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Elevating standards and sustainability in the cleaning industry 08/12/2023

THE CBS Arena in Coventry buzzed with energy and innovation on 6 December 2023, as it played host to the prestigious Cleaning Excellence Conference & Awards.

Showcasing a lineup of distinguished industry leaders and experts, this event served as a catalyst for driving discussions on elevating standards, embracing sustainability, and fostering professionalism within the cleaning industry.

The event, which was sponsored by 2 Pure, also boasted an additional conference hosted by the British Institute of Cleaning Sciences (BICSc) and a large exhibition area, with double the attendees to the previous year. 

The Cleaning Excellence conference kicked off with Paul Ashton, CEO of Birkin and chairman of the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA), setting the tone for the day. His vision of stimulating impactful transformations and benchmarking standards resonated throughout the audience. Ashton's focus on creating a robust support network and uplifting the industry's collective profile set the stage for a day of insightful discussions.

James Lee from the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) unveiled a groundbreaking report aimed at aiding buyers in discerning authentic sustainability initiatives from misleading greenwashing practices. His emphasis on maintaining ethical standards and promoting sustainable solutions echoed the industry's growing commitment to environmental responsibility.

Nick Winstone of Biovate Hygienics captivated attendees with his unwavering dedication to revolutionising the industry through sustainable, biological cleaning products. His collaborative approach and vision for a greener future showcased the power of collective action in achieving sustainability goals.

Neil Spencer-Cook, group managing director of BICSc, stressed the importance of skill enhancement and apprenticeships, emphasising their value in nurturing talent within the cleaning domain.

Mike Jenkins, clerk to the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners (WCEC), highlighted the significance of professional recognition and career advancement within the cleaning industry through the Chartered Practitioner’s Register.

In an incredible lively presentation Natalie Bungay from the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) shared her invaluable insights into identifying and managing common pests in premises, imparting knowledge crucial for effective pest control practices. Natalie changed her talk at the last minute as a number of delegates had asked her opinion on the problem of bed bugs which has been recently hitting the headlines. 

Daniel Cross, UK Marketing Manager at Tennant UK, provided a glimpse into the future by examining the evolving role of robotics in professional cleaning, shedding light on its potential impact. Following Daniel's talk Duncan McLaren, director of sales at Taqt, outlined the transformative potential of digitisation and IoT in optimising resource management and sustainability efforts in the cleaning industry.

Headlining the conference, Delia Cannings, chair of the British Cleaning Council (BCC), emphasised the criticality of education, addressing COVID variants, and professional development within the industry.

The conference seamlessly transitioned into The Cleaning Excellence Awards, celebrating exceptional achievements and innovations within the industry. It was a momentous occasion, acknowledging trailblazers and their contributions toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.

As the day concluded, networking drinks sponsored by The Hill Club provided an opportunity for attendees to forge connections, fostering collaborations that would further propel the industry towards greater heights.

The Cleaning Excellence Conference & Awards 2023 wasn't just a convergence of industry professionals; it was a testament to the collective commitment to elevate standards, embrace sustainability, and pave the way for a brighter future in the cleaning and hygiene sector.

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Cleaning Excellence Awards 2023 winners unveiled 07/12/2023

THE WINNERS of the Cleaning Excellence Awards have been revealed, following an unprecedented number of entries.

The winners were announced at The Cleaning Excellence Conference & Awards, which took place at the Coventry Building Society Arena on 6 December 2023.

The free-to-attend event, which included an exhibition, 6+ hours of CPD content, an additional conference by the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and networking drinks sponsored by The Hill Club, was organised by Western Business Media.

The hall was filled with cheers when the Cleaning Operative of the Year winner was unveiled, with Renato De Souza and the team from OCS Group UK/International Facilities Management Company relishing the trophy.

The coveted Lifetime Achievement Award was won by Stan Atkins, who recently stepped back from his role as Group CEO at BICSc, having boasted a distinguishing career cementing the organisation's reputation as the foremost authority in the cleaning industry. He also helped establish BICSc Training and Services; the implementation of innovative tools such as the CPSS review, the assessor's app; and the BICSc Cleaning and Hygiene Audit app. 

