Contract review time can be a white-knuckle experience for many cleaning businesses. You think you’ve maintained decent audit scores, but is that enough: have you delivered the expected outcome and will they or won’t they sign on the dotted line for another year?
Contract retention is all about trust. You shouldn’t wait for your client to raise an issue with you as if you’ve been caught out like a naughty schoolboy. By the time a client complains it’s too late – trust is irretrievably damaged. Flagging a problem and proposing a solution before your client even spots it demonstrates your transparency and hands-on management, and that you’re not sleepwalking through the contract.
You’ve been TUPE’d
Since TUPE legislation protects your employees’ jobs, if the client decides to terminate your contract, they’re obliged to retain all the cleaners and security guards. This means that, harsh as it sounds, what the customer is effectively terminating is their relationship with you.
If this keeps happening, it’s time to question why the management part of the service is so disposable.
FM providers need to proactively manage their delivery, but in order to do this you must have both real-time data and detailed insight into your operations that drive real improvement.
Data, data, data
The key is to collect far more detailed data on everything, auditing individual locations and the input hours across the same areas. If you can show your client that you are cognisant of both your efforts and your results, that you know where you’re doing well and where you need to direct your management efforts, you’re far more likely to build a trusting, open relationship with them that will put you in a far better position to retain the contract.
Digitalisation may seem like an abstract objective but in reality it’s about practical solutions that give you oversight, understanding and control. Using a workflow management app, you collect data on everything your staff do, and a properly structured database lets you pull this data out in an intelligible way.
With this in place, there are some remarkably simple measures you can take. For example, in the same way your cleaners are expected to clock in to prove their presence on-site, you can ask your managers to do the same. Showing how often you actually visit a client’s site sends a powerful message. It’s a sign of commitment to your client and demonstrates that you care and are actively and transparently managing your team.
Even when you’re not on site, remote sensors and active use of your works management application by your employees keeps everyone in the loop – a live dashboard provides real-time updates and it’s easy to see what is happening on a daily basis.
Getting out what you put in
Out-put based specifications are all the rage these days in FM, and Conventional wisdom suggests that the only way you can prove you’ve done what you were contracted to do is through your audit scores.
But, even if your scores have been consistently high, if they’re not showing any sign of improvement, it could be viewed as a reflection of how actively (or not) you’ve been managing the contract.
Striving to achieve perfect scores is not necessarily the answer, in fact it could be argued that you’re overstaffed and that consequently, your client is paying too much. Instead, it can be more effective to benchmark their site against other sites you clean and show that performance is inline with the standard your business expects.
As I explained in my previous article on dynamic cleaning, low scores are not something to hide. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your transparency and the strength of management to track improvement. Analyse the stronger and weaker areas of your offering and reallocate resources around the building where they can have the most impact. Reducing cleaning hours spent in higher scoring areas and diverting them to lower scoring areas to bring the scores up really professionalises your approach.
All of this relies on gathering the necessary data. Of course, you can’t simply look at a jumble of figures and identify what’s going wrong – you need a smart system to read the data and report by exception so you can start thinking about solutions. That’s where a platform like mpro5 comes in. I can’t stress the importance of this enough, because your works management software is what sets you apart from the competition. It determines the speed at which you understand what, if anything, is going wrong in the contract in near real-time and gives you the opportunity to show how you’re putting it right.
It will also demonstrate your commitment to driving change and digitalisation: this is the future of facilities management and companies that embrace it will be rewarded with better customer relations and stickier contracts.