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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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* 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.

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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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Introduction

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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The most common injuries at work come from slips, trips and falls according to the Health and Safety Executive. These injuries “cost employers over £512m per year”. It is clearly an owners or employer’s responsibility to reduce the risk to visitors and staff so what do you need to know?

Design

Correct design of surfaces and the working environment can be a big factor in mitigating and managing risks for the long term. Make sure that when new build or refurbishment is planned that creating low risk environments is one of the top priorities of the designers a long with functional and aesthetic design requirements.

Falls Risk Assessment

You may not have the luxury of managing an environment that is designed with risk reduction in mind, so identifying the risks in your work space is the next key step. The outcome will be to demonstrate that you are doing enough to prevent harm.

Consider what risks in your environment may lead to slip or trip injuries, and decide what suitable and effective control measures will prevent these types of accidents. Concentrate on the real risks – those that are most likely to cause harm. Think about how accidents might happen and who might be harmed.

This can be done by:

  1. Asking your employees what they think the hazards are, often they notice things that are not obvious to more casual observers and they may have some ideas on how to control the risks;
  2. Using the hazard-spotting checklist and slips and trips mapping tool (see below) to help you identify problem areas
  3. Put control measures into practice

The main causes of slips, trips and falls in the workplace are:

  • uneven floor surfaces
  • unsuitable floor coverings
  • wet floors (leaks, cleaning or spillages)
  • changes in levels
  • trailing cables
  • poor lighting
  • poor housekeeping

Follow this easy 5-step Falls Risk Assessment process (recommended by the Health and Safety Executive) to take control of slips trips and falls

  1. Look for slip and trip hazards around the workplace, including floor coverings and their condition, uneven floors, trailing cables and areas that are sometimes slippery due to spillages. Don’t forget to include any outdoor areas, remembering that weather conditions may be a factor.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how. Who comes into the workplace? Are they at risk? Are some groups more at risk than others?
  3. Consider the risks. Are there already measures in place to deal with the risks? Are floor coverings suitable for the area and the work carried out there? What cleaning and maintenance systems are in place? Are regular inspections carried out? Are employees instructed to keep traffic routes clear?
  4. Record your findings if you have five or more employees.
  5. Regularly review the assessment. If any significant changes take place, make sure that precautions are still adequate to deal with the risks.

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Public perception of an organisation can be set in stone once a visitor has used the washroom so keeping them in top condition is vital. Washrooms deliver another important function in delivering improvements in public or workplace hygiene. Choosing the right washroom solutions can lead to a marked improvement in facilities management performance and the user feedback rankings of any organisation.

Hygiene

Maintaining hygiene standards according to the right legislation for your type of organisation is essential and high hygiene standards make washrooms more appealing to staff and visitors. Diligent cleaning regimes using the right commercial washroom supplies is essential. Trusted suppliers will often be able to assist you in regular reviews of cleaning protocols and the most innovative washroom solutions.

In addition to the daily cleaning regime, planned routine deep cleans are important to keep standards up. It is worth rotating staff across different locations to carry this out as familiarity can often mean more challenging areas can get over looked.

Flooring

Flooring type can have a significant effect on standards of cleanliness and hygiene. Floor tiles allow bacteria to thrive in grout lines and unseen crack and crevices. Smooth floor surfaces are easy to clean, but can create slip hazards; therefore, the safest and most hygienic washroom solution is anti-slip safety flooring.

Whatever your flooring, using the right commercial washroom supplies is paramount. Different surface types and materials may require specific washroom products to do the job effectively. Our helpful E-guide “5 Easy Steps to Improve Floor Cleaning” can help you with this.

Hand Drying

A frequently debated topic about washrooms is hand drying system choice, particularly hot air dryers Vs paper towels. In 2013, the NHS reviewed over 10 studies in this area and found that paper towels win out all round. One study found that 10 seconds of using a hot air dryer was associated with more bacteria on the hands than not using a dryer at all. This is because harmful bacteria are often recirculated by hot air dryers. Children are most at risk as their faces are at a similar level to most driers.

Innovative paper hand drying systems can reduce costs as well as improve standards.

Odour

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. This means if your washrooms have bad odours, people can write them off even before seeing them.

Odours are easy to fix but do require specialist knowledge about their root cause and the correct washroom supplies to fix the problem. Fixing the problem is about choosing the right washroom supplies that will eliminate the odour at the source rather than simply masking the small. Again, this is a good area to seek out a trusted experienced supplier who can help pinpoint the problem.

