The cleaning industry to some extent retains the poor image that it has always had. It was written off years ago as one of those industries that’s not too choosey about the history and the status of the staff that it employs. This was the case for not only cleaning staff, but managers too. However, the law of economics teaches us that where there is demand, there will be supply. Office cleaning in London is reported to have grown by 150% since 2004! The need for cleaning is not something that anybody can escape. Most of us do not enjoy it, but nevertheless it is a mainstay of modern living.
So how about the cleaning services industry of the present day?
It has obviously evolved enormously. It’s been dragged along by the globalisation of companies everywhere. Enterprise has increasingly internationalised, expanding markets via organic growth and acquisition. Brands have crossed borders. Massive decisions have been taken to globalise their messages, their worldwide image. Marathons changed to Snickers in the chocolate industry, Jif changed to Cif in the cleaning chemical sector. These companies took risky decisions with the objective of their brands and products crossing the nations.
Cleaning service providers have therefore been forced to become more professional with these huge businesses coming into operation. They have to provide services and solutions across multiple sites, disciplines and even countries.
Multi site client tenders are now very common in this arena. Formal tenders calling for cleaning businesses to quote for varied services across multi discipline facilities. In some cases cleaning services are required around the clock, cleaning personnel are required to remain on site at all times and ostensibly merge with directly employed staff.
The services sector has also moved into other areas that are aligned to cleaning. This has meant cleaning providers have developed into full facilities management companies, offering additional services like security, grounds maintenance, catering and even reception duties.
In all cases it just makes sense to place site responsibility into the hands of one service provider. Efficiencies are gained in terms of communication and management. Staff are able to multi task across requirements and provide cover for one another.
Of course, these developments have had an effect on the cost! Facilities Management providers that bid for large, multi-site contracts expect to be able to cut their margins. In many cases these are the kind of contracts that allow them to grow their organisations. They market themselves into larger, more professional arenas. The stakes are inevitably high.
As a result professional monitoring and measurement comes as standard. Detailed reporting systems measure key performance indicators, and provide the client with instant transparency on the service level and performance of their cleaners. It is common to see retrospective rebate systems in place too, compensating the client for instances of poor performance or non delivery.
Certainly a far cry from the old days. Cleaning companies have risen to the challenge and are ready for the future.