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Md. Cleaning Franchises See Opportunities

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GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) — Susan and Mark Cashman traded in corporate culture and world travel for mops and brooms.

From their Glen Burnie office, they oversee a network of workers in charge of sprucing up office buildings and commercial spaces. Nearly a decade after becoming master franchisees for Anago Cleaning Systems, they are seeking more workers to handle a growing workload in their four-county region that includes Anne Arundel.

That makes them part of a $40-billion field and one of the fastest growing service industries in the country.

“With the cleaning business, there’s no limit to potential because there’s business everywhere,” said Susan Cashman, who lives in Arnold. “The economy is picking up now. I’m seeing construction and there’s new buildings. That always helps with the growth.”

The cleaning industry is a broad area that includes janitorial, carpet, dry cleaning and laundry services. There were roughly 824,000 workers in the field in 2010, with about 7 percent being self-employed, according to a report at FranchiseHelp.com.

Small companies tend to handle residential cleaning, while larger companies generally handle commercial opportunities and use workers with specialized skills.

It is an area that depends on the economy, since vacancy rates in office spaces and residential incomes are tied to the need for services, the report stated. In Maryland, there are at least a dozen cleaning franchises with investment ranging from $25,000 for ServiceMaster Clean to $75,000 for JunkAway, according to the website.

This year, roughly 8.3 million people will be employed in the franchise industry, a 2 percent increase from the previous year. Quick service and full service restaurants have the largest amount of employees, followed by business services and lodging, according to the International Franchise Association.

“Running a franchise business is no different than running any other business. It takes a lot of hard work,” IFA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison said. “It is something you’re investing in that you’re the owner of a particular unit and you can be part of a very successful brand and you can be part of moving that brand forward. But as with any job and anything worth doing, it is hard work.”

Sue Cashman worked in sales and marketing, while Mark Cashman worked for a printing company that provided stationery for the British Royal family. Their jobs required a great deal of travel, including a stint in England.

They visited Annapolis and wanted to make this their home with more flexible careers. After researching various franchises, they chose Anago.

Telemarketers and the company website puts them in touch with customers. They have 30 franchisees like Anthony Gibson who handle the jobs, largely in the evening. Sometimes he brings his family along.

“I knew I needed a part-time job but this part time job allows me a lot of freedom as far as when I can clean the buildings,” said Gibson, whose tasks largely include shampooing carpets. “This is really a tell-tale industry where if you don’t do the work, it will show. If you’re not cleaning, it will show.”

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