The winners of each category were: 

Outstanding Achievement in Infection Prevention and Control

Commended: ICE Cleaning (ICE Services Group Ltd) - ICE SHIELD

Highly Commended: Orion Eco Solutions - OEShieLd

Winner: OXONOX - AirSpace range


Cleaning & hygiene team of the year

Commended: GSA’s Hygiene Team - Selfridges

Highly Commended: Xenon Services - Berkeley Square House

Highly Commended: A Quality Service (AQS) - Principality Stadium

Winner: APLEONA HSG - Roehampton University


Cleaning operative of the year - Sponsored by Jangro

Commended: Valentim Alves - Cleanology

Highly Commended: Taisia Cobilas - Birkin Group

Winner: Renato De Souza - OCS Group UK/International Facilities Management Company


Going Above and Beyond Expectations - Sponsored by Suzanne Howe Communications

Commended: Ismet Toros - Emcor 

Highly Commended: Anna Psztyk - A Quality Service Ltd. (Part of Tudor Group Ltd.)

Winner: Natalia Kaczmarek - Mitie


Innovative product of the year

Commended: Kimberly-Clark Professional - ICON collection

Highly Commended: APLEONA UK - Clean Zero

Winner: Biovate Hygienics - ZERO COMPROMISE range


Outstanding Customer Service

Commended: ICE Cleaning (ICE Services Group Ltd) - ICE Cleaning customer service team

Highly Commended: APLEONA UK - Adrian Mic

Highly Commended:Jangro - Jangro Customer Service Team

Winner: University of Birmingham - Sue Wood


Rising Star in the Cleaning Industry

Commended: Nathan Charlton - Never Bin Cleaner

Highly Commended: Maria McMurchy - University of Birmingham

Winner: Olga Bancov - Birkin Group


Supervisor of the Year

Commended: Mark Rushbrook - Mitie

Highly Commended: Chris Cunningham - ICE Cleaning (ICE Services Group Ltd)

Winner: Jeanette Carrington - OCS


Sustainable company of the year

Commended: Soap₂o

Highly Commended: Property Support Services UK

Winner: Hive Cleaning


Lifetime Achievement Award - Sponsored by ICE Cleaning

Stan Atkins


For more information visit: https://cleaningexcellenceawards.com

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Western Business Media wins three major awards 27/11/2023

WESTERN BUSINESS Media (WBM) has won three of the top awards at the PPA Independent Publisher Awards only days after completing a major acquisition.

WBM was named Independent Publishing Company of the Year and it also saw Fire Safety Matters win Business Publication of the Year and Logistics Matters win Relaunch of the Year. The news comes in the same week as WBM completed the acquisition of Professional Security Installer, Risk Xtra and Benchmark magazines.

These latest honours mean that WBM has won six major industry awards over the past two years. The judges described WBM as “being committed to its audience’s needs and creating new and innovative ideas to engage and build relationships across all verticals. An authentic entry with a great deal of information to support it.”

Referencing Fire Safety Matters, the judges said: “We loved this entry because it was full of facts, had loads of numbers to back up the story and lots of good joined up thinking going on.”

Commenting on Logistics Matters the judges said: “Logistics Matters used real insights and feedback to make informed decisions. Grade A research.”

WBM chief executive officer Mark Sennett adds: “We were blown away and truly humbled to win three of the top awards at the PPA Independent Publisher Awards. It marked the end of the most satisfying week in our company’s history, winning these awards after completing a major acquisition felt even more special. The awards were actually the first time we were able to introduce our new staff to our existing team. So, it was a truly a day none of us will ever forget.

“These awards are a testament to the hard work of our staff and we are incredibly proud to have won these awards. I’d like to thank the PPA and the judges for this tremendous honour. I’d like to dedicate these wins to our staff, clients and readers as we couldn’t have done it without you.”

