Pure & Clean are exterior cleaning specialists based in Bournemouth. From hospitals and skyscrapers to caravans and bungalows - Simon Denney and his team of 7 are on a mission to keep local facades looking good.
As well as cleaning windows, the team removes graffiti and chewing gum, cleans gutters, solar panels and all parts of building exteriors.
And business is growing quickly. Starting up in 2015, the team already has more than 1000 repeat clients, from commercial and public property managers to homeowners.
But as the business has grown, so too have outstanding debts, says owner Simon. “It has been a particular problem on the domestic side, where we have a large number of customers who pay small amounts - around £15-20 a clean,” he explains.
Up until 2017, most customers were paying Pure & Clean via cheque and bank transfer, which meant the business had to rely on the customer remembering to pay.
In practice, people often forget to pay, when it’s a small amount. We then spend more money chasing payment than we earned from that job in the first place - if you consider the hourly rate of a bookkeeper needed to do the chasing and check the accounts to see if payment has been made.”
In 2016, Simon was forced to write off £3,500 worth of outstanding payments, because the cost of chasing them was too high. The business is still owed around £12,000 from customers who pay by bank transfer or cheque.
No more chasing payments
In 2017, Simon discovered that he could plug in GoCardless to his CleanerPlanner cleaning software, and collect his payments automatically through Direct Debit.
Now, once a customer has completed the one-time Direct Debit online form, Pure & Clean collect all future payments from them seamlessly.
Simon explains: “We ask customers to sign up to Direct Debit through our website. As soon as one of our guys does a job for that client, he presses ‘done’ on his tablet and the payment appears in our CleanerPlanner software. We double check it and click ‘start’ to collect the payment. Simple as that!”
“It takes all the stress away of people not paying,” adds Simon, “and if a customer doesn’t have the funds in their account or cancels the payment, GoCardless notifies us so we can deal with it there and then.”
Simon plans to move 90% of Pure & Clean’s customers onto GoCardless over the next year. “We include a link to sign up to GoCardless in all our payment reminders, invoices and emails to customers,” he explains. “Soon, we’ll be making it a condition of using our service, at least for for domestic customers,” says Simon.
Although the team have only moved over a group of customers so far, they are already seeing the benefits.
We save a few days each month in not having to wade through bank statements, manually checking payments, and chasing up customers. As we move more customers across to GoCardless, I anticipate we’ll save even more time and significantly reduce our late payment debt.”
Benefits for customers
For Pure & Clean’s homeowners customers, signing up to Direct Debit is one less thing to worry about. “Some customers say it’s perfect,” says Simon, “because they can’t be bothered to log into their bank to do a bank transfer every time.”
Modernising the business
Automating payments is part of a push to make Pure & Clean a business fit for modern times, says Simon.
The team uses cloud-based software CleanerPlanner to manage its customers, jobs and payments and to send automated text messages to customers to remind them about their cleaning appointments.
“CleanerPlanner and GoCardless help us to do that. It makes dealing with customers much easier - and in some cases suppliers too! Our accountants use GoCardless within their Xero accounting software and our web agency also use it - in fact my web agency won’t work with anyone that doesn’t use GoCardless!”