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How to

Choose the
Right Cleaning
The Facilities Manager’s
Essential Guide

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Understanding what good cleaning means 2

Chapter 2: Defining your requirements 4

Chapter 3: How to narrow down your search 8

Chapter 4: How to make your decision 10

Chapter 5: Getting off to a good start 12

Conclusion 14

About the Authors 15


The cleaning of your building could not be more

important for the impressions of both your team
members and your clients. Clean and healthy
environments are crucial for good working practices,
improving employee productivity and morale and will
speak volumes about your business to any visiting
The procurement of cleaning services can be overly-
bureaucratic and time-consuming, so this eBook has
been compiled to help you make the best decisions,
ensuring you find a cleaning partner who shares
your values. Cleaning contractors need to satisfy all
their key performance indicators and service level
agreements, but also provide a service above and
beyond the expected, allowing for the development
of trusted advisor relationships.
Created for Facilities, Procurement and Business
Managers, this eBook should help you to understand
how to work smarter with your cleaning contractor,
avoid surprises, leverage technology and innovation
and improve communication to really maximise the
value you get from your supplier. If you have found
procuring services difficult in the past, this guide will
help you construct a procurement process that works
for you and your organisation.

Finding a good cleaning contractor can be tough: problems of lost messages and enables you and the
with so many companies around, it’s very difficult to supplier to gauge their ability to respond to issues
know who to approach and who to avoid for such an quickly and track issue and complaint trends.
essential service. Understanding what good cleaning
means is dependent on the facility you need cleaned Can cleaners add value to your
and how it should be performed, but there are a business?
few things that will really set a cleaning company
apart from the competition. Innovation in cleaning Cleaners can do a lot more than just their everyday
methods, products and the use of new technology job - they should be the eyes and ears of your
can make a big difference to the service you receive,building, helping rectify issues before they become
so take a look at the following chapter to help you major problems. Their attention to detail and the fact
find a service worthy of your business. that they spend so much time in your building should
mean that they understand every part of the building
How cleaning contractors use new and how it is used. Switching off lights and taking care
technology of dripping taps isn’t all they can do for you, though.
Paying attention to their surroundings should be a
Recent improvements in technology and the natural part of their diligent nature and they should
availability of smartphones and tablets have led to be able to report on general maintenance, health and
improvements in tracking cleaning performance. safety and security issues, such as cracked tiles, faulty
Contractors now have the use of reporting software machinery and issues with door locking systems.
to deliver better account management. These
systems help improve accountability, accessibility, Green, sustainable cleaning credentials
productivity and provide much better end-customer
‘Green’ cleaning has become more of a priority in
satisfaction. Online systems should help you to
recent times, as facilities managers strive to do their
track the work being completed, who is doing it,
best for the environment, as well as saving money
the quality of what’s been done and when it has
and reducing risk to cleaners and building occupants.
been completed. Managers will add the results of
As cleaning technologies evolve, this can also reduce
their inspections to the data collection system and
the cost of labour and improve the service provided.
allow for your feedback to be added and sent over
to them. Long-term cleaning history data should If being eco-friendly is a key buying factor for you,
also be available, allowing your cleaning contractor look for a cleaning company who are committed to
to measure their performance and you to hold them managing their impact on the environment by using
accountable for the service provided. methods and products that are planet-friendly. Ask
to see their mission statement, environmental policy
Another useful part of the technology is the ability
or sustainability statement which should explain how
to document and track communication between
they demonstrate their green credentials.
supplier and client, enabling communication to be
arranged by priority and category. This reduces the

