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Auditing Cleaning to determine value for money

FM Contract Solutions have a national team of expert cleaning consultants auditing cleaning1-10 Audit Scale in commercial facilities. Professional cleaning audits provide a real-time snapshot of actual levels of service delivery and quickly determine value for money. External audit services also often expose risks to building owners and users including incorrect storage of hazardous chemicals, non-compliance with OH&S requirements, test & tag issues and illegal subcontracting.

The most common way of auditing commercial cleaning is visual standard auditing. Cleaning is often complained about but rarely are complaints quantified on a realistic performance rating scale.  Consequently, when cleaning is audited, the performance criteria is often subjective and potentially adversarial, while the outcomes can be manipulated by either the service provider or the customer to provide predetermined ratings rather than a realistic performance appraisal.

It is critical that facility Cleaning contracts have clearly defined performance measures and a service delivery rating system that is easy to understand, that defines a high but achievable performance standard and that audits are conducted regularly to ensure consistent performance and value for money from service delivery.

The first step to a fair and realistic cleaning auditing system is to develop and implement a detailed cleaning scope which includes the tasks and the frequency and also a concise descriptions of expected outcomes for each task (Key Performance Measure or KPM). This removes much of the subjectivity as there is a clear description of the standards that are expected with the contract.

To read more on auditing cleaning please click on this link to Brian Clark’s article on Linkedin..

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The case for Performance Management of Cleaning

Performance Management of cleaning contracts and other building service cRisk by Paul Cross 400ontracts is essential to  minimise the risks associated with illegal subcontracting. Illegal subcontracting or ‘labour hire’ is rife in the building service industry and it is critical that companies that participate in this practice are identified and eliminated in the tender process.

Performance Management and Illegal Subcontracting

The recent case where Myer terminated the contracts of its cleaning service provider after a Fairwork Australia investigation uncovered under award payments has yet again shone a negative spotlight on Australia’s cleaning Industry.

Illegal Subcontracting has caused, and continues to cause, significant damage to the reputation of cleaning industry. Building owners and building managers are responsible for the health, safety and working conditions of building occupants including contractors.  Cleaning Service providers who use ABNs to evade the payment of correct wages and entitlements, workers compensation and payroll tax expose not only their business but also their customers to significant risks and liabilities.  This risk has never been greater with ongoing crackdowns by Fair Work Australia,  the Australian Tax Office and State and Federal agencies.

Corporate Australia and Government is becoming increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with the cleaning industry and is taking a tough stance against suppliers generally whose actions may expose them to risk and damage to their brand. Risk mitigation has fuelled a need for accountability and transparency of building service contracts and facility managers are now demanding to know what actually goes on in cleaning operations.

FM Contract Solutions has developed and introduced comprehensive contract performance management systems and software for cleaning contracts and building service contracts that allows Facility Managers to ensure and monitor that contractors adequately address OH&S, risk management, environmental impact and sustainable work practices in line with sustainable purchasing guidelines.

Performance management of Cleaning Contracts incorporates the introduction of exacting specifications for cleaning coupled with key performance measures (KPMs) for tasks, equipment, environmental performance, safety and training which, in turn, are audited to provide measurement through key performance indicators (KPIs).  This ensures that there is a framework in place that accurately describes the work to be performed and how outcomes will be measured and quantified.

The outcome of Performance Managed Cleaning Contracts is better value for money, improved service standards and minimal risk.

For more information, contact Brian Clark 0448 341 935 or by email.

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Performance Management of Government Cleaning Contracts

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conditions-680x400Performance Management of Government cleaning contracts is essential for Government Departments who have a legal obligation to obtain best value for money from their contracts.  This is especially true with soft service contracts and in particular, Government facility cleaning contracts. Cleaning is a key factor in building maintenance as cleaning, or the lack thereof, can have a massive impact on asset life cycle, the Health and safety of building occupants and users and the productivity of building workers.

The standard of cleaning in Government buildings is critical to protect public assets and  public health. The implementation of Contract Performance Management for Government Cleaning contracts will bring about measurable outcomes and high standards  of service delivery.

Guides to Contract Performance Management

The Queensland government Department of Housing & Public Works Procurement Transformation Division has published an excellent guide on managing & monitoring supplier performance.  The document is intended to serve as a guide to Queensland government procurement officers.  However, it is a handy guide to had to any government or business seeking to procure goods or services.  It addresses the need for contract-specific auditing to identify risks associated with supplier engagement and to take action to mitigate those risks.