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Cleaning Excellence Conference & Awards is on its way! 08/12/2023

The Cleaning Excellence Conference & Awards makes a return to the Coventry Building Society Arena on 6 December 2023 and it has already become the must-attend event of the year.

THE EVENT, organised by Western Business Media, is free-to-attend and will include access to an exhibition, 6+ hours of CPD content in the lecture theatre, access to the Cleaning Excellence Awards presentation and a networking drinks sponsored by The Hill Club.

This year, for the first time, the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) will co-host a conference offering delegates a full day of CPD seminars, as well as insight into the latest training services for the cleaning industry. 

Visitors will also have free access to The Cleaning Excellence Awards, which recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations in the cleaning industry.

The Cleaning Excellence Awards shine a spotlight on the most innovative products, services and individuals. From technological innovations and smart solutions, to sustainability and individual commitment, the awards celebrate standards of excellence throughout the professional cleaning and hygiene sector.

Attendees will have plenty of opportunities to network with fellow professionals, and the conference will conclude with a Networking Party in collaboration with The Hill Club. Guests can enjoy free drinks making it a great opportunity to socialise and unwind after a day of learning and networking.

The collaboration between BICSc and The Cleaning Excellence Conference and Awards promises to be a unique event that will bring together the best of the cleaning industry.

Last year’s Cleaning Excellence Conference and Awards was a huge hit with both delegates and exhibitors. The addition of a BICSc Conference to be co-located at this year’s event means there will be even more high-level delegates - and it also means that BICSc will be able to offer this conference as a free benefit to all its members.

With free admission and a jam-packed itinerary, this conference is an opportunity not to be missed.

To register visit tinyurl.com/374yd62n

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Cleaning Excellence Awards: Deadline extended! 20/10/2023

DUE TO an unprecedented number of entries the deadline for the Cleaning Excellence Awards has been extended to Friday 27 October in order to provide more time to submit your entries.

New Submission Deadline: Friday, 27 October at 23:59

The awards spotlight the most innovative products, services, and individuals. From technological innovations and smart solutions to sustainability and individual commitment, the awards celebrate standards of excellence throughout the professional cleaning and hygiene sector.

Awards categories include:

  • Cleaning & Hygiene Team of the Year

  • Cleaning Operative of the Year (Sponsored by Jangro)

  • Innovative Product of the Year

  • Sustainable Company of the Year

  • Going Above and Beyond Expectations

  • Supervisor of the Year

  • Rising Star in the Cleaning Industry

  • Outstanding Achievement in Infection Prevention and Control

  • Outstanding Customer Service.

Chris Shaw, editor of Cleaning Matters said: "As organisers, we are thrilled to see the overwhelming response to the Cleaning Excellence Awards. To accommodate the exceptional number of entries, we've extended the deadline. This is your chance to join the ranks of excellence in the cleaning and hygiene sector, so don't wait - submit your entries and let your achievements shine. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to gain recognition for your hard work and dedication."

FINAL DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: Friday 27 October 2023 at 11:59PM

To enter visit https://cleaningexcellenceawards.com/award-categories​

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The case for rehabilitation 17/10/2023

For ex-offenders, finding employment can be hard. Multiple internal and external barriers stand in their way, including mental health issues and employer stigmatisation. Kelly Dolphin describes a project that is working to change this landscape by giving tailored support and career pathways to ex-offenders, which can bolster the UK workforce.

EVERYONE MAKES mistakes. Whether it be at work or at home, whether they be big or small, mistakes are what make us human. 

However, some mistakes are more life-altering than others. For criminal behaviour, the phrase “do the crime, pay the time” is applied and upheld by the UK justice system. While these sentences reflect the choices made by offenders, their repayment often extends far beyond their sentencing.

Numerous factors cause ex-offenders to reoffend after their release. Childhood trauma, schooling issues, family issues (prior to offending), drug use, mental health issues, PTSD, accommodation, and employment. All of these, especially from a young age, can result in criminal behaviour. 

Between 2000-2021, 49% of convictions were for prolific offenders, those who have been convicted of 15 or more offences. Indeed, 76% of these offenders had received their first prison sentence by the age of 21. 

