Industry Leaders Forum: Grant McLauchlan, CrestClean

Grant McLauchlan, Managing Director, CrestClean

How was 2021 for CrestClean? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

Overall, 2021 was a successful year for CrestClean. We achieved significant growth in contracted revenues, operated without any serious harm or injury and improved the overall dynamic of our customer base, all through a period of unprecedented disruption.

A highlight of the year was the high level of engagement from our operational teams and celebrating our 25th anniversary in business in December which finished the year off on a positive, celebratory note.

Once again, the challenges of working through rolling, regional COVID-19 lockdowns created many issues, but our team all stepped up to the mark to ensure we operated without disruption to support our valued customers.

Is there an achievement you’re particularly proud of from the past 12 months?

Operating without serious harm, or disruption to our customer services, through an incredibly difficult period.

Over the last 12 months we reviewed and improved our training ecosystem, adapting our business systems and processes to not only survive, but to excel through a period of adversity.

We held our position and maintained ongoing training and upskilling programmes under often stressful logistical circumstances with COVID-19 playing havoc with training attendee numbers and trainer availability.

We have maintained our core principals and operating standards and compliances, even with the challenges we faced. We managed to grow our business and still offer the same high standard of cleaning our customers expect.

What will be the immediate focus for CrestClean in 2022?

Following on from 2021, we will have a continued emphasis on the wellbeing and safety of all personnel involved in our business.

We recognise the COVID-19 experience to date has affected many people differently and now, with the ongoing uncertainty of Omicron, requires us to maintain open, honest, and transparent communications both internally and with our customers to reassure them that we are here and ready to support them.

Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing Leader provides tools and access to information for personnel wellbeing, to ensure our teams are not under undue stress and anxiety, and are supported to perform at their best, keeping our customers safe.

What are the major opportunities you foresee for CrestClean in 2022?

We believe 2022 will be another positive year for CrestClean as likeminded customers seek out our services, based on our reputation and professionalism, to support them in providing a clean and hygienic environment for their own staff and customers.

We also see our leadership in industry training underpinning our success in the marketplace as it is no longer acceptable to contract in untrained and unskilled cleaning operators, with professional cleaning service providers now highly valued in any organisation’s supply chain.

What challenges do you see for the wider market in 2022?

Like all industry sectors across NZ, under the current government immigration settings, the NZ cleaning industry will see labour capacity issues continue to impact business generally.

We are already seeing signs of COVID fatigue in the labour market as the existing NZ workforce is at full capacity, with personnel unable to commit further time to their organisations.

Sure, businesses will be able to win new business, but delivering the service will be a challenge. We have already had experiences where competitors win business on a vastly reduced price but fail to front up on the day of commencement due to having no personnel to undertake the work promised.

Customers will need to undertake a thorough due diligence on suppliers’ ability to service their contracts prior to awarding contracts merely on price.

How has the public’s expectations of ‘clean’ changed because of the pandemic?

A professional ‘clean’, undertaken by highly skilled operators with the correct equipment and tools is now at the forefront of customers’ minds when making purchasing decisions.

Gone are the days of merely paying lip service to cleaning and hygiene — that is no longer acceptable to organisations, employees, or customers. People now expect the best.

Any clean needs to be complemented with an ongoing sanitisation service to ensure people do not get sick in the workplace. There is more scrutiny of process, procedure and chemicals used in the cleaning industry than before. Businesses want cleaning professionals with highly trained staff.

What impact will these new expectations have on the industry, in terms of cleaning standards and processes, in 2022?

Cleaning service providers need to be able to provide proof of their documented processes, personnel training records and an inventory of cleaning chemicals, along with their up-to-date Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Training has also come under the spotlight — the best chemicals, equipment, and processes only work when your staff are trained to use them all correctly.

What is one issue you would like to see urgently addressed?

The NZ Immigration settings need an urgent review, otherwise NZ will see further workplace fatigue and exhaustion that could expose workers to workplace mistakes and injury which is totally unacceptable. We have a strong and vibrant economy that requires human resource capacity to allow our country to prosper.

The status quo is no longer acceptable, nor prudent, and personnel working extended hours over the medium term is in no way sustainable and will impact overall wellbeing in the NZ people and economy.

The current border settings have caused significant stress to those unable to visit their family or have their family come and visit them which is unacceptable over an extended period.

Looking forward to 2022, what advice would you give to fellow industry leaders?

It’s all about the people! He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata. Take care of your people, train them, empower them, support them and treat them with respect and they will look after you.

This first appeared in the February issue of INCLEAN NZ magazine. 

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