Derek Lancaster is marking the 20th anniversary of oven cleaning business Ovenu Darlington having achieved a high level of repeat clients.
The former RAF chef, who has an active data base of 6,000 customers, has completed 2,359 oven cleans over the past four years – of which 1,510 were repeat clients.
Derek, who covers an area incorporating Northallerton, Leyburn, Barnard Castle, Newton Aycliffe, Bishop Auckland, and Darlington, puts the impressive figure down to simply delivering a quality service that restores ovens to near showroom condition.
Ovenu Darlington has also seen a rise in enquiries triggered by cost-of-living increases as more people opt to maintain and extend the lifespan of their oven, rather than buying a new appliance.
Derek bought the franchised business in 2003 having spent 25 years in the military, including spells at RAF Leeming and RAF Boulmer. It proved so successful that a year later he recruited wife Deb to provide extra support by cleaning grills and dealing with administration.
The 61-year-old, from Bedale, said: “To have built a data base of 6,000 loyal clients and to have such high numbers of repeat clients means we must be getting things right! It’s just lovely to know that what we do is appreciated
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years. Being part of a franchise gave me the confidence to take the plunge and become my own boss – knowing it’s a tried and tested model which also provides an extensive support network.
“Ovenu has provided us with a good living, great job satisfaction, and an opportunity to meet lovely clients, many of whom have become friends over the years.”
Rik Hellewell, founder and managing director of Ovenu, said: “Derek is one of our longest serving franchisees and a fantastic example of how to run a successful business, reflected in the high levels of repeat clients.”
Derek intends to retire when his current franchise agreement expires in 2025 and as part of his long-term succession plans, the business is currently being advertised by Ovenu.