We have come far from the time when the mop and bucket were tools of the trade. The emphasis has now moved to the direct impact cleaning has on health and safety. Referencing ISSA’s white paper ‘The Value of Clean’, Sealed Air’s president and CEO Jerome Peribere in his presentation at the WFBSC Congress 2014 talked about the product that BSCs deliver to their customers and how, by unlocking a higher level of value, it can drive a business’ profitable growth.
“Historically cleaning has been viewed by facility managers and building managers as a cost centre and consequently decisions about cleaning expenditures have been one-dimensional and focused on the amount spent on cleaning. However review of the studies and empirical data reveals that cleaning activities impacts a business’ bottom line in numerous ways and that developing a deeper understanding of cleaning’s economic benefits will produce greater savings,” shared Peribere.
According to ISS group CEO Jeff Gravenhorst, the most important person on the cleaning team is the person on the front line. “We have to invest in these people so that they are efficient at what they do, so that they do it in a safe manner and so they have some joy and experience on a daily basis that makes them want to come back to work the next day.”
Peribere referenced the obvious cost of sick employees and how cleaning can reduce that risk. According to the ISSA’s white paper, the average worker is sick 7.7 days per year that costs businesses surplus of $200 billion per year, while absenteeism reduces productivity by 54 percent, and accounts for a 30 percent drop in sales and customer service. However, the study found that in a clean facility, occupants reduce the risk of catching cold or flu by 80 percent and absenteeism reduces as much as 46 percent.
“A clean facility isn’t just healthy, its cost saving. Workers are 2 to 8 percent more productive in a clean work environment, in a typical office this equates to $ 125,000 each year. Employers don’t just benefit, customers prefer cleanliness too,” stated Peribere. According to research customers value store cleanliness over all other attributes. “There is a customer expectation that we have to meet. Clean facilities are an investment in profitability.”
Peribere said that the essential needs of a business comprise of six categories: operational efficiency, health and safety, continuous innovation, profitable growth, sustainability, and working capital optimisation.
“I understand that in light of the type of profit margin this industry is working with and the heavy impact on cost of labour, there is no room for anything less than excellence in each category,” he noted. “For that reason I believe collaboration between the BSC industry, manufacturers and suppliers, is absolutely essential. We will accomplish more working together than alone.”
Peribere focused on three types of customer segments that BSCs need to be aware of to target their business goals correctly.
The first is the premium segment. “These companies sell high-end private brands for which cleaning is critical and that understand the value of cleaning, both in appearance and its impact on health, safety and productivity of the people who work in and visit their facility,” he explained. “They understand the important role cleaning plays in protecting their brands and are usually highly committed to sustainability to maintain and enhance their brands.”
The second is efficiency seekers; which focus on high standards of cleanliness – mostly because their customers expect it. “This segment also focuses on cost effectiveness of cleaning operations and while they don’t always allow cost to drive them below the standard, they have value drivers and rely on suppliers to recommend best solutions.”
The third segment focuses almost entirely on price. “I’m sure BSCs come across this type of customer repeatedly, those that see cleaning as a minimum requirement that is not connected to the performance of their business,” revealed Peribere.
Therefore, Peribere emphasised that the premium and efficiency segments have a far more proactive view of cleaning, and are the customers that BSCs should look to partner with, as they are most willing to embrace the true value of clean.
“As such, these are the segments to target for profitable growth as they are willing to take the selling discussion beyond cost,” he reiterated. “For BSCs to realise the profitable growth that is within their reach, it is critically important the customers understand the value cleaning provides. And we, as providers must do everything we can to promote that value.”