What does the future hold for the cleaning industry? New products? New services? All innovations should ultimately be driven by an end customer (meaning the public) need, but what do they really want?

In a recent survey*, members of the public located across the United Kingdom looked at public perceptions of cleaning and the cleaning industry.

The good news

100% of people think that cleaning is essential and not only protects us from infections but gives us a sense of well-being. A clean workplace is happier, more productive, and gives a better impression to visitors and clients. This fundamental importance of a cleaned environment is often forgotten and not regularly recognised. Suggestion: Regularly remind staff and clients/visitors that cleaning is important and celebrate success.

The public have a view on innovation, for example 78% of participants believe that “machinery is more effective than a mop”. This means that public perception is not only swayed by results (66% said that effectiveness is the single most important aspect when designing cleaning equipment or services) but also how those results are achieved. Suggestion: Keep colleagues and the public informed on your use of innovative solutions. For example, hold demonstrations for colleagues on the effectiveness of new machines or when seeking feedback start off by saying “These floors are cleaned by the latest cleaning machine technology, if you have suggestions for improvements please contact us”.

Image is important. 51% of those surveyed would prefer to see cleaners in branded uniforms. Although not completely decisive on dress, the “brand” of cleaning operations will be reflected in everything they do, particularly those in operation during normal business hours. Suggestion: Encourage staff members to feel proud of their work through positive feedback and educate how this is reflected in everything they do, including their appearance. This association with achievement can only serve to increase productivity and satisfaction.

Room for improvement

34% of the public never talked to a cleaner at work yet 72% said that cleaning makes them feel satisfied. This in our view is a bit disappointing. Increasingly cleaning staff overlap with the working hours of other functions and clients or visitors. A big majority of those surveyed reported that cleaning makes them feel good and presumably the better the cleaning the better they feel. The disconnection between these two statistics feels like an opportunity lost for positive re-enforcement to cleaning staff in particular. Suggestion: Encourage visitors and customers to give their feedback and directly where possible. Maybe notices when cleaning is in operation that request “Let me know if doing a good job” or “How was my cleaning today?” alongside safety notices could prompt more engagement.


All in all the signs are good. Cleaning is appreciated by end users and they have positive views on how this should be done. Embracing innovation is seen as progressive and worthwhile and identifying and engaging with end users, particularly to gather their feedback could be really positive. Capturing the feel-good-factor can bring encouraging results in terms of end user satisfaction and staff morale and retention.

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Nearly all organisations are looking for cost reductions, asking the question how can we do more for less? These efficiency requirements may move from department to department but at some time the spotlight will inevitably fall on cleaning operations. It is better to be prepared for when this happens. This article offers some practical tips to see how efficiency savings can be made.

  1. Preparation

Thinking well in advance of deadlines allows more open and creative thinking to solve problems. So, set aside some time each week and capture your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to be radical and to think the “unthinkable”, you are not making decisions at this stage. Look at the payback of each option over a long period. Quite often, tactical savings cannot be sustained over the long term. Match the ability to implement any change to its long-term benefits and make sure any changes considered align within the overall strategy of your organisation.

  1. Look at your organisational structure

Being forced to consider change can be a great time to re-organise how you deliver services. Look at all the functions you provide and work out whether there are benefits in re-organisation. Look for duplication and consider whether parts of your service could be better outsourced or insourced. Look at your management structure to make sure that the workload is being shared equally with the right levels of training and ability to get the best out of the teams.

  1. Be a smarter buyer

Instead of focusing on the price of a supply of products and materials as a tactical saving opportunity, take a long hard look at value. It is often the case that products and suppliers can deliver increased value over price. For example, does your supplier work with you to recommend efficiency savings or new innovative solutions to help you with your challenges? If not, find one that does, as this constant care and support is invaluable. Perhaps look for a supplier who will assess and challenge the way you currently do things and recommend overall savings. Products too that are right for the job, can often reduce consumption and cost.

  1. Negotiate good terms

Having selected a supplier that offers a fully supportive ongoing service, negotiate on price. You may find that consolidating your purchases to one supplier can bring savings against multiple suppliers whose numbers have built up over time. Trade quantity for discounts as the suppliers can save on delivery and administration costs and share the benefits with you.

