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Firm focus on the future at British Cleaning Council Conference
The British Cleaning Council Conference, which took place last week at the CBI Conference Centre, London, was based on the theme 'Future Proofing the Cleaning Industry'. Delegates were treated to a team of expert speakers giving presentations on future-related topics ranging from the environment to start-up technology to staff retention, while workshops enabled delegates to learn new skills to take back to their businesses.
Distinguished journalist Oliver Kamm of The Times chaired the event, which kicked off with a presentation by Alex Depledge, co-founder of Hassle.com, a new market entrant that uses smart phones to revolutionise the way consumers choose domestic cleaners. Her fascinating presentation including flexi-working, the sharing economy and unlocking technology to innovate.
Alex was followed by Andy Mudd, principle consultant at APSE, who turned the delegate's attention to the possibility of the public sector entering the commercial landscape as a competitor. Given often held perceptions of local authorities by the private sector and vice versa, his presentation drummed up much controversy and debate from the audience.
Doug Cooke, BCC chairman and co-founder of Principle Cleaning Services, shared his experiences as an 'undercover boss' and the discoveries that lead him to create the concept of 'Hybrid Cleaning' - a cleaning management system combining full-time hours for cleaners, daytime cleaning, staff development and the living wage at the same cost as previous models.
Alice Teague, programme head of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, gave a very timely presentation on equality & human rights in the cleaning sector and the EHRC's project to investigate conditions. The BCC will be working with the EHRC to assist in evidence collection throughout 2014 and to encourage businesses to come forward with success stories.
Steve Harrington, of lead conference sponsor Nilfisk UK, then turned to a key issue for future business decisions in a presentation titled 'Green Meets Clean'. Steve took the audience through a fascinating look at Nilkfisk's commitment to using less energy, water and detergent and the success it has had worldwide, both commercially and environmentally.
Delegates were then invited to make the difficult choice of which workshop to attend. Priscilla Morris of Loud and Clear vocal coaching offered skills development in attaining the 'X-Factor' of influence and persuasion. Mark Jennings of ActionCoach provided a 'Growth Health Check' for businesses. Both workshops achieved excellent feedback and provided delegates with something new to take back to their businesses.
Sponsor NSL Validation Services presented on an important topic for the cleaning industry, given the media profile and high fines for breaching protocol, preventing illegal migrant working. Whilst ensuring that staff have the proper paperwork is vital to the sector, the process can be time consuming, expensive and complex. Kenneth Hanslip discussed the increasing need for validation technology, and presented the Keesing ID smartscan.
The next sponsor presentation of the day was delivered by Catharine Hinton of Asset Skills who focussed on the hot topic of staff retention, the importance of quality staff development and training, and the impact that 'getting it right' will have on the future of the industry.
Paul Lewis of Reintec discussed the impact of cleaning equipment hire. Paul emphasised the need to leave behind the traditional ownership model and realise the back office and management savings.
After a day of presentations and workshops, not to mention great food and networking, it was time to sit down to watch industry leaders and public figures battle it out over a Question Time-style debate chaired by Oliver Kamm. The panel featured Doug Cooke, BCC chairman; Chris Cracknell, CEO of OCS; Sarah Bentley, CEO of Asset Skills, and Rhys Moore, Director of The Living Wage Foundation. The debate was lively and included audience questions and those submitted via Twitter and LinkedIn, on topics ranging from immigration, management skills and working conditions.... A fitting end to a day packed full of ideas for the future!
Doug Cooke, BCC chairman said: "I am delighted that another British Cleaning Council conference has been so successful. We focused on a very commercial feel to this year's programme to match the mood of the industry - and judging by the engaged audience and busy Twitter feed, we put on a great event. I urge sponsors and potential speakers to contact us early for the 2014 conference."
The BCC thanks its sponsors - Nilfisk UK, Reintec, South Thames College, NSL Validation Solutions, C&M Magazine, the EHR Commission and BCC members Asset Skills and Keep Britain Tidy - delegates and members for their support, as well as Suzanne Howe Communications for their assistance in delivering the event.
5th December 2013