Rune Sovndahl: From Entrepreneur To Franchisor
Rune Sovndahl is a Danish-born entrepreneur, who founded started Fantastic Services with his
Business partner Anton Skarlatov back in 2009. His background in marketing and telecommunications has enabled him
to build a property maintenance business spanning three continents in just 11 years.
His technology-driven, people-first approach has built the first domestic services company that
has an online booking form and real-time availability.
Rune Sovndahl started Fantastic Services in 2009 with his Co-founder partner Anton Skarlatov . In the beginning, the company had just a couple of cleaning teams, but he shares that “the work environment was chaotic, to put it mildly”. A couple of years later, the company started investing invested heavily in making technology for automation which brought structure to the turbulent workdays.
The way they do business today is much smarter and leaner. They use а custom-built CRM system, apps and all their customers can book more than 100 services, such as cleaning, gardening, pest control and handyman in less than 30 seconds.
“We had to fail a lot. We had to fail to succeed” says Rune.
With a global network of more than 530 franchisees, the company’s co-founder explains: “OurAll our franchise partners don’t have to fail as much as we did to create a powerful and profitable business. They don’t have to go through the bumpy road because we built them a perfectly automated super pathstraight highway to success.”
Going down the franchise route
When you start building a brand from scratch, there are countless challenges that entrepreneurs are apt to encounter. Rune’s case was no different: “The lesson I learnt the hard way was that we had to invest a lot of time to teach people to be leaders. We can see that it is changing now, but back in 2009, it was really hard to find someone who could set their own goals and chase them. Investing in people is one of the main goals of Fantastic Services.” He also added that building strong relationships is critical to success: “Fantastic Services taught me to not just make relationships but take care of them. Leading a business is about leading people. We fail, succeed and grow together.”
Another particularly important thing he learnt is that automation is vital. He invested millions in a custom-built automation booking CRM system and two award-winning apps, making the whole process of booking services, managing schedules, and communicating with customers smooth and seamless.
Rune’s company revolutionised the way people book services, and we made a significant impact on the whole property-maintenance industry. Automation is something everyone is seeking these days and Fantastic Services have started investing in technology and automation years ago. “Our values and our technology is what attracts most of our franchisees,” claims Rune.
“We chose to go down the franchise route because we had everything needed to turn Fantastic Services into the global multi-service franchising company that is today. Firstly, we had a scalable business model, able to be represented in almost any locations. Secondly, we had the demand for our services and thirdly, our business model was proven as profitable,” he adds. the final part, which made Franchising so attractive, we the ownership the franchisees take in providing a good service.
Challenge after challenge
In the property-maintenance industry, just like in any other, there are peaks and valleys. The economic turmoil, caused by the coronavirus outbreak, hit almost every business, more or less.
“To be honest, within The the first month of Covid-19, we lost nearly 50% of our domestic cleaning bookings. We launched Fantastic Services during the 2009’s recession and we knew that we had to act quickly and adapt to the “new normal. Instead of stepping back, we developed new services and we launched Fantastic Academy.com - a platform where we share all the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained over the past decade and those turn out to be a great success. While our competitors were closing down, we were providing Antiviral Sanitisation services to thousands of clients and growing our franchise network by signing more than 10 Area Development contracts,” shared Rune Sovndahl.
“Look, running a business is not a simple task,” says Rune. “I believe that ourmy ability to pivot quickly as roadblocks come around has played a significant role through the journey to where I’m today.” The advice that he wants to give to all young entrepreneurs is to “always think big”: “When I say big, I don’t mean to start a business just for the novelty of running a big, successful company. I mean that you have to put yourself out there, to think about the end goal when making decisions in the very first minute, and every minute afterwards.”
As a franchisor, he often self-examines himself: “I regularly do introspection on the company’s culture, asking myself questions like: ‘Does our culture promote enough innovation?’, ‘Do we inspire and motivate our franchise partners?’, ‘How can we make their workday even more organised?’ I think every person has to sometimes sit down and think not about the usual daily tasks but the things, ensuring that the brand remains reputable and stable during fast-expanding cycles.”