  1. Embrace innovation and technology

Innovation is everywhere. Trial new techniques, materials and machines on an ongoing basis (perhaps one per month), analyse the results and store up the benefits for when you have to respond to cost pressures. When change comes, there is often the opportunity to renew equipment through one off investments to save over the long term. Look at your ageing equipment and ask yourself, can this be done more effectively, reliably and with less time and effort if we change the tools and materials we are using? Doing this analysis on an ongoing basis demonstrates to your stakeholders that you are being proactive and trialling new things can often be achieved with little or no additional cost.

  1. Consider sustainability

Sustainable practice in terms of the environment, doesn’t have to cost more, in fact it is often a route to cost savings in itself. Think of reducing waste for example. As well as good practice, the reduction in waste, can also mean a reduction in consumption and costs reduced. In this way, you are not only responding to the cost pressures but also contributing to your organisations responsibility targets.

  1. Get stakeholders involved

If you start early enough with good preparation it is a great opportunity to float ideas and get stakeholders involved. Ask colleagues in other areas (like the finance department for example) to help analyse your trial results so they can see your initiatives at first hand. Get your teams involved in trialling new ways of working, or new products, so that they can contribute feedback and come up with their own efficiency ideas. Maybe set a challenge with a prize at the end of it for the best efficiency idea?

  1. Measure and compare

When the time comes, it is much easier to discuss what changes can be made if you are armed with facts. So, benchmark your performance so that you can have an informed discussion about your current levels of delivery. Again, good suppliers and industry experts should be able to help you here. This data is very important to help you maintain your service levels with the appropriate resources, rather than being arbitrarily asked to make cuts and do something it is impossible achieve. It is often an idea to share and socialise your benchmarks with other colleagues in other organisations perhaps through online industry forums or discussion groups.

So, the message to tackle cost reduction pressure when it comes, is primarily be prepared. If you have good data, good analysis and ideas, and engaged stakeholders who understand your challenges, you can transform the whole exercise into a positive organisational development program that can deliver not only cost benefits, but a re-energised and engaged labour force and secondary benefits like environmental responsibility.

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Switching to a higher performing range of cleaning products can seem like a step into the unknown – you may worry about whether the initial investment, which is likely to be more than you have spent on cleaning products in the past, will pay off in the long run and help to improve the efficiency of your cleaning regimes. However, the business benefits of higher performing cleaning products are evident and will save your business both time and money in the long term.

Less is more

It is perhaps obvious that a higher quality product will produce more effective and long-lasting cleaning results. You can use less of the product to achieve the same result, complete the task more quickly and reduce the frequency with which your teams are cleaning specific areas. This means you are able to increase the longevity of your product stores, and can reduce costs in replacing products which are running low. Subsequently, you will also reduce your storage needs and waste production, and the costs these processes inevitably ensue.

Minimise your energy consumption

Investing in a high quality product range will minimise your energy consumption in a number of ways. Decreasing the frequency with which you complete specific cleaning tasks can reduce your total water consumption, and reduce the need to use electrical appliances. As your cleaning tasks are likely to take less time, you can also cut your running electricity demands during the cleaning process including lighting and heating costs.

Spend your time wisely

As cleaning tasks are likely to be completed more quickly, and to a high standard in a consistent manner, your business will have more time to review your current practise, isolate areas of potential weakness and improve the efficiency of your cleaning processes to match the efficacy of your cleaning products.

Consolidate your product range

Higher quality products are more likely to tackle a wider variety of surfaces or target areas, allowing you to consolidate your product range. This will allow you to reduce the resources needed to store your cleaning supplies. You can also cut the time normally spent training your staff, and can ensure that your workforce has a comprehensive understanding of how the products work and which surfaces they target.

So make the most of your cleaning and maintenance budget and don’t waste time or sacrifice on results; realise the long term business benefits of investing in a higher performing range of cleaning products.

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It is easy to think of key sources of dirt and contamination in an organisation – you may consider the flooring, bathroom facilities and windows, for example. However, there are a host of other places where dirt accumulates and bacteria can spread quickly. On average, people will touch roughly 300 surfaces in 30 minutes, which equates to approximately 840,000 germs. It is imperative that your organisation minimises the risk of contamination, using efficient and thorough cleaning strategies.

