By Tim Thorlby (@TimThorlby), April 2016
Every week in the UK sees adventurous entrepreneurs setting up new companies – from window cleaners to the next Bill Gates. And as they develop their businesses there is one thing that they all do– they talk to potential customers to find out what they really want. We’ve been doing the same thing.
And what do customers want?
Well, firstly, every customer is different. Every office and building is different – each one has its own quirks and customs. So what every customer wants is a cleaning company which listens to them and delivers a service which actually meets their needs. Pretty obvious? You’d think so.
Secondly, customers really value reliability. They don’t want a new cleaner every week. They don’t want days missed because of high staff turnover or because someone didn’t turn up for work. They just want their offices cleaned, every day, as agreed.
Thirdly, customers really want cleaners who have pride in their work and don’t leave until the job is done - until the office is clean. They want cleaners who are a bit flexible and who are alert to what needs to be done each day.
And, of course, customers want a decent price.
So customers want a number of things from their cleaners. But we have discovered that often customers will choose a cleaning company based primarily on the price, because they assume that ‘all cleaning companies are the same’ – that they will all listen and offer reliability and pride in their work.
Yet many of the customers we have interviewed in our market research have been unhappy with the service they are getting. And why?
Because not all cleaning companies are the same.
The low prices offered by many cleaning companies are only possible because they are paying their cleaners the Minimum Wage. This often results in low staff morale and high staff turnover. Hardly a recipe for a great service. To save costs, many companies have also been stripping out supervisors and managers and asking them to cover ever more clients each day. The result? Overstretched management and poor customer service.
But not all cleaning companies are the same.
Clean for Good has not only been talking to customers, we have also been talking to cleaners. This is unusual. We have been researching how you get the best cleaners and the best service from the people on the ground with the mops in their hands.
What do cleaners want?
They want to earn a decent living wage - the London Living Wage – not the lowest rate going. They also want a proper employment contract, not a zero-hours contract. In other words they want their services to be valued.
They want good managers who communicate with them regularly and liaise properly with the customer.
They want to do a great job for the customer so that they can have pride in their work. The best cleaners want to be considered as ‘part of the team’ where they work. They are not just hoovering a carpet, they are supporting your business. And when they feel like this, they will go the extra mile for you.
It turns out that if you treat your cleaners well, and pay them properly, then your service will cost a bit more, but you get a better service. More motivated staff. Lower staff turnover. Greater reliability. A stronger team.
So Clean for Good intends to be a different kind of cleaning company. We will deliver the best cleaning service we possibly can for our customers. And we will deliver the best employment experience we possibly can for our cleaners. Why? Because they go together.