The guide also recommends regular contract specific audits to monitor performance and identify and manage risks. FM Contract Solutions specialises in development of sustainable soft Service Contracts for cleaning, waste and grounds maintenance services.  FM Contract Solutions also supplies Audit Services including Cleaning Audits, Grounds Maintenance Audits and contract compliance audits.

The Queensland Government guide also recommends that contractors provide ‘written reports on performance as one of the contract deliverables, for example, consultancies‘ as an additional mechanism for monitoring and managing the supplier’s performance.  FM Contract Solutions recommend the implementation of CiMAS Contract Performance Management Software for monitoring and report generation.  CiMAS offers a configurable reporting dashboard that enables viewing of contract performance in real time combined with powerful Data filters which enable users to drill down on data and deliver meaningful comprehensive performance reports quickly and easily.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) also publish a handy guide to developing contracts and contract performance management.

All Government Departments and Organisations have a legal obligation to obtain value for money from their contracts.  Contact FM Contract Solutions now for more information on how we can assist in developing and implementing Contract Performance Management strategies to make cleaning and other soft service contract activities transparent and accountable.

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Customer Service in the Cleaning Industry

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restroom audit cropFM Contract Solutions help Facility Managers develop sustainable service contracts that enable positive outcomes and long term contractual arrangements and high standards of customer service from cleaning service providers. The reader may notice that we prefer to refer to cleaning contractors as ‘Cleaning Service Providers’. As Contract Performance Management specialists, we believe that a proactive approach to customer service provides a massive advantage for contractors.

Good Customer Service provides a critical Point of Difference in winning and maintaining contracts for Cleaning Service Providers. A online article by Ron Kaufman highlights the importance of leadership in developing a customer service focus and emphasises that ‘A strong service culture leads to sustained improvements to customer experience, and a sustainable competitive advantage for organisations.’

Unfortunately, many cleaning service providers have a slap dash approach to customer service and regard customer complaints as an annoyance, rather than as an opportunity to improve their business and add value to the relationships with their customers.   Furthermore,  there seems to be a reluctance from some cleaning contractor management teams to understand customer service and place more emphasis on this critical part of doing business.

Over the last 30 years, the team at FM Contract Solutions have seen many contractors lose tenders and customers through poor customer service.


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10 Tips for writing Tender Submissions

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10 Tips for writing Tender Submissions

FM Contract Solutions offers specialist consultancy services in the development, engineering, evaluation and performance management of soft service contracts in the facility management and healthcare sectors. One of our areas of expertise is the preparation and evaluation of cleaning tenders.

Writing stand out tender submissions is a key requirement for success as a service business.

Statistics suggest that approximately 60% of submissions for service tenders are incomplete or marked as non-compliant because the respondents had not fully complied with the customer’s requirements. This is an astounding statistic when you consider how much time and money is involved in costing and preparing tenders. Many contractors for cleaning tenders are left wondering why they consistently don’t make the short list or win tenders for which they have the capacity and capability to win, yet will make same mistakes time and time again.

Here are 10 basic tips to make your tender stand out from the rest.

1. Read the documents thoroughly and highlight areas of importance and areas where you need to do some research or extra work. Most importantly ensure that you understand the customer’s needs, the criteria and the timelines that the customer is looking for.

2. Answer all the questions. It is surprising how many otherwise good submissions are disqualified or marked down simply because they didn’t answer the questions or provide enough information. The questions are there because purchaser wants to understand aspects about your company, your service or your product that are important to them and they also need to ensure that you comply with their procurement rules. Above all avoid answering questions with waffle or smart comments or criticisms of the question or the rationale behind the question and never patronise or question the customer’s integrity or intelligence.

3. Be careful with cut and pastes. Tenders often ask for detailed information. To save time, a natural tendency is to cut paste from previous documents and, while there is no problem with that, sloppy cutting and pasting from previous tenders or other documents will damage your submission and your credibility with examiners. Sloppy cuts and pastes often include names of other organisations or past contract submissions. Frequently they introduce errors in spelling and grammar and make the document difficult to read.

4. It’s all about the customer. When a customer calls a tender they have already identified the need for a particular product and service. What you need to do is convince them that you are the right provider and have the solution they need. It is important that you make your submission relevant to the customer and the customer’s needs and expectations. Most of all, your submission must negate all risks involved if they are to select your proposal.

5. Ask questions through the specified channels. Don’t be afraid to ask questions but make sure that you go through the correct channels. Going direct to the customer or to stakeholders outside the official tender channels will disqualify your company and your submission. Ask questions that are clear and succinct and don’t be afraid to ask for qualification if the answer is not clear. All questions and answers to those questions are generally made available to all tenderers in order to provide a level playing field but the person or the company asking the questions is not identified.