  1. Your desk

On average, desk surfaces are thought to harbour 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and viruses like influenza can survive on hard surfaces like this for up to 24 hours. Make sure employees keep their desks tidy so that your cleaning staff can access them quickly and easily.

  1. Keyboard and mouse

Computer keyboards can become a haven for nasty bacteria, lurking between the keys where it is difficult to reach them. Make sure you shake the dust and crumbs out of your keyboards and clean them regularly; either with a soft, lightly dampened, lint-free cloth or disinfectant alcohol wipes.

  1. Sponges

The sponges in the kitchen of your organisation are likely to be used by a host of different staff members throughout the day, and bacteria can survive and thrive in the network of crevasses inside the sponge. Make sure you replace your sponges regularly, or disinfect them at least once a week to prevent a build-up of harmful bacteria.

  1. Water fountains

Although water fountains are a quick and accessible way of keeping your staff and customers hydrated, they can be a significant source of bacteria in your workspace. In fact, there can be between 2-7 million bacteria per square inch on the spigot alone! Make sure your cleaning staff are disinfecting your water fountains at least once a day, paying particular attention to the mouthpiece.

  1. Phones

Be it your mobile or a landline, your phones are in use consistently throughout the day, and can quickly become a target for harmful bacteria. Check your line-level cleaners are giving desktop phones a regular wipe clean, to keep them germ free and ready for calls any time of the day.

So bear these less obvious places in mind when training you cleaning staff and other employees, to prevent unnecessary illness in the workplace and keep your building spotless!

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When budgets are tight and expectations are high, keeping your cleaning operations cost-effective whilst maintaining high quality results is not an easy task. These handy tips will help you to maximise the efficiency of your cleaning regimes.

  1. Understand your space

Make sure you evaluate your site and the cleaning requirements for different areas of your building. You need to assess how long it takes to complete all necessary cleaning tasks, identify priority areas which are more likely to become dirty during the day and establish the frequency with which specific sites should be targeted.

  1. Evaluate and re-evaluate your practise

Just because your cleaning practise has worked in the past doesn’t mean it is serving you as well as newer techniques could. Have a thorough look over your cleaning procedures and make sure you are utilising your staff and product resources in the most efficient and productive way. Be honest about which practises are still working well for your team, and which have room for improvement.

  1. Utilise innovative advances

The technology behind the design of cleaning products and systems is constantly evolving; don’t fall behind and miss out on advances which could help to improve the efficiency of your organisation’s cleaning systems. Read blogs and articles about new trends in the cleaning industry on a regular basis, and keep an eye out for recent innovation award winners in the cleaning sector.

  1. Learn from your mistakes

Making significant changes to your organisation’s cleaning operations may seem to be a daunting prospect, but it is essential to address where you may have gone wrong in the past and make improvements to enhance efficiency wherever possible. It will save your organisation both money and time in the long term. If you have had a past incident related to a problem with your cleaning regime, tackle the issue head on and rectify the problem before it arises again.

  1. Consistency is key

Ensure that wherever your cleaning staff are operating within the scope of your organisation, they have undergone a consistent training programme. You also need to make sure they are working under a single efficiency directive, and are using the same range of high quality, sustainable products and equipment.

Keeping these objectives in mind will help your organisation to keep costs low and results high, enhancing both your reputation and your Return on Investment.

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In a society where competition for business is ever-growing and communication between customers is unlimited, organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of consumer opinions and recommendations. Hygiene and cleanliness can often be disregarded and undervalued, but poor cleaning standards can leave businesses fighting for survival in the long term.

The results are in

Recent findings from The Financial Impact of Poor Food Safety Management survey by checkit.net, showed that 61% of consumers would refuse to visit any type of restaurant (including takeaways, coffee shops or pubs) with a low Food Hygiene Rating. Unsurprisingly, this view is not limited to the food industry – cleanliness is prioritised by customers in the retail sector, as well as in public service buildings like schools and hospitals. For example, the UK government Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) Safeguarding in Schools best practice report states that hygiene and cleanliness are given the highest priority status, while 96% of UK care home residents and their families recently voted that care home owners should do more to keep their premises germ free.

