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Running a business and maintaining a high standard of business ethics

At Gleem, business ethics is everything, and treating staff right, keeping people happy and remaining environmentally friendly are all top priorities.
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For Joseph Edwards, founder of Gleem, business ethics is everything. Treating staff right, keeping people happy and remaining environmentally friendly are all top priorities – here’s how he manages all that while running his cleaning business.

After graduating with a degree in economics and going travelling, Edwards began applying for finance jobs in London almost out of a sense of obligation before he realised he didn’t necessarily have the passion for these types of roles.

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Finally deciding he wanted a bit of hustle and to be his own boss, Edwards started seeking opportunities to start a business. Gleem aims to set itself apart from other cleaning companies by offering best in class service.

During his research, Edwards realised the main issues affecting the cleaning industry were reliability and doing the job to a high enough standard.

“We haven’t reinvented the wheel, but we provide a lot more accountability than other cleaning companies,” explained Edwards.

“Instead of an hourly rate we have a checklist that we guarantee to complete before we leave the property, regardless of how long it takes.”

Business ethics is important and Gleem has been a Living Wage employer since it was founded, and Edwards is keen to ensure that his staff have job satisfaction.

Time to scale up

Gleem is growing quickly, and is in the process of leasing a new, larger office. The business currently operates out of a 1,000-square foot managed office, which means its gas and electricity is included in the rental agreement. As the business moves to a leased office it will have to take on responsibility for these services itself.

So far, this arrangement has been very convenient for Gleem as it means there has been less admin and paperwork and Edwards has been able to focus on growing his business. The only thing that has not been provided for Gleem is a workable internet connection.

“There is one BT hub provided across the whole of the building, which is four storeys and two and a half thousand-square feet per storey.

“One little home BT hub isn’t sufficient, so we ended up opting to get fibre optic broadband installed. We use VOIP for our telephones, we really need to have high quality phone calls with our customers as opposed to it cutting out for no apparent reason,” said Edwards.

No utilities suppliers have been decided yet for the new office, but the company is locked in to a contract with its broadband supplier. However, it has not been plain sailing, and Edwards said he has no real sense of loyalty towards the provider.
During the initial set up, Gleem had to chase the fibre optic superfast broadband it was promised.

“We had to be pretty proactive, it didn’t necessarily make it an easy process for us because we had to lead it,” said Edwards. “We felt like we did some of the service for them.”

On top of this, Gleem’s direct debit for the service was inexplicably cancelled at one point and it had to be set up all over again – but not before the service was cut off for about 24 hours, meaning that the customer service team couldn’t use the VOIP system.

When the option is available, Edwards will consider switching broadband suppliers.

The crucial criteria

Edwards has appointed someone to be in charge of negotiating the contracts for utilities at the new office, although he will oversee it as well.

One of the business’ top priorities when choosing a supplier will be the environmentally friendly credentials. “We’ll always be affiliated with businesses that have a similar moral compass, so environmental responsibility is extremely important,” said Edwards.

“The next thing we’d look at would probably be a fair price, but at the same time customer service really comes in to it.”

Edwards suggests that the best thing for businesses in a similar position would be to look at trusted review sites, and potentially even Glass Door to see how the suppliers treat their own staff.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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