How was 2020 for BIC? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?
2020 was incredibly challenging, but we managed to unearth plenty of positives too.
The onset of the pandemic was difficult. The national shutdown temporarily affected our operations. Luckily, the strength of the company meant we could weather that storm and come out the other side.
The highlight of the year is that we have grown tremendously as a brand. COVID-19 meant that suddenly, cleaning was centre stage, and we were playing a crucial role in the national recovery.
We were able to deepen our relationships with clients and win new business during this period, which is a testament to our ability to continue to deliver, despite the challenging broader context.
Our cleaning teams have also become frontline workers. It was a challenge, and a very personal concern of mine, to keep them all safe.
We’ve never dealt with a challenge of this magnitude before; we had to move quickly to level up our safety plans and make sure our service teams were safe.
How did BIC respond and adapt to the impact of the pandemic?
As soon as the pandemic was announced, we established a Pandemic Action Committee. We met every day during the height of the pandemic, and we still hold weekly meetings.
Crucially, acting quickly meant we could stay ahead of Government restrictions. We stayed cautious and had plans in place for each scenario. It certainly worked for us; we kept our staff safe and completed countless pandemic cleans to get our client’s buildings open again.
What will be the immediate focus for BIC in 2021?
Our immediate focus will be continuing to invest in our technology suite. We’ve rolled out our award-nominated Interactive Customer Experience Platform (ICXP) across eight major contracts and clients, with the technology facilitating a more customer-centric and proactive service.
The technology gives our clients immediate access to our service teams. Clients can input service requests via Customer Experience Kiosks, and the closest service team member will be alerted via a smart wearable. The technology also includes heatmapping, so we can track movement through facilities and compare service levels against asset usage.
This technology has been vital in stepping up our cleaning and hygiene procedures, without significantly adding to costs for clients. We can build asset usage profiles which show precisely when assets are most used.
We can then ensure high touch point cleaning protocols are performed either side of these periods. This targeted, data-driven approach means we can direct our resources to where they are most needed, creating a much more efficient, cost-effective service.
What long-term changes do you think will be implemented to business processes as a result of the pandemic?
We’ve always had a strong focus on training and upskilling. Our BIC Training Academy gives us the ability to conduct a lot of our training inhouse, which also means we can control the quality of that training. COVID-19 is here to stay, so high-level training around infection control will need to be provided to all new staff. It will also need to be provided to existing staff regularly.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry over the next 12 months?
The challenges and opportunities of 2021 are two sides of the same coin. The biggest challenge will be keeping our clients’ buildings open. We work in a service industry, so keeping buildings open is good for business, and that’s where the big opportunity lies.
The entire industry must be continually looking at ways to improve how we do things and make sure we stay ahead of the pandemic.
We are at the frontline and being proactive and scientific about the way we approach cleaning and hygiene will ensure businesses stay open, people can continue to come into work, and life goes back to normal.
The industry has never had a moment like this. It’s the impetus we need to make real and lasting improvements – we need to take this opportunity and run with it.
What trends you do expect to see in 2021?
The pandemic has temporarily taken climate change and sustainability off the front pages. But, as we move further into recovery, the pressure will still be on for businesses to deliver more sustainable services and products.
Clients are demanding it from their cleaning and hygiene service partners, and companies that don’t adapt and find a way to reduce their impact will be left behind.
It’s our responsibility to do whatever we can. We’re a national brand, so even small changes across our sites make an enormous difference.
Technology and innovation will also continue to expand in 2021. Innovation is good for the industry. It improves service delivery, cuts costs and most importantly, it gives people involved in the industry exposure to technology and access to a broader job market.
What is one issue the industry should urgently address in 2021?
Subcontracting and outsourcing mean there is still too much exploitation in the industry. The industry needs to focus on making direct employment the norm.
Companies that do subcontract or outsource need to ensure their supply chains are transparent and free from modern slavery or any other form of mistreatment.
What additional advice do you have for the cleaning community?
Look after your people and appreciate the sacrifices they made during the pandemic. Reward them by investing in their futures and providing access to rewarding careers.
Equip them with quality equipment and technology so they pick up skills they can use for the rest of their lives and transfer these skills into other roles.
If you look after your people, they will look after you, and that means they will look after your clients.
This article first appeared in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine.
Read the original article here.
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