The British Cleaning Council Conference took place recently at the CBI Conference Centre, London. The theme of the conference was 'Future proofing the cleaning industry' and a team of expert speakers gave presentations on future-related topics ranging from the environment to start-up technology to staff retention. The conference also included workshops allowing delegates to learn new skills to take back to their businesses. The event attracted myriad sponsors, with Nilfisk UK being the lead supporter of the event. Other sponsors included Reintec, South Thames College, NSL Validation Solutions, C&M Magazine, the EHR Commission, and BCC members Asset Skills and Keep Britain Tidy. The conference was chaired by distinguished journalist Oliver Kamm of The Times.
Alex Depledge, co-founder of Hassle.com, a new market entrant that uses smart phones to revolutionise the way consumers choose domestic cleaners, kicked off the conference with a fascinating presentation including flexi-working, the sharing economy and unlocking technology to innovate.
Depledge 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, Mudd's presentation drummed up much controversy and debate from the audience.
Doug Cooke, BCC chairman and co-founder of Principle Cleaning, shared his experiences as an 'undercover boss' and the discoveries that led 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 and Human Rights Commission, gave a very timely presentation on equality and 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 encourage businesses to come forward with success stories.
Steve Harrington of lead sponsor Nilfisk UK then turned to a key issue for future business decisions in a presentation titled 'Green meets clean'. Harrington 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 commercially and environmentally.
Delegates were then invited to join one of the workshops. 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. He 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, including 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 next conference.”
The BCC is currently looking at running its next conference alongside the Cleaning Show 2015 at London's Excel - further developing the concept of 'One Event' for the entire cleaning and support services sector. More details to follow.