Leaders Forum: Bridget Gardner, HPC Solutions

INCLEAN chats with Bridget Gardner, director of HPC Solution.

How was 2019 for HPC Solutions? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

2019 was an exciting year. We noticed a shift in the industry in two areas. The first, was a return to focus on the core business of cleaning, service delivery and training. The second was a realisation that sustainability is now mainstream. ‘Green cleaning’ has shifted from a niche marketing term, towards doing business in a smarter, more sustainable and responsible way.

A major highlight this year for us was the rebrand of our business to High Performance Cleaning Solutions (formerly Fresh Green Clean), trading as HPC Solutions. The term ‘High Performance Cleaning’ (HPC) sums up this growing professionalism, defined as ‘performing measurably healthier, more sustainable, ethical and hygienic cleaning practices’.

We also delivered our new training program to several major cleaning companies, and successfully integrated my CAL model (Cleaning Activity Levels) into the cleaning scope for a couple of council tenders.

Our biggest challenge is one that I think is faced by everyone in the industry – cleaning remains undervalued and under-priced.

Following HPC’s rebrand, will be the immediate focus for the business?

The immediate focus for HPC Solutions will be the launch and rollout of our flagship online training program, Clean for Success. This forms part of HPC Solutions’ three targeted packages: to help clients deliver greater efficiency and consistency, to increase worker engagement and innovation, and to prevent risk and ensure compliance.

Each package comprises a combination of solutions, including cleaning plans, pictorial manuals, training workshops and auditing tools in a step-by-step program. All solutions are structured on the same HPC Criteria Framework and CAL model. This enables us to fully customise them for each cleaning service, by mapping the products and practices used for each cleaning task, into logical workflows.

Our top priority for 2020 is to embed and road-test the online program with some leading cleaning companies and organisations that manage in-house services. I am so excited about this new direction. We are already seeing how the visual training manuals have empowered cleaning personnel and helped them understand the vital role they play in keeping people and environments healthy.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for HPC looking ahead to 2020?

The challenge for HPC Solutions will be meeting market demand and expanding the business in a manageable and sustainable way, as the need for our training programs increase.

A challenge shared by the industry is the rapid rate of software development and keeping pace with this digital disruption. Knowing which platform to choose for your business given the rate of change and digital advancement, is a problem shared by many business owners.

I believe the opportunities for HPC are enormous. Having online training manuals customised and with pictorials including diagrams, step-by-step images and colour-coded task sheets, for an industry that has workers with limited written English skills, is an extremely exciting offering and I see opportunities beyond the cleaning industry.

What will corporate sustainability look like in 2020?

Sustainability in 2020 will be focused on waste management and being able to offer solutions beyond the standard sorting and removal of waste. The opportunity for service providers will be finding ways to ‘close the loop’ and tap into the circular economy.

For cleaning companies this means finding buyers for their client’s waste material. This could mean partnering directly with recycling facilities that repurpose waste materials into usable materials rather than just relying on waste management companies. The business sector needs smarter solutions for waste prevention and reuse – that’s where the opportunity lies.

The second focus will be on reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. Using energy efficient equipment, and don’t forget that cleaning uses a significant portion of a facility’s energy bill, will become even more important.

Climate change is just starting to be talked about as a serious threat to the economy in the corporate sector, but this issue will boom as soon as it turns the corner. It’s my prediction that 2020 will be the year government will be forced to be proactive about reducing carbon emissions because the top end of town is pushing them to.

The other big focus areas will be around wellbeing and healthy buildings, such as indoor air quality and surface hygiene, as well as social sustainability.

What is one issue you think the industry should urgently address in 2020?

The industry needs to re-focus and re-invest in training and providing career pathways for workers. ­­

Cleaning companies need to recruit from within for managers and train them on core cleaning skills so that they become cleaning specialists. Clients are demanding greater accountability and transparency about cleaning methodologies.

Building materials are becoming more specialised. Compliance is being demanded on multiple fronts. Cleaning is no longer something that happens after hours when no one is looking. Because of this, both cleaning staff and managers need to become better educated about their processes.

Is there one key message you would like to share with the industry?

Cleaning well is going to become more important as our awareness grows about biological hazards on building surfaces and in the air – such as germs, dust, VOCs and toxic chemicals, plus the growth of drug-resistant bacteria and viruses – and the direct impact this has on absenteeism and productivity.

I believe that the cleaning industry has two ways to go. Increasing expectations for better hygiene practices could­­­ be a rod for its own back and eat into profits, or it could be a chance for the industry to promote itself and the true value of what cleaning offers. Now is the perfect time for the industry to reinvent itself as specialists in keeping people healthy, rather than just managing appearances.

The rise of the gig industry, coupled with automation, are going to have a significant impact on the industry and could pose a major threat. Again, this is why it is critically important that the industry re-focuses on training and delivering high performance cleaning and focuses on the benefits this offers.

If the industry wants to remain viable and valid, then it has to up its game on the way cleaning is being performed.

Read INCLEAN’s inaugural Industry Leaders Forum Report in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

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