In 2009, Anton and Rune had an idea – to completely change the way of booking and delivering property-maintenance services. Today, these two individuals own a multi-service franchise company that successfully operates on three continents.

We sat down with our co-founder Anton Skarlatov to speak about his biggest successes and the challenges he faced as a young entrepreneur.

Tell us more about your career path? 

My passion for business started very early in life. In elementary school, I was already taking my first entrepreneur steps. During the summer holidays, I sourced different products and re-sold them for a profit. I would involve all the children in the neighbourhood to collect the products and then offer them on the nearest market. Back then, I didn’t think of it as a business, rather as a way to earn some money. 

The moment I truly discovered my passion for business was when my uncle, who was running a merchant company, gave me my first business book. It was Richard Branson’s autobiography. This book opened my mind further towards business.

When it comes to education, as a student, my favourite subjects were maths and computing. That’s why my next step was to get a degree in Microelectronics. I was good at it, but I felt something was missing, so I changed my course to Corporate Finance. 

Years after successfully running companies and three years after establishing Fantastic Services, I felt the urge to improve my managing and leadership skills. I applied at the Birkbeck University of London and this time I chose the right course for me – Interpersonal and business communication. This program opened new horizons, it gave me a vision on how to grow and successfully lead a company with 500 people in-house staff and over 530 franchisees.

What did you learn from the global economic crisis in 2008?

In 2008, I was running a small, 3-year-old company with about 25 employees. My biggest client back then was Lehman Brothers. 

I remember it as it was yesterday. It was in October. I went home, I switched on the TV and the news presenter shot the golden goose – Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. There was a huge financial crisis coming our way. The next day, the office was so quiet, there were no calls at all. At this moment, I realised I would never put all my eggs in one basket again. 

I learnt my lesson and when we established Fantastic Services with Rune Sovndahl, our main focus was to attract mostly domestic customers. COVID-19 proved this to be the right move. During the lockdown period, when all offices and business buildings shut down, we kept operating with nearly 70% capacity, thanks to the large domestic customer base we had built over the last decade.  

Can you reveal one secret to the success of Fantastic Services?

We call it the Copenhagen agreement. I and Rune Sovndahl committed to investing 80% of all profit back into the business. I must tell you that it wasn’t easy in the first three to four years. But what kept us going was that we didn’t want to run a company that misses half of the opportunities but its owners drive expensive cars and live in fancy properties. The 20/80 system has also helped us prioritise our investments, based on service performance. We agreed on a system to re-invest most of our money into the most profitable services. 

How did you meet Rune Sovndahl (Fantastic Services’ co-founder)? 

We met at a dinner party, just like couples do. The reason I’m making this comparison is that I believe business partnerships are like marriages, and the company symbolises the child. You have to take care of your kid, grow and nourish it together. And just like in a marriage – divorces can be very expensive, hurtful and without any winners. 

I and Rune have had moments full of love and months of not talking to each other, but the one thing that always keeps us together is upbringing our child, named Fantastic Services. 

Today, our partnership is stronger than ever. We’re united in our mission, intentions and goals. To have a healthy and productive partnership has tremendously helped us run the company towards success.  

Have you been impacted by COVID-19 regarding taking the business forward? 

COVID-19 just proved our business unbreakable. It determined that Fantastic Services is here to stay. 

Due to the pandemic, we had to scrape some of the most essential developments we were working on. Luckily, this hasn’t hurt the business. Just on the contrary – it only made us more focussed on what’s important and led us to a new level of excellence. The coronavirus outbreak forced us to rapidly develop and launch new, more lucrative sub-services, which turned out to be a great success. 

Where is Fantastic Services operating now?

Our headquarters are in the UK but we also have offices in the USA, Australia and Bulgaria which, I believe, makes us international to some level. However, what truly makes us an international company are our vision and goals. We’re in the middle of a colossal global expansion, currently negotiating with Master franchise candidates in five new countries. I believe that’s just the beginning. Our goal is to expand our franchise to 40 countries in the next 5 years.

Could you explain the process of becoming a franchisee?

