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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?