Industry Leaders Forum: Simon Taylor, Kärcher NZ

Simon Taylor, National Business Manager – Professional, Kärcher NZ

How was 2021 for Kärcher NZ? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

2021 was a fantastic year for Kärcher NZ. Rather than view the challenges which every organisation faced during 2021 as negatives we took these as an opportunity to assess our current strengths and focus on building upon them further.

Our professional product offering covers every business channel and whilst some industries have slowed due to COVID some have experienced accelerated growth, due to our national coverage of sales and service and with robust stock volumes we have been able to support our clients to continue to deliver. Meanwhile, our retail division has seen unprecedented sales volumes.

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

From an internal perspective I am most proud of how our Kärcher team across Australia and New Zealand have combined efforts to ensure that we continue to not only deliver but deliver at a much higher level of activity.

Sales were up across all Kärcher channels and the extra sales required extra input from all of our teams, no one person or department could have achieved it without each other (sometimes as with many other people across Australasia operating from some very different locations and systems)

We are reaping the rewards for the investments that Kärcher global has made to ensure our communication networks are as fast as they are robust.

What will be the immediate focus for Karcher in 2022?

It is an exciting year for Kärcher. We have many new products to introduce, some are simple redesigns to make existing products more efficient whilst others are completely new categories to solve more solutions for our clients. We are also onboarding more Kärcher staff in order to support our clients further.

Did you notice any changes in customer behaviour in 2021? How did Karcher respond and adapt to these changes? 

Kärcher is a solution supplier. Each client has their own unique set of needs and circumstance that need to be considered to identify the very best fit for them, as such our consultative sales approach is key to success for our clients, this is the ‘thing’ that differentiates Kärcher in the market place.

We have seen the volume of customers who are now more open to online purchases increase steadily over the last 18 months.

Kärcher have and will always try to meet our clients wherever or however they wish to buy in order to help them have the very best experience with their purchase.

As such you may have seen more online and TV interaction from Kärcher to help clients with their equipment choices.

What are the opportunities and challenges you see for the wider commercial cleaning industry in 2022?

Within our region we see that labour shortages as a major concern, people’s expectations towards health and hygiene is more acute now than it was two years ago and this heightened awareness of ‘clean’ is translating into higher expectations being passed on to a workforce which was already working hard and doing a great job.

We are now having to get more from less, our cleaning companies and staff really are ‘essential staff’ in every sense of the word.

Cleaning solutions need to not only hit a price point, but also help the user do more in less time. A major factor is machine uptime, cleaning equipment is only effective if it is maintained by the operator and also the manufacturer, when equipment is maintained, costly downtime can be eliminated.

Having a robust supply of parts and an engaged national service team to support the operator is the opportunity and this has been a major focus for Kärcher throughout 2021.

What is one issue in the industry that you would like to see addressed?

I believe the image of the cleaning industry has been elevated over the last few years, certainly since COVID.

When I look back to the late 90s when I first started in this industry cleaning was something that no one ever talked about, it was seen as a menial task, much of it was done at unsociable hours and out of sight.

Wind the clocks forward to present days and we have seen many changes which has brought our professional cleaners out of the shadows, it is empowering to see our ‘professional essential workers’ moving amongst us at our malls, museums and supermarkets, diligently keeping use safe and comfortable.

Cleaning is a profession. We must keep striving to have it recognised as such.

What advice would you give to fellow leaders in the cleaning industry?

Continue to invest in your people and stay agile.

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

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