We all have a responsibility to the planet and sustainability is increasingly an issue in all of our daily lives, both personally and professionally. Certain issues about eco friendly cleaning and eco cleaning products have become the popular understandings of cleaning sustainability and these issues, although probably once with some foundation, are no longer true and it’s time to consign them to history.

They cost more

Once a cleaning organisation starts to measure its true costs (through costs in use) and stops measuring by price alone then a reasoned debate can be held about the relative costs of various inputs such as cleaning chemicals. It is true that non eco cleaning products on average have slightly lower price points however the value story goes much deeper than that.

If we look at the situation holistically, eco cleaning products can provide a greater economic benefit than traditional chemical cleaners because they reduce labour costs and protect surfaces and buildings over time.

Chemical cleaning products are only effective during the few seconds of actual cleaning. Following cleaning, the surfaces start to become soiled again, requiring more frequent cleaning leading to higher labour costs and more chemical usage.

Eco cleaning products have beneficial bacteria that continue to breakdown soiling on the surface area after cleaning, leading to less frequent applications and all cleaned areas look cleaner for longer.

They don’t work as well

It has long been thought by many that eco friendly cleaning products are not as effective as traditional cleaning chemicals.

Let’s cut to the chase. Both eco friendly cleaning products and non eco friendly ones use chemicals that are effective. The difference is that non eco friendly cleaning products use manufactured chemicals that occur naturally in our environment whereas traditional cleaning chemicals are formulated in a lab. Most traditional cleaning chemical cocktails have formulated surfactants which helps to disperse dirt and grime. These surfactants however do not naturally break down and cause problems further down the line when they are washed away with waste water. The natural surfactants in eco friendly cleaning products degrade naturally once discarded. So cleaning efficacy is powerful and comparable with eco friendly products with the added sustainability advantages.

Eco friendly cleaning products are a great area of innovation and new ideas are being brought to market all the time such as foam spray heads on dispensers for exact dosing, reducing over use and cost.

They are not backed by research or standards

Eco friendly cleaning products are no longer a niche area for small altruistic start-up businesses. The big manufacturers have realised that there are large future markets for these products and are starting to invest heavily in research and development. This means that today’s eco friendly cleaning products are probably some of the most advanced cleaning agents available in terms of research investment.

Industry standards are progressing as well to take into account the whole lifecycle of the products including transport and packaging. This new standard “cradle to cradle” is what to look out for to guarantee real sustainable credentials.

In short, pre-conceived ideas need to be updated, eco friendly commercial cleaning can be cheaper with more advanced well researched products, delivering comparable cleaning performance and a sustainable future for us all.

New Call-to-action

What is agile working?

Agile working is a way of working using a range of work protocols that allow commercial cleaning services teams and organisations to make broader choices about when, where and how they work. It leverages mobile connectivity and can be harnessed by people working both on site and away from the traditional office locations, such as people’s homes, on the road or remotely in other sites.

What are the benefits?

Improved cleaning team productivity

Cleaning services teams have been properly trained, are provided with the right equipment and commercial cleaning supplies and the appropriate work program for the task in hand.

Better team working and collaboration

Teams working in an agile way across multiple sites rather than a specific work area, means there is more dialogue and integration. This enables teams to build up mutually supportive collaborative relationships vertically within organisations, which increases information sharing, trust, better planning, feedback loops and innovation.

Improved business continuity

Often productive working time is lost because of logistical challenges, and infrastructure delays. Commercial cleaning services teams can be equipped to work anywhere allowing a more flexible way of working which is less dependent on location. This increases productive work time when challenges occur.

Staff benefits leading to higher staff retention and well being

When commercial cleaning services teams work in an agile way, staff are often happier as they work life balance can be improved and everyday stresses and strains such as commuting can be reduced. It is important that teams do not have total disconnection with their colleagues and so remote working is often complimented by regular meet ups.

Agile resource relocation

An agile mobile connected workforce can deliver their resource in a new location with far less cost when change is required as only people are moving rather than physical resources connected to a location such as desks and fixed technology.

