Six ways higher education can drive better value from its cleaning supplies

Universities and other higher education providers spend many millions in procurement every year and a significant element of this is on cleaning supplies.

Ensuring this spend is effective is more than a value for money question. In fact, many higher education procurement teams need to turn their approach to cleaning supplies on its head.

Good procurement of cleaning supplies goes beyond pounds and pence savings. Thinking strategically, in partnership with your supplier, about how, when and where your organisation manages these supplies will help deliver innovation, best practice and long term, continual savings.

If you make your cleaning products suppliers an integral part of your facilities management and purchasing teams, and combine their insights and capabilities to help on your journey to even better cleaning, the results can be impressive.

Not only can the right supplier help your organisation achieve more with your budget, it can help to reduce that budget, improve end user satisfaction and ensure better use of products.

Improving the deep clean

Clean premises are critical in high traffic environments such as higher education. There is the matter of the deep clean every summer, when schools and universities need to carry out thorough cleaning, repair, maintenance and training while most of their students are off premises.

Working with suppliers, educational establishments should be aiming to identify ways to continually improve this summertime cleaning activity. Finding out how effectively products have been used and how well areas have been cleaned is one step in the process.

Intense daily demands

In environments that are constantly used by thousands of staff, visitors and students, end users of cleaning supplies have their work cut out. Not only are walkways, reception areas and conferencing facilities in continual use, but halls of residence, catering areas and student unions place particularly high demand on the skills of cleaners and facilities management teams.

Finding the right supplier to make all of this work better should go beyond fundamental tender requirements. You need to establish just how suppliers can work with your organisation to make cleaning an easier, simpler process for all involved. 

Evaluating inventory

Your supplier should not just supply, but help identify. They should be ready to visit sites to discover what you have in stock, and where. Getting a handle on what products you are storing matters. Improved inventory monitoring will monitor excesses and shortfalls and ensure less money is tied up in un-used product.

Speaking to users

Going on a journey with the people using the products will uncover what is being used and what isn’t, and why. Your cleaning supplies partner should be willing to do this and find out how users work with the cleaning products.

Users may be reluctantly deploying a particular product, putting another to the back of the cupboard or wishing they could have an alternative because they know it does the job better. Unless you or your supplier investigate this properly, there’s every chance product is going to waste or being excessively used.

Prioritising effectiveness

Some cleaning ranges are more fit-for-purpose than others because they get the job done quicker and need less product to be effective. A marginally higher price tag can deter procurement from considering them. This can be a mistake because while cheaper product may seem a bargain, it’s not always so good in real life and you may need to buy twice as much to get the job done. Your supplier should be helping your end users to be effective with the best possible products for the job,

End user training

End users are the essential link in the chain. If they don’t understand how to use products or maximise their benefits, the organisation risks spending far more on cleaning supplies than it needs to.

A good supplier can manage this and help end users to overcome any resistance to product change, with hands-on workshops. Enabling end users to discuss their challenges, talk through the processes and learn how to work with new products will guarantee optimum effectiveness, and is less likely to lead to disgruntled users further down the line.

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