Keeping it in the family

david moncur, tidy green clean’s operations director

Before I joined Tidy Green Clean as Operations Director, I spent ten years as an engineer in the oil & gas industry living and working in Aberdeen. The downturn in the industry a few years ago coincided with two things. Firstly, my sister and her Kiwi husband moved back to Aberdeen from New Zealand and I met my now wife and she lived in Dundee.

My sister’s husband, Andrew, had already started Tidy Green Clean and it was clear things were going to be different with this commercial cleaning business; from the ethics, being employee-centred and having a genuine commitment to environmental principles in the approach to cleaning solutions and technology he was looking at taking.

My own role was less secure, and I wanted to be able to live in Dundee and settle there, rather than be based in an office in the centre of Aberdeen and only be in Dundee evenings and weekends. I knew Andrew had been looking for someone at director level to work with him and I had started to think that it would be a brilliant role for me and a great opportunity on several levels.

It’s not always wise to work with family of course, and I gave that a lot of serious consideration. I discussed it with my wife, to make sure that we could see all the pitfalls, as well as all the advantages. My sister and I have always got on, and Andrew’s great. We’re quite different in some ways but very similar in others, which means we can work collaboratively and independently. When it comes to seeing employees as the centre of Tidy Green Clean and, recognising the values we espouse are pivotal to the way we deliver our services to clients, we’re completely on the same page.

Andrew was delighted to bring me on board, and we’ve used everything to our advantage. My location in Dundee has given us a second centre for the business, which is essential as we continue to expand through our Regional Director master franchisees.

It’s been an amazing journey so far. My engineering background meant that taking up the role of Operations Director made sense. I work on the day-to-day business, ensuring jobs are staffed, sickness cover is arranged, paying the bills, doing the long-range planning and so on. I also act as CFO, so I manage the money to ensure the business is thriving and performing as it should. Andrew is involved in business development and client services, making sure the business is both sustainable and growing.

A typical day would be getting caught up with messages and emails from the night before. Then I look at the operational systems. Is everything running smoothly? Any there any issues we need to address? In the afternoon I look at our numbers, our systems, checking what’s gone out this week and so on. I spend two days a week going around customers sites to check that things are OK. For me, this is really important. When clients see us walking around the building checking things are being delivered properly, that makes an impact.

Our customer care is really a big part of a job. We regularly get in touch and we make phone calls to check things are going as they should. It means we can address any problems clients or staff might have at a site and we make sure we fix those things because small issues can become huge if they’re left too long.

This is really good for our staff. I can speak to them and address any problems they might have with the job, with holidays and so on. Quite often, our work is done at night, so I need to visit during the day and the evening to make sure that both employees and clients are happy and that the job is being done.

Together Andrew and I manage the franchisees and look after them, allowing them to manage their clients, and that’s progressing well. When we were recognised in the EF100 for 2020, that was amazing; it’s a further demonstration of everything we’re trying to achieve.

Technology has been a game-changer for our business, partly due to the grant that we applied for and received from Scottish Enterprise to get our Time and Attendance software off the ground. It’s a really good example of how well we work together because developing that software has been a real journey and is one of the reasons clients want to work with us. We’re constantly feeding back on how it can be improved. Andrew led the charge for its development, while I use it the most; it’s a real partnership and a business-critical system that drives our business on and on.

We have really good systems in place; we’ve faced setbacks and we’ve overcome them together. I’ve been involved for about four years and the business is going from strength to strength. Securing the ISO accreditations has been an absolute necessity. The green, ethical elements are imperative and client businesses are looking for that. It means we can help larger companies comply with their own environmental rules on pollution for example. We use mopping systems that use small volumes of water, small electrical use appliances, plant-based solutions, and a living wage approach in partnership with clients – all of that resonates significantly with many people we work with.

Business owners are meant to work on their business, not in their business. I’m excited that because of our partnership and the approach we’ve taken, our business is now at the stage where we very nearly do that. Working with my brother-in-law has actually been the best decision I have ever made and it’s a great thing to see that, although we don’t overtly position Tidy Green Clean as a family business, it’s the family relationships that have been an underlying reason for our success.

David Moncur, Tidy Green Clean’s Operations Director
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