Rapid cost management

As people costs are the largest component of cleaning services budgets, agile working regimes allow scaling of staff numbers to be more flexible, leading increased labour cost efficiency.

More efficient management of space

Buildings see better space utilisation, empowering staff to work away from the office. This reduces the need for building space. This ultimately leads to more people needing less space which can deliver opportunities of consolidation, asset realisation and cost saving.

The drivers of mobile connectivity, facilities management software, and a scare and changing labour market are prompting commercial cleaning services leaders to re-consider how they organise their cleaning operations. Agile working maybe something to consider however it requires a significant working practice and cultural change for most organisations.

For more guidance, the BIFM has published a new guide – Agile Working Change Management Guidance Note

Download our Winter Maintenance Advice leaflet here

Customer turnover for facilities management companies is very high. It costs a lot to find new customers, so here are three things to think about when trying to keep and re-contract with the customers you already have.

Partnerships

Share the burden of serving the customer and maintaining standards. Your business will probably have exacting service and quality standards which will be a big factor as to why your customers chose you in the first place. The key to customer retention through maintaining those standards, is to find partners that share your quality and service goals and can be relied upon to deliver their part of the service.

Don’t see the elements of your service that you rely upon third parties for, as just supplier relationships. Demand more. Bind your partners into your service and make them just as responsive and responsible to your end clients as you are. There is a huge range of service levels available from suppliers to facilities management companies, so make sure that you chose one who controls their whole operation including sourcing and distribution and who is prepared to go the extra mile for your client. Ask them to demonstrate how they have done this in the past.

Data, dash-boarding and reporting

These days with digital systems prevailing and software arriving that can give real insights, all facilities management companies should be on top of data, dashboards and reporting.

If you are constantly showing to your client how your service is performing in line with their expectations, they will have an ongoing memory of good performance and achievement rather than having to recap when renewal time comes around. If you have to go through a procurement process anyway, the data you have collected will be unique to you and will be able to show how you have outperformed against aspiring competitors.

Constantly Innovate

One of the biggest dangers in service contracts for facilities management companies is becoming complacent and stale. Whenever a new challenge arrives don’t try and avoid it seeing it as extra work, try and share it and come up with innovative solutions. Things will not be constant throughout a service contract so always have the flexibility to adapt to a changing need. Again, this is an area where your partners can help. Take a cleaning products supplier for example, new and innovative products are arriving all the time so make sure the information is being passed on to you and your clients. Hold product demonstrations sessions and gather feedback from your teams. With really difficult challenges you want a supplier who is capable of coming up with bespoke solutions, again demonstrating they can go the extra mile.

For facilities management companies, retaining hard won clients is more about what you do outside of the strict letter of the contract than the standard commitments. Make sure you share your customers challenges and innovate solutions in conjunction with your partners and all should be well for a smooth renewal.

New Call-to-action

Hope House Cake Sale CertificateOn the 28th March, employees at Arrow’s head office in Shrewsbury took part in an “Eat Cake” event in order to raise money for local charity, Hope House.

Star bakers from the company came forward and made a wide variety of cakes which were available for staff to purchase throughout the day. From carrot cake to cupcakes, there was something for everyone. In total, £215 was raised with all proceeds going to Hope House / Ty Gobaith.

Hope House / Ty Gobaith is a local charity based in Oswestry and Conwy that runs two Children’s hospices and provides care and support for children with terminal illnesses, including their parents and family. They offer a range of services including respite and end of life care at the hospices or within the family home as well as counselling support. The support service is available 24 hours a day for 365 day of the the year and includes physical, psychological and spiritual care from a team with experiences doctors, nurses and other care professionals. For me information, please visit www.hopehouse.org.uk 

Following the success of the “Eat Cake” event, Sam Blackledge, Insight Director at Arrow County Supplies who helped organise the sale, comments: “It’s really important to give back to the community and especially to those in need, that’s why charities such as Hope House need to be supported for the services that they offer”.

