Interview Spotlight With Emma Canning

Emma Cannins is joint owner of Cannins The Exterior Cleaning Company based near Broadway in the North Cotswolds with her husband. The company provides exterior window, patio, roof, driveway & gutter cleaning all over the North Cotswolds. Cannins have a huge focus on high end clients. From country estates, retirement villages, hotels, domestic properties & their most iconic client Broadway Tower.

Emma started off working with horses after finishing Hartpury College in 2005. But after many different employed jobs and a bouncy castle hire business, she was involved with Cannins from the start in 2012. In 2017 Emma took the reins of the business full time after a re-branded of the company in 2015 to Cannins The Exterior Cleaning Company. She has completed training courses with Softwash Solutions and transitioned the company to it current form.

Cannins has just won a local award for ‘ Most Loved Business in Evesham’ voted by the public. Something Emma and her team are so proud of. Like some of the other ladies in this group Emma is also a full-time mummy to a 6 and 10 year old so has to balance children, business and everything else life throws at you.

Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?

Hello ladies, I’m Emma from Cannins Ltd. We are an exterior company based in the North Cotswolds providing all exterior cleaning for both domestic and commercial clients. I run the office, meet client, do the quoting & plan the work. My husband runs our team of staff and is out on the road day to day.  If you give us a call its more than likely you will be speaking to me.

Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?

When Martyn started the company he was just a one man band tradition window cleaner. I have always been involved in the company from day 1. But I was pregnant with our first child and working in debt collection and part time horse groom. So I use to do his books, social media & built the website. In 2015 I started working with my husband out on the road cleaning windows as her needed an extra pair of hands. But that was short lived and I decided I was better suited to office life. So kept my hand in by re-branding the company to Cannins The Exterior Cleaning Company but returned to my office job.  We then took on friends and family to fill the extra labour gap that Martyn needed.

In 2017 I was pregnant with our second child. We made the decision I would come into the company full time and run the office. The BIG push was on then, my job was to find more clients and grow the company. And that’s what I have done. We now have 3 full time employees with 4 vans on the road. We like to class our company as ‘ The Waitrose of window cleaners’ It’s the full experience from first contact to the completed job. We aim to give the best customer service and quality. Clean vans, polite & uniformed staff, appointment reminders, going above and beyond most regular window cleaners.

Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

Yes definitely, from starting as a tradition window cleaner with a ladder and bucket to the Pure waste pole system we use today. Also in the type of clients we take on. At one point we did look at going down the big commercial side of the business. But when covid hit and all our hotels, retirement villages and business went into lockdown we lost 45% turn over, over night. This was a MASSIVE worry to us. But our window cleaning round kept us going and the cash coming in. So we could pay the bills and wages. We looked hard at the business model and decided to stick with the more high-end domestic work. We get a lot of feedback from clients, that they have used other people before to clean the window and gutters, but NON give the quality of service that they get from us. So that is the way we have gone. We still have the commercial side of things but its not the main focus.

Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

I was part of the Santander Women in Business mentor group around 5 years ago, but didn’t take much away from it. I don’t think I was as the right stage of my business life to make it work. But currently I am in the BizSmart scale up club. We meet every month on Zoom to chat about growth in a business, any issues we have and help problem solve for each other. It’s a great little meet up. Through Bizsmart I was also part of the 2022 Worcestershire Country Council Elevate Business Growth Program. That provided funding to develop your business, skills and also match funding for some new equipment. Through that program we have a zoom meeting with Mark Wright Winner of The Apprentice and monthly meetings and 1 to 1s to develop your business.

What outlets do use for marketing?

The main marketing we use is Facebook, Instagram and our website. We do also have adverts in local magazines and leaflets. But a big one for us is also word of mouth and google business listings.

What or Who has inspired you most recently?

The is a man called Lee Pryor down London way that has a domestic window cleaning business that is near £3 million Turn over. He is a HUGE inspiration showing what can be achieved with hard work. His business model is slightly different to ours but it’s a goal to work towards.

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

‘If it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it!’ This comes from one of our customers who has been is business many years and has a property empire. She said go with your gut. Also another one is ‘ if you always do, as you have always done, you will always get what your always got’ This is from a friend who has a brilliant classic Mercedes garage.

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

I am still trying to figure that one out? I have 2 young children, horses, dog, then we also do Motor sport so away racing, a business and everything else that comes with life. We just try and have fun and live in the present and not think to much about the future! I’m also good a juggling.

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

God!! Another hard one as I don’t class my self as a business woman or have a career! But I was on the Elevate program and all of the people who took part where invited to an event at Worcester Guild Hall we got to meet Mark Wright (winner of the Apprentice) in person and he gave a great talk about his business and how he made his money. Also us winning the Evesham Notice Board ‘ Most Loved Business 2023’ as this was the public votes and we where up against some fantastic businesses.

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction

When we get 5 star google/ Facebook reviews. Or a customer calls up and says how happy they are with the clean and service they have received. That just makes my day and the teams. The other is looking at our unit with all the vans parked up when everyone has gone home and its all quite. From my husband starting as a little window cleaner where I brought his equipment on my credit card and he sold his car to buy a van to see what we have now. That’s satisfaction.

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

I have a bit of a girl crush on Jade Holland Cooper! I mean what an empire she has amassed. I LOVE her clothes and everything she does. She also has two young children and is like all working mummy’s wearing multiple hats.

How do you define your own success?

Being able to have a good work life balance, enjoy time with the family, and be financially comfortable. With me and my husband being able to step away from the business for a week or two and it all still running as normal.

Finally, what can we expect from you next?

Growth! We are looing to hit the £400k turn over in the next year. But long term we want to achieve 8 cleaners in vans that would take us to near £750k TO. We need to grow and expand our area. Taking on new client.


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