We pride ourselves on transparency which entails a personal approach to each candidate.

Our dedicated franchise advisors discuss the opportunity with the candidates, explain our franchise model and encourage them to ask questions. I also have personal meetings with all potential Area development and Master franchisees. They come to our office and are introduced to the whole senior team. For me, it’s very important to make sure we all share the same vision. In order to build a strong network, all franchise partners need to have the right attitude and ambition for growth. Our plan is to help 1000 franchisees build a business worth over £1,000,000. 

What does a person need to become a successful franchisee?

The best part of our business model is that anyone can be successful. How we measure success is a different story. I would say that with the Fantastic Services franchise, everyone can reach their personal goals and there’s only one way to do so – just following the system. 

What are the costs of becoming a franchisee?

I don’t think there’s a cost of becoming a franchisee! All Area Developers and Master franchisees acquire a territory that has the potential to grow and it can only increase its value with the years passing by. 

The marketing spend at Fantastic Services has a very high ROI and each £1 brings a minimum of £1.1 back. This has always been a strategy in marketing. Also, we would never let a franchisee pay thousands of pounds for a TV ad and get no return. Instead, we would help them find the most efficient advertising channel. Using our advanced software can measure each channel’s success rate by monitoring the interactions between a customer and our brand. 

What about the support staff?

We have over 500 in-house employees who support our franchisees daily. Those include 48 IT specialist gurus and 80 marketing experts. They’re all united by the same mission – to help our franchisees grow their business. I don’t think there are many franchisors in the world, who have such big and strong office support. Reaching 1000 franchisees with million-pound businesses needs heavy investment, after all.

What does leadership mean for you?

My interpersonal and business communication degree has helped me to find the right tools to lead, empower and bring the best out of people. However, my experience is what gave me the most valuable lesson – Once you have a clear mission, things begin to come into focus and the success is granted. Leadership is an easy game when you know where you’re going and you successfully intercommunicate your direction to others. 

What separates Fantastic Services from its competitors? 

I must say, I’ve never looked at my competitors as threats. The property-maintenance market is quite big and still, there’s no established leader we can compete with. I’m glad to see many of our developments implemented by other companies later on. This can only prove our great power and leadership in innovation, technology, marketing and sales. 

I believe that understanding your client’s needs is essential. A customer seeks one thing and that’s simplicity. Every single technology development we make moves us closer and closer to our goal – to make each customer’s life simpler. 

What are the core values of Fantastic Services?

Since day one, we have a set-in-stone philosophy that we go back to every time it gets tough. The idea behind our 360-degree-happiness philosophy is that we treat everyone the same. While many franchise companies are still trying to find their hierarchical way, we’ve made sure everyone has the same chance to grow and develop both professionally and personally. 

We promise our clients quality service and more time with their family and friends. This is what got us from 0 to over 50,000 Fantastic Club members. 

We promise our franchisees a proven, profitable and pain-free partnership and we now enjoy a network of over 530 franchisees. 

We promise our employees the freedom to grow in a unique culture of empowerment and grow together.  

But it’s not all about promises. It is about keeping them. 

What business objectives you’ve set for the next years? 

We have been profitable since day one and we managed to sustain this without external capital, which I believe shows a significant business strength. In the next five years, we are aiming to have over 200 000 active members and 1 000 000 bookings per month. This is all part of our Area Development and Master franchise one-page plan. This plan keeps our long-term focus synced up with daily decision making across all departments. 

If you could improve Fantastic Services’ business model what would you do?

The improvement has to start from the top. Fine-tuning leadership skills is one of the most important business investments you’ll ever make. Because the best leader is not the one who does great things but the one who gets people to do great things. I and Rune have never stopped learning, attending seminars and working with great coaches to improve our self-development and personalities. 

Part of our plan is bringing the 4P’s into our long-term strategy where the Planet, People, Profit and Prosperity work hand in hand. 

Do you want to be part of our Fantastic Family and run a thriving business in the property-maintenance industry? Explore our franchise opportunities!

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  • Last update: March 5, 2021

Posted in Fantastic Family