Innovative cleaning methods policies and attitudes can differ greatly between
Many companies are now focusing their efforts
towards using only recyclable and biodegradable Finding cleaning staff isn’t difficult, but finding
products that are free from harmful, toxic ingredients. people who are reliable, committed and diligent can
The latest cleaning cloths, made of microfibre, also be a problem in an industry with such a high turnover
require little to no product to be used with them, of staff. Ask your cleaning company about their staff
take less time to clean surfaces (by up to 50% in some retention policies - the answers could speak volumes
cases) and their design and fabric means no unsightly about their suitability for your contract. Ideally, you
marks or scratches. will be looking for a cleaning company who keep
their staff happy and provide opportunities for career
Most microfibre cloths are made from a combination development, so that they are productive, skilled and
of polyamide and polyester, with fine threads that dedicated to the task at hand. Generally, it’s best that
trap bacteria, grease and dirt. This is trapped in the staff are hired on the merit of their attitude, rather
cloth until it is washed in hot water with laundry than their aptitude, as skills training is much easier
detergent which releases soiling. Microfibre cloths than changing a person’s work ethic.
can be used with or without cleaning products,
although harsh chemicals may reduce the useful The last thing to consider is the locality of the
life cycle. Careful use of microfibre cloths can mean company’s staff - the more local cleaning operatives
they will last longer than other less effective cleaning are to your business, the easier it will be for you to
cloths. Four times more effective than standard feel confident that they can deliver the service. The
cloths, they are also lint free, hypoallergenic, non- further staff are from your location(s), the more
abrasive, environmentally friendly, extra absorbent factors outside of your control (such as traffic,
and quick-drying. public transport problems, etc) can prevent cleaning
operatives from attending work. A company who
Truly green companies will also look for other ways employs local staff for their cleaning contracts should
of saving energy, conserving water, recycling and be higher on your list.
reducing paper wastage, so ask them how they are
tackling improvements in these areas, too. They
may also be able to advise on how to reduce costs
in consumables, recommending the latest electronic
washroom products, automatic replenishment
systems and self-cleaning, antimicrobial/antibacterial
If the companies you are considering do not already
have ISO 14001 accreditation, it’s worth asking them
if they are working towards it. The accreditation
maps out a framework for setting up an effective
environmental management system and is a good
indication of a company’s dedication to green

The right cleaning staff

Whilst hiring decisions will be largely out of your
control, you should be asking your suppliers how they
choose their staff and retain them. Beyond employee
vetting requirements (covered in Chapter 3), hiring


Getting a service that’s right for your facility • Finding a company that can provide a full service
depends on your ability to really understand what - waste management, key holding, window
your requirements are and clearly articulate your cleaning, etc.
cleaning needs. This relies on speaking to all of the • The cost of the service - what are your budgetary
stakeholders involved in the decision-making process limitations?
and ensuring that all parties agree on the decision
criteria and the specification document. • Size of cleaning company - a larger firm may have
more capability, a smaller firm may be able to
The first part of defining your requirements is provide a more personal service.
understanding what’s really important to you in
finding a cleaning contractor. How important are the • Industry accreditation - the more training
following to your decision? cleaning operatives have, the better the service.
However, this can attract higher labour costs.
• Specialist cleaning services - anything beyond the
standard office and washroom facilities cleaning,
requiring technical cleaning skills.
• Financial stability of the company - business
information on the risk of investing in a cleaning
company’s services can prove useful for peace of
• Experience - how long have your potential
cleaning suppliers been in business? More
experience can often mean better experience,
but attract a higher cost.
• Environmental policies - how important is a
‘green’ provider? Eco-friendly services represent
more than just good PR for your company - they
are often better value for money.
• Account management - do you need a dedicated
account manager? Is that something that the
companies you are considering are able to
• Labour costs - Are you prepared to pay extra
for higher-skilled, more productive cleaning

If you have previously had cleaning services and Fewer security concerns
are looking for new providers, how have your
requirements changed? What lessons have been Night cleaners who would normally work in seclusion
learned from the experiences from your incumbent will no longer need out-of-hours access to the
provider? building, meaning fewer concerns around security.
Having cleaners in during the day means no more lost
Day-time versus Night-time service keys or worries about buildings being left unsecured.