The importance of a first impression

Whatever the nature of your organisation, it is clear that cleanliness is a factor which is highly regarded, and that consumers have consistently high expectations. This is even more critical in the age of social media, as information about poor standards of cleanliness and hygiene can reach thousands of potential consumers in seconds.

Do not underestimate the power of a strong first impression. For example, a spotless door or entrance windows will affect a customer’s impression of your premises, even before they have stepped across the threshold. You want your potential customers to feel comfortable and safe, and to create a space that they will want to give positive feedback about and be happy to return to.

Protect your reputation

Organisations need to consider cleanliness as a key determinant of success. If mistakes are made and poor reviews are received, rebuilding customer trust is a lengthy and costly process, and there is no guarantee that the reputation your organisation once held will ever be fully repaired. Organisations need to ensure they are not only meeting, but exceeding the standards required by the appropriate official bodies for their sector or industry. This will protect your reputational stability in the long term, as well as providing an environment which consumers and visitors find welcoming and reliable.

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Not all odours are deemed unwelcome. Our olfactory system plays an integral part in our everyday lives, from allowing us to understand our surrounding environments to evoking memories, emotions and eliciting important responses.

We all remember the scents of our childhood, from the comforting smells of Granny’s banana bread wafting through the house to the overpowering, pungent stench of the sickbay at school. Odours can instantly transport us to a time and place that we otherwise may not have consciously recalled. It is said that sense of smell is closely linked to memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. This is due to our olfactory receptors direct connection to the limbic system, the most primitive part of the brain. When smells are relayed to the cortex, cognitive recognition begins but the most unconscious parts of the brain are first to be stimulated, triggering certain memories or emotions. Because of this, odours are an integral part of our survival instincts. Certain smells can alert us to potential dangers such as smoke from fire or gas from a leaking pipe, to contaminated food or surfaces.

Individuals will have different perceptions of different odours, it is not only due to the sensation of the odours themselves but of the experiences and emotions associated with them. Think of why certain fragrances are preferred by some but despised by others. Many studies have shown reactions to odours and our olfactory likes and dislikes are based purely on emotional associations, with even the power to alter people’s moods. Retailers have certainly tapped into this notion by dispensing comforting scents like cinnamon within their stores that have a proven positive effect on customers which in turn can lead to increased spending. On the other hand, foul odours can be associated with uncleanliness and poor hygiene especially in washrooms, which is enough for customers to black mark an establishment, seriously impacting a business’ reputation.
Odours, whether deemed good or bad, can elicit powerful emotions and create meaningful associations for everyone. It is worth elevating them as part of your assessment process in the maintenance of your workplace or business.

We love odours because they are simple to manage and fixing them can have a dramatic turnaround in how facilities are perceived, allowing you to create a positive and enjoyable environment for everyone, from employees to patrons.

Download our Winter Maintenance Advice leaflet here

Weather in the United Kingdom is well known for being unpredictable. There will be many occasions when we’re warned a big cold front is coming in and we should all be prepared. Quite often this doesn’t materialise the way it has been forecast; thankfully. However, would your business have been prepared if a cold spell did hit?

With unpredictability in mind, it’s very important for businesses to be prepared for every winter eventuality, as it can seriously disrupt productivity if not planned for. To help along the way, we give you our three P’s of winter preparation:

Your premises are the hub of business activity. Therefore they need to be safe for employees and the public to access. To do this, you need a plan of action:

  • How will we clear the access points?
  • Who will clear them?
  • What will be done after to keep them safe?

Once you have pinpointed the correct procedure with your team, you need to ensure you have the right equipment. There is a wide range of winter products in the marketplace that serve different scales and purposes. Ensure you buy the right and appropriate sized equipment for your use. This will save you both time and money.

For example, if your business requires hygiene to be of a high standard, then White Salt is the better option for you as it is purer than other de-icing agents and leaves little residue. However, brown rock salt is most commonly used on public highways and pavements as it is visible on snow, but leaves more residue than its counterpart.

Your employees must also be prepared for winter weather, as your business productivity will be severely reduced should employees not be able to make it into work. A good tip is to provide them all with a winter car kit,

  • Hi-vis
  • De-icer
  • Scraper
  • Screen shield
  • Screen wash etc

This way, during even icy and frosty periods they can be prepared to sort their vehicle. Your employees are what keep your business ticking – ensure they are prepared or know the procedure for cold weather.