PPE or Personal protection equipment (to give it its full title) is an essential part of cleaning operations with PPE clothing offering protection to staff, clients and visitors and the environment. If PPE suppliers advise correctly, they can bring significant benefits to your overall cleaning operations.

One might imagine that the development of PPE equipment is limited, as this product area has been around a long time and most products must be quite mature? Well think again, new trends are emerging offering new benefits to users.

Ergonomics

PPE covers a broad range of products, from rubber gloves to firefighter’s safety kit. In cleaning operations, the most common items used at work are safety boots, hi-vis clothing, other protective clothing (e.g. chemical protective clothing and gloves), respiratory protective equipment (RPE), and hearing defenders.

With the increasing need to wear PPE clothing of this type for many tasks there are disadvantages for users including: –

– additional physical strains on the wearer (including heat strain)

– impairment of a wearer’s ability to carry out their work efficiently

– significant levels of discomfort

Any of these can discourage wearers from using PPE correctly, therefore placing them at risk of injury, ill-health or, under extreme circumstances, death.

Good ergonomic design can help to minimise these downsides and therefore help to ensure safe and healthy working conditions through the correct use of PPE.

Talk to your staff about what works for them and is comfortable. Select your PPE clothing not only on price or its ability to protect but also on ergonomic design features. Choose your PPE suppliers on the basis that they can advise you on innovative solutions to your cleaning team needs. This will help to keep your cleaning teams happy

Lightweight materials

Innovations in the area of materials science are constantly reducing the weight of materials which reduce energy requirements for transport and trim production costs. For your cleaning teams this can mean that their PPE clothing can get lighter and lighter and be more comfortable to wear yet offering the same or increased level of protection.

When looking at selecting PPE clothing, look at the specifications sheet and compare weights of clothing. Selecting equipment build with modern innovative materials can increase user satisfaction and reduce storage space requirements.

Improved barrier protection

As with the weight of materials, innovation is leading to the creation of more effective barrier materials in PPE clothing. These developments mean you can broaden the range of protection that your giving your cleaning teams and site users. This is often now not just looking at creating a barrier for the immediate risk of exposure to, for example a caustic substance, but also the longer term effects of exposure such as potential carcinogens.

Select your PPE suppliers carefully finding one who can offer innovative advice and who can demonstrate they are up to speed with the latest product knowledge to help the broad needs of your organisation and the protection and efficiency of your cleaning teams.

New Call-to-action

For the latest selection of innovative Personal Protection Equipment – visit our web shop here

Cleaning services and facilities management contracts are hard to win and easy to lose.

It is reported that cleaning companies lose around 55% of their client base each year due to poor service. One of the big problems within the industry is that good work goes unnoticed but if something goes wrong it’ll be picked up immediately.*

Customers re-signing or extending contracts because they are happy, can save large investments in marketing and sales to win new revenue and improve overall profitability. Many cleaning services operations can get stuck in their ways with standards gradually eroded over time, spotting the early signs of failings can rescue the situation before it becomes serious.

Reflect the views of your customer’s customer

When entering and managing contracts for cleaning services try and understand how your customers will be measured and align yourself with their benchmarks. For example, ask them to share their customer satisfaction ratings so that when any issues arise you are able to deliver solutions quickly to issues that reflect your service levels. Being in tune with your customers performance is probably the single most important factor in keeping your customer happy.

Get fresh eyes on the job

It is easy to become complacent and for staff to overlook small items of sub-standard activity. A small pile of untidy refuse in a storage area, or untidy or dirty uniforms for example. Every so often have a fresh pair of eyes review your site, someone unconnected and unfamiliar with the facility. They will spot things that others will not be able to see and give insights as to where standards are slipping but not being picked up. This is best done confidentially in a mystery shopper way. Make sure the outcome is an actionable report.

