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The Word A sign of the times?

Andrew Large, Chief Executive of the CSSA

These are tough times. Wherever you look there are signs that the much promised austerity is upon us. It’s not just that private jets are

being taxed; inflation has gone up to 4.4% per year, a real erosion of both your savings and the purchasing power of your income. According to Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, real wages are no higher now than they were in 2005.

Inflation presents a huge challenge to businesses. It is a barrier to investment and planning, as it creates uncertainty in the future. It is an indicator of rising costs and also a precursor of increased wage claims from employees seeking to maintain their living standards. Businesses also carry the costs and

risks of re-pricing their own goods and services to take these demands into account. This is especially challenging in such a cost conscious market as cleaning.

“So how then can business plan for these inflationary times?”

The first message is one about costs. Rising inflation is sending a price signal that should drive you to look at what you spend your money on. If your spend on cleaning products is going up and up every month, perhaps now is the time to think about the products you use and the way you use them. Although labour is much the most important part of a cleaning contract, chemical and disposables spend is significant, and it may be that a move to concentrated products or microfiber would make business sense in an inflationary environment.

The second message is that while inflation is a The Cleaning Show – an outsider’s view Matt Anderson, Cradle UK

Having exhibited a number of times at The Cleaning Show, and at many other exhibitions, I found that sitting on the other side of the fence this year strangely calming.

After a couple of months out of the industry, I decided to take a small step back in and get a feel for what has essentially been my home for the last seven years.

I turned up on the Tuesday at midday and met with a cleaning manager that I once did a demo for (years ago). We got talking and I followed him into the show, which I had to admit, was quiet. This was great for me as I could happily spend some time meeting old

acquaintances and browsing the stands without the hassle of dodging past people carrying copious amounts of ‘free stuff.’

After a couple of hours I decided to pop out and grab a coffee. To my amazement the cleaning manager, who I had spoken to on the way in, was leaving. I asked him if he had he seen enough, to which he answered: “There wasn’t a lot to see.”

I spent nearly three days and, to the naked eye, the show may have been quiet and without spark, but look around enough and talk to enough people and what you will find is a number of smaller businesses, almost start ups, with some very exciting products and services. I think the moral here has to be: if you going to any show, and can allocate the day, then do so, as you and your company will gain greater value in the long run.

Lastly, I just wanted to say hello to the father and daughter team on stand C19. These guys had a small stand, no professional literature and, to be honest, not a lot else in terms of pulling you onto their stand. But they always had a small audience and, in some ways, I thought this was what made this year’s show special. The amount of SME willing to take a risk in these harsh financial times!

For those that want to know, the product was called FLUSH1000. I found out, a little later, that Ashgrove Products have agreed to partner them in Europe, so good luck to Jon Horton and his team.

marker of future uncertainty, paradoxically now might be a good time to invest in the future performance of your business.

The Bank of England Base Rate is currently 0.5%. Effectively, with inflation at 4.4% every day your money stays in the bank it loses a little value. As a result, holders of capital are looking for alternative investments that will make a greater return as a hedge against inflation. It may be that your business is just such an investment. Don’t forget as well that banks are not the only sources of money. Equity and business angel investors can also play a role.

Inflation seems to be here to stay, but for those businesses that take a pro-active approach to its impacts on them, it need not cause adversity.

The future of our cleaning industry | TOMORROW’S CLEANING | 19 FEATURE

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