Finally, put them together. Ensuring your personnel know how to sort your premises is a great way to ensure that processes are carried out to the highest standard. Without a process behind your planning, a cold winter storm can catch you out and sometimes hamper business productivity.

Businesses in all sectors will continue to look for ways to reduce their costs. Sometimes budget conscious managers will say that prices paid for supplies are too high and they assume that price is correlated with cost, believing that a drop in purchase price will lead to reductions in costs. But in reality there is a significant difference between price and cost. Price is simply the amount paid for external resources whereas cost is the overall expenditure on products, time, labour and trouble i.e. total resource usage. This is particularly true for facilities management and cleaning operations.

A basic principle to keep in mind is “beware the cost of the lowest price” – often a lower price can amount to higher costs to your business in the long run. Your business may have to pay more for labour time, while products of an inferior quality can reduce the standards your service achieves. It can be as simple as having to use more of the cheaper product than you would have of the more expensive product. For example, investing in a more expensive, but more effective range of cleaning products may be slightly costlier in the short term. However, with attention to usage, dosing control, cleaning effectiveness and time spent, cost reductions can often be achieved. Cost-in-use is a useful concept to consider when approaching these kinds of issues; it refers to the total cost of products, maintenance, storage, consumption and waste.

As every facilities manager knows, the actual cost of cleaning products and materials typically accounts for around 5% of the workplace cleaning budget. Labour takes the lion’s share, at approximately 75%. So if lower priced, inferior products are used, more labour can be required to achieve required standards, escalating real costs and probably demoralising staff along the way.

Investing in better cleaning equipment can also bring great savings and benefits. Often cleaning staff will struggle on with inferior equipment because they are unaware of the most innovative products available today. Talk to suppliers who specialise in the knowledge of new products and techniques that can improve performance and efficiency.

When presented with budget challenges, it is often a good idea to carry a complete holistic review of your operations including working practices, products and equipment so that overall efficiency improvements can deliver the savings required, whilst maintaining operational performance standards.

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  1. Innovation

The business of setting up and managing cleaning operations is not necessarily new or innovative, there are still many areas where companies are investing in research and development to deliver operational improvement. Typically, these fall into three key areas; challenging established thinking about processes and practice, tools and machine’s and new materials and cleaning products. Sometimes finding a tailored solution to your cleaning operations is necessary as often the current solution is not able to be a one size fits all answer. Keeping abreast of industry trends and researching innovative ways to address your cleaning concerns is at the core of improving and evolving your facility’s operations.

  1. The right metrics – “Cost in use”

Measuring the success of your cleaning operations is typically based on two things: the tangible results of your cleaning efforts and the costs involved. Simple enough, however it is important to understand the correct metric to accurately measure the costs of your cleaning operations which can be understood as the ‘cost in use’ model. With that, the overall costs of your inputs is based not only on materials but labour as well. Achieving greater labour efficiency is far more effective for reducing costs than product savings alone. Investing in higher-quality products and harnessing innovative, new technologies may seem counter-productive at first as it is likely to cost you more, however this can result in reduced labour time, ultimately saving you money.

  1. Culture

Staff training is fundamental to the efficiency of your cleaning operations. Ensuring all staff members are shown how to do their job properly is the only way to achieve high-quality results with consistency. Creating conversations and encouraging feedback from staff is also important in understanding the flow of your cleaning operations and identifying areas for improvement. It will also help increase staff morale as they will appreciate the sense of inclusion in the decision making process of your operations and feel their voice is being heard by their peers and management.

  1. Sustainability

Pinpointing ways to minimise the impact of your cleaning operations on the environment, for example your energy or cleaning materials consumption, will not only help to reduce your cleaning operations’ carbon footprint, but can reduce costs as well. This may be in the form of investing in higher-quality cleaning products which will in turn, decrease the frequency with which you complete tasks. This can result in a reduction in water, electricity and gas consumption (depending on what utilities your facility uses). It may also take the form of choosing more eco-friendly products that have less of an impact on the environment.

Focusing on these areas for your strategic plan for 2017 could bring great improvements?