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There has been a steady rise in public concern about the environment with many organisations moving to eco friendly cleaning products, but do they deliver spotless cleaning results?

In 2014, the Guardian reported that Eco-friendly cleaning is trending in the commercial sector and this has proved to be the case with more and more cleaning companies advertising eco-friendly cleaning services 1.

What does eco-friendly really mean? In cleaning products, there are several standards that are claimed to represent true eco-friendly cleaning but these differing endorsements can be confusing and mean very different things in terms of eco standards. Most eco-friendly cleaning solutions contain chemicals, but are still very environmentally friendly as the solutions are made up of natural resources and they address the way the whole product is manufactured, rather than just the solution within.

Cradle to cradle eco-friendly cleaning products

The most rigorous standard for measuring the environmental impact of products is called cradle to cradle.

Quality is defined by five criteria categories:-

Material Health

Product ingredients are inventoried throughout the supply chain and evaluated for impact on human and environmental health. The criteria at each level build towards the expectation of eliminating all toxic and unidentified chemicals and becoming nutrients for a safe, continuous cycle.

Material Reutilisation

Products are designed either to biodegrade safely as a biological nutrient or to be recycled into new products as a technical nutrient. At each level continued progress must be made towards increasing the recovery of materials and keeping them in continuous cycles.

Renewable Energy and Carbon Management

The criteria at each level build towards the expectation of carbon neutrality and powering all operations with 100% renewable energy.

Water Stewardship

Processes are designed to regard water as a precious resource for all living things. At each level, progress is made towards cleaning up effluent to drinking water standards.

Social Fairness and Biodiversity

Company operations are designed to celebrate all people and natural systems and progress is made towards having a wholly beneficial impact on the people and the planet.

 

A true eco-friendly commercial cleaning product

So, what we are looking for is safe, green, powerful, practical, cost effective eco-friendly commercial cleaning products that are as effective as anything we use today. Cradle to cradle ensures these products exist and are readily available today such as the Quick and Easy range of eco-friendly cleaning solutions.  Quick & Easy, complies to the new standard of environmental sustainability – Cradle to Cradle certification. All of Quick & Easy’s ingredients are safe for people and nature, containing ingredients from plant origin with proven high biodegradability and manufactured with 100% renewable energy.

The products are proven to be just as powerful as any traditional chemical cleaners.

Eco-friendly commercial cleaning products

Quick service restaurant kitchen deep cleaning has to be fast and efficient. With 24 hour up time running requirements of many outlets, it often also has to happen whilst a cooking service is maintained. Continuous orders at drive-through windows and at the counter can overwhelm employees if they don’t have the right processes and tools to clean quickly and effectively.

Here are 5 ideas and areas to focus on when carrying out kitchen deep cleaning: –

1. Incorporate deep cleaning into your health and safety responsibilities. Deep cleaning can be a real chore for your staff. If deep cleaning is presented as a routine exercise, that has to be done, motivations can waiver and standards may slip. So presenting kitchen deep cleaning as part of staff health and safety responsibilities, where staff are typically already well trained, can make the exercise more meaningful. One element to emphasise is staff welfare in this regard. A build up of contaminates can be detrimental to staff as well as customers and floor debris for example can lead to a slip and trip incidents.

2. Work from the top down. With the intensity of activity in a quick service restaurant, cooking materials are spreading everywhere from emulsified cooking oils in the air to food particles being kicked or transported on footwear. Once these materials settle they then form a thin film attracting and retaining dust and other contaminates which in themselves can harbour bacteria. Working from the top down means that any contaminates that fall during the cleaning process will be picked up by cleaning procedures at a lower level. Ensure all open cooking equipment and preparation surfaces are covered in advance to prevent contamination. Your cleaning products supplier may be able to advise you on special tools available to reach inaccessible areas.

3. Select the right cleaning product for the task in hand. For kitchen deep cleaning, it is essential to select the right cleaning agent for the contaminate you are trying to clean and for the material that the surface to be cleaned is made of. You might need expert advice to help you with this as different cleaning products if used on the wrong surface can damage these surfaces irreparably. Your cleaning products supplier should offer you a free assessment service to help you select the right products and hone your procedures to be ultra-efficient.

