How to Start a UK Cleaning Business | A Complete Guide

How to Set Up A UK Oven Cleaning Business

Ovenu Oven Cleaning Franchise

By on 15th January 2021 (updated: 20th February 2024)

Rik Hellewell, founder of oven cleaning franchise OvenuMany people dream of one day striking it out alone and being their own boss. The idea of choosing your own hours, answering only to yourself and keeping the profits of your hard work is appealing to many. Starting your own business though is risky and the prospect of going it alone can be daunting.

A UK oven cleaning business offers relatively low start-up costs, minimal initial outlay and the potential to get up and running reasonably quickly. This is a diverse and competitive industry with numerous, small oven cleaning service companies, and the variety of options for those wondering how to set up can be overwhelming. With that in mind, I’m going to answer some of the questions you have and explain the steps you’ll have to take to set up your very own UK oven cleaning business.

About the cleaning industry

First, let’s take a little look at the industry as a whole, and assess what a prospective business owner can expect.

According to The Cleaning And Support Services Association, the cleaning industry in the UK is worth around £10bn and employs roughly 820,000 people. It is a significant industry but remains one dominated by small businesses: 72% of those working in the cleaning sector do so in a company with no more than nine employees and, importantly for those looking to become their own boss, a third of all cleaning organisations are owned and operated by one person.

What type of cleaning business is for you?

Cleaning businesses are commonly defined as falling into three broad categories: domestic cleaning, commercial cleaning and specialised cleaning.

Domestic cleaning

Domestic cleaning involves cleaning peoples’ houses and requires very affordable equipment, some experience, a predisposition for perfectionism and clients! With domestic cleaning, there’s also the potential to eventually bring on more staff. There are some very successful franchises in this area including Molly Maid and Maid2clean.

Commercial Cleaning

Operating a commercial cleaning business means you will need to assemble a team from the start as you will be cleaning larger premises and bigger jobs – your role will more likely be purely administrative and managerial. In the UK, franchises such as Betterclean operate up and down the country. Decisions here have to be based not simply on your own skills and desires, but on the local market, competition and opportunities. Is there space and need for a domestic or commercial cleaning business in your local area? In both domestic and commercial cleaning, the market can be very crowded.

Specialised Cleaning

There clearly are opportunities, and the industry has shown itself to be resilient in the face of the economic turbulence of recent years, but it is a crowded market place. To succeed in the cleaning business you’ll need high standards, a clear vision appropriate for your location and, to reduce your direct competition, you’ll almost certainly need to specialise.

The world of specialised cleaning businesses in the UK is incredibly diverse. In chimney sweeping there’s Wilkins Chimney Sweep, who have been sweeping chimneys since 1895! They are a fast-growing team who describe franchising nicely on their site as ‘working for yourself, not by yourself’. In window cleaning we have Ezy Clean, an innovative franchise working to make starting a cleaning business even easier with a fully automated system of payment and scheduling, leaving the franchisee to simply clean.

In carpet cleaning, there’s ServiceMaster, a successful Franchise that operates around the world which has a claim to being the first to start cleaning carpets in peoples’ homes (in Chicago in 1929). For cars, there are highly successful franchises such as Auto Valet Direct.



Why set up an oven cleaning business?

Considering there are so many niches within the cleaning industry, why you should choose oven cleaning above any other specialism is a good question. There are a number of key benefits that the oven cleaning business offers over other specialities. For those looking to get off the ground quickly, oven cleaning could be perfect as each job can be completed by one person, as long as they have the right equipment and training to do so along with a good volume of sales enquiries coming in. Depending on the travel time between your jobs you may be able to complete up to 3 jobs in a given day, whilst charging a competitive price and keeping your daily earnings high.

Most homes have ovens and they’re often the most frequently used appliance in the household, however, they can often be overlooked in even the most fastidious of home keepers’ cleaning schedules. As a consequence, ovens can become the filthiest corners of the home and the dirtier they become, the more challenging it becomes for their owners to clean them properly. Although there are plenty of off-the-shelf products and tools that promise to do the job, these products can often be filled with caustic ingredients that aren’t eco-friendly. An oven cleaning business can offer a convenient, efficient, environmentally friendly option that is an attractive prospect to the majority of people who simply don’t want to tackle the job themselves.