Re-offenders often start out young. Without existing structures of support in an individuals’ youth, a lack of employment opportunities can turn them to criminal behaviour. Once released, both employer and wider social stigmatisation ensures they repeat this cycle. 

Organisations have the power to change this. 

Newer statistics show rapid progress has been made to boost employment for prison leavers. The number of ex-offenders successfully steered into jobs within 6 months has more than doubled, from 14% to 30% since April 2021.

In April 2023, data showed that the proportion of prison leavers finding work within six weeks of release had increased from 15% to 19% compared to a year prior. A further 30% also found work after 6 months, up from 23%.

Through these initiatives, we can break this vicious cycle. 

Providing much needed support 

The UK has a labour shortage, especially amongst younger generations. The UK Labour Market Overview reported that the market was lagging behind pre-pandemic employment rates for 16-64 year olds. 

This gap must be filled, and ex-offenders are the answer. An untapped workforce, many are highly skilled and enthusiastic to be given a chance to change their lives. However, stigmatisation means that many struggle to gain employment. 

Progress can only be achieved through holistic methods of rehabilitation. One way to ensure this is through local community partnerships between charities and employers, to provide a range of accommodations and catered action plans. 

Before opportunities can be given, ex-offenders first need empathy, openness and understanding. By instilling trust in those previously left dejected and unheard, lives can be transformed. Together, organisations can make positive social and economic changes, and plug damaging labour gaps in the process. 

The FM industry is poised to facilitate these changes. Cleaning roles, which offer flexibility for shift-work hours, can build up employee skill over time without requiring qualifications and can offer progression to managerial roles. 

These opportunities can also translate into further career progression both inside and outside the FM roles themselves. By coming together, multiple FM companies can offer career pathways through partnering with their client organisations. 

The best way to exemplify just how successful rehabilitation schemes can be is by hearing the success stories, firsthand: 

Niall’s story 

Niall is a former convict working as a cleaner in SBFM’s head offices. He was given a career progression opportunity through SBFM’s project Evolve, and its work with HMP Wealstun. 

Niall said: “After taking the leap and coming out as gay in 2014, I faced a lot of abuse in my first relationship. When I eventually broke up with my partner, I was also the one to leave the home we had built together. 

“From there. I messed up completely. I abused drugs, stopped showing up to my warehouse job, fell out with friends, and fell in with an older crowd. This led me to committing a crime. 

“When my co-defendants made a plea deal against me, I knew I’d face more prison time. So, for the most part, I spent my bail period re-committing myself to my family. But I couldn’t bring myself to face my fate after serving time less than a decade before. I missed my court date and committed further offences on bail. 

“This added an extra nine months to my sentence, but now I see it as a blessing in disguise. During the final weeks of my sentence, I found SBFM. 

“When I left prison after my first offence, I struggled with the employment process. I enjoyed my warehouse job, but I felt constantly judged by employers. 

“When I was asked about my criminal history in one job interview, I wanted the floor to swallow me up. When people expect you to reoffend, a small part of you thinks somehow, you might as well. 

“Everything was different with Evolve. Getting a job before you leave prison is unheard of, so I thought the programme was too good to be true. After I met with the team, I felt like I could be open about my past and my current struggles them. I could see SBFM’s enthusiasm for my progression. It really felt like someone cared about me. 

“Only a week after leaving prison, I started my first role as a cleaner for PureGym, an SBFM Evolve Partner. For the first time with an employer, I didn’t have to lie, hide, or pretend to be someone I’m not. All I’ve ever wanted is to be myself. 

“I started to feel self-conscious in the fitness environment. I had gained nine stone in prison and felt anxious there. When I told my SBFM manager, Staci, she offered me a transfer within a day. I then began a cleaning role in SBFM’s main office. It was a pinch-yourself moment. Not only did this company offer me a job, they cared about my happiness too. 

“The support Evolve offers has helped grow in confidence. In my personal life, my friends and family have noted how I now descale conflict, rather than escalate it. I can be who I want to be, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted. This scheme has given me a sense of purpose as well as a career path. 

