Jeanette Vokes started Sparkle Cleaning Services in December last year and the Ballymena business is going well. Despite the grim state of the economy, Jeanette says this has not stopped people seeking domestic cleaning services. “Everybody is still so, so busy,” she says. “Everyone who is fortunate enough still to have a job, their lifestyle hasn’t changed.”
Yet there is no stereotype for the type of person who gets Sparkle to clean their homes. “It’s ranging from the young to the old,” says Jeanette. “I have one client who is a solicitor, but is never in the house. Another who is an elderly lady. Another who has messy teenagers. It’s a wide range of people.”
Jeanette is ambitious and might already be described a ‘serial entrepreneur’ as she previously ran her own childminding firm. “I have the motivation and ambition and I want to earn money,” she says. “I wanted to work for myself and to build a better future for myself and my children. It’s a bit of a privilege to work for yourself. Although the privilege does mean you have to work hard! I am a busy working single mum, juggling my own family and being a personal unpaid taxi driver.
“It’s a very rewarding job from you getting fit and active while you earn to, and knowing you have helped take once less chore out of a person’s busy day!”
Sparkle at present has just one employee other than Jeanette herself – and she admits to being a demanding boss. “Sparkle has set high standards and I have to run a tight ship. I have hired great people to work for Sparkle from different backgrounds. They need to be highly motivated and self-starters as well.”
Jeanette speaks highly of the value of the Ulster Bank Small Business Can network, which has been her main source of clients via the CAN networking. She has also found advertising via social media to be very effective, including Netmums.
“All my marketing has come from having the use of networking events, including in Ballymena, using the internet and new media, as well as the old fashioned knock on the door, leaflet drops and word of mouth,” says Jeanette. “I focus on winning customers, surrounding them with a professional and trustworthy service and getting more referrals.”
For the time being, Jeanette is concentrating on growing the business gradually, but she has grander ambitions. “Sparkle can only grow with funding raised by sales which in turn go straight back into the business to help create a website more jobs for within the local community and further afield,” she says. “I am still a little fish so it is important to me to have new opportunities coming in my direction and the help from networks such as Small Business Can, where there are thousands of business people willing to help each other out with advice, insights and hints and tips.”