Building an oven cleaning business requires dedication and hard work, but thankfully the nature of the business may lend itself to repeat clients. Once your clients appreciate the service that you can offer, they’ll be more likely to book in for repeat cleans and even recommend you to their social circle. Beyond the domestic landscape, there’s also the potential to branch out into the commercial sector. Landlords and estate agents are often faced with having to put homes in order, with some ovens going years without a proper clean. If you can find a number of connections like these who are in need of regular oven cleans then you can fill your calendar that much easier.

Finally, when the time comes for you to expand your territory and take on more jobs, you can do so easily by replicating your current setup and finding the right person to work alongside you. Once the demand is there, it’s simply up to you to supply the service!

What type of oven cleaning business is right for you?

Once you’ve settled on oven cleaning as your niche, you need to think about the scale and structure of the business that you’re looking to run. Are you simply a cleaner who wants to organise their own schedule and keep the profit? Are you looking to grow a business, employ cleaners, and work on the administrative side? Do you want something in between? There are many things to consider and a few big decisions to make. For instance, if you want to be a business owner in this sector you have to decide if you want to start completely from scratch, find an oven cleaning business for sale or become a franchisee.

Making this decision starts with self-assessment: What are your goals? How do you like to work? What type of a business owner do you want to be? If you are someone who wants to have a prescribed system with clear instructions, who wants to feel supported and guided in what they have to do to succeed, then franchising offers exactly the business environment you might be looking for.

Independent Oven Cleaning

If you value complete control over all else, then perhaps becoming an independent oven cleaner is a better option. As an independent sole trader every detail, large and small, is under your control. This brings a different kind of freedom but also means you have to spread yourself far thinner, taking responsibility for every aspect of your business. You have to be able to take control of all your accounting and finance, your public relations, advertising and promotion, your supply line of products and equipment (this also means a lot of research) and a host of other smaller jobs and roles that will pile on top of the actual cleaning work that you set out to do it in the first place.

When it comes to setting up your oven cleaning business, you’ll also have to sort out your own training. Teaching yourself could take time and new customers may not wish to pay you a full fee if you are still learning the ropes. Another alternative is to seek out tuition from a working oven cleaner, or enrolling at an oven cleaning academy. Many oven cleaners looking for another form of income have set up academies to teach newcomers a few basics. These can be an expedient route to learn the trade, however, once the classes have ended you are very much left to your own devices, meaning you will not receive any further support in terms of marketing or business management.

Understanding the nuts and bolts of how to clean ovens is one challenge that you’ll face when choosing to go independent, but you’ll also need to ensure that you are following a business plan if you want your oven cleaning business to succeed. Branding is another aspect that you’ll have to think of, something which shouldn’t be overlooked if you wish to build a reputable business that new customers will trust. You’ll want to brand yourself in such a way that distances you from the ‘one man and a van’ stereotype so that customers feel comfortable doing business with you and inviting you into their home.

dave rugby ovenu worker

Oven Cleaning Franchise

Vital to your journey toward starting an oven cleaning business is the research you do at this early stage. It is all about choosing the right business plan and, if you’re going down that road, the right franchise. Your options will largely be formed by where you are located and how far you are prepared to travel, but with franchising, you are far less limited by your own experience in the sense that you will receive full training and guidance.

With an oven cleaning franchise, you still have control over your schedule, the culture and values of how you’re going to work, who you are going to hire and fire and responsibility for expanding your business, but you have guidance and assistance in these and all other aspects of running your business. This takes the pressure off and gives you guidelines and support to lean on. It cannot be overstated how helpful that can be at all stages of running a business.

Franchises offer you the chance to get up and running straight away: it’s a ‘plug in and play’ business model. You don’t have to worry about finding suppliers, choosing equipment or negotiating deals. It is in these areas that big mistakes can be made early on in owning your own business, the kind of mistakes that seriously jeopardise your future as a business owner. Not only will you have the knowledge and supply line of your franchise behind you, but you also can benefit from their increased buying power (franchises can buy materials and equipment in bulk, reducing costs for you) and you will often see your chances of getting credit increase with the reputable name of an already successful franchise behind you.