Energy costs Key considerations

Having cleaning staff perform daytime cleans can The right teams
reduce your energy costs, since cleaning staff will
be onsite during your usual business hours, so you If considering day-time cleaning, you must ensure
won’t need to consider extra heating and lighting your cleaning contractor is employing the right kind
hours. This can, in some cases, reduce your utility of people for the job. They should be presentable,
bills by around 30%. motivated and personable, but dedicated enough to
ensure the work gets completed in good time. Day-
Improved communication cleaning leads to a very ‘people-oriented’ service,
rather than a labour-focused service.
Having your cleaning staff on site when your staff are
also there improves relationships and makes cleaners Noise, productivity and disruption
feel like part of the team. Concerns about the level
of service can also be communicated directly and There is always the possibility that day cleaning could
rectified more quickly and complaints about the prove disruptive to building’s occupants. Care must
service are likely to reduce. be taken to combat noise and reduce distractions,
so insure a set of protocols are put in place to cover
Reducing staff churn co-operation, time and location. There should also
be clear instructions of the schedule of cleaning,
Working more sociable hours can increase operative focusing on customer-facing areas (if there are any),
morale and provide them with the opportunity to toilet facilities and desks, to reduce the likelihood of
increase their hours, reducing the requirement for disruption to your employees.
operatives to have more than one job, in turn reducing
employee turnover. It also lessens the likelihood that
there will be transport and/or safety and security
issues for lone workers. Day-time cleaning roles are
also more popular with workers, making recruitment
of high calibre staff a lot easier.

Better service
Day-time cleaning can lead to a better service,
as cleaners can respond instantly to cleaning
emergencies and spillages. It can also improve
the attitudes of office workers towards taking
responsibility for the cleanliness of their own desk
and shared spaces if they know the person who will
be cleaning up after them. It’s also a lot easier to
clean during the light of day.

aspects of a bid will be considered separately from
the quotation.
Decision-makers should be free from any conflicts of
interest and be given a list of project outcomes to
be evaluated, with weightings according to priorities.
The panel of decision-makers should comprise
people who are able to make good judgements and
who are objective.
Software, known as eProcurement platforms, can
make the procurement process easier, allowing you
to demonstrate to bidders that the process was
conducted fairly, in a transparent, impartial and
consistent way, using set scoring parameters.

Drawing up a good specification

The specification should be as clear as possible about
your requirements and realistic when it comes to
budgeting. It’s important to focus on the value for
money provided by suppliers who won’t compromise
on the standards of cleanliness and hygiene that they
offer. You should also be looking for a supplier who
can advise on the best way to extend the life of your
building and its integral assets, such as the floors. A
great supplier will ensure that it discusses the best
methods, products and procedures suitable for the
job under your circumstances.
Health concerns
Vulnerable workers, such as those with respiratory
Which specification model should I
illnesses, compromised immune systems or chemical use?
sensitivities should be carefully considered and
The specification should describe exactly what you
any adjustments made to the cleaning routine and
are hoping to procure and can be approached in
products where necessary. Greener products are a
three different ways - functional, performance and
good option, as well as vacuum filtration systems.
Health and safety problems are not limited to
hazardous chemicals, however: electrical cords Functional specifications are output-focused - they
moving around the floor and water coming into don’t specify the methods, timings or amount of
contact with electricity are some other common people involved in the task, but tell the supplier
causes of safety risks. the end result you want to achieve. The supplier
will determine, from your functional specification,
Structuring the procurement process how to deliver the results you are requesting. If
you are requesting that the building is maintained
Once you have determined what your specific
to constant, good levels of cleanliness, this could
requirements are, you will need to determine the
be open to interpretation by each supplier who is
decision criteria. To avoid making a decision based
tendering, so beware that you could end up looking
solely on price (or overly-influenced by budgetary
at very different tenders from each supplier.
concerns), many companies decide that the service