“I’m not going to lie, I still have struggles, but this support makes a world of difference. Though I’m happy cleaning right now, I really want to grow with Evolve. I hope to progress to the helpdesk, or maybe become a cleaning area manager. Evolve has given me opportunities former offenders often struggle to access. I want to do right by SBFM and make them proud.” 

Agnes’ story 

Agnes Becsei is now Head of Projects for SBFM. After years of experiencing employment disadvantages firsthand, she is now dedicating her time to giving historically hidden workers the chance to shine, through Evolve. 

Through her own informal mentorship, she progressed to a Regional Manager role. Despite her advancement, she was unable to help against the stigmatisation of Roberto, an ex-offender and one of her mentees: 

“Roberto was a highly regarded Store Cleaning Manager who was great at his job in every respect. However, a year before it was due to be cleared, his previous criminal conviction was uncovered at work.  

“The retail client didn’t accept anyone with a criminal history as either direct staff or through contractors, so they instigated dismissal. 

“I did everything in my power to keep Roberto. We lost one of our best Cleaning Managers due to an unfair judgement of his past. That was the criminal part. What message does that send? He had a wife and two children to support, and this could have pushed him back to criminality by depriving him of his income. 

“After an extremely tough year mentally and financially, his record was cleared, and he could get back on his feet. There are so many barriers for hidden workers that I hope to address with Evolve. After my own experiences, I strongly believe that if people are willing, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help them.” 

Moving forward

Both Niall and Agnes felt helpless when faced with barriers to rehabilitation. The immediate dismissal, or lack of empathy towards ex-offenders’ mental, physical, and environmental struggles, leave many ex-offenders feeling the same way. 

Colin Shute, owner and founder of SBFM, reflected on this sentiment: “By enabling the reintegration of ex-offenders into the labour market, our industry can transform lives. This holds immense advantages for UK business, while also serving as a crucial lifeline for individuals in search of employment opportunities. It is important to help these individuals who need a jump-start, especially as many were already trained and skilled workers in their past.” 

SBFM’s Evolve project extends beyond prisoner rehabilitation. The scheme offers career progression plans for multiple groups: care leavers, people with unseen disabilities, former sports professionals, long term unemployed individuals, and ex-forces personnel. 

This can only be achieved by bridging together non-profit organisations, local authorities, and SBFM’s clients, who are titled Evolve Partners. 

Everyone makes mistakes, but everyone deserves the chance to start again. Ex-offenders are the clear answer to a growing labour shortage, and further vulnerable workers deserve equal opportunities in the workplace. We can achieve this, but only when organisations across the industry offer a helping hand. 

Kelly Dolphin is people and culture director at SBFM.

For more information visit https://sb-fm.co.uk/​

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Webinar: "Sustainability in the Cleaning Sector: The Impact of our Decisions"  20/10/2023

CLEANING MATTERS magazine is hosting a webinar that delves into the heart of sustainability within the cleaning sector. Titled "Sustainability in the Cleaning Sector: The Impact of our Decisions," this event is scheduled to take place on 22 November 2023, from 10:30am to 11:30am.

In a world where every decision carries an environmental footprint, it's crucial to explore how we can collectively reduce our impact. The webinar aims to shed light on this vital subject, with a particular focus on the cleaning sector's role in addressing environmental concerns, especially in the context of greenhouse gas emissions.

The panel of experts will engage in an insightful discussion, sharing valuable insights, strategies, and examples from industry leaders who have actively worked to enhance their supply chain, with an emphasis on reducing their carbon footprint. The aim is to inspire and guide the audience on how to make more sustainable choices and minimize the sector's environmental impact.

Key discussion points include:

  1. Efficient Resource Management: Exploring how the cleaning sector can minimise waste, optimise resource use, and ensure employee safety
  2. Leveraging Purchasing Power: Discussing how organisations can use their purchasing influence to further their broader sustainability missions
  3. Future Preparedness: Examining strategies and measures to prepare for a sustainable future.

