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Know your enemy
22 October 2019
The prevailing uncertainty may be holding back business investment. But James White of Rawlins argues that the real enemies of contract cleaning are false economies, ineffective methods and passing up proven returns from innovation
Uncertainty is holding back investment in the UK: political uncertainty about Brexit and its impacts on business – and wider economic uncertainty amid trade wars, faltering economic growth, and fears of recession.
Economists tell us this is the reason foreign investors and local businesses are delaying decisions on investment in new ventures, buildings, acquisitions, plant and equipment.
Contract cleaning is not insulated against that economic chill. Your clients would feel the effects too. So, given all this uncertainty, should contractors put investment on the long finger too?
Yes and no. Before acquiring a rival or taking on bigger premises, it’d be prudent to re-examine projections and assumptions. But the business case may still stack up.
And when it comes to certain investment decisions, you can have certainty – not least, about better equipment that increases productivity and boosts performance.
Remember, in bad times even more than in good, it is the efficient and competitive contractor that survives and thrives.
Equipping your cleaning team more effectively is not a matter of investing with hope, but hard-headed calculation.
Will this kit reduce the time our people take to do their job? Will it match, or preferably, improve the cleaning results we deliver? What will be the savings in payroll and/or output, and usage of cleaning solutions and consumables? And finally, how quickly will these savings from this new way of working pay back on our investment?
This is what we call Return on Innovation.
When cost of ownership and cleaning performance give clear, proven returns, then innovation is no longer a cost. RoI turns innovation into a cost cutter and a profit provider. The best of innovation also helps you deliver a higher standard of service, providing a competitive advantage and/or justifying a price premium.
So it may be true that uncertainty is the enemy of investment. But be careful you know where the real enemy lies.
It could well lie in caution, aversion to change and in false economies. For example, a contractor may assume that sticking with mops and buckets is the most economical set-up for cleaning floors.
But first, factor in the cost of labour (around 75% of the cleaning budget), and consumption of disinfectants and chemicals, and then the cleaning time and cost per square metre of floor or toilet. Then compare with a reliable automated method. The comparison tends to change minds and the bottom line.
An alternative, relatively low-tech system can automate mopping at a fraction of the price of labour-intensive mopping or a scrubber-dryer. Unlike mopping solution in a bucket that becomes increasingly more contaminated, the OmniFlex dispenses clean solution and suctions away the soils.
As this crossover system is modular, contractors can even make the transition to more efficient cleaning in steps, adding modules and spreading the comparatively low cost further.
Tests show that mops at best temporarily displace dirt and bacteria – another real enemy – as mopheads drag them back into cleaned areas. And they fail to dislodge embedded contaminants in crevices and grout lines.
The OmniFlex is 30-60 times more effective at removing dirt and contaminants from kitchens, dining and washroom floors than entirely manual cleaning methods.
In the case of washrooms and toilets, the contractor can exploit automation further with a No Touch Cleaning system. It allows the operator to spray solution at high pressure on all surfaces – from floors to toilet bowls and all touch points, and wet-vacuum away the soils.
This approach is 2-3 times faster, so the payback is rapid. In both cases, a truly hygienic standard of cleanliness can be delivered reliably and consistently.
For the client, there’s the assurance of a healthier environment for building users. And because daily cleaning is effective, the need for disruptive and expensive deep cleans is avoided.
Finally, it is important to note that the cleaning results – like the business case for innovation – can be proven, by ATP testing.
You can flush away the uncertainty.
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