Cleaning is the solid foundation of good facilities management. No matter what its business, be it healthcare provision, office space, leisure services, retail or catering, a building that has a fit-for-purpose cleaning service makes for a safer and healthier working environment. To balance budgets and improve results, more companies are now outsourcing their cleaning services, but there are some key issues to consider when looking for a contract cleaning provider.
- Understanding and empathy
Knowing what the client wants is a particular skill, and one that is highly relevant in today’s market. Managers need partners that can understand, and in some instances, anticipate what they and their organisations need, and this can only come through practical experience and a hands-on approach. Contract cleaners are now stepping up to the mark by branching into more specialist services, tailored to complement their core skills.
Clients are increasingly looking to their suppliers and service providers to help them keep costs down while still providing the highest possible standards. One solution is to switch from full-time to part-time cleaning operatives. This could mean changing from one operative working eight-hour shifts to more operatives working shorter shifts. This cuts down on National Insurance costs, a saving that can be passed on to the client, but it can also have other benefits. By having more operatives working for shorter periods of time, productivity can be increased as employees are less tired, and fresh pairs of eyes coming on shift more often helps with monitoring and service delivery.
Another aspect to think about is when the cleaning takes place. A switch to daytime cleaning can result in cost savings, as clients are not having to pay the ‘premium’ associated with night-time cleaning, which is effectively an ‘out of hours’ service. For example, it will reduce utility and energy usage, and therefore cost, as lighting will be required for a shorter period of time. But close consideration should be given as to how appropriate daytime cleaning is for the client or location in question. Employees may not welcome cleaning taking place while they are trying to work, and there are both noise and health and safety issues, which could influence whether this is a viable option.
Sustainability is something that is becoming increasingly important across the board, and wider ethical standards are also coming into the mix in relation to cleaning and maintenance provision. Clients now want to be sure that the services they procure fit in with their own corporate social responsibility aims, so cleaning contractors that use energy-efficient equipment and concentrated products that need less packaging and storage facilities on site may be a better fit for your business.
☛ Tony O’Shea is operations director of KGB Cleaning and Support Services