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 Special Report

The critics of cleaning - how does your company rate itself?

If there was a version of the TripAdvisor website for the cleaning industry, how confident are you that your company would achieve glowing reviews? Carl Robinson, marketing manager of cleaning and FM specialist Nviro, outlines the key elements of keeping customers happy.

Stock and servicing

Ensuring that your operatives have the right tools to do the job required of themseems obvious, but it is something that should not be given any less priority because of that. Stock levels of items such as cleaning chemicals andmicrofibre clothsmust be replenished regularly to safeguard service delivery and standards. Consumables are verymuch the lifeblood of a cleaning con- tract and neglecting this fundamental area would be careless to say the least. For contracts delivered in larger build-

The online review has become part and parcel of 21st century life.Whether you tweet, Facebook or blog your congratula- tions or frustrations, companies, organisa- tions and brands are keen to avoid the negative publicity that appears when an un- favourable review goes viral. If there was a ‘Clean Advisor’ website for our sector - based on TripAdvisor - how sure would you be that your contract cleaning company would get five stars or 10-out-of-10 every time? Cleaning has always been a competitive

sector, but it has become evenmore so in the last few years. Faced with unstable eco- nomic conditions - both at home and abroad - our industry has had to adapt to the ‘age of austerity’. As clients start to de- mand we domore with less, revisiting the way we service our customers is a good step to take. No company wishes to receive negative feedback, but there are some ways to reduce the risks of this happening.

Recruitment and retention

In order to deliver the best results you need skilled employees who are going to stick around. Cleaning is not often thought of as a career but it offers a range of benefits and opportunities that prove it should be. Many people start off as an operative be- cause the work is flexible enough to fit in with their lives - enabling students, parents and carers to structure work around their other responsibilities. To ensure that you attract the best possible recruits - and offer thema job that ismuchmore than amere stopgap - it’s important to offer the right conditions and support. Contract cleaning companies expect a

high level of performance fromcleaning staff at all times, so wages should always reflect this aspiration.Where possible, con- tractors should propose to offer a living wage as opposed to the ‘normal’minimum wage. If contractors and clients can work together towards the aimof providing a liv-

26 l C&M l NOVEMBER 2014 l

Carl Robinson, marketing manager at Nviro.

ing wage for employees across the UK, re- tention rates will rise.We have already seen positive results at Nviro as a conse- quence. Training and education can play a big part

in retaining employees, providing clients withmore consistency with regard to serv- ice delivery and results. Employers that give operatives the chance to participate in industry-recognised training schemes - alongside regular, in-house training - are thinking smartly, for the long-term. Such a strategy shows that contract cleaning com- panies are committed to supporting and developing their staff,making employees feel valued. Back this up with the correct style ofmanagement and you are as near to a perfect formula for staff retention as you can be. All cleaning staff should be treated fairly, and recognised for the valu- able work they do - and they need to be managed by trained, experienced people who are capable of gaining respect, and know just how important it is to give re- spect back.


Having supervisors andmanagers on hand to deal with problems before they happen - or react quickly when they do - is essential for both employees and clients. In the eyes of your client, a lack of com-

munication and,most importantly, action, will be viewed with great disdain. The ideal is amanagement teamthat is proactive, alert to any possible issues or problems, and which takes steps to get things back on course before any disruption to services is apparent. Problems, however, sometimes do occur out of the blue, with little warning. In these circumstances, clients need to know they can rely onmanagers to deal with issues swiftly, and keep themupdated every step of the way. A lack of attention and action - perceived or real - is some- thing that is highly likely to provoke nega- tive feedback.

ings, such as schools, offices, retail outlets and hospitals, a certain level ofmachinery will often be required. This could range fromvacuumcleaners, to scrubber dryers, to steamcleaners - and all these need to bemaintained correctly to ensure no breaks in service. Detailed records of serv- icing dates, repairs undertaken or required, and the parts that will need replacement - such as floor polishing pads or brush/mop heads -must be updated regularly, and be easily accessible so that checks can be made.Machinery that is out of action be- cause of servicing or repairs can cause sig- nificant disruption, so a ‘plan b’ should always be in place, which couldmean hir- ing in a substitutemachine, or scheduling servicing/repair work when themachine is not required.

Openness and honesty

The relationship between a contractor and its client is imperative to the success of the service delivered, and professional engage- ment between the two parties is the key to this. Regular efficiency reviews during the lifecycle of a contract are essential for eval- uating service delivery, rating and raising standards, and identifying possible savings in terms ofmoney or the time taken to de- liver the contract. By keeping the lines of communication open, and acting as a part- ner rather than amere supplier or provider, contract cleaning companies can improve customer satisfaction, bring in more business, and retain it. A good example of this is Nviro’s reten-

tion of a contract to clean a wide range of facilities for Isle ofWight council. The new contract is a testament to Nviro’s expertise and the results it has already achieved for the council, having provided cleaning and maintenance services for a large number of its buildings for the last five years. We worked closely with the council dur-

ing the previous five-year contract, holding jointmonthly audits at each site and preparing quarterly KPI reports, where scores consistently exceeded client targets. This performance, plus the fact that we have a highlymobile teamof operatives ready to respond to emergencies or cover unexplained absences, helped us to retain the business. So themessage is clear - take care of your employees, equipment and clients - and the business will take care of itself, with no negative reviews to trouble you.

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