The world of cleaning has changed so drastically in the past few years the purchasing process has similarly had to evolve to keep up, writes Nilfisk Direct’s Denise Campbell.
The world of cleaning has changed so drastically in the past few years, the purchasing process has similarly had to evolve to keep up. With planning and consideration, purchasing can reap short- and long-term benefits for contractors and clients alike.
This year we will continue to see the rise of renting, as it offers far better value. In days gone by renting meant the equipment supplier worked with a financial institution, often receiving a high interest rate and as a result paying back two to three times what the machine was worth over a fixed period, which was passed on to the customer and in the end the machine was handed back.
Now we finance everything in-house and own the machines ourselves, granting us immense flexibility with price and term of the agreement. As a result, it is much more cost-effective and efficient to rent; clients receive extensive service and support and are able to return the old machinery after the rental term in exchange for a new one.
We have encountered so many contractors with containers overflowing with old machines wasting away because they never factored in the long-term impacts of owning those assets, and failed to correctly write them off over the years. Renting is a great way of locking in your costs and avoiding that conundrum.
The purchasing process itself has not changed drastically, but the volume of information available to buyers is now greater than ever. The first step is to take the purchaser away from their preconceived ideas and temporarily forget the budget, instead trying to really understand what they are trying to achieve. However, everyone loves Google, and the problem is that many purchasers simply ‘Google’ a machine, decide it is right for them and request it, when in reality it is completely unsuitable for their needs. Therefore the vast majority of what the Nilfisk Direct Team do is essentially education.
When people have been using machines for a long time, they have a preconceived notion of what they want. However, product technology and research and development have come so far in the past decade that we really need to educate clients about the new options and how they can serve them better.
There are a few sizeable dangers of an ill-conceived purchasing process. The primary concern is poor cleaning as a result of an inadequate machine or a supplier that doesn’t provide the necessary support. As a result, machines break down more often, clients are unhappy, the level of cleanliness is reduced and contracts are not renewed.
What’s more, the cost of ownership can also be greatly increased. Those on a tight budget can be lured into buying machines that are initially cheaper, but the accumulative cost of ownership can be far greater than what a more considered purchase would have been.
Sometimes budgets have been unrealistically set by clients or senior members of an organisation who have unworkable expectations, and the resultant purchases never fulfil their requirements and only create more problems than they solve. Many companies do indeed choose machines that are less than what they need, incorrectly believing that extra labour and periodical cleans can fill the deficit.
On the other hand, purchases that are better considered equate to a lower total cost of ownership, increased productivity, reduced costs of parts, happier clients and staff and greater contract retention. And money need not be the defining factor; often the contractors who maintain longer contracts and have them renewed are not the cheapest. Clients value their investment in training, machines and support and are confident that they are dedicated to delivering the very best outcomes.
In 2017 we worked with many large companies that purchased smaller machines that can get into tiny areas, thereby totally eliminating manual cleaning. While these organisations already have many other machines, technology in machinery has improved so significantly that these smaller units are now far more effective at cleaning, whilst also being more manageable and convenient.
Another big trend is autonomous cleaning, which frees up the operator to carry out other tasks while the machine is programmed and does all the work for them. Shopping centres are particularly fond of this technology and are pushing their cleaning companies to utilise it, believing that there are costs to be saved.
Meanwhile, larger transportation and logistics companies are no strangers to robotics, so while it seems like a very natural progression for them they may require more time to embrace it from a cleaning perspective. It is definitely an exciting area to watch in 2018.
This first appeared in the March/April issue of INCLEAN magazine. To subscribe, click here.