The esteemed panel will be hosted by Chris Shaw, editor of Cleaning Matters magazine, who will steer the conversation towards actionable insights and best practices.

Featured presenters:

  • Jared Elvin: global sustainability and renewable energy lead at Kimberly-Clark
  • Jo Mullins: sustainable innovation leader at Kimberly-Clark Professional, EMEA
  • Amy Carter: sustainability manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional, UK & Ireland.

All attendees will receive a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certificate to support their professional development. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from industry experts and gain valuable insights to foster sustainability within your organisation.

Join us on 22nd November 2023, as we collectively take a step toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future within the cleaning sector.

To secure your spot at this informative webinar, register for free at https://events.streamgo.live/sustainability-in-the-cleaning-sector-the-impact-of-our-decisions/register

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StreetKind campaign cleans up with kindness  16/10/2023

VEOLIA AND Sheffield City Council are taking a stand to tackle unacceptable verbal and physical abuse that frontline colleagues face on a daily basis as they carry out their essential duties. 

In partnership, Veolia and Sheffield City Council provide the city with recycling and waste collection services. While executing these essential duties, frontline staff reported over 40 cases of abuse from the general public in 2022. Although most people treat frontline staff with respect and kindness, a surge in physical and verbal abuse has prompted both the council and Veolia to launch this campaign.


The campaign's primary focus is to support frontline teams by creating a safer working environment. It includes a comprehensive training program designed to help staff defuse volatile situations, handle incidents effectively, and understand when to involve the police.


As part of the campaign, a series of videos using actual 360° CCTV footage from collection vehicles have been created to shed light on the abuse experienced by frontline staff. In one scenario, a van can be seen mounting the pavement to drive around the vehicle while workers are emptying bins - putting both them and the public in danger. In another instance, a member of the public can be seen physically attacking a worker for not accepting extra waste.


Sheffield residents can actively support the campaign online by using the hashtag #StreetKind and by showing their appreciation to frontline teams in person with a smile and a wave as they go about their duties. These dedicated staff work tirelessly in all weather conditions to ensure efficient waste collection, contributing to a cleaner city, even though their essential work often goes unnoticed.


The StreetKind campaign will also focus on improving road safety and promoting safe behaviors around collection vehicles. Many incidents result from impatient drivers who do not allow workers to carry out their duties safely.


By coming together with Sheffield residents through the StreetKind campaign, the aim is to foster a caring and respectful community. 


Richard Hulland, Veolia’s chief risk & assurance officer, Northern Europe said: “I talk to our people on a regular basis and they are passionate about their work and their teams. No one should be abused simply for doing their job and we’re determined to combat this unacceptable trend. That’s why I was delighted to see our StreetKind campaign win at this year’s Awards for Excellence. 


“As well as appealing to the public to show their appreciation for our teams, our campaign focuses on training and support for our employees to respond to incidents. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our teams and will take the most serious action for the most serious attacks, including criminal prosecutions, in order to build a safer workplace environment for our colleagues.”


Cllr Joe Otten, chair of the Waste and Street Scene Committee at Sheffield City Council said: “Our workers do an excellent job every day and Streetkind encourages us to show even more appreciation for their efforts. We hope through this campaign we can reduce the abuse workers can sometimes receive while delivering critical services for our city and I’m proud to support it.”

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Western Business Media shortlisted for 10 awards 16/10/2023

WESTERN BUSINESS Media (WBM) has been shortlisted for 10 awards at the prestigious PPA Independent Publisher Awards.

WBM publisher of seven business to business publications, holds nine live events, multiple awards ceremonies and also provides contract publishing services. In addition to Cleaning Matters, publications include Health and Safety Matters, Controls Drives and Automation, Logistics Matters, Fire Safety Matters, Security Matters and Industrial Plant and Equipment.