4. Use eco friendly commercial cleaning products and clean sustainably. Many businesses with regular cleaning and deep cleaning requirements often ignore a requirement to be more sustainable in their cleaning in the mistaken belief that eco friendly commercial cleaning products are more expensive to use. This simply isn’t the case any more with modern eco friendly cleaning products like Quick and Easy offering cost effective solutions but using only natural chemicals and fully recyclable packaging.

5. Concentrate on the floors. Cleaning kitchen floors properly during kitchen deep cleaning is the most important area to concentrate on. Gravity ensures that most contaminates and residue of other cleaning activity will end up and get moved around floors. Clean floors are also the key to preventing the many of slip-and-fall accidents that take place in restaurants every year. To get your floors clean and safe for your employees, your team has to remove the food particles and grease that hit the ground during service and other cleaning procedures. Again selecting the right product and cleaning, tools and procedures here is vital.

Kitchen deep cleaning in quick service restaurants presents a particular challenge for all involved because of the relentless demands of this business environment. However, with the right products, procedures, tools and staff commitment and motivation it can be executed quickly and efficiently so that the business can maintain high standards and concentrate on serving customers.

 

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A good cleaning service enables successful shopping centres to have high levels of footfall, high frequency of footfall and high conversion from footfall to sales.

With shopping centres and retail destinations having a myriad of leisure experiences from shopping and dining to exercise, relaxation and entertainment, there are few single factors that can affect these 3 key measures of success more than cleanliness.

Cleanliness has a major effect on the whole customer experience. When asked what would negatively impact their perception, more people reported unclean restrooms (95 per cent) and unpleasant odours (92 per cent) than poor customer service (90 per cent). These were followed by dirty floors, spills or stains, dusty surfaces and dirty glass and windows. In another study, just over a half (52 per cent) have avoided a business altogether because it looked dirty from the outside.

So a top notch cleaning service really matters. Facilities management companies must think broadly about all issues to compete for the cleaning contracts of these complex organisations not just the core cleaning service.

3 areas that are often forgotten by FMs to excel at providing cleaning service are: –

Innovation

Always be on the lookout for news ways of doing things, innovative companies are coming up with new solutions for common problems all the time. A good example would be dealing with roof leaks. Roof leaks in public areas cause a potential hazard and require quick containment of the unwanted invasive liquid. Arrow County created a bespoke product to deal with this challenge, a maintenance and cleaning product combined.

Service and continuity of supply

Good partnerships are essential for the provision of a high level cleaning service. Whatever service levels that are offered by your cleaning consumables suppliers will be directly passed through and reflected in service level achieved by an FM company. Make partnerships as opposed to contracts for supply and look for partners who deliver a high level of service and are prepared to go the extra mile. Suppliers who will carry out assessment to save money and provide immediate account response to your day to day challenges will underpin excellent overall service levels.

Tracking the end customer’s view

Although the direct customer of FM companies is important i.e. the shopping centre management company, understanding their customers can be just as important to delivering a great cleaning service. Try and access information and feedback on the overall performance of the centre and always react swiftly and efficiently to any end customer feedback on cleanliness. Look for the main signs that the end customer will use to judge performance.

In a large yet highly competitive market it’s these often-forgotten factors that can be the difference between a good and an excellent cleaning service.
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99 percent of retail customers are influenced by poor cleanliness. Retailers can use cleaning services strategically to enhance the customer experience and increase brand loyalty, whilst driving operational cost savings and efficiency, this from a well regarded industry white paper.

The thing about lack of cleanliness is that it sticks in the mind with a persistence that is difficult to budge, whereas poor customer service can be rectified in an instance by a behavioural change.

Fitting rooms, washrooms, payment areas and even the scent in the air can affect how people perceive a retail business. Since first impressions create customer loyalty, it is time to look at how effective your retail centre cleaning is. When one place is dirty, patrons may assume the rest of the location is as well, resulting in poor customer experiences.

The industry white paper reveals cleanliness affects the entire shopping process. People will always prefer a cleaner retail facility over a dirty one, but sometimes the level of cleanliness can have an affect they do not even realise. First impressions are developed the moment customers walk through the doors. An overall tidy retail centre can be the inviting element that gets the shopping process moving. Once first impressions are made outside of the retail outlets themselves, the quality of cleaning done will influence the likelihood of entry into stores and the time spent within.

