Freska brings home cleaning to the digital age
Digital innovations have allowed the Finnish company to take the Nordic home cleaning market by storm.
The connection between home cleaning services and digital technology is perhaps not the most obvious one. But Freska, launched in 2015 and operating in Finland, Sweden and Norway, is rapidly transforming the well-established field with an injection of online technologies.
“Home cleaning used to be a fragmented and technologically outdated industry. Freska has centralised and brought cleaning services online,” says Roope Karjalainen, the company’s Finnish country manager.
The firm’s business model in many ways resembles more online subscription services, such as Netflix and Spotify, than traditional home cleaning companies. First, while most firms still expect new customers to call in and request an offer, Freska offers a simple online process for ordering a regular cleaning service.
This gives the company an advantage over some of the more technologically limited competitors: “About 40 per cent of our orders are made at times when other firms’ customer services are closed,” Karjalainen says.
Second, in an industry that has mostly relied on long-term contracts, Freska’s customers are free to pause or discontinue the service at any point. And finally, the company has made sure its pricing is entirely transparent.
“Our philosophy is that if you offer an exceptional service, your customers will want to stay with you,” says Karjalainen “And transparent pricing is part of that high-quality service.”
Evolving consumer habits
The company’s approach therefore suits the growing subscription economy, where consumers are more and more used to paying for subscription services also outside the realm of online entertainment. “Paying a monthly fee for a service is a natural business model online. In our case, we sell a subscription to having a clean home,” Karjalainen says.
The trends around home cleaning services are also changing fast: Karjalainen points out that ordering cleaning is becoming more common also among people without a family or a big house. A typical Freska customer is a 36-year-old woman with children and living in an apartment, but a sizeable portion of the firm’s customers live alone in a studio or a two-bedroom flat.
Currently the company focuses on the Nordic markets, where it aims to expand to new cities in the near future. But its long-term vision is to expand beyond cleaning and eventually become the leading home service provider in Northern Europe.
The figures certainly speak of rapid expansion: the company expects to surpass a turnover of 15 million euros this year, while last year’s total was 10 million euros. In 2020, the firm aims to grow even faster.
Cleaners, the biggest asset
Scaling up at such rate would be a challenge for any company, but perhaps especially so for one that relies heavily on human workforce. Currently the firm has 800 cleaners, and in 2020 it aims to double that number.
Managing a staff of this size is clearly the biggest challenge. “Just making sure that there are enough cleaners and that everyone is at the right place at the right time takes a lot of work,” Karjalainen says. “And on top of that you have to recruit new cleaners at a rate that matches the growing demand.”
Piecing together this complex puzzle is possible thanks to the company’s technology, and Freska continues to invest heavily in its software that manages the cleaners’ shift plans and allows them to easily connect with the firm when necessary.
“The tech allows us to be a people-first company,” Karjalainen says. “It makes it possible to scale up the business without having to hire a massive number of people to deal with the admin.”
Investing in cleaners not only reduces logistical headaches, but it’s also good business practice. “We’ve seen that there is a direct link with customer satisfaction. Happy cleaners tend to have happy customers.”
Text: Teemu Henriksson
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