Sweeping to success by turning cleaning obsession into business

Crystal Clean MD Hayley Gillbard, third right, with (from left) team leader  Susan Watkinson, administrator Rozie Lynch, area manager Sarize Hill and team leaders Kath Birch and June Warren
Crystal Clean MD Hayley Gillbard, third right, with (from left) team leader Susan Watkinson, administrator Rozie Lynch, area manager Sarize Hill and team leaders Kath Birch and June Warren
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The spring clean beckons and for most of us, it’s a real chore. Numerous local companies are cleaning up, though. Undoubtedly, where there’s muck, there’s brass.

At the helm are people for whom cleaning is approached with enthusiastic zeal. Hayley Gillbard is one of them. Friends and family teased her compulsive cleaning habit but she’s had the last laugh. Last year the cleaning company she launched in 2007 turned over £350,000. Only 25, she has 65 part-time employees, covers 53 clients across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire - and has ambitious growth plans she expects to be realised within three years.

Hayley is now collaborating with a marketing company to help push Crystal Clean to the next level.

Being rejected for promotion at Tesco made her decide to turn her passion for cleaning, tidying and organising into a business.

“At 18 I was told I was too young to do the management position my boss had practically offered me. I was so disappointed and realised the best way to become a manager at that age was to run my own business,” said Hayley. “It’s true I am quite OCD about cleaning. But in this business, that’s a massive advantage.”

Her first ever contract was with Aldi. The supermarket chain was building a new store at Clowne, where Hayley lived, and spotted one of her flyers. “I got a seven-month contract to clean two builders’ cabins, their canteen and a toilet block.

“On a building site everything is really messy; it was a tough job but I was so excited to have it. I found staff to help me deliver the service and we also got the contract to clean the entire store prior to opening.”

Hayley, who specialises in commercial work and whose clients include Chesterfield Special Cylinders and GK Ford, is kept busy on strategic and business development, but isn’t above getting her hands dirty on a job.

Getting the right staff is key her business success, she believes. “I can teach anyone how to clean a toilet but I can’t change someone if they’re not polite, positive and well-presented,” she says.

So is looking after them; there is a training scheme and personal development plan for all staff at Crystal Clean and an electronic monitoring system helps with safety when staff are working late at night.