UK: SME/Professional counsel - Good housekeeping tips.

UK: SME/Professional counsel - Good housekeeping tips. - Be clear about what you want from your cleaning contractor.

by Peter Smith.
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Be clear about what you want from your cleaning contractor.

Businesses often take the cleaning of their premises for granted, so if you intend to outsource your cleaning requirements, here are a few tips to ensure that you get the best from your contractors.

At the tendering stage, ask potential candidates to complete a questionnaire, requesting details of financial status, number and grades of employees, safety policy, training, quality control procedures and references. If there are references, certificates or documents, follow them up. Don't forget to consider how independent the sources are.

Once you have drawn up your short-list, discuss in detail the tasks and skills you need with potential candidates - the workplace areas involved, the required level of cleaning - either by specifying the appearance of areas, the individual tasks involved or frequency with which tasks are carried out. Show the candidate around your premises. Discuss preferred cleaning hours. Then negotiate a fixed number of hours, for example, or more flexible arrangements based on the completion of certain tasks. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Highlight particular difficulties with your workplace. Will cleaners be required to do any heavy lifting? Do you operate a clear desk policy?

It may seem obvious but the cleaner is there to clean, not to reorganise your workplace.

Is security an issue in your workplace? Part-time cleaners may be working when your own staff are out of the premises, so continuity of cleaning staff may be a priority for you. You can build safeguards against excessive cleaning staff absenteeism or turnover into the contract.

Agree internal standards and checking mechanisms to measure performance.

The most simple systems are often the best. They could be based on the number of labour hours involved, absenteeism or staff turnover, for example.

Communication and reporting procedures are also important. At its most basic, the contract communications book, held on-site, allows the cleaning site supervisor to record actions or leave you messages. Computerised monitoring equipment can be used for task scheduling, standards, time-sheets, performance-related pay and so on. However, this is only really practical with dedicated site-based administration and management.

You should hold meetings at least quarterly, to discuss performance and any other issues or queries.

Peter Smith is managing director of Ramoneur Cleaning Services.

0171 498 8000.

If you have a question you would like one of our experts to address, write to: SME, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP.

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