Why commercial cleaning needs performance-based contracts… NOW!

By Stefano Bensi, General Manager, Softbank Robotics EMEA

Commercial cleaning in the spotlight–like never before

Facility management providers and commercial cleaning contractors find themselves with a critical role to play in both the fight against COVID-19 and the slow return to normal life. Across a whole range of built environments, whether that is hospitals, care homes or supermarkets, the deep sanitisation of surfaces is vital to prevent and slow down the transmission of the disease.

And as restrictions on movement lift and economies attempt to re-start, the hygiene and cleanliness of offices, retail stores, transport and hospitality venues will be vital in returning our lives to some form of normality.

Cleaning and hygiene standards will face unprecedented levels of scrutiny and contracts need to be able to demonstrate performance and value to instil confidence amongst users of buildings.

Meaningful measurement is still missing

The industry has a long way to go. According to research we carried out amongst FM leaders across EMEA, only 18% of FM organisations are reporting on the technical or financial benefit of their cleaning operations. On the supply side, this figure drops to 13%.

Traditional input-based models (based around time and areas covered) still account for around 85% of all contracts within the facility management industry.

Overall, 80% of FM leaders state that measuring cleaning performance and validating cleaning results is a challenge.

In order for the cleaning industry to meet the current challenge, it’s vital that it improves on its ability to measure and evaluate cleaning performance, beyond simply reporting on time.

It must evolve to an output-focused approach to measurement, and quickly…

We need KPIs that really matter

In the wake of COVID-19, FM leaders and cleaning associations like IFMA are calling for a more strategic approach to measurement and reporting within commercial cleaning.

Business leaders within FM and cleaning contractors need to work with their partners to re-think their approach to measurement and provide clients and end users with robust, tangible metrics which are both meaningful and accessible. We need to redefine what is expected of ‘cleaning’ to not only reassure the public but to play a significant part in the post-Corona world.

Cleaning metrics need to evolve significantly to include a wider range of measures around health, sustainability and worker satisfaction. 43% of FM leaders think cleaning KPIs should include measuring health amongst the end users of buildings, 39% would like to incorporate metrics around quality and cleaning performance and 33% want more focus on operational efficiency.

A rapid evolution in measurement which clearly demonstrates improvements in hygiene and cleanliness is critical to reassuring people that buildings are safe environments as they return to work and leisure activities.

The onus is on FM and commercial cleaning contractors (and of course their strategic partners) to improve cleaning performance and, equally as importantly, to be able to prove this to clients and end users.

It’s no exaggeration to say that this is absolutely critical in kickstarting an economic recovery.

Strong appetite for longer-term performance-based contracts

As an industry, clients and suppliers need to re-frame their servicing agreements to reflect the need for hard metrics around health, hygiene and performance.

Our research shows that 84% of FM leaders think that performance-based contracts are positive for the industry and 80% believe outcomes-focused KPIs are critical to delivering smarter cleaning to meet the needs of future buildings.

Clients and suppliers need to work together to build closer, more trusted relationships where performance is measured over time, to avoid the current situation where urgent fixes and short-term decision-making are the norm. Indeed, 84% of FM leaders on the supply side see short or limited cleaning contracts as amajor challenge–there is simply too much fire-fighting and not enough long-term vision.

The FM and commercial cleaning sector has an unprecedented opportunity to raise its profile and demonstrate its vital contribution to society and the economy over the coming months and years. As an industry, we all need to work together to drive cleaning performance and instil confidence in an uncertain time.

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