We are thrilled to be starting 2018, our 14th year in business, with our very own offices for the first time. Prior to this, we have always operated from a home office. All that changed last Summer when a small unit on Portersfield Road, in Norwich, became available. It’s something we had had our eye on for a number of years, so we jumped at the opportunity to take it on.
The timing was right, due to our rapid expansion plans, and consequently outgrowing our home office, with all our kit and chemicals mounting up around the house. The only problem was, how to fund a move to a dedicated office. As a small business, in a sector where profit margins are exceptionally tight, we just weren’t in a position to be able to fund the move alone.
In stepped the New Anglia Small Grant Scheme! They have been absolutely fantastic, supporting us through a small grant application process (special thanks to Kate). In September 2017, we were so excited to have our application approved and we received a grant through the New Anglia Small Grant Scheme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. We highly recommend this scheme to any small businesses in Norwich who are looking to fund a similar project that will allow you to expand and develop your business! Drop us an email if you’re interested in having a chat about our experience.
The funding we applied for related to a specific “project”. That project was to renovate and set up our offices, and covered building work, electrics, flooring, signage and furnishings, etc. to make sure we were fully up and running in our new office space.
Our aims were to become more efficient in our operations, by having a dedicated space with all our equipment and paperwork in one place instead of dotted around a house, and to have separate work areas for different tasks (e.g. ironing, staff meetings, admin and operations, laundering and sanitising cloths).
We also aimed to grow Clear Interiors once we had premises, because with more room for kit, equipment and staff meetings, we were then not limited to how many team members and customers we could have. Since the move, we have grown from a team of 9, to a team of 16 and now serve around 200 customers. Whilst this is a big step up for us in terms of keeping everyone organised, we actually find there is a real benefit for our customers. We’re much more able to cover sickness and absences and it’s making us work really hard improving our services and becoming more efficient.
As a result, customers are benefitting from things like being able to pay for their cleans by card, setting up a direct debit, getting email reminders about when their next clean is scheduled for, and more.
In addition to this, as the Owner of Clear Interiors, having that separation of work and home has made me a much more effective Manager! Not only is it great for me and my husband personally, it has allowed me to reduce stress, which makes me more organised and also gives me the option to work from home with no distractions when a lengthy, involved task crops up.
Suffice to say, our lovely new offices have fulfilled all our aims and even exceeded them. It has even opened the door for us to consider new services and further expansion in 2018… more news to follow in the coming months!