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Choosing an energy-efficient vacuum is a simple way to reduce costs. Did you know, all vacuum cleaners are required to include a label allowing you to select the best performance machine for your needs.

So, it is important to know what to look for. Below is a simple guide to understanding the different aspects of the EU Energy label (with A (A***) being the most efficient):

So, now you know how to compare the performance of commercial vacuums, what do you look for…?

Size and Weight: As a commercial vacuum, your machine will need to be ergonomically designed to maximise the time-in-use, and minimise the risk of repetitive strain or other end-user related injuries that could occur from handling poorly designed machines.

A bigger and bulkier vacuum will be much more difficult to transport, therefore look for vacuums that are low weight and feature use-friendly features to ensure ease of use.

Power: Unlike their domestic cousins – to ensure high standards – you need a much more powerful vacuum, to succeed under the most difficult circumstances! Reviewing the performance characteristics of the vacuum on hard floors and carpets (using the Energy Efficiency label) makes this process simples. However, it is important to note, that for a vacuums required for both hard and carpeted floors, a rating higher than C for carpet performance can potentially lead to issues with glide on thicker piles.

Convenience: Whether this is the length of the power cable or the capacity of the filter bags, you need to establish the priorities for your areas of work. A long cord allows consistent vacuuming in large areas, whilst higher capacity filter bags allow longer periods between changing bags – reducing costs.

Price: Your budget is going to be very impactful when trying to purchase a vacuum. Although it is essential to explore other traits too, the price has to be a top consideration.

Shortlist according to performance, then review the costs of the selected machines – this will help to assure that you get the best vacuum for your money!

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

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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.


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.

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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.

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* Cleantech innovation

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.

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Organisations in both the public and private sectors are facing increasing pressure to reduce costs and improve performance. New regulatory requirements, globalisation, increases in contract volumes and complexity have resulted in an increasing recognition of the importance and benefits of effective procurement procedures and contract management.

Many of these procurement procedures need to conform to EU regulations through OJEU.

This blog will offer some practical things to consider in any procurement procedure that will help you enhance the defined frameworks.

What is OJEU?

The EU Procurement Directives have established public procurement rules that apply to any public sector purchases above the defined thresholds. The directives which currently apply in the UK open up public procurement within the European Union and ensure the free movement of supplies, services and works.

Many organisations have carefully described procurement procedure frameworks. The following tips are designed to enhance and create greater value from these procedures:-

  1. Do you have to do this procedure?

It’s always important to check that you are obliged to conform to a procedure. The threshold for OJEU contracts are always being changed so make sure you understand your obligations and seek the correct procedure for you

  1. Establish and maintain your project teams early

Invite and build teams to support a smooth procurement process and do it early. Give clear briefings as to the objectives of the contract and make sure everyone is committed to a set of common objectives, particularly timescales

  1. Touchpoints and reviews

At key points in the procedure step back and take a review of progress against your objectives and procurement procedures. Involve your teams and trusted outsiders to take an objective look at the project to keep on track

  1. Review yourselves as well as suppliers

Any procurement process requires a lot of ongoing analysis, particularly of suppliers. Take the opportunity to review the performance and effectiveness of the purchasing organisation as well. This can unlock bonus improvements that were not identified as objectives of the process

  1. Develop your contract strategy

Beware not to see your contract strategy as linear and refine your strategy as you go. This can be a productive output of touchpoints and reviews

  1. Always think about Exit as well Entry

As the procurement objective is often paramount, elegant contract exit is often de-emphasised. Maintain a balance of thinking about the start and potential end of any contracted relationship, particularly to preserve residual values and goodwill

  1. Pre-formal procedure engagement

What a valuable time this can be? Use eager suppliers to provide you with any insights they may have that might streamline the procurement process. Get them to carry out assessments or evaluations of processes and procedures. This is usually a win win. Suppliers get insights into the organisations needs at first hand and buyers get innovative ideas to use now or save for later.

  1. Wash up and learn for continuous improvement

As this procedure is always going to be repeated, honest self-reflection can open ideas to improve the procedures next time round. Continuous improvement will encourage teams to commit next time around

A balance of a well developed framework modified with appropriate and pragmatic solutions should always deliver the best outcomes so don’t be afraid to try out a new things every time a project gets underway

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Is it possible to improve staff productivity, and decrease ongoing maintenance costs? Absolutely! With a significant amount of financial pressure impacting organisations, maintenance budgets are regularly being cut, putting pressure on staff and their productivity. Facilities and Operations Managers are often faced with tight maintenance budget constraints, leading to delays in small repairs which can increase costly labour activity in cleaning operations.

However here at Arrow County we want to share with you these 5 tips to help you improve staff productivity, by responding promptly to small maintenance needs.

  1. Take Care of Your Equipment

Ensure that your equipment is taken care of, using the right products to safeguard your tools will decrease your need for costly maintenance checks.

  1. Conduct Regular Evaluations and Set Incentives

Most organisations’ carry out frequent performance evaluations, however you can make yours more influential, by setting goals for reducing errors and increasing staff productivity. By providing incentives to employees, they become more inspired and are more likely to maintain the building in exchange for rewards.

  1. Understand Your Environment

It is crucial to know how many hours it takes to clean and support your building space. It is easy to underestimate, so getting the hours right will ensure the correct number of staff are deployed. For example, if you need two members of cleaning staff instead of one, this extra support will ensure the task is carried out properly reducing pressure and decreasing the need for maintenance.

  1. Train Your Employees

It is imperative that organisations train staff to use their products and equipment properly, this helps avoid errors and mistakes. These faults can cause expensive maintenance bills, and if staff are unsure, these mistakes can lead to increased maintenance jobs.

  1. Get Staff Involved

Get your staff involved, they work on the front line so it is vital they are on the same as page as you. Explain your desire to reduce maintenance costs and invite their input on better ways to do that. Involving staff members in decisions, help them feel more invested in the business and they will do all they can to be supportive.

Following these 5 simple steps will help you create a plan to ensure your staff are productive and your maintenance and cleaning operations costs are managed. Click below to download our FREE infographic.

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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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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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