Cleaning: where to next?

by FM Media
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GERRY GOLDBERG, president of the National Cleaning Suppliers Association of Australia (NCSA), takes a look at the direction in which cleaning is moving.

There has been recognition by the major players in the cleaning industry for some time now that we need change.
There is a general understanding that the old dog-eat-dog, cut-the-price-and-cut-corners to get a contract mentality cannot continue. The world of cleaning and hygiene is becoming a more and more sophisticated place, not just with cleaning techniques that are evolving consistently, but also with the place of cleaning in the management of facilities.
In addition, the instability generated by the cut-price policies means that cleaning is often a far from profitable venture. However, once contractors get into the ‘price is everything’ mindset, they find it extremely difficult – or, perhaps, too complicated – to move to better arrangements.

The result of this realisation has been the move to establish a cleaning and hygiene council, an industry umbrella body embracing all associations involved in cleaning, from suppliers and manufacturers to cleaning contractors and training organisations. One of the main objectives is to ensure that the entire industry recognises that there is a need for standards to be set, to be measurable and to be maintained.

Property managers have really only been able to judge cleaning standards on a subjective basis up to now, and, where that basis differs from the contractors’ viewpoint, it leads to arguments and, sometimes, confrontation. On the other hand, where outcomes can be stipulated in contracts and then the results measured, both parties end up satisfied and the cutting of corners is eliminated.
Of course, all parties recognise that there is no quick fix. This is not going to be an overnight wonder. But it is where the future lies.
Insofar as the suppliers of cleaning and hygiene products are concerned, this can only be beneficial. At present, contractors who are under the pump because of the relative unprofitability of their contracts demand extra discounts or cut prices from their suppliers. Never mind that supplies only constitute 10 percent of the cost of the contract and never mind that a five percent discount on all supplies equates to only a 0.5 percent saving on the overall contract.
With the quality of the work supplied for the price contracted becoming more important than the price alone, the quality of the products used and their ability to provide better results becomes more important. Value for money should and will become a priority, both in the contract itself and in the supply of product to execute the contract. New, more productive techniques and equipment are embraced.
Of course, this is not the sole factor motivating the development of the council, but it is a most important one. If the final result is an upgrading of cleaning and hygiene standards, profitable contracts for all parties and a reduction of debate as to the quality of work performed as well as the provision of quality products and new techniques to provide better value, then invaluable objectives will have been achieved.

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