PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW Co-chaired by Lord Blunkett and Lord Pickles, The Parliamentary Review is an independent publication that highlights best practice across a wide range of industry sectors in the UK. DOC Cleaning, who held a Royal Warrant for ten years as a result of their work with the Royal Household, was one of twelve companies invited to appear in the Review’s Industrial Strategy section.

Lee Andrews, CEO of DOC Cleaning, shares his views on the recent progress made in the commercial cleaning industry, as well as the challenges it faces over the next few years.

On technology in the cleaning industry

The cleaning industry has come on leaps and bounds in the last ten years, breaking through to become a sector that can justifiably call itself technologically enabled. Floors are scrubbed by robotic machines, equipment assets are tracked via the internet of things and, most importantly, management software has worked its way into every aspect of our business from rostering, attendance monitoring and quality auditing through to e-trading, staff training and client portals.

The welcome effect of this is that, as contractors, we are now better able to control overheads, deliver improved client service and provide regular performance data, which in turn is causing clients to view contractors more professionally.

Like many contractors, at DOC we now run our key business processes on business management software developed specifically for the industry. More recently we have gone one step further and applied smartphone technology to one of cleaning’s greatest challenges – how to engage effectively with frontline staff who work remotely, outside normal office hours and often alone or with just a few colleagues present.

On supporting clients’ objectives and brand image

When asked what incumbent contractors can do to improve their


chances of winning a contract at re- tender, a facilities manager once said that during the term of their existing contract they need to communicate what they are doing and show the value they are providing.

Our strategy at DOC is to support our FMs in a professional and collaborative way. Working with us, they can expect reliable support on key issues such as staff vetting, training, legislative compliance, use of technology, disaster recovery planning, co-operation with other contractors, open book contract reviews and KPIs.

We also believe very strongly in our role of enhancing our clients’ image or brand. Many of them have both domestic and international audiences, be they visitors to a museum or business people working in city offices.

On key challenges facing the cleaning industry

On the one hand, recruitment of frontline staff is becoming more difficult as the ramifications of Brexit on immigration threaten to constrict our industry’s traditional labour pipeline. On the other, cleaning is still perceived as a low-skilled industry with little appeal as a place to develop a career.

Despite it being an increasingly technical industry, there is no clearly defined training path leading to a single, respected international qualification to which young people can aspire. The industry has found it difficult to create something as simple as an apprenticeship standard against which the Apprenticeship Levy can be drawn down. Infuriatingly, the excellent industry- tailored training systems being developed by private providers are all excluded from government funding.

Our ambition therefore, is to influence, where we can, the powers that be to promote a new perception of cleaning as an industry that provides a critical service – one where people with the right attitude can obtain recognised qualifications and rise through the ranks to become proud members of an industry that, quite frankly, the world cannot live without.

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