All businesses need start-up capital and the average for a franchise in the cleaning industry in the UK is £12,000. What you’re paying for there is to some extent the security of return on that investment that a functioning and well-chosen franchise can offer. When it comes to promoting and marketing, many franchises offer a very complete package that almost entirely takes care of this more specialised area of running a new business.

Many franchises will have a website and online marketing template ready for you, with some keeping a PR company on retainer who could get you into your local newspaper or radio. The same benefits apply to your finances, invoicing and general paperwork. Also, of course, franchises offer the all-important training that will get you ready for your new profession. All this structure and support is the key reason that the failure rate for franchises is far lower than for other small enterprises.

Choosing an oven cleaning franchise means researching your local area and franchises themselves will do the work for you there to a large extent. Franchisors should know the areas of the country where there is space for a new franchisee and are always actively looking for potential franchisees to start-up in these areas.

Professional oven cleaners in a van


Oven cleaning businesses for sale

Sometimes it’s possible to buy an oven cleaning business outright, in these cases, you might be able to purchase the vehicle, equipment and customer database from another cleaner so that you can essentially pick up from where they left off. If you are buying from an independent business owner then you’ll inherit all their business assets, but you may not benefit from any training. Similarly, if the operation is a one-man venture, then pre-existing customers might not be as keen to agree to repeat orders, as they may not have the same trust for you.

Again, when buying independently, you may not be able to guarantee that you’ll be able to take advantage of their business plan. There’s also the risk that the business plan that they were using was not an efficient one, in this case, you may end up inheriting poor business practices.

Alternatively, you could consider buying into a franchise resale. In these cases, you’ll be able to benefit from all the training and support available to franchisees, but without the need of building up a customer base. You may find, in this instance, that you’re able to leverage the brand recognition of the franchise in order to instil trust with the existing database. If the van, branding and service stay the same, a customer will likely feel more comfortable making a repeat order, even if the familiar face has changed.

What do I need to set up my own oven cleaning business?

Finding the right equipment

Having an engineering background and a good understanding of working with chemicals from the carpet cleaning days was massively beneficial when it came to making the finest and most reliable equipment to work with in the oven cleaning niche. I wanted a totally self-sufficient system that could be used in all situations, a system that used products containing zero caustic-soda both inside the home and in the process tank in the van and the tank itself needed to be robust, withstand heating to 90 degrees centigrade and be able to stand the test of time.

And 269+ years down the track we still use very similar, hygiene grade stainless steel tanks proving that there is rarely the need to change something that fits the bill just nicely! That being said, there have been a few modifications and upgrades to the process tanks over time such as the adding of insulation, enhanced splash-guards and a few other tweaks like converting to electric heating in Australia back in 2006 but the basic principles remain untampered.

Using both gas and electric power/heat sources across 2 countries gives me a unique and totally unrivalled knowledge and insight into both systems and the ability to have a quiet chuckle to myself when I read completely one-sided opinions formed by companies and individuals who have only got one system or the other.

Advertising and marketing strategy

So, before looking to appoint ‘fully fledged’ franchisees into the market I wanted to ensure that there was a proven advertising and marketing strategy in place. It’s worth noting that we were coming out of a recession back in 1994, so nothing could be taken for granted – not even the strategies that worked so effectively for the carpet cleaning business. Although very similar and still in the Business to Consumer space, this new-fangled internet had just recently become ‘a thing’ so there were changes to look at.

And although the general advice at the time was to look towards putting together a Pilot Scheme for a year or so I figured this was nowhere near long enough given the changing market forces so I ran a 5-year test to prove everything was both sustainable and profitable.

I’ve adapted, amended and improved the advertising & marketing systems and strategies over the past 25+ years and have embraced all of the new technologies along the way. As a brand, Ovenu is extremely strong in the digital world on a local and national footing.

I don’t let our franchisees risk making potentially very expensive mistakes – we (that’s me and my retained team of highly qualified specialists) take care of their online activity for them, leaving them free to concentrate on other things. We take corporate uniformity extremely seriously so we’re happy to take on this task for our franchisees.

Our offline activity and marketing materials are equally bold and effective – always have been and will remain so.