Handle the big incident with intensity

Many contracts for cleaning services are won or lost as a result of a single incident that comes to the attention of a senior stakeholder and decision maker. Now all facilities will have something sizeable go wrong at some stage, it’s almost inevitable, it’s how you react that counts. As soon as you become aware of something that has come to the attention of senior stakeholders, react by openly recognising the problem, apologising for the failure and taking responsibility for fixing the issue and preventing re-occurrence. If this is done in an open and transparent way it takes pressure of your working day to day contacts and demonstrates your highly responsive service levels to senior teams when mistakes occur.

Spotting and addressing service issues at the earliest opportunity is probably the single most important factor in retaining your customers so always be on the front foot.

New Call-to-action

* Cleantech innovation

Facilities Management Software

Facilities management software is already becoming the next big innovation in the management of buildings and estates. Essentially, these software packages manage and automate repetitive tasks saving time and expense. Because they take action instantly and automatically, they can create other savings such as reducing stocking levels by automatic cleaning supplies ordering, or overseeing the tasking and deployment of staff. The broad category of facilities management software breaks down into more distinct areas; computer-aided facility management (CAFM), including computerised maintenance management software (CMMS), enterprise asset management (EAM) and integrated workplace management systems (IWMS). If you haven’t researched this area before it’s probably wise to start as there is only one way for this technology and that’s up.

Automatic Sanitising dispensers

Some of the best innovative ideas are often the simplest. A number of manufacturers (Purehold being one) have created new pull door handles that automatically dispense sanitising gel when touched. This not only manages the efficient usage of sanitiser through accurate dosing (saving cost of over use), it also leads to better compliance with hygiene procedures in areas where hygiene standards are critical such as healthcare, or labs and catering areas in Universities and Colleges. This is a great way to effectively reduce the cost of hygiene cleaning supplies.

Customer Satisfaction Monitors

Now increasingly used in large retail chains for customer satisfaction. Facilities managers could use a stand with an electronic device that enables real-time feedback and opinions on the level of cleanliness at the facilities. These could be invaluable to Facilities Managers and Facilities Management Companies to independently monitor service levels direct from the user. They may not save you money in the short term, but being able to evidence high service levels will help seal new business in the future.

Green products that save you money

It is a common misconception that the cost of sustainable cleaning is higher than traditional solutions. With modern innovative products, this is no longer the case. This is because these products are increasingly popular and their scale of production has increased. They use only naturally occurring chemicals and so the cost of manufacture can often be lower. In addition, clever practical dosing systems are used which manage usage more efficiently. If you try one innovation in cleaning supplies this year make it sustainable products that save you money.

Bespoke solution design

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could everything especially made for us exactly how we want it? Well that may not be possible for everything but when it comes to particular needs for specific applications bespoke solutions are no longer a thing of dreams. Reduced production costs in almost all areas such as 3D printing mean it’s possible to have exactly the right solution tailor made for you if that’s what’s needed to get the job done. See the ABM Client Success Story where a novel bespoke solution allowed a busy shopping centre undergoing maintenance keep compliant despite the challenges of ongoing construction work.

New Call-to-action

We would like to send out a huge thank you to everyone that visited our Arrow County Supplies stand at the London Cleaning Show in March and for taking part in our “Unlock the Box” competition to win an Apple Watch.

London Cleaning Show Competition Winner Richard SergeantThe competition was simply to enter your automatically generated code into the padlocked box in the hope that it would unlock to allow you to claim the Apple Watch as your prize. Entrants were invited prior to the event to get their code and visitors could also register on our stand. It was a great draw for the crowd!

We have had a very hectic period after such a fantastic event for us that it has taken until now to announce the winner! Our congratulations go to Richard Sergeant from St. Andrew’s Healthcare who had the winning code of 9777.

Unfortunately, Richard didn’t make it to the event which meant the watch was not won on the stand, so we took it to him instead! Our National Account Manager, Laurie Devenish took a dedicated trip to present Richard with the Watch after the event. We hope he enjoys it!

It was our first time attending the London Cleaning Show, demonstrating our expertise in cleaning, hygiene and janitorial supplies to a wide range of visitors and after such a successful event, we cannot wait for Manchester Cleaning Show in March 2018. Hope to see you there!

