For this week’s blog, we caught up with Nealem Stephens, our lovely franchisee who runs Extra Help in Maidenhead and Windsor (also covering Marlow and Ascot), to find out how things are going….
Off to a flying start
Within the last six months, Nealem has grown a substantial client base and leads a reliable team of home-helpers. She receives customer enquiries every day and has a high conversion rate, which she says is down to the time and effort spent on really getting to know her customer and their needs. Nealem believes it’s all about exceeding the customer’s expectations.
“I am ideally placed on Google and it’s even helped me to make my first, international sale of a gift package of home-help hours, all the way from Santiago, Chile!” she says.
Five-star customer reviews
According to Nealem, TRUSTist customer reviews are playing a vital role in building her reputation. She has gained many five-star reviews, which provide potential clients with a real insight into her passion for providing a quality service. Always aiming to ‘go the extra mile’, Nealem takes every opportunity to make her clients feel valued, including sending cards, as well as flowers and champagne on special occasions. She instils this sense of pride and attention to detail in her home-helpers too, ensuring that each one reflects her customer-centric approach.
Proactive customer service
Nealem takes feedback extremely seriously and always speaks to clients after providing them with services, to check they are happy and ask for suggestions for improvement. And, if things do go wrong, which rarely happens, Nealem takes immediate action to put it right, as service recovery and reputation are equally important to her as finding new clients.
“I know that the competition in this industry is fierce and the last thing I want is to be left behind!” she says. “I have quickly realised that my success is down to me. The hard work and dedication I put in now will definitely pay off in the future.”
Nealem actively works with her home-helpers and clients to ensure exceptionally high quality of service. One of the many highlights for Nealem, so far, was a lovely testimonial received from the daughter of one of her elderly clients, who unfortunately passed away. The help and kindness received from Extra Help was even mentioned in the eulogy at the funeral!
“Mum’s eulogy included the large part her ‘angels’ played. I mentioned your long chats and Dorchester-style breakfast and posh afternoon teas. I will never forget the kindness you showed to mum and to me. Thank you from my heart.”
The flexibility of running your own business
Nealem has thoroughly embraced the concept of being her own boss and working from home. She loves the fact that she can now do the school run, and no longer has to commute, which has saved her an incredible fifteen hours per week. Her typical day is now filled with new client meetings, client and home-helper introduction meetings and quality assurance visits.
As she only has school hours free, Nealem has to be extremely disciplined with diary management, ensuring she has enough time to cover her meetings, as well as social media, new enquiries and the day-to-day administration that comes with running your own business. However, Nealem loves the flexibility that being an Extra Help franchisee provides, as her work / life balance has improved and she is now able to cook dinner and spend more time with her husband and children.
“We love our family dinners – we couldn’t do this when I was working in London as I would get home so late!” she says. “My evenings do contain downtime but I always work in the evenings. I answer client enquiries, check social media and confirm appointments for the following day. It’s a very busy day but I have definitely gained more hours. Once I have stabilised the business for steady growth, I expect my work / life balance will improve even more, but nobody starts a business for a rest!”
Nealem finds the home-help industry exciting – every day is different and the satisfaction that comes from matching home-helpers to clients and then seeing improvement in their quality of life is priceless. She keeps herself motivated by careful planning, setting herself personal and professional goals, with milestone achievements towards these goals helping to track her progress.
“If my performance is not hitting the targets I’ve set myself, I revisit my plan, analyse the specific issues and map out ways to rectify the situation,” Nealem says. “I am my own worst critic and I tend to coach myself a lot. I love visuals such as white boards, trackers and dream boards; they’re great to reflect on each day and celebrate success.”
High standards are the key to success
Nealem’s advice for new Extra Help franchisees is to concentrate on staying active on social media and building your profile in your community through networking. She believes that, if you do this well, there is no urgent need to spend money on expensive, glossy adverts or huge leaflet drops. She says the key is to ensure that all of your home-helpers mirror your own high standards and ethics, and never sit back and expect everything to come to you.
We are extremely proud of Nealem’s achievements to date, and look forward to celebrating her success with her in the future.