By Johan Venter – Managing Director, Cleaning – UK & Ireland
Contract cleaning, in today’s fast paced world, plays a massive role in customer experience, particularly within retail stores and departments. With the popularity of online shopping potentially draining the budgets of the high street, the entire approach to instore services needs to adapt, and cleaning can be an important factor in this endeavour. Everything from how comfortable the customer feels in a changing room to whether the window displays are inviting and orderly can be impacted upon by how clean the store is. Ultimately, then, the cleanliness (or otherwise) can affect those all-important sales.
The move from physical to online shopping has been stratospheric. People can buy pretty much everything from within the comfort of their own home, or in the palm of their hand. Consequently, customer expectations in store are much higher; people need a pretty good reason to get them spending time shopping in store! On the flip side of the coin, retailers are finding ways to promote cross savings. As a result, over the last four years there has been a reduction in the budget allocated to cleaning services. Naturally, this has led to a change in the way we do cleaning – we have had to find ways to move faster in order to keep up. Daytime cleaning is the first and most obvious way of economising but beyond this, there is a kaleidoscope of technologies available on the market that can improve service innovation.
With cuts in costs, you have to look to streamline every part of the cleaning service you offer. It’s not about reducing staff numbers or cutting corners with training programs, but rather about going back to the drawing board and changing the whole dynamic of how you clean. Every aspect of your clean has to modernise. A smeared mirror, a glass door with finger prints and a dirty store window may send customers in the opposite direction so it’s important to ensure every facet of the outlet is spick and span. Taking window cleaning as a micro example; you can see that typically, window cleaning was conducted on an average of six days a week. This has now been halved thanks to innovations in technology. Simple tools such as new glass cleaner brushes on the market, have revolutionised the approach to cleaning and sped up the process. Such products are especially effective in supermarkets and other premises where food is sold or prepared as the brushes are more durable and extremely effective in areas of heavy hygiene demand. Such areas are contact points for the public and their cleanliness is therefore paramount.
On a macro level, there are a range of cleaning robots to help with routine cleaning. We invited Brian, the cleaning robot, to the Atalian Servest family a couple of years ago. He’s a medium sized scrubber drier with the ability to learn and respond to the cleaning needs of his environment – and he’s the latest in a long line of new and exciting products that are set to change the industry as we know it. Machines like Brian leave people the time to perfect the corners and the edges – areas that would otherwise take up huge amounts of time. The latest innovations in technology will, therefore, be beneficial to staff. Subsequently, the customer experience will improve drastically. As of yet, robots are only viable for use in very large areas, however cleaning technology is moving at such a rapid pace that soon we will see areas of all sizes being cleaned by robots like Brian.
With retail, unless you move with the times you get left behind. Ultimately, as a cleaning provider you need to be the one going to the client with new ways of how you’re going to clean the store, not the other way around. It’s down to the provider to recognise the new equipment out there and to bring innovative ideas to the table.
Keeping spaces clean attracts customers and keeps them coming back again and again. And working collaboratively to explore new possibilities in cleaning retail spaces is the way forward.