Thorough cleaning is vital in maintaining a healthy, comfortable and productive working environment, and in protecting your brand and reputation. Changes in ways of working mean that individually assigned desks are becoming a thing of the past and work areas are likely to be used by many people throughout the day, increasing the risk of contamination and the spread of germs. With first impressions made in only a few seconds, the appearance and cleanliness of the building exterior and entrance will influence the perception of visitors and employees, and the washrooms are the first place a client may visit at your office.
Selecting a commercial cleaning partner who will ensure that all areas are cleaned appropriately, whilst adding value to the user experience, is an important process, aimed at ensuring a long and mutually beneficial partnership, and there are a number of aspects to consider.
A supplier able to self-deliver all the cleaning related services that you require will give you a single point of accountability together with commercial efficiencies. Their direct control of resources should provide flexibility and control of service quality, as well as enabling a tailored package to meet your specific needs. Together with daily office cleaning, window cleaning and exterior building cleaning, you may require waste management, washroom and post room services on a regular basis. Specialist periodic services such as hard floor cleaning and restoration, carpet cleaning and pressure washing will ensure a coherent approach to maintaining your facilities in top condition. Integrated self-delivery brings the added benefit of reducing your number of suppliers, saving you time.
A cleaning supplier must have a good track record and be able to prove it. They should be able to demonstrate their cleaning standards and customer service through case studies and references from existing customers with similar requirements in your geographical area. Contract density in an area will ensure cover cleaners are available during holiday and sickness periods.
High standards of cleanliness are a fundamental requirement, but issues can arise. Ask to see the procedures, controls and audits that will be in place to ensure the quality of the service provided and ensure you will have transparent and easy access to the data and information collected. Potential suppliers should have been audited to the requirements of ISO 9001: Quality Management System.
A dedicated Account Manager should be assigned to your contract, who will be you first point of contact and source of information. They should be responsible and accountable for high quality service delivery and go above and beyond when required, to ensure that your company’s needs are fully met. You should never need to manage your cleaning provider, although it is the top complaint from many customers.
Value for money
Your cleaning provider must be able to demonstrate that you will be receiving value for money. This will require them to develop a plan for the most effective way to meet your requirements, in terms of people resource, equipment and cleaning frequencies.
Some customers select their cleaning contractors largely on price, only to find that the required service levels are neither achievable nor sustainable. Customers and suppliers should focus on value for money, combining an acceptable level of risk at an appropriate cost.
Continually striving to improve the service delivered through the contract life is usually a key requirement for a long term relationship. Understand how your cleaning supplier plans to work with you to achieve this, the methodologies they employ, and the innovations that they are working on. Your requirements may change over time so knowing that they will be able to adapt is important.
Health and safety
Demonstrating compliance with all health and safety legislation is a given, including RAMS, COSHH assessments and training. Suppliers should be able to demonstrate how they are continually improving health and safety standards, to protect the wellbeing of everyone using the building or outdoor space.
Working at height, when window or building cleaning, carries risks and suppliers should be able to demonstrate the procedures and systems of work they have in place to mitigate these.
External verification of health and safety focus can be useful, with RoSPA accreditation and membership of IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) widely respected.
Commercial properties contain expensive and easily portable items that will be attractive to a thief. Your cleaning supplier will have a robust vetting and reference process for recruitment of new employees, with identities and passports checked to ensure that they are eligible to work. The supplier will hold security awareness training to prevent tailgating and unauthorised access while on site.
With data so important in managing buildings and services, information security is vital, and you should ensure that all service providers have appropriate systems and procedures in place.
Your supplier should be able to illustrate compliance with all current relevant legislation and be committed to continual development to reduce environmental impact. This should include the use of environmentally friendly processes, the use of products with the least environmental impact, recycling and minimising the use of materials and chemicals. Accreditation to ISO 14001: Environmental Management System is a useful verification of the processes they have in place.
Sustainable employment requires staff motivation and the Real Living Wage ensures fair reward for the work carried out. Suppliers should be happy to share the benefits and development schemes that they provide to support employee retention and the social benefits that they bring to the communities in which they operate. Local employment, training and work experience schemes, together with local supply chain use and mentoring are all extremely valuable.
It’s all about people!
A quality service requires a motivated, engaged, empowered team who have the right knowledge, skills and support to be able to work efficiently. They will have a pride in their work, a desire to do a first class job and will have received the training and support to enable them to achieve this. Ask for details of the company’s training programmes and a precise mobilisation plan.
Effective management of TUPE transferred employees is a critical success factor. A supplier should take a pastoral approach, creating the right first impression and defusing trepidation about the change. An induction and training programme will ensure higher standards and make new employees quickly feel at home in their new company.
Your account manager and team should be passionate about their work and you will be able to assess their competence and suitability through the quality and perceptiveness of the questions that they ask you, and their responses to your enquiries.
Cleaning operatives deserve to be paid fairly for the work that they do and there is evidence that the Real Living Wage supports employee morale, motivation, productivity and retention.
It may be last on the list, but it is the most important as people are at the centre of a cleaning service. Their attitude, skills, and training, together with the philosophy and support of the company, will determine how well they are able to support your organisation and its business outcomes. The Investors in People standard provides confidence that your supplier recognises that people are their greatest asset and will be using the framework to continually improve their company’s performance.