Tech

Housekeep

The founders of housekeep talk about the online booking platform for professional home cleaners.

Pitch us the concept... housekeep.com is the online booking platform for professional home cleaners. We make it easy to book, manage and pay your cleaner. Our customer services team tailor our service to each client and you can even add extras, like cleaning products, ironing or oven cleaning.

Our professional housekeepers go through a rigorous training programme, pass a practical exam and are experts at making homes look their best. For your peace of mind, all our housekeepers are also background-checked and insured.

We came up with the idea when... we noticed that the home cleaning market is huge, at £4 billion, but is dominated by small, low quality agencies. We did lots of consumer research and found huge demand for a better solution. In particular, busy professionals didn’t want the hassle of thinking about their home cleaning and wanted to enjoy their precious free time. We built Housekeep around this, as a professional, reliable and simple service.

The biggest challenge is... We’re committed to delivering the best service. We’ve got very happy clients today, but the challenge is making sure that we keep our service levels high as we grow. This means we’re investing heavily in recruitment, training and operations – after all, we’re a people business. We’ve hired some really experienced people in our customer services, operations and technology teams to make sure we deliver this!

The average day is... busy! Our customer services team will be receiving new bookings, talking to these clients to tailor our service to them and talking to existing customers who might be requesting extra services. Our operations team will be running training sessions for new housekeepers, making supervisory visits and getting feedback from our housekeepers. And then there’s tech – who have their headphones in and are surrounded by screens.

The team consists of... our CEO, Avin Rabheru, a former VC/angel investor, who came up with the concept and drives our strategic direction. Our Head of Technology, Gareth Lloyd, who is building our website and amazing scheduling platform. Our Business Development Director, Rakesh Patni, who is responsible for partnerships, marketing and getting the word out. Our Operations Manager, Lisa Pirrett, who is responsible for operations and quality control.

Our USP is... Service, service, service! We make it easy to live in a lovely, fresh home – so you can enjoy your free time.

In five years we’d like to be... the trusted provider for all your home services. We’re starting out in London home cleaning, but have ambitious plans to grow quickly in to other home services and locations. Our name, Housekeep, is a reflection of this – we want to provide the ease and convenience of having a housekeeper, but at an affordable cost.

Our best piece of advice for gaining investment... We raised $1m investment from VC and angel investors just three months after launch. For us, the most important thing was finding investors who bring relevant experience to the table, not just capital. We’ve got people who understand consumer businesses inside-out, whether that’s from Tesco, Dixons or Reebok, and others who can advise on operations and technology, from Zipcar, Addison Lee and Kabbee. They know we will be knocking on their door for regular advice!

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... In the early days, we thought the we should look for housekeepers who have experience in home cleaning, but the quality of cleaning still wasn’t as good as we wanted. We quickly realised that, especially for such a personal service, attitude is far more important than experience. We now include a 'values' interview as part of our recruitment process and have an extensive training programme. Client feedback improved dramatically as a result.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... We always enjoy hearing from happy customers, but nothing is more rewarding than hearing from happy housekeepers. A couple of our housekeepers, Kat and Rima, were telling us recently that this is the first cleaning company they’ve worked for where they have felt genuinely listened to and cared about. At our heart, we’re a people-based business so this is something we’re really proud of.

4 July 2014