CJ Micallef’s parents, Martin and Sarah Steinman purchased ServiceMaster Clean® Contract Services Manchester in the UK in early 1991.
Having now mostly stepped away from the business, which they began using their life savings, ServiceMaster Manchester is in the capable hands of CJ and fellow director Jason Hanrahan, who have overseen its growth into a thriving business. Working regularly on charity initiatives, staff support and development, and having seen the business grow even during some of the toughest COVID-19 restrictions in the UK, CJ is a shining example of an everyday hero. She says the key to her success is a willingness to get her hands dirty. After joining the business as a cleaner and performing every role within it subsequently, CJ knows what it takes to achieve success and growth in a cleaning business. This hard work and dedication have paid off, as CJ was recently awarded Great British Franchisee Status by whichfranchise.com, cementing her as one of the top 15 franchisees in the UK.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we spoke to CJ about what it means to be a successful woman in franchising.
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
Believe in yourself, stand strong, and (most importantly) always be yourself. Don’t give up at the first hurdle, there is always another chance or solution. Learn from your mistakes, this ultimately makes you a better manager, leader and person. Always ask for help. No one likes a know-it-all.
What advice do you have for women looking to grow their own business?
Trust yourself. You have all the answers within you; make that leap. Why would you work for anyone else if you can do it better? Trust your instincts, all the while making time for you and your family, as the rewards will be greater all around if you make that space for yourself.
What do you wish more people knew about being a woman in business?
Women in business are not just one dimensional, we have many skills and talents, and often we give so much more commitment than is recognized as we often put others first. Sometimes we feel that we are not experienced enough or assertive enough or passionate enough. But we can achieve anything we want and more. Women can be as fierce as men in the boardroom, whilst remaining empathetic. We provide support and are team players as well as strong leaders. Women should not be overlooked for any position in a business as they often are the backbone. Without women, the world of business would be a very one-sided view with limited vision and perspective.
What’s an accomplishment or win that makes you especially proud?
Winning a Great British Franchisee Award – that’s a big one! We have been in business for 31 years, and it’s the sort of thing you probably forget about because you do it all the time. This is what you do. But achieving Great British Franchisee Award status, particularly on the back of the last couple of years with COVID and the challenges that presented to the sector and our business is such a wonderful thing to be a part of. This is for everybody. It’s recognized outside of our franchisor by independent people, so that’s an amazing success we’ll benefit from in the future. But also, December last year was great. We’ve just won our largest-ever contract for a very large housing association across Greater Manchester. That has just propelled us in terms of the next level of growth. We’re seeing more opportunities, more development, and are employing more people. I can’t think. There are loads!
What has been a big goal in your career?
I want us to be a leader in housing and education. I want us to maintain the quality reputation that we already have. But I want people to know when they want a commercial cleaner: ‘Well, let’s ring ServiceMaster.’
And that means employing more people and giving them opportunities. We’ve had cleaners that have worked for us, in terms of our direct operators out in the field, for over 15-20 years. A good majority have been here for 5 to 10 years. So that’s important. For me, it’s about promoting those people and giving them career opportunities. I don’t stand still. There’s no need.