 

Walls and surfaces

Tiled walls are notoriously difficult to clean properly. Like tiled floors, the main problem lies in the fact bacteria gathers on grout lines and can be extremely difficult to sanitise successfully. When designing or re-furbishing washrooms, carefully consider wall cladding. Solid Grade Laminate (SGL) is a good choice which is completely impervious to water and comes in a huge range of colours and finishes, meaning you can have a washroom that’s highly functional, but still looks slick.

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For some, choosing suppliers is a hassle, and trying to find a supplier that suits you has its challenges. Yet, choosing suppliers gives you the chance to improve your service, reduce cost, develop a fresh perspective, all to help make improvements to your current practices.

There are so many advantages to choosing a supplier and it’s really easy. Here are 4 ways to change your perspective and really test the market when choosing the right cleaning and janitorial product supplier.

1.Find out how much they know about what you do

Find a supplier that will answer questions or carry out a workplace assessment. These assessments are a great opportunity to find out what a supplier can do for your organisation. Discover how they work and learn their approach. These assessments, help support your organisation and can help with improvements. Instead of viewing the selection process of a supplier as a hassle, use it as a chance to connect with the best in the business.

2.Consider Achievements

Look at the entire business. Are they accredited? How do they treat their employees? Look for a supplier who is well established and has won awards in the cleaning and hygiene supplies industry. Suppliers who strive for perfection will guarantee your organisation gets the best service. Read their case studies to help you find the best results, this will help you make the right choice.

3.Do Your Homework

Before selecting any supplier, you want to make sure you gather as much evidence as possible. Find out whether the cleaning supplies company you are looking at provides helpful information to their customers. Read their blog posts, look for “How to guides”, and helpful product information. Carrying out some online research is an excellent way to find out the general ethos of the supplier. Assess a suppliers’ capability, customer service and compare prices.

4.Understand how they would advise and support you

A strong business partnership with a good cleaning and hygiene supplier can help amend your perspective. Having a supplier, you can depend on, communicate delays, and take on a leadership approach, is the type of service you need to lighten your load and change your perceptions. Set them some scenario task and ask questions like “what would you do if we ran out of a chemical, needed urgently on a Friday morning?” or “How can you be certain that my deliveries will arrive when I need them?”

By considering these 4 simple steps you are on your way to changing your perspective and techniques when choosing cleaning and janitorial suppliers. This process doesn’t have to be a hassle. it’s an opportunity to improve the performance in your organisation, so take it.

Download our Winter Maintenance Advice leaflet here

 

There are two key “green” standards that are regularly used by product manufacturers “Ecolabel” and “Cradle to Cradle” but how green are they and what do they really mean?

What is Ecolabel?

Ecolabel is a EU government backed labelling scheme primarily for food and consumer items, but is sometimes used for commercial products such as cleaning products. The Ecolabel is a voluntary accreditation available to show that a product meets the EU environmental government regulations.  Companies adopting this standard are either manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, or retailers”.  As an EU standard, with Brexit looming, Ecolabel could become less relevant in the UK?

In recent years, in addition to government schemes like Ecolabel there have been a number of “green” labels all attempting to create the impression that these products are 100% eco-friendly. However, there are significantly varying standards and requirements across these various marks.

How green is Ecolabel?

Industries are slowly becoming aware that environmental concerns must be taken seriously. The Ecolabel is a recognised symbol and this acts as a benefit for the products and manufactures. Yet, a product with the Ecolabel sticker doesn’t have to be 100% green but can have green “elements” or just one element. Typically, this is around the biodegradability of the chemicals and often whether the waste water contains surfactants. Once the Ecolabel is granted the applicant must keep their products up to date and ensue they are taking the responsibility promised on the packaging.

What is Cradle to Cradle?

Cradle to Cradle takes a more holistic approach across the products life-cycle. It’s an independent standard and the ethos of the company is to offer 100% Eco-friendly cleaning products. It aims to ensure an “optimistic agenda for the continuous support around social issues, environmental and economic concerns”. The Cradle to Cradle standard has created five key categories used to highlight all green commercial elements.

Cradle to Cradle Categories

  1. Material Health – Recyclable packaging
  2. Material Reutilization – Using only natural ingredients for the cleaning agents
  3. Renewable Energy and Carbon Management
  4. Water Stewardship -Using water responsibly protecting rivers and streams.
  5. Social Fairness – Exposure of people working with/coming into contact with the products

These five aspects are fundamental parts of the Cradle to Cradle standards and their total requirement ensures all products are carefully and completely considered. One of the most important things to remember is that going green often can save money.