Performance specifications are also output-focused Selecting KPIs
but also specify the targets that will be set for
measuring the outcomes. Suppliers will also need to A good set of standardised, statutory Key Performance
detail how each performance target will be met and Indicators (KPIs) should be non-financial, timely
how (e.g. the cleaning products and equipment that (checked regularly) and simple - easy to comprehend
will be used). by all - with an understanding of how to rectify under-
performing areas.
Technical specifications are much more detailed and
specific, detailing exactly what will be done, how KPIs measure and describe the current state of
and how long it will take. These can be the easiest operations and can be measured over time to
to write but be the most time-consuming and can show trends. The agreed KPIs between you and
constrain your suppliers in their quotes, making each your cleaning provider will depend on a number of
tender more expensive. factors, but should closely align with your business
Tips for writing your specification The best KPIs should encourage best practice, be
When writing your specification, focus on being as easily measurable and ideally be very difficult to
detailed as you can, making sure you understand the manipulate to present a false picture. Bad KPIs
needs of all parts of your facility. Take care to really can so easily lead to unintended consequences
understand what is required as leaving tasks out of and ‘shortcuts’ that hamper progress. Your KPIs
the specification could mean paying extra. Separate should be useful on a day-to-day basis and enable
out your needs from wants to avoid over-specifying. reporting, comparison, target setting, incentives and
To ensure suppliers are clear about your expectations,
be very clear about the outcomes you are looking for Standard KPIs can include, but are not limited to;
- vague statements can lead to loose interpretation. cleaning standards, complaint levels (frequency and
content), Customer Service, Safety Management
Get opinions from all the interested parties to help systems, stability of staff, consumables management
you develop the specification - are there areas that and staff presentation standards.
you have overlooked that could require extra special
care and attention?
If your building has specialist equipment that requires
careful cleaning, make sure to include this as part of
the specification. If you are unsure how it should be
cared for, get in contact with the manufacturers to
see if they can advise what the cleaning requirements
should be.
Consider your specification type carefully. Technical
specifications might be the easiest for you to write,
but could mean that you have overlooked something
or perhaps allowed too much time for each task,
meaning that you won’t get true value for money.
Performance specifications will likely attract the
least risk to you, since the supplier must supply
information about how they will deliver on your
performance objectives.

There will be no shortage of available cleaning in the safe use of hazardous chemicals (COSHH) and
companies who could provide the services you other health and safety issues under the Health and
require, but the more companies who bid, the harder Safety at Work Act 1974.
and more time-consuming the procedure will be.
Narrow down your search with the following criteria. Best practice in operative training can also mean
providing team members with visual documentation
The culture of your cleaning supplier of how and what to clean as well as creating
controlled, practical exercises to aid understanding.
Promises to provide great service and deliver at a Ongoing training programmes should enable team
cost that represents value for money are all very well,members to progress and encourage them to take
but the culture and management of your cleaning pride in their work.
contract can be more critical for your client-supplier
relationship than you might think. Make sure that Policy documentation
your supplier will be able to deliver on their promises
to provide motivated operatives and that they will Ask to see relevant (anonymised where necessary)
estimate the right number of staff for the project. documents that pertain to the policies of the
companies you are considering for bidding. These
Under-resourcing can mean a cheaper contract but documents will give you a good insight into the
overworked cleaners can lead to health and safety procedures each company employs when it comes
problems, high staff turnover and increased sickness to complying with relevant legislation surrounding
rates. The best cleaning standards are always health and safety, environmental concerns, diversity
found when operatives are keen, alert, willing and and employment regulations.
motivated and take responsibility for and ownership
of their role. Companies who offer extra incentives The importance of employee vetting
and recognition are also able to offer better, more
The vetting of your cleaning company’s employees
engaged staff so check what rewards high-performing
may not be high on your list of concerns, since it’s
team members receive.
not your responsibility, but it is something that you
Cleaning operative training should be paying attention to. A company who employ
rigorous employee vetting standards will be able to
Your cleaning supplier should be dedicated to provide a more reliable and effective service and can
providing more scope for development for their be trusted to take TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings
staff as well as training and career progression, so (Protection of Employment) Regulations) seriously.
ask them about their attitudes and policies towards
staff retention and training programmes. The gold Employee vetting involves more than just checking
standard for cleaning training is education provided references and employment history - cleaning
by the British Institute of Cleaning Science, so look companies are duty bound to ensure that all their staff
out for cleaning companies who offer this training to have a legal working status and that the documents
their employees. Cleaning staff should also be skilled employees use to prove their status are authentic.

Having illegal employees on your site won’t bring you unsuitable companies who don’t meet absolutely
any penalties (these will be the responsibility of the crucial required criteria.
cleaning company) but it won’t do your reputation
many favours. Questionnaires typically include requests for detail
on financial statements, technical and service quality
Check your cleaning provider has rigorous vetting competence and accreditation, health and safety
procedures and a process for ensuring the veracity legislation, insurance policies and equal opportunities
and authenticity of their employees’ documents and information. It can also be a good time to request
records. references.

Contingency planning PQQs are common in the public sector, but can also
be a very useful tool in the private sector when you’d
Ask your prospective cleaning companies for their prefer to reduce the number of applications and only
policies regarding service levels in the event of short-list the very best suppliers.
unexpected occurrences as well as how they plan to
deal with both planned and unplanned staff absence.