The maintenance of a motivated and consistent workforce is probably one of the biggest challenges in commercial cleaning services. The quality and reliability of your cleaning teams will flow through directly to your customer service levels and consequently the performance and reputation of your stakeholders.

The UK cleaning industry relies on migrant labour more heavily than other economic sectors, with 24% of workers having a non-UK nationality, compared to the average of 18% across other industries and so with Brexit underway, the marketplace for good cleaning resources is likely to get tougher.

Now is the time to invest in your current workforce to improve retention of your existing teams by increasing their motivation.

Share good news and pass on feedback both good and not so good

The reward felt by the frontline workforce when not only your customers are satisfied, but their customers are delighted, cannot be underestimated when this is passed on. Make sure there is a regular channel for feedback to the cleaning teams. Do not be afraid to share feedback that requires improvement as long as this is done in a way that allows teams to address these suggestions and measurably improve. These feedback loops empower teams and make them feel more influential on service levels delivered.

Open up multiple communication channels

It is essential that frontline staff can feel that they have many ways of communicating throughout your organisation. Often, they are confined to their line management and this may make them feel intimidated if they want to raise important issues. An open line to HR and even senior management is never a bad thing

Formal appraisals and feedback sharing

A well run regular appraisal process is not only valuable to your company for identifying talent, improving standards and ensuring remuneration levels are correct, it also serves as a motivator for staff if done well. Cleaning staff can express their aspirations and set their development plans not only to address required improvements but to develop and improve skills through training or mentoring helping them to meet their own personal goals.

Re-enforce growth and development

Richard Branson famously said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. In commercial cleaning services, there is a wealth of training and development on offer that will allow your people to meet their objectives. Growth and development needs to become continuously part of your culture as an organisation, not just something you think about at an annual appraisal.

Consider paying loyalty bonuses

With increased competition for good people comes increased risk. Think about loyalty bonuses for 5 year and 10 year anniversaries or extra holiday days after a number of years of service. These can often prove very difficult for staff to give up if they consider moving.

Give your staff the best tools and supplies

Cleaning is not an easy job at the best of times but trying to achieve good results with substandard equipment, poor and outdated systems or inferior and ineffective cleaning chemicals and cleaning supplies will only demoralise and demotivate the teams. Keep up to date with innovations that improve their performance and working practices.

Regular events and get togethers

Sharing is caring. Arrange regular meetings where overall business objectives and performance can be shared and encourage staff contribution via Q&As sessions or contributed suggestion slips. There is nothing like getting together with colleagues and discussing issues that can often be resolved between staff members collectively without troubling management groups. Encourage a dialogue through more relaxed formats rather than one way presentations.

Your greatest asset in commercial cleaning services is your labour force so treating it with skill and support is vital. The economic benefits are also compelling with happier customers being prepared to recommend you to new business opportunities based on the high consistent service levels you can achieve.

New Call-to-action

Victoria Griffiths Head of ProcurementWe are very proud to announce the appointment of Victoria Griffiths as our new Head of Procurement.

Victoria’s primary focus area will be the management of the purchasing arm of the company with large focus on economies of scale, continuous improvement and sourcing quality goods for their customers.

Victoria has worked within the purchasing environment for over 17 years, starting out as a Buyer for own label and branded household disposable manufacturer, CeDo. Working at CeDo for over six years, Victoria broadened her purchasing experience eventually obtaining the position of UK Supply Manager at the company, where she was responsible for all supply related inputs to a spend of approximately £25 million per annum.

From here Victoria moved to PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity, where she held the position of Contracts and Procurement Manager for 10 years. Leading the implementation and development of PDSA’s procurement strategy, Victoria ensured supporter funds were maximised through the implementation of cross functional spend to achieve internal efficiencies.

We are very pleased to have Victoria on board. With a wealth of procurement knowledge and experience, Victoria will be a great asset to the Arrow County Supplies team.