The PPA Independent Publisher Awards has announced that WBM has 10 entries shortlisted across seven categories. These include:

  • Western Business Media Ltd - Independent Publishing Company of the Year
  • Fire Safety Matters Magazine - Business publication of the Year AND Media Brand of the Year
  • Health and Safety Matters - Media Brand of the Year
  • Logistics Matters - Relaunch of the Year
  • British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) Guide and Fire Industry Association Guide both shortlisted for Commercial Partnership of the Year
  • The Safety & Health Excellence Awards - Event of the Year
  • Fire Safety Matters Live - Event of the Year
  • WBM sales team - Team of the Year.

WBM has now been shortlisted for 36 industry awards in the past four years and has won three during this period.

WBM chief executive officer Mark Sennett commented: “We are thrilled to have all 10 of our entries shortlisted for these prestigious industry awards, which we have been lucky enough to win the last two years in a row.

“It’s an honour to be recognised by our peers. So, thank you to the PPA and the judges. This is a testament to our staff who work so hard to create the highest quality content and events.

“I’d also like to thank our partners, clients and also our audience as we couldn’t do what we do without you.”

The winners of the PPA Independent Publisher Awards will be revealed at a ceremony in London on 24 November 2023. 

You can see the full shortlist at https://ppaindpub.co.uk/2023/en/page/shortlist

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A smarter approach to contract retention 30/10/2023

Contract review time can be a white-knuckle experience for many cleaning businesses. You think you’ve maintained decent audit scores, but, as Sam Roberts observes, is that enough: have you delivered the expected outcome and will they or won’t they sign on the dotted line?

CONTRACT RETENTION is all about trust. You shouldn’t wait for your client to raise an issue with you as if you’ve been caught out like a naughty schoolboy. By the time a client complains it’s too late – trust is damaged. Flagging a problem and proposing a solution before your client even spots it demonstrates your transparency and hands-on management, and that you’re not sleepwalking through the contract. 

You’ve been TUPE’d

Since TUPE legislation protects your employees’ jobs, if the client decides to terminate your contract, they’re obliged to retain all the cleaners. This means that, harsh as it sounds, what the customer is effectively terminating is their relationship with you.

If this keeps happening, it’s time to question why the management part of the service is so disposable.

Cleaning providers need to proactively manage their delivery, but to do this you must have both real-time data and detailed insight into your operations that drive real improvement.

It might feel like you have to be everywhere at once, but the truth is you don’t. In fact with the right technology you can actually be in less places, with less resource, and achieve far greater results. The secret is dynamic cleaning, backed by watertight data capture and transparent real-time reporting.

Let’s start with dynamic cleaning

Dynamic cleaning is one of those rare phenomena – a development that’s a win for everyone involved. Soft FM companies can cut costs and improve the quality of their delivery, customers enjoy better value and higher standards, and the cleaners are under less pressure with clear direction on where to focus their efforts and maximise their productivity.

It involves the intelligent deployment of works management software combined with a network of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. These might include, PIR (person in room), footfall, door open and desk occupancy sensors to identify areas that have seen heavy usage, allowing the software to automatically direct cleaners to where they are needed.

Proven Results

Let’s look at how this works in practice. One client has a contract to clean a 36-floor site with over 100 washrooms. Seven cleaners were required to attend the washrooms alone.

Simple door open sensors were introduced to indicate footfall to each washroom, which after a specified number of visits, triggers an alert to the team’s smart phones to attend.

This means that while every area still has a daily clean, the two previously scheduled spot-check cleans have been replaced with an automatic call based on usage. With the most intensively used areas receiving the attention needed to keep them spotless, at the expense of the time previously wasted checking washrooms that hadn’t been used.

Call room service

To supplement the door sensors, the introduction of IoT call buttons enables building occupants, if they notice a clean is needed, to alert the cleaning team.

This drives user engagement and changing perceptions of the service. Instead of moaning about the state of the office kitchen, and blaming it on Dave from Accounts (sorry Dave), staff can simply press the call button to request a clean-up. When they then see cleaners turn up 20 minutes later they’re impressed with the prompt service.