So, the importance of the overall customer experience goes beyond good customer service. The study, carried out by market research firm Harris Interactive, found that 99 percent of consumers said poor cleanliness would negatively affect their perception of a retail environment with unclean washrooms and unpleasant odours rated higher than poor customer service.

One national retailer, achieved significant cost savings across its national estate through outsourcing its cleaning services. This customer-facing brand with over 250 stores, the importance of cleanliness and how this could impact on the whole customer experience. Choose trusted suppliers of services and janitorial supplies to deliver to a set standard.

According to a survey conducted by ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, 95 percent of shoppers reported that unclean restrooms and unpleasant odours would influence their shopping decisions along with, dirty floors, spills or stains, dirty shopping carts and other factors.

“Shoppers want to feel comfortable when visiting a retail environment and ensuring that the environment is clean and healthy is a crucial part.”, says Dan Wagner, ISSA’s Director of Facility Service Programs.

“The janitorial landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years. We are entering a new normal for cleaning standards in retail facilities management. Retail brands need to be aware of this under-budgeted area and ensure all retail areas are meeting brand standards”

So, the evidence from good research sources is clear. Cleanliness in a shopping environment can be more important than customer service in a shopper’s experience and ultimately willingness to buy and come back. The key to retail centre cleanliness, is through finding good partners both in services and janitorial supplies, who can demonstrate they share an understanding of the shoppers needs.
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We all have a responsibility to the planet and sustainability is increasingly an issue in all of our daily lives, both personally and professionally. Certain issues about eco friendly cleaning and eco cleaning products have become the popular understandings of cleaning sustainability and these issues, although probably once with some foundation, are no longer true and it’s time to consign them to history.

They cost more

Once a cleaning organisation starts to measure its true costs (through costs in use) and stops measuring by price alone then a reasoned debate can be held about the relative costs of various inputs such as cleaning chemicals. It is true that non eco cleaning products on average have slightly lower price points however the value story goes much deeper than that.

If we look at the situation holistically, eco cleaning products can provide a greater economic benefit than traditional chemical cleaners because they reduce labour costs and protect surfaces and buildings over time.

Chemical cleaning products are only effective during the few seconds of actual cleaning. Following cleaning, the surfaces start to become soiled again, requiring more frequent cleaning leading to higher labour costs and more chemical usage.

Eco cleaning products have beneficial bacteria that continue to breakdown soiling on the surface area after cleaning, leading to less frequent applications and all cleaned areas look cleaner for longer.

They don’t work as well

It has long been thought by many that eco friendly cleaning products are not as effective as traditional cleaning chemicals.

Let’s cut to the chase. Both eco friendly cleaning products and non eco friendly ones use chemicals that are effective. The difference is that non eco friendly cleaning products use manufactured chemicals that occur naturally in our environment whereas traditional cleaning chemicals are formulated in a lab. Most traditional cleaning chemical cocktails have formulated surfactants which helps to disperse dirt and grime. These surfactants however do not naturally break down and cause problems further down the line when they are washed away with waste water. The natural surfactants in eco friendly cleaning products degrade naturally once discarded. So cleaning efficacy is powerful and comparable with eco friendly products with the added sustainability advantages.

Eco friendly cleaning products are a great area of innovation and new ideas are being brought to market all the time such as foam spray heads on dispensers for exact dosing, reducing over use and cost.

They are not backed by research or standards

Eco friendly cleaning products are no longer a niche area for small altruistic start-up businesses. The big manufacturers have realised that there are large future markets for these products and are starting to invest heavily in research and development. This means that today’s eco friendly cleaning products are probably some of the most advanced cleaning agents available in terms of research investment.

Industry standards are progressing as well to take into account the whole lifecycle of the products including transport and packaging. This new standard “cradle to cradle” is what to look out for to guarantee real sustainable credentials.

In short, pre-conceived ideas need to be updated, eco friendly commercial cleaning can be cheaper with more advanced well researched products, delivering comparable cleaning performance and a sustainable future for us all.
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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

Download our Winter Maintenance Advice leaflet here

 

 

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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