Using Pre-Qualification
When you have a lot of potential candidates to assess
for your cleaning contract, using a pre-qualification
questionnaire (PQQ) can really cut the cost of the
tendering process. Use the questionnaire to filter out


Evaluating tenders
Now you have the bids from each company, it’s time to weigh up each one. But what evaluation criteria
should you be looking at? Each contract is different and a lot depends on your specific requirements. It
could be that you need a supplier with excellent experience in your sector, due to very specific cleaning
requirements. Or perhaps the green credentials of a supplier is a key factor?
To create your evaluation criteria, set up a tiering system of different factors that will affect your decision. As
an illustrative example, consider the case of a hospital requiring both office-based and ward cleaning.
The factors that a hospital’s facilities manager might consider:
• Price
• Experience
• Specification match (how closely their offer contends with the requests in the specification)
• Green credentials

Cleaning Company 1
Factor Importance Score (%) Final result
Price 3 80 3 x 80 = 240
Experience 2 50 2 x 50 = 100
Specification match 2 50 2 x 50 = 100
Green Credentials 1 80 1x80 = 80
Total 520

Cleaning Company 2
Factor Importance Score (%) Final result
Price 3 60 3 x 60 = 180
Experience 2 80 2 x 80 = 160
Specification match 2 80 2 x 80 = 160
Green Credentials 1 70 1 x 70 = 80
Total 580

In this example, Cleaning Company 2 have a higher Successful SLAs are created unilaterally and should be
score since they have a better specification match seen as a process for improvement rather than as a
and more experience than Cleaning Company 1, tool to suppress complaints or as a punitive measure
who had a better price, matching the budget more for clients to use against suppliers. Good SLAs require
closely. However, since experience and specification a lot of planning and negotiating, especially when it
match were also important consideration factors, the comes to accurate measurement of service, so be
Facilities Manager would choose to procure services prepared for it to be a continual process.
from Cleaning Company 2.
To establish a good template for writing your SLAs,
The referencing process you will need:

When asking for references, ask for contact names • Context-setting information (scope and objective
and phone numbers for clients they serve who of the agreement, who is involved and any
require a similar service to what you are tendering for. assumptions)
It’s also useful to request information regarding the • Description of services provided
size of the space being cleaned, the staffing, length • Service standards
of service and what key performance indicators are • Service tracking and reporting methods
used. If you are able to get references from local • Periodic review process
establishments, an unannounced visit might be a • Change process
good way to validate quality standards. Commercial negotiations
Setting Service Level Agreements Most people will think of cost as the main negotiating
point, but it may not be the most important factor if
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are formal and you are able to agree better terms and conditions.
negotiated agreements that determine a client’s Favourable changes to the contract can often be
expectations in line with the supplier’s responsibilities worth a lot more than a reduction in price and result
and are a key communication tool that helps to in a better service. Remember, there are significant
manage everyone’s expectations. SLAs can also help hidden costs to poor quality provision - not only will
reduce conflict between parties and help resolve any you be spending extra time monitoring performance,
problems that do arise. As an objective process for but you will have to go through the tendering process
assessing the efficacy of a service, the SLAs set must again, sometimes prematurely and unnecessarily.
be flexible and agreements should be thought of as
‘living documents’, with set guidelines for review and To make the contract more equitable to all concerned
modification. parties, make sure to carefully scrutinise the terms
and conditions and pick out areas that you feel should
change in your favour. If you have a good, detailed
specification, you should be able to align the terms
to what you require and see where savings could be
Ultimately, commercial negotiation should focus
on choosing the most economically advantageous
tender, taking into account price, quality and the
whole life costing of the contract.