The combining of the online and offline activity also helps to ensure that franchisees get their first tranche of enquiries through whilst they are on their Induction Training course with us both in-house and on the road.

Managing Your Work Schedule

Over the years there have been many changes to how businesses are run and managed but there is one thing that I’ve never changed and that’s recognising how important it is to let people run and manage their own work schedule i.e. run their own diaries and therefore arrange their own individual work/life balance.

I know from first-hand experience that lots of our franchisees would simply hate the idea of becoming self-employed and then have to revert back to asking or telling others if or when they were taking a bit of time out of a day or even a few days off.

But even more importantly, there is nobody who knows the local trading area and the little nuances there are in an area better than the franchisees that work and earn their living there every single day. The franchisees are also way better positioned than anybody else when it comes to their individual area pricing strategy. So that’s why we put our clients in direct contact with their local area franchisees – the very people who are coming along to do the work!

And I’ve found over the years that this common-sense approach builds trust between our franchisees and their clients so there has never been any need to take any payments upfront. All jobs are booked, confirmed and paid for on completion – always have been – always will be.

Client Experience Management

There are times when you put so much time and effort into doing ‘the job’ properly that it’s easy to gloss over or ignore changes in the Law – the most recent being the complete overhaul of the Data Protection Act in conjunction with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Back in 2014, there were amendments made to the (then) Distance Selling Regulations; now the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

These changes aren’t made for fun; rather to look after and protect consumers from sharp practices so it’s only right and proper that everybody in a franchise network is brought up to speed with what the changes are and how they will impact each local business.

I did that and went five or six steps further ahead by introducing a superb CEM (Client Experience Management) system back in 2014 so that none of our network would fall foul of any new legislation being introduced. A CEM system is similar to an ‘off the shelf’ CRM but with a load of extra unique features and benefits built-in.

I have always felt that a reputable franchise ought to cover all of the bases of running all aspects of the business correctly, in our case, not just being spectacularly good at cleaning ovens but understanding just as much on the ‘business’ side as well.

Our CEM is now the ultimate tool that works with and for our local area franchisees as it manages things end-to-end for them and their clients. There are almost too many features to mention in this short article so I won’t even try – sufficing it to say though that since we made the use of the system compulsory back in 2017 the entire network has become more streamlined, successful and profitable.

Our Oven Cleaning Franchise Model

Before setting up the Ovenu business I had accrued 10 years knowledge and experience in the carpet and upholstery cleaning industry and, prior to that, an engineering apprenticeship.

The ten years or so in the service industry pre-Ovenu made producing a business plan for the new business reasonably simple and straight-forward as I knew 100% what the great British public wanted, needed and demanded of anybody working in their homes. I was also very confident on how to value and price the Ovenu service having made a very good living from the carpet cleaning industry!

But equally important to putting together a solid and workable business plan from a financial perspective was how the entire Ovenu business was going to be structured as a franchise opportunity.

I had just spent over 10 years working with sub-contractors – individuals who just wanted to earn money with little or no interest in the business itself. And although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with using sub-contract labour per se, it did account for some poor time-keeping, wayward dress codes/standards, dubious attendance records (and even more ludicrous excuses for not turning up to appointments) along with a general ‘I’m only here for the pay cheque’ approach.

The Ovenu business model was going to be way different by giving people their own piece of the Ovenu business to run and manage under a franchise agreement. I spent hours researching how the franchise model works and, due to a lot of the information being USA based, I changed a good few parts of how I was going to do things in the UK.

We now have the best of both worlds in our brand offering: a tried, tested and trusted business plan that has generated millions of pounds in revenue for our franchisees and a franchise model with a clear unequivocal and transparent franchise agreement that gives everybody involved in our business an equal opportunity to excel and make some very handsome profits.

The Ovenu Franchise Network

Ovenu is the largest network of oven cleaners in the world and brings all that experience and knowledge to bear in how we set up and assist our franchisees in growing their business. In our most recent survey our Ovenu Franchisees told us that the top 3 benefits of working with us were:

  1. Excellent Head Office support and back up from a premium brand,
  2. Running their own diary; being able to make time for themselves and their families,
  3. Providing a quality, sought after service to their highly satisfied customers, with every day being different from the last.

