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Keep It Clean

How did Craig Taylor build his franchise? By getting his hands dirty.

This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Start Up.

Craig Taylor's day started at 5 p.m., as he and his one employee loaded up his van to go clean office buildings and hospitals. They finished at 5 a.m., and Taylor returned to his home--which also served as his office--to rest in preparation for another night of cleaning.

That was how things were back in 1987, when Taylor, now 46, first started his Jani-King franchise in Atlanta. But you wouldn't know it now--things have changed dramatically. Taylor leases office space, has 200 employees who service several hotels, and brought in sales of $3.95 million last year. Although he's no longer the one doing the actual cleaning, Taylor says that he's still very hands-on. These days, he concentrates on growing his business, focusing on sales and customer relations.

But Taylor wouldn't be where he is today if it weren't for his humble beginnings. He was a part-time college student working as a bartender and waiter back when he began searching for an entrepreneurial opportunity, so cost was an important consideration. With only one employee and a home office, he was able to open the franchise for less than $15,000.

He also chose Jani-King because of the training and support the company offered. Before he opened his franchise, he attended a training program that taught him everything from business management and accounting skills to the latest and most effective cleaning methods. But Jani-King's involvement didn't end once Taylor's business was up and running. The company periodically offers seminars to keep its franchisees up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in the janitorial industry. For instance, Taylor recently attended a seminar about using green cleaning products and methods--which is something his customers have been requesting. It's this continuous support from his franchisor--and his own willingness to get his hands dirty--that has helped Taylor grow his once small janitorial operation to its present-day success.

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