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Counting the cost of cleaning

07 March 2013

At the present time, cutting costs is more important than ever to clients.Peter W Lloyd, divisional managing director, Initial Facilities Services, advises against rash decisions and cautions common sense

At the present time, cutting costs is more important than ever to clients.Peter W Lloyd, divisional managing director, Initial Facilities Services, advises against rash decisions and cautions common sense

The pressure from customers to reduce costs is greater than ever due to the current economic climate.Many companies are now reviewing overheads across their business and looking to see where savings can be made. In terms of cleaning, reduced budgets will ultimately lead to a lower level of service, so it's about taking a logical, common sense approach that balances savings opportunities against critical business needs.

Reducing the frequency of the cleaning operation offers immediate cost savings,with some companies switching from a daily service to alternate days.However, some businesses have taken more extreme measures, which in my opinion is a mistake. For example, one company introduced a deep clean just one day a week and then relied on its staff to maintain the cleanliness of the building for the remainder of the week.This not only distracted employees from their day-to-day roles, but also resulted in much poorer working conditions by the end of each week.

When a plan comes together Better planning offers a more effective alternative to simply reducing cleaning across a business. One of the simplest ways of reducing costs is taking a close look at the overall cleaning operation to focus resources to make the most of budgets. By classifying areas as either high or low profile it is possible to adapt the cleaning regime to concentrate on critical requirements.

Typically, areas such as the reception, entrance, washroom, meeting rooms and boardroom are seen as high profile, while back office and administrative spaces are seen as low profile.Companies need to undertake a range of initiatives to effectively remove costs from a cleaning operation without incurring damaging side affects.

Intelligent cleaning is a way of understanding the needs of an operation to reduce the required hours through better scheduling.

Daytime approach Switching to daytime cleaning offers a host of business and operational benefits including reduced costs, increased productivity and enhanced customer care.Additionally, reducing a building's opening hours, for example from 5am - 9pm down to 8am - 7pm, will enable it to be locked down for longer periods, offering reductions in operational costs such as heating, air conditioning and security.

This approach offers new levels of flexibility and the opportunity to respond to any situation. Schedules can be adapted to better meet the needs of customers whether this is identifying operational peaks, or arranging job allocations based on the planned usage of meeting rooms.Moreover, it enables an immediate response in the case of unforeseen accidents and spillages,minimising the required clean up time and promoting a clean and hygienic working atmosphere.

Outsourcing advantages Some companies may consider that they can reduce costs by taking a cleaning operation back in-house.However, organisations should not underestimate the knowledge and expertise possessed by a cleaning partner and the ability this provides to focus on core activity.

Most cleaning businesses will have access to specialist cleaning equipment that offers added efficiency benefits.There are also many hidden costs associated with in-house cleaning operations such as training and holiday cover, while companies won't possess the same buying power as their contractor so will have to pay a premium for equipment and cleaning products.

By choosing to work closely with a leading cleaning organisation there are often wider opportunities to benefit from a multi-service solution.Many cleaning companies are either part of a larger group or have partners in place to deliver an integrated service offering and achieve wider savings.

Simply slashing budgets is not necessarily the most effective means of lowering overheads, so it is worth taking a step back and considering all the options available and what issues need to be considered.What is important is that whatever steps are taken do not negatively impact on a business' core activity.