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Franchising as a Family Business: Father’s Day at ServiceMaster Clean Mercia

Father and son duo Kevin and Mark Harden discuss being in business together under the ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services brand.

The UK celebrates Father’s Day this weekend, and to mark the occasion, we sat down with father/son duo Kevin and Mark Harden from ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Mercia to see what building a business together has taught them.

What is it like to build a business with your father/son?

“In a father/son working relationship, it goes without saying that you need to be able to work together effectively, listening to one another’s views, communicating effectively and gaining joint agreement to important decisions. It can also be beneficial that we as a family are very committed to growing the business, and this rubs off on our management team in their approach and effectiveness.”


“Working in a father/son relationship can be incredibly rewarding to share in the successes with family.”

“One of the key benefits is our relationship enables a high level of trust and very open and effective communication. This ultimately benefits the business and our employees as we have clear shared values and vision for the business.”


Kevin, why did you decide to build a company alongside your family?

“Initially, it was just me and 20 or so staff. I was selling, supervising, managing, wages and cleaning when required. Through growth, it came to the point when I needed help, and firstly, my wife Jo joined me, leaving her role in IT with one of the top five accountancy firms, a brave decision. This enabled me to place greater emphasis on selling, and with this came further growth. We reached a point again when we needed help, and Mark joined the business. At the time, Mark had graduated from University and had a good job and career prospects with a large security company.  He joined the business to take on a Supervisory role, looking after several contracts.  Like Jo, this role enabled them both to understand the key elements of the business and recognise what makes a good Contracts Manager or Supervisor.”


What’s it like to operate a multi-generational business?

“Personally, I find it enjoyable. We have all placed our full commitment into the business and are enjoying the rewards this brings, both financially and in career satisfaction. I am now past pensionable age, and through investment in our management structure, I’m taking more of a back-seat role.  Jo is still heavily involved in overseeing our payroll, IT & administration. Mark took on the selling role full-time and gained significantly more growth; we are now at the stage of having a full-time salesperson, Contracts Managers and a newly promoted Regional Manager. This has enabled Mark to lead the business with my support.”

“Through my previous career, I have observed the dynamics within family businesses and have been mindful of how we interact with one another. Our emphasis to our staff and clients is that we are a family business, with the personal commitment this brings, alongside the backing of a large corporation enabling us to deliver an excellent professional service through innovative systems, processes and equipment.”


“Having Kevin and Jo in the business offers me a great opportunity to tap into their substantial past career experience and in-depth knowledge of the cleaning sector.  This is a resource I utilise not only for my development but for the growth of the business.”


What legacy are you hoping to leave behind for future generations?

“Mark, in the not-too-distant future, will take on the full running of the business. I’m sure that he will look to develop the business further through growth, acquisition and diversification.”


“We are always focused on the future and the need to build on the growth of the business. Being a family business allows us to focus on long-term goals and sustainability rather than short-term gains and profits.”

“Who knows, in the not-too-distant future, it may be my daughter joining the business!”


What about ServiceMaster Clean made it the right company for both of your careers?

“My prior career involved working for large corporate organisations in Sales, Marketing & Senior Management roles, and then Consultancy. I always wanted to run my own business and be a master of my own destiny. I read somewhere that if you buy a great business, you pay a great price, and if you buy an ok business, you pay an ok price – with the opportunity to turn it into a great business. The opportunity came to purchase an existing Contract Services business that was undeveloped, for which I paid an ok price. But I have turned it into a GREAT BUSINESS through the efforts of my family and our employees alongside the support and backing of the ServiceMaster Ltd team.”


“When Kevin approached me to join the business, I was developing a career path within a large national security company.  However, the chance to have a sense of ownership with input over the direction and growth, in conjunction with the support of ServiceMaster Ltd, was an opportunity too good to pass up.”


Want award-winning contract cleaning?

If you’re in Mercia and would benefit from professional contract cleaning services from a multi-award-winning business, contact Kevin, Mark and the team on 0300 003 7042 or find your nearest ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services business to see how we can help you today.