What to expect from your supplier on Mobilisation Checklist

day one Successful mobilisation depends on your cleaning
Finding a new supplier takes a lot of time and money, supplier’s ability to set out a plan for the initial set-
so what should you expect from them? Day one of up and ongoing process involved (where applicable)
your new contract will set the tone for your ongoing for transferring responsibility from the previous
relationship, so it’s reasonable to expect great things. supplier. To ensure that the mobilisation process is
as thorough as necessary, ensure your documented
The first day of your contract is full of uncertainties - mobilisation plan includes the following:
the people from your outgoing cleaning service have
every right to decline to work for the new supplier or □□ Information relating to TUPE transfers
TUPE over - it’s entirely their decision. It’s common □□ Training plans
for the outgoing cleaning company to want to retain □□ Cleaning operative competency frameworks
their most loyal and diligent workers, so they will □□ Employee vetting procedures
commonly offer better conditions to some of the
□□ Health and Safety documentation
cleaners they were potentially losing. This can mean
that the majority of the cleaners expected for the first □□ Equipment procurement procedures.
day won’t show. This is something your new cleaning □□ Handover procedure from previous supplier
company should be aware of and can resolve. □□ Management and reporting hierarchy
Retraining all the cleaning staff to the new company’s □□ ICT requirements and procedures
procedures, completing paperwork and handing out □□ Mobilisation timetable and critical, incentive-
uniforms can take the entire shift, meaning that driven milestones
day one’s cleaning doesn’t get completed. Excellent □□ A full list of agreed Key Performance Indicators
cleaning companies will have accounted for this □□ Service Level Agreements, with pre-agreed
down time, employing extra cleaners (not involved in penalties, where relevant
TUPE regulations) to do the cleaning while handover
□□ Process-mapping
procedures are being followed.
□□ Information concerning the procurement of
Finally, you should expect that the relief cleaners consumables
are brought in to tackle any difficult cleaning tasks □□ A structured, in-depth monthly reporting plan
and give the whole facility a good, deep clean. As
contracts come to an end and start switching hands,
cleaners can start to become less diligent and neglect
some of the work. Again, this will be predictable by
experienced cleaning companies.

Maintaining a good service through
the life of the contract
Setting milestones for improvement is a key part of
ensuring that good service is maintained throughout
the whole contract. Your supplier may say they
are committed to continual service improvement,
but without a strategy to deliver these innovations
there’s no guarantee this will work.
Some cleaning organisations review their service
every 3 months to ensure that they can use
performance data to inform future improvements.
Scheduling time blocks like this reduces complacency
and eliminates woolly promises.

Creating a long-lasting, mutually

beneficial partnership
Creating a partnership between firms is a two-way
process, so encouraging free, open and honest
communication between as many stakeholders
as possible is key. Set regular meetings so that
your contractors can discuss any issues they’re
experiencing in delivery of service. Small things such
as scope creep, managing every day issues such as
obstacles preventing cleaners from completing tasks
and other issues affecting the cleaners’ everyday
work can be discussed to prevent small issues
becoming insurmountable.
An excellent cleaning company should always be
thinking about how to bring you the best they can,
so encourage them to tell you where cost savings
can be made. Really outstanding cleaning companies
will discuss the possibilities of gain-shares in savings,
meaning that they keep a keen eye out for effective
changes to be made.


Outsourcing cleaning is 23% more cost-efficient than

in-house cleaning (according to the International
Facility Management Association), and so choosing
the best outsourced cleaning organisation is
paramount for capitalising on those savings.
Procuring the right team for your facility is crucial for
helping you and your staff focus on business-critical
functions and your customers’ needs.
As you will have seen from the detailed advice in this
guide, procuring a cleaning service can be extremely
difficult, requiring lots of consideration, planning
and management. However, we hope this ebook has
provided you with a complete guide to procuring
your cleaning services and a framework for success,
to allow you to find a cleaning service that matches
(and hopefully exceeds) your expectations.


Integral UK provides 24/7 national cleaning services 
to both the public and private sector. Fully ISO 9001:
ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and BICSc accredited. We are dedicated to the service we provide, ensuring that
quality, the environment and occupational health are considered in all aspects of our daily routine.
With a national workforce of directly employed cleaning operatives, the people we employ are intrinsic to
the service we provide and the development of their skills is fostered through quality contract management
support, initial inductions and on-going skill based training.
From general cleaning through to specialist deep clean, we provide a range of services including: the
of dust control matting, laundry and washroom services, janitorial supplies, pest control and waste
management. With an established network of product suppliers, our trained cleaning operatives use only
the best materials, the most innovative equipment and are monitored as part of our SLA to ensure quality of
service and standards.

Contact details
If you want to find out more about how Integral can help you, contact Mark Evans on or call on 0121 553 5511