Sunday , May 22 2022
How much more could be recycled?
How much more could be recycled?

No Time for Grime, No Lust for Dust? Get cost savings from your cleaning contract


Guest Blogger:  Marcia Thompson

Title:    Professional Content Intern, Interim Procurement Professional

Company:   Procurement Professionals

Where do you reside:   London

LinkedIn profile:   Marcia Thompson

A quote about Procurement:

Procurement for me is about delivering what my clients want.  Nailing down what my clients REALLY want can be the tricky bit – getting the right specifications and selection criteria are so important.

Give a brief introduction about yourself:

With a background in accounting, I have combined my passions of number crunching, procurement and cultural interactions with my love of travelling and meeting people. My career has mostly been hands-on, taking me to some interesting places, like the fishing paradise of Useless Loop in Shark Bay Western Australia.  That was tough!


No Time for Grime, No Lust for Dust? Get cost savings from your cleaning contract

How much more could be recycled?
How much more could be recycled?

In the quest for more savings, it’s easy to skim the surface, overlook the dirt and sweep things under the carpet. But a spring clean could glean more lean from your sheen and cash from your trash than you ……..thought.

By talking to your cleaning contractors and observing the cleaners (casually, from a distance, not stalking), you could be getting more savings and increased sustainability. Win/Win!

1.  How long have the cleaners been there?

A high turnover of cleaners can indicate low wages, poor working conditions (eg no sick pay) and therefore low morale. This can impact on the quality of service.

A higher turnover also means additional overheads – security, training, uniforms, etc.– that will likely flow through to the company via contract variations and/or increased rates for the next contract.

Note that low wages for the cleaners does not necessarily translate to low costs for the company. Inefficiencies created by low retentions may aggregate to premium rates for sub-standard service levels. You may need to review your selection criteria when retendering, to ensure real value for money.

MT on Waste Audit
Hands on! A waste audit can highlight the need to review the waste management strategy.

2.  How much more could be recycled?

Quite often you don’t even think about how much rubbish* is not recycled until you see the cleaners at work handling it. Due to time constraints or lack of awareness (again an issue with a high turnover of staff), cleaners may not be segregating waste from individual bins to the collection points adequately. The opportunity to 1) save money on waste transfer costs, 2) improve on sustainability efforts by diverting waste from landfill, and thus 3) reinforcing the company’s commitment to its corporate social responsibilities, is lost when significant rubbish that should be recycled isn’t, for whatever reason.

Is it the cleaners’ job to segregate waste anyway? It could be that company staff need more training and awareness in waste management and environmental issues, and to take more responsibility as an individual.

3.  What about wastage? Encourage your contractor to think Lean and share

How many individual bins are there? Does there need to be one per person?   Do they need to have plastic bags? How often are the bags replaced? Are the bags biodegradable? Do you need individual bins at all? Are the collection points the right size bins and are they in the right location? Is there the right matrix of general waste and recycling bins? Are the cleaners removing toner cartridges, or other items, that should be recycled separately? Do they even know the value of recycling? What happens with organic waste? Is the rubbish in the right collection points for easy removal? Is it easy enough for the lorries/trucks to drive in and out?

Are the cleaning trolleys fit for purpose? Are the cleaners working at the best times? Is their schedule configured the best way? Do they use bleach? Does it get used in poorly ventilated rooms? Can Lean be implemented back in the contractor’s office and warehouse? Improvements by removing waste (sorry!) in inventory, processes and the delivery of service can lead to savings for both the contractor and the company.

4.  What value are you getting out of your information?

What information is the cleaning contractor reporting? Are staffing statistics eg turnover, included? Are the cleaners themselves encouraged to provide feedback to their supervisors, such as any health and safety issues?

Are the reports consistent with the specifications, agreed service levels and invoices? Conduct an audit, even a service audit. I know where the cleaners have done an office in a mixed-company building and the work was charged to the wrong company.   A reconciliation of the service will avoid scope creep and prevent misunderstandings that can lead to disputes.

Staff expect to work in a safe, clean environment. Building a relationship with your cleaning contractor should lead to improvements that will be appreciated by all stakeholders, including the CFO.

Have a nice, clean day!

*  In British English, rubbish means both garbage and trash.


  1. Marcia Great Article only wished that some of my procurement professionals would read such a great article like this. As a cleaning company owner I see added value and benefits all the time when tendering but often when included in my tenders are overlooked or not read and the client loses the chance see innovation. The Cleaning industry is changing all the time and with advancements in technology new ways to clean more efficiently with new products & machinery and if the tendering process included a proposal meeting with the respective tenders then I am sure that clients would get to see more of the innovations and cost saving initiatives cleaning companies could provide.

  2. Hi Thompson
    Good Analogy of reporting the cost savings .
    The basis of procurement is excellent .. The RFQ is more important ,By redefining the speciation’s or the expectations every year we do save a lot of money to the organization.

  3. Marcia Thompson

    Thanks Raymond.
    I understand where you’re coming from. I can’t comment on specific tenders or processes, but its feasible that value-added benefits may not be considered, when the tender panel is evaluating specific selection criteria. Marketing can be tricky. I would suggest to get feedback if you can, on tender submissions, on how your current services are running, from your staff and from your own supply chain. Keep a lookout for “Meet the Buyer” events or similar in your area, as these are often productive for both buyer and seller.

  4. Marcia Thompson

    Thanks Krishnan. Yes continuous learning and reviewing in Procurement does lead to savings. As higher standards are expected from our clients, we need to review the specifications to meet/manage those expectations.

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