stratus Building Solutions franchise owner for a year now, and he is glad he made that decision.

“I thought it would be a good idea, and I was right,” he says. “I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Stratus.”

In the last year, Flanagan says that his income has increased significantly from where he used to be. He doesn’t want to say by how much, but he says, “I’ve been able to do something for my family that I haven’t been able to do. Little things and big things.”

He still runs Cleaning 101 — in other words, he didn’t give up his old clients, some of whom he has had for 14 years, when he became a Stratus Building Solutions owner. “I don’t mix the two businesses together,” Flanagan says.

Still, as far as Flanagan is concerned, of the two businesses he owns, Stratus Building Solutions is the one that has added jet-fuel to his career and life. Anyway, we had a nice conversation with Flanagan about his relatively new business. Here are a few highlights:

The most disgusting things he has had to clean. Sadly, for those who like hearing cleaning horror stories, Flanagan disappoints. While he provides top-notch commercial cleaning services for all kinds of customers, so far he hasn’t walked into a client’s office that looked like a junkyard, for instance. That said, he admits, the bathroom toilet can sometimes be somewhat terrifying.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” he laughs. “That’s the only surprise. Everything else is a breeze.”

Working with clients. “Clients can sometimes be pretty moody, and that can be challenging. Sometimes somebody’s having a good day, or a bad day, and you have to adjust to the person you’re dealing with now,” says Flanagan, who tends to be very positive and upbeat. He says that one of his clients, who liked his sunny disposition, tried to hire him for a full-time position. While Flanagan was flattered, he was happy with his current businesses’ growth and so he declined the offer.

Cleaning when he gets home. The hardest part of his job may be off the job. When Flanagan comes home, he isn’t exactly excited to clean.

“We try to do it together,” he says, referring to his wife, Leah, and his three kids, who range in ages from 11 to 20. “I’ve got three kids, so I try to put them to work, but it can be a chore sometimes, telling them to do their chores.”

His advice for anyone thinking of buying a Stratus franchise. “Whatever you put into it, that’s what you’re going to get out of it. The entrepreneur way is truly, to me, the best way. Nine times out of 10, if you think about it, the people you’re working for had to start somewhere - maybe at the bottom, themselves. Self-worth is very important, and owning your own business gives you that. So I just feel you roll the dice, put your best foot forward, and you’re on your way.”

Investing in Stratus Building Solutions, a reputable brand that is committed to empowering franchisees, is a great first step in the entrepreneur lifestyle.