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At the end of last year, the British Cleaning Council revealed that the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) would be relaunching with former chairman Doug Cooke once again at the helm. We caught up with Doug to find out the reasoning for the relaunch.

It was one of the cleaning industry’s oldest and most respected trade associations, but most people thought they’d seen the last of the CSSA when it entered merger talks with Asset Skills, FMA and BIFM in 2013.

But its demise had been greatly exaggerated and now the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) is rising ‘phoenix like’ from the ashes to start afresh.

At its height the CSSA had more than 100 members representing a workforce in excess of 400,000. It was highly regarded and seen as more than just a trade association. Clients saw it as a guide to quality and reliability, and its dedication to training, education and the representation of its members’ interests made it one of the most respected trade organisations in the country.

But membership had begun to dwindle before the merger talks began, and some in the industry thought the CSSA has started to lose its way.

The merger, however, didn’t go ahead as planned, and just before Christmas former Chairman, Doug Cooke, decided to invite some old CSSA members to an informal meeting in London, to take soundings about possibly relaunching.

The outcome of that meeting was highly encouraging, and the decision was taken to put the CSSA show back

36 | Tomorrow’s Cleaning January 2016

on the road. Tomorrow’s Cleaning caught up with Doug Cooke to ask him about the relaunch.

Tomorrow’s Cleaning (TC): Why didn’t the proposed merger go ahead? Doug Cooke (DC): I can’t really go into too much detail, but there was a feeling that the merger wouldn’t be in the best interests of the contract cleaning sector in the long term. There was a growing movement throughout the cleaning and FM industry a couple of years ago for consolidation. In theory it can seem like a good idea, and it does work in some cases, but our sector is highly specialised and needs industry specific representation.

TC: Was that the reason you decided to re-launch the CSSA? DC: In truth the CSSA never really went away. It retained a seat with the British Cleaning Council, and although it did enter merger talks, it didn’t actually disband as an association. As I mentioned, there was a feeling within the industry that contract cleaners needed specialised representation. In the 18 months or so that the CSSA was dormant, I got a lot of messages asking about it, and so I felt there was still enough interest to go ahead with the relaunch.

TC: Who will you be aiming at? DC: It’s aimed squarely at contract cleaning companies, of all sizes, but we’re particularly interested in

attracting start-ups and SME’s, and we’ve lowered the fee structure to ease their path into the association. One of the key issues we want to get away from is the idea that it’s a cosy club for bigger contract cleaners. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want a mixture, but the interest for us is to attract the smaller companies, and help them grow.

TC: What are the benefits of joining? DC: There are a lot of very good reasons to belong to a trade organisation. One of the most important ones is credibility. For an SME, being a member of a national organisation that is recognised by the BCC can be a real advantage when tendering and competing for contracts. The new CSSA will also have a code of practice, which again is useful. We will be getting more involved in areas like lobbying, things like employment regulations, living wage, etc. But one of the best reasons I’ve found for being involved in trade associations is the networking opportunities it offers. And put simply, a company can achieve a lot more in the long term if it is part of a larger professional trade association.

The CSSA is officially launching on 1st February 2016 and any cleaning contractor interested in joining can contact John Findlater at:

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