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A good career move

29 October 2015

Bob Vincent, executive chairman of LCC Support Services, reflects on aspects of the industry over his 25 years in the profession.

"When I started my business cleaning offices was a mean, competitive place to be and the cleaner was considered by many to be inferior. Work had to be carried out at night because the office staff didn’t want to see or have to talk to them. Communications were by leaving a message with the security man or a written note. Today, fortunately, nothing is further from this scenario.

"Cleaning is a profession with professional standards and levels of service; professional training face to face or distance learning; professional awards for top quality work (Golden Service Awards which we have previously won); professional training organisations like BICSc and BFG; and professional clients who are up to speed on all of these aspects of the industry.


"When I started work, university was for the privileged and the majority of 15 or 16 year-old school leavers either worked in retail, factories or on construction sites.  Those with an eye to the future took up apprenticeships and other forms of ‘on the job’ learning. It’s strange how it has taken over two decades to go through the whole university thing and revert to good old fashioned learning at work with day release or distance learning.


Cleaning is now a profession

"The profession has got to grips with other changes like the increased immigrant workforce. Chemical companies prepare instructions and data sheets in a range of languages so there is no excuse for incorrect dilution or usage. Cleaning is now a profession where people can succeed, usually to any reasonable level in an organisation.  The industry welcomes all school leavers and anyone else interested who has the ‘service attitude’ and willingness to learn.  It is a pity that the Government does not promote this sector of the economy because in recent years, as our demand for higher hygiene standards increase, the number of cleaners required has grown.  Today the UK cleaning profession employs over a million people.


"Each year my business, one of the UK’s largest independent cleaning and support services businesses, continuously searches for enthusiastic young people to join the profession. Nobody has to sign up for a lifetime of cleaning. Once you can do this to a specified standard it is time to ask for more training to reach the next level.  You can soon become a team leader, a floor manager, a site controller and in a few years maybe an area manager responsible for multiple sites and site managers.  

The opportunities are there waiting to be grabbed.  An area manager’s role with a company car and mobile phone cannot be bad for a 26 year old and it’s not based on a minimum wage (at LCC we give a ‘living wage’).  


Everyone likes a reward

"Everybody likes a pat on the back and a ‘thank you’ occasionally. We all like incentives in life such as ‘buy one get one free’ in the supermarket, or in our business a national ‘Employee of the Month/Year’ Programme, regional awards and specialist task awards. We like to promote safety at work and get involved in the RoSPA Awards because they highlight the importance of health and safety which is everyone’s responsibility. Safety includes safe driving to, from and for work.  That is a win/win situation for employer, client and employee.  Clients love to have a winning team on their site and often they top up the prize with a gift.

Awards are usually retail or travel vouchers. Sometimes an award winner is recommended for promotion or an upgrade too.  We have found that there is nothing better than an incentive to motivate employees at all levels especially those who are lone workers at night (something we want to stop).

All service industries are based on delivering the promised level of service and a little bit more. Going the extra mile has a major impact on customers. That’s why clients now WANT cleaners around during the day so they can communicate with them and to give clear one-to-one briefs. It provides the opportunity to get to know the person responsible for keeping their workplace clean. It ensures that when a problem arises – overflowing recycling bins, flooded washroom floor, litter in reception etc – it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently and not delayed for the night shift cleaners.

There are a few people I know who have worked from cleaner level to senior management. Some of the MDs of cleaning companies have worked through the ranks. How can management understand the issues that affect cleaning tasks if they have no ‘hands on’ experience? Cleaning is an excellent career. After trying other more glamourous professions both my son and daughter have joined the business. Anyone can get into the industry at a very early age and with correct training, make it to the top. If I can do it so can anyone else! It’s down to hard work and attitude.

So what’s stopping you or your children joining such a great and growing profession with job opportunities for life?