If these are the kind of qualities you are looking for when starting a cleaning business, we could be for you.

At Ovenu our franchisees have come from all walks of life with all levels of experience, united only by a drive and desire to take control of their lives and become their own boss. If there is one absolutely essential quality you’ll need when starting a cleaning business, that is it. Are you ready to become your own boss?

If you’re convinced about starting your own cleaning business, fill out the form at the bottom of this page and we’ll send you more information about the Ovenu oven cleaning franchise opportunity.


Can you set up an oven cleaning business without using a dip tank?

Whilst it’s possible to set up an oven cleaning business without the use of a dip tank, you may find that you’ll have to resort to using caustic chemicals or a lot more elbow grease in order to get the job done properly. Some oven cleaners complete the oven clean inside the customer’s home, however this can cause more mess and also disrupts the customer more than necessary. Using a dip tank keeps the process quick and clean, with minimum disruption to the customer.

Can you make money out of an oven cleaning business?

When operated correctly, it’s possible to generate a significant turnover from an oven cleaning business. In order to maximise profits, it’s important to follow a business plan and use efficient techniques. Many would-be oven cleaners jump head first into the industry without properly assessing their costs, this can lead very quickly to collapse. Taking time to get your numbers straight will ensure that you can measure success and plan for the future.

Do professional oven cleaning companies clean ovens in a different way?

From the professional franchises to the independent man and his van, there are plenty of different ways that people clean ovens. The most efficient way to do so is with the help of an electric or gas heated dip tank fitted into a van. Oven cleaners trained as specialists understand how to take apart every style of oven, so that each component can be degreased and cleaned properly. The oven can then be reassembled in the customer’s home as if it were brand new.

How do I start an oven cleaning company?

  1. Determine a business plan including the cost of equipment, training, insurance and all overheads. You should then be able to work out how many oven cleans (and at what cost) you will need to book in order to say in the black.
  2. Choose to either start from scratch, buy a business outright or invest in a franchise model to get the ball rolling.
  3. Get on the job experience or hands-on training with a professional, so that you can confidently take apart and reassemble any oven that is put in front of you.
  4. Market your business thoroughly to start finding customers to fill your books. If you’re independent, do whatever you can to generate sales leads. If you’re a franchisee then your franchisor should support you with marketing. If you’ve bought a business outright, then you should have a pre-existing customer database to work with.
  5. Get to work, offering a consistently high standard of service. Arrive punctually, communicate clearly and ensure that you surpass your customers’ expectations. Ask for reviews from your clients so that you can use their testimonials to market yourself to new customers, and grow your customer base.

Is oven cleaning a good business?

Oven cleaning can be a very good, rewarding business to manage. Many oven cleaners speak of the satisfaction they get from returning ovens back to their former glory and exceeding their customers’ expectations. In addition to high job satisfaction, oven cleaners are also able to set their own schedules, giving themselves the freedom to choose when and where to work. Although the work isn’t easy, oven cleaning can be a good business for any hardworking person looking to be their own boss.

What do oven cleaning businesses do that people can’t do themselves with household cleaners?

Oven cleaning businesses are able to work quickly, take advantage of industry-standard tools and complete the job to a much higher standard than a layman with household cleaning products. Ovens that have been neglected for long periods of time can build up layers of grime, carbonated food and grease. A home keeper with off-the-shelf products could take many repeated efforts to see any improvement and will still not be able to reach certain parts of the appliance.

Equipped with the tools and the technical know-how, oven cleaning businesses can dismantle ovens and clean every single component, something that a home keeper couldn’t achieve by themselves. What’s more, because of their experience, they’ll be able to get the job done in a matter of hours.


If you’d like to find out more about starting your own oven cleaning business, fill out the form below and we’ll send you more information about the Ovenu oven cleaning franchise opportunity.

owner of ovenu

Rik Hellewell is the Founder & Managing Director of Ovenu and a member of the Approved Franchise Association. He established Ovenu in 1993, cleaning 4,000 ovens and proving his concept over five years before starting the franchise business. Since then he has helped over 200 franchisees achieve their dreams of running successful businesses of their own. Established for over 25 years, the Ovenu concept has proven successful across the UK, New Zealand, Australia and the USA.