6. Don’t be afraid to point out errors in the tender or to question specifications that may not comply with legislation or standards. Procurement is about avoiding and minimising risk for the customer. Sometimes customers make mistakes or miss vital considerations in the specifications. Companies that draw attention to errors that may expose the customer to risk show their expertise and enhance their credibility. In a recent case a submission from a supplier pointing out that a laundry equipment tender specification was illegal and offering a solution resulted in all offers being declared null and void and the tender was awarded to that supplier.

7. Offer real and relevant Innovation and outline how it will benefit the customer and provide value for money. This is where you can change the rules. Tenders are not about price but your customer needs to understand the value for money that you offer with your proposition and how that will benefit them if your company is awarded the tender. Many companies, and most frequently big companies, see this as an opportunity to tell the customer how good they are and the wonderful things they have done elsewhere but fail to offer innovation that is relevant to the customer or establish a real point of difference from their competitors.

8. Make your submission easy to read and understand. Answer all questions in the required format and in the correct order and make it easy for examiners to read. Avoid handwritten submissions and ensure that your spelling and grammar is correct and that your writing style is fluid and easy to understand. Tenders generally have requirements for the order and placement of attachments, brochures and extra information. Tender submissions that are difficult to read and where attachments are out of order, in the wrong place or completely omitted are often marked as non-compliant or put aside by examiners.

9. Don’t leave it till the last minute. Rushed submissions are inevitably sloppy and it is obvious to the tender examiner that significant effort or research into the customer’s needs and requirements has not been properly conducted. Above all, ensure that your tender is submitted or uploaded with a submission receipt before the published deadline. Tenders received after deadlines are inevitably declared non-compliant, regardless of the quality of the content and the preparation.

10. Do not offer inducements or approach stakeholders with offers or enticements at any stage in the tender process. Corruption is a serious issue and you will find yourself disqualified from current and future tenders and even facing criminal charges.


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What is Contract Performance Management?

Contract Performance Management is good news for property owners and managers and for the cleaning industry. When properly instigated, it provides sustainable contracts with measurable deliverables and  a level playing field for service providers as it spells out and measures the expectations and required delivery standards over the life of a cleaning contract.

There’s an old saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, but how do you measure an intangible service, such as cleaning? Risk mitigation has fuelled a need for accountability and transparency of building service contracts and facility managers are now demanding to know what actually goes on in cleaning operations.

Performance management incorporates the introduction of exacting specifications for cleaning coupled with key performance measures (KPMs) for tasks, equipment, environmental performance, safety and training which, in turn, are audited to provide measurement through key performance indicators (KPIs). This ensures that there is a framework in place that accurately describes the work to be performed and how outcomes will be measured and quantified.

The team at FM Contract Solutions has developed and introduced comprehensive contract performance management systems and Performance management and Cleaning auditing Software that allow Facility Managers to monitor all aspects of Contract Service Delivery and ensure that contractors adequately address OH&S, risk management, environmental impact and sustainable work practices in line with sustainable purchasing guidelines. While some contractors may resist it, a more prescriptive approach will provide measurable outcomes and provide sustainable contracts that could mean the end of the industry price spiral.

FM Contract Solutions provides the tools to monitor contracts and engineers contract specifications with comprehensive descriptions of the services to be delivered and key performance drivers which enables clients to identify and correct inefficiencies, determine if adequate labour is being provided to perform the work and ensure maximum life of assets by accurately specifying the tasks and frequencies that are performed relative to the needs of the client, building use and floor-covering manufacturers’ recommendations.

Performance management systems that include electronic compliance monitoring and external auditing can also provide contractor performance benchmarking which can be compared to similar properties and contracts.

The upside for the industry is that the focus shifts away from lowest price to quality of service and value-for-money while the increased awareness of risk and the requirement for well documented and more transparent processes helps facilitate a non-adversarial relationship between building management and contractor. Rewards, such as contract extensions and better management practices which will flow through into other contracts, will make for more profitable and sustainable industry with longer contracts, sustainable business practices, sustainable workplaces and the elimination of illegal subcontracting.

Pricing and profitability of contract cleaning services constantly being driven downwards, yet dissatisfaction with cleaning has risen dramatically along with a rapidly declining perception of the professionalism and integrity of the industry.

The cleaning industry is an industry that needs change, but that change will not come from within. The adoption of contract performance management practices will certainly drive that change – change that is sorely needed for the betterment of the industry.