Mark Bernberg is aiming to shake up the cleaning industry with WHIZZ, an online platform that connects those seeking home cleaning services with independent cleaners.
When Mark’s regular cleaner had to rush overseas, he had two choices: hit Facebook to ask if anyone knew of a decent cleaner or go with the luck of the draw that is a Google search. Thankfully, both options failed.
“My lightbulb moment happened while I was sitting in an Uber car, which I use frequently,” Mark tells Dynamic Business.
“Why don’t we tie together people who are looking for cleaners with cleaners looking for more jobs? And badda-bing, badda-boom, WHIZZ was born!”
Gathering a team of tech investors, WHIZZ was initially financed internally. Although the concept itself is quite simple, Mark says the back end is much more complicated.
“There’s quite a bit of technology that drives the business because we’ve got to have a dynamic, live booking and scheduling system that takes into account the fact end users are booking for certain times, and then automatically pushing that data out to the cleaners and getting responses.”
Apart from the tech-side of things, Mark’s job was to get the foundation of the business right: the cleaners themselves. Over 1500 cleaners have been interviewed, Mark says, with those selected having to go through a 7-step qualification process. All cleaners need to have limited liability and worker’s compensation, speak English, have a registered ABN, drive their own vehicle, have their own equipment, submit to a police check, and, of course, have extensive cleaning experience.
“If they get through those pre-qualifications, we then send them on one or two test cleans and only if they make it through that, will they graduate from cleaners to “Whizzards”. About 1 in 10 make it through that process,” Mark explains.
“First and foremost, we believe we have the best quality cleaners in the Sydney Metropolitan region. Then, what goes on in the back end, is matching those cleaners’ excess capacity to end user demands for the two types of cleans we offer. One is the standard residential clean and the other is the end of lease/vacate clean.”
The mobile and desktop booking platform itself is simple to use, with customers only having to put in how many bedrooms and bathrooms they want cleaned, whether they want any extras, and where they live. A “Whizzard” will then arrive, clean, and leave the customer’s home looking like a hotel.
“We did a lot of research into what people considered as “clean”, and the majority of people came back defining a hotel room as a “clean room”. As a result, we set out to create a 5 star hotel experience in your very home, and this has been achieved with our finishing touches…the real magic,” Mark says.
“We put a seal over your toilet once it’s been cleaned, we fold your toilet paper neatly and seal it with a little sticker, we put chocolates on your pillow, we spray a beautiful signature scent throughout your home and leave you with a detailed checklist of everything we’ve done. These finishing touches give you that absolute wow emotion of walking into a 5-star hotel, except you’ve just walked through your front door.”
WHIZZ charges around $95 to clean the average home, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge room, dining room and laundry. Mark says this is around $7 or $8 more than their competitors, but points out that the premium price comes down to their “premium service”.
“Simply, it’s the quality of our cleaners. There’s such a wide variety of cleaning companies out there; you’re going to see a huge variance in pricing and a huge variety in quality. It’s an absolute lottery as to which of those you get. With WHIZZ, you get guaranteed quality at a guaranteed price.”
And it could be this quality that is paving the way for the company’s rapid growth. Mark says that the business is about 380 per cent above budget since launching in February, with almost 800 residential cleans in the Sydney CBD and metro alone. It’s no surprise then, expansion is on the horizon.
“We’ve just closed our series A investors round and that’s to expand into the greater areas of NSW and Sydney. We will probably close out a series B round in late 2015, and that will be for national expansion, probably with Melbourne and Brisbane coming first.”