Meet ServiceMaster Clean® everyday heroes: Chris and Jessica Blewitt from the UK’s ServiceMaster Clean North East. Chris, looking for a successful, sustainable, and supportive business model, discovered that ServiceMaster Clean® was the perfect entrepreneurial opportunity for him. To his surprise, his 23-year-old daughter, Jessica, also decided to join the family business. Currently, Chris is the owner of ServiceMaster Clean North East, while Jessica takes charge of office management and business processes as the company’s Business Process Manager.
In honor of Father’s Day, father-daughter duo, Chris and Jessica, share what it’s like to work closely with each other while building a family legacy.
What is it like to build a business with your father/daughter?
Chris: Overall it’s great to build a business with your daughter. Jessica is only 23 now and was 17 when we started. She was at college then but helped out from the first day. She was the one that did our first tax return, and she is the expert on invoicing, banking and payroll.
It was not planned that she would come into the business, it just evolved. She went from helper to part-time employee. She then was offered a full-time promotion by her other part-time employer, which was a tough decision, but I said she should do what was right for her. She continued helping, which was hard when she had already done a long day at her other job.
We knew that one day she would come back into the business full-time but perhaps that was 5 or 10 years away. Rapid growth for our business meant that a full-time Business Process Manager was needed, and she decided that was the time to come back into the business and make it her career. Seeing first-hand her capability and dedication fills me with immense pride. At such a young age, she gives the appearance of a veteran. She is well-known in the network and with Head Office staff.
Jessica: I find it motivating to work in the business because if I do a good job, not only is it beneficial to me but to my dad and my family as a whole. It can be challenging to have to switch between the roles of ‘employee and boss” to “daughter and father. Because it’s my dad, I always know he has my best interest at heart – I have his back and he has mine.
Why did you decide to build a company alongside your family?
Chris: As mentioned previously, it wasn’t planned, although I did think it could create opportunities for family members. Perhaps you could say I secretly hoped Jessica would get involved. I have a son also, Daniel, who is now 21, but he is still deciding what he wants to do. He is very entrepreneurial, but still getting to grips with the world of work. At this stage I am not sure if there would be a role in our commercial cleaning business, but a franchise with another ServiceMaster brand could be a possibility.
Sue, my wife, also helps in the business, but has her own separate career. That said, we worked side by side on initial deep cleans, with two of our longest serving clients and she was there to support – filling in – when we only had a very small team.
How has your dad/family given you the skills to run the business?
Jessica: We are not quite at the stage where I am running the business, but I am fully aware of all the functions. I specialise in our office and business processes, both developing them and operating them, but I am heavily involved in running the operational side of the business. The sales and marketing side of the business is something I would need more exposure to but alternatively it’s not a role I might do, just manage if I take on a General Manager role in the future, depending how big we grow.
I work extremely closely with my dad, so I live and breathe the events that occur in the company. We have very similar thinking, which makes it easier, and my dad likes to talk through issues with members of his team, including me – we have a very collaborative culture. I think my dad is a great mentor and at 23 I feel well-equipped to run the franchise – at some point in the future. My dad has a business degree, but he tells me I have a much greater understanding of running a business than he did at my age.
What is it like to operate a multi-generational business?
Chris: Having the opportunity to work with a member of your family on any “project” can be very rewarding, but building something as large and multi-faceted as a business takes this to another level. Being able to spend so much time with someone you care about is another benefit. I held my dad in very high regard, but I never saw so closely, first hand, how he did business.
What legacy were/are you hoping to leave behind for Jessica/future generations?
Chris: Building something that can benefit a future generation of your family is very satisfying. The thought that perhaps other future generations could be involved, develop themselves in the business and take it on further would be even more exciting. Hopefully, the business will continue with my values being the foundation – hard work, servicing our clients very well, looking after our people and offering a truly professional service. I have no plans to sell the business, my plan is to pass it on through the family – if that’s what they want to do.
What about ServiceMaster Clean® made it the right company for your careers?
Jessica: Whilst I didn’t plan this as a career, I have found it to be a great match for my skills. I enjoy the variety of work and love the flexibility. Recently I bought a house to renovate, and the business gives me the flexibility to keep the renovation on track – I couldn’t have done this in a 9-5 role. It’s a bit of payback for the nights a few years ago, when we worked until 11pm doing payroll – before I became full-time!
Chris: When I looked at business opportunities, I wanted something scalable, proven but with support if needed. I thought the people at ServiceMaster Clean® were people I could work with, and I have found it to be true. It’s great to be part of a network. My biggest regret is that I didn’t do this 20 years earlier, but then I wouldn’t have been able to grow it from the start with my daughter.