Ace your audits

A year on, audit scores have improved dramatically, with dynamic cleaning. Now, if there are no reactive jobs coming from the washrooms, cleaners are instead directed to spend their time in areas that previously received the lowest audit scores. This common-sense approach has pushed 5/10 audit scores up to 9/10 as the cleaners now have the time to clean properly.

Dynamic working

So far, we’ve talked about the benefits of dynamic cleaning for a single site but these are multiplied when you’re working across several locations.

It’s also worth mentioning that the principle behind dynamic cleaning can be applied to almost any task in any industry. Sensors can flag when bins are full and need emptying, when public toilets are dirty and need cleaning, or when bulbs in a car park have blown and need replacing.

Taking a wider view, rather than pest control companies employing operatives to drive around the country checking if an animal has been caught in a trap, sensors can alert them when traps need emptying, resulting in time and fuel savings. Door mats, hospital ward curtains, laundry stores, consumable monitoring, temperature checks, lux levels…

You get the idea – this is a concept that can be applied to almost any aspect of your operations, with benefits that scale exponentially with the size of your business.

Present and past performance

This is by no means an exhaustive list of potential use cases. Essentially, dynamic scheduling is about exploiting the power of two sources of data: real-time usage of a facility and past audit performance. By aggregating these two data streams, businesses can effortlessly produce efficient and effective work schedules.

In short, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Data, data, data

Now your operations are dynamically optimised, it’s time to look at the information that is collected to start making those data-led enhancements which lead to exceptional service and increased contract retention.

The key is to collect far more detailed data on everything, auditing individual locations and the input hours across the same areas. If you can show your client that you are cognisant of both your efforts and your results, that you know where you’re doing well and where you need to direct your management efforts, you’re far more likely to build a trusting, open relationship with them that will put you in a far better position to retain the contract.

Go digital  

Digitalisation may seem like an abstract objective but in reality, it’s about practical solutions that give you oversight, understanding and control. Using a workflow management app, you collect data on everything your staff do, and a properly structured database lets you pull this data out in an intelligible way.

With this in place, there are some remarkably simple measures you can take. For example, in the same way your cleaners are expected to clock in to prove their presence on-site, you can ask your managers to do the same. Showing how often you actually visit a client’s site sends a powerful message. It’s a sign of commitment to your client and demonstrates that you care and are actively and transparently managing your team.

Even when you’re not on site, remote sensors and active use of your works management application by your employees keeps everyone in the loop – a live dashboard provides real-time updates and it’s easy to see what is happening on a daily basis.

Getting out what you put in 

Out-put based specifications are all the rage these days in FM, and conventional wisdom suggests that the only way you can prove you’ve done what you were contracted to do is through your audit scores. 

But, even if your scores have been consistently high, if they’re not showing any sign of improvement, it could be viewed as a reflection of how actively (or not) you’ve been managing the contract. 

Striving to achieve perfect scores is not necessarily the answer, in fact it could be argued that you’re overstaffed and that consequently, your client is paying too much. Instead, it can be more effective to benchmark their site against other sites you clean and show that performance is in line with the standard your business expects.

Keeping score 

Low scores are not something to hide. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your transparency and the strength of management to track improvement. Analyse the stronger and weaker areas of your offering and reallocate resources around the building where they can have the most impact. Reducing cleaning hours spent in higher scoring areas and diverting them to lower scoring areas to bring the scores up really professionalises your approach.

Differentiate yourself 

All of this relies on gathering the necessary data. Of course, you can’t simply look at a jumble of figures and identify what’s going wrong – you need a smart system to read the data and report by exception so you can start thinking about solutions. That’s where a platform like mpro5 comes in. I can’t stress the importance of this enough, because your works management software is what sets you apart from the competition. It determines the speed at which you understand what, if anything, is going wrong in the contract in near real-time and gives you the opportunity to show how you’re putting it right. 

It will also demonstrate your commitment to driving change and digitalisation: this is the future of cleaning and FM, with companies that embrace it being rewarded with better customer relations and stickier contracts.

Sam Roberts is sales director at Crimson Tide

For more information visit www.mpro5.com​

Tel: 01892 542444

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