Florida Woman Closes a Clothing Boutique to Open an Eco-Friendly Cleaning Business

After owning several businesses, Martekei Plange turned to franchising with Coverall as a way to refocus her entrepreneurial career.

Martekei Plange

Before becoming a franchisee with Coverall cleaning services in Tampa, Martekei Plange worked a myriad of jobs and ran a few of her own businesses, including a clothing boutique and a barbershop. But she said that the number of hats she was wearing in each situation was draining, and she wanted to take a more focused approach to entrepreneurship.

For her, franchising was the solution.

"I decided it was time for me to get back to what I knew -- and diving into the franchising world seemed like the next natural step for me," she said. "Coverall was so appealing, because it allowed me to still be my own boss, but I didn't have to wear every hat."

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Coverall began in 1985 as a three-person company headquartered in San Diego, Calif and now supports more than 8,000 franchised businesses in 90 markets around the world. Below, Plange describes how she enjoys the company's eco-friendly approach and focus on giving back to the community.

Name: Martekei Plange

Franchise owned: P & P Janitorial Services LLC (Coverall franchise) in Tampa, Fla.

Q: How long have you owned a franchise?

I've been a Coverall franchised business owner for two years. Prior to that, I worked with another cleaning business for five years. Total, I have 20 years experience in the cleaning industry.

Q: Why franchising?

Franchising allows me to be my own boss but still have a team to help guide me and show me the ropes. I became a franchisee because of the proven business model and the support you receive to help you be successful. The opportunity enables me to give to others, especially in my community.

Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Where do I begin? I honestly think I've done every job imaginable. I've been working since the age of 14. Most recently I was a general manager of a marketing corporation in West Florida. Prior to that, I owned and operated a clothing boutique as well as a barbershop. I built both of those business ventures from the ground up. It was an amazing learning experience for me, because it taught me how to manage a successful business.

But after a while, it drained me. I was wearing too many hats and wasn't able to devote enough time to every aspect of the business. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so after much consideration, I decided it was time for me to get back to what I knew -- and diving into the franchising world seemed like the next natural step for me. Coverall was so appealing, because it allowed me to still be my own boss, but I didn't have to wear every hat. The support center provided tremendous guidance. I was the owner of my company, but I wasn't doing it on my own – that has been the greatest relief.

Related: How One Woman Reinvented Her Career After Nearly 30 Years by Becoming a Franchisee

Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?

After researching several options, I chose Coverall because it is eco-friendly with minimal barriers of entry.

Coverall offered the opportunity for me to start my own business without having to do the footwork of securing the accounts allowing me to solely concentrate on quality and consistent cleaning. The team in the Coverall Support Center of Tampa provided hands-on commercial cleaning training, and the team members were always available to help me and made me feel so welcome.

Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

I estimate I spent about $3,000 on my down payment to start the business, along with purchasing equipment and supplies. With the investment package I purchased, which varies per franchised business, I was also provided with an initial offer of customers based on the franchise package size I bought.

Q: Where did you get most of your advice / do most of your research?

Most of it is from me. I have a strong mindset, and when I want something, I go after it -- and get it. Much of my research was from personal experience. As I mentioned before, I've worked in a myriad of different careers, and I always strive to not only perfect my position but also learn every other detail of the business.

My fascination with knowledge led to understanding what works and what doesn't. I'm still learning today. However, I'd be remorseful if I didn't credit family, especially my mother. I don't know what I would do without her -- her advice can't be quantified.

Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

I was extremely fortunate to grow my business and customer base very quickly. It was a great challenge to have, because at the end of the day, it meant that my business was thriving. However, it was sometimes difficult to keep up the rapid pace. I had to learn to budget and manage my time efficiently and set realistic expectations for myself. I'd rather grow steady and smart to succeed than grow too big, too fast and not be able to provide my customers with the best service possible.

Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to open their own franchise?

Don't wait -- and don't be afraid. There's never going to be a perfect time to take a leap into something new. If you fail, fail while you're young, and learn from those experiences. Apply those key learnings to your next attempt. Eventually, you'll succeed and realize that all the hard work and tough lessons you learned along the way paid off. It's important to remember that nothing in this world is given. You must prepare for everything and defy anything that gets in your way. Above all else, follow your dreams. Not enough people do that.

Q: What's next for you and your business?

I don't have enough time to go through all the thoughts and ideas I have in my mind. Honesty, it feels like every day I think of something else. Eventually I think I may need to slow down but for now, I'd like for my business to continue to grow locally and provide more opportunities. My business is currently servicing more than 26 customers per month, and I'd like to double that -- eventually.

I'd also love to take my success and use it to help others. I currently serve as a mentor for a few kids in my community, but I want to be able to do more. Partnering with the Boys & Girls Club has always been a goal of mine and I eventually want to be able to devote time and give back to this organization that is close to my heart. The Club's goal is to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as caring citizens, which is something I support 100 percent.

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*Coverall offers a range of investment options with Initial Franchise Fees ranging from $13,500 to $38,400, and down payment between $3,000 and $21,200. For detailed information see Franchise Disclosure Document.

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