Diversification Key to Success in Tough Economic Climate

22nd of December, 2011 Bookmark and Share
Contract Cleaning businesses are being urged to broaden their skills base and diversify to bring in new sales.

Many commentators are predicting continued fragile demand for cleaning services from the corporate market and Facilities Managers in the medium term – prompting some operators to use specialist training to open up new income streams.

Edinburgh Cleaning Services (ECS) realised the potential of adding fire and flood restoration to its portfolio five years ago. The business development plan came about after ECS Operations Director Fraser Watson found out about the National Flood School through ECS supplier Restoration Express.

Since then Mr Watson has attended a number of courses at the flood school, gaining qualifications and credibility that have helped transform the firm from primarily a cleaning concern to a company called upon by the insurance industry to deal with fire and flood damage.

Mr Watson said: “Only about 20 to 30 per cent of our turnover now comes from carpet cleaning. The rest is fire and flood work and almost without exception that is working on behalf of insurance companies.

“The evolution started in 2006. I did some carpet cleaning courses because that was our core business and as a result of those I realised I had equipment that wasn’t being used to its full earning potential because it could also be used on fire and flood restoration projects.

“That led to a more formal business development plan in 2006 and 2007.”

Courses attended by Mr Watson include Carpet Cleaning Technician, Odour Control Technician, Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician, Applied Structural Drying and Water Restoration Technician – all of which are run in conjunction with internationally-recognised trade standards body The Clean Trust (formerly the IICRC – the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification).

Now all technicians employed by ECS are qualified to at least Water Damage Restoration Technician level.

Mr Watson added: “We will continue to develop by increasing our breadth and depth of expertise through the National Flood School.

“In a tough economic climate it’s essential to keep ahead of the competition, and adding in-demand skills is a way of increasing sales and market share.”

Restoraction in Stroud, Gloucestershire, has also increased turnover and maintained margins with the help of the National Flood School. Founded in 2002 as a general property maintenance business, it moved in to the fire and flood restoration sector in about 2005.

Andrew Bartlett and key Restoraction employees have attended a number of flood school courses, including Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician, Odour Control Technician and Applied Structural Drying.

Restoraction director and senior technician Andrew Bartlett said: “All technicians have to reach a base level and then you build on that and keep developing yourself and your employees.

“When you add to your firm’s expertise and credibility you also add to its bottom line.

“There is real pressure on margins in this economic climate, which makes it all the more important to build on your expertise to differentiate yourself from the competition and to persuade customers to look at value and quality rather than just price.”

About 80 per cent of Restoraction’s turnover now comes from fire and flood insurance claims, compared to just 20 per cent five years ago.

Chris Netherton, managing director at the National Flood School, said: “New sales streams are going to be hard to come by for contract cleaners over the next 12 months, but fire and flood jobs are year-round and expertise in remediation and restoration can bring in significant sales from the insurance industry, Facilities Managers and corporate clients.

“Equally, when Facilities Managers and property maintenance firms learn different skills, it means they can offer a better service to customers and tenants.”

National Flood School courses combine classroom work, videos and hands-on workshops.

Many of the programmes feature the school’s purpose-built Flood House. Believed to be the only one of its type in Europe, the Flood House is an eight-room structure made with materials and techniques typical to UK buildings.

It is flooded with 1,500 litres of water and then used to demonstrate drying techniques - a powerful training tool for the insurance, restoration and building industries.

More details about the National Flood School and its courses can be found at http://www.nationalfloodschool.co.uk or by calling 01252 821185.

Videos about the National Flood School and the Flood House can be seen at the National Flood School’s own YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/nationalfloodschool

For more details about Edinburgh Cleaning Services, visit www. cleanse.uk.com or call 0131 660 0220.

For more details about Restoraction, visit http://www.restoraction.co.uk or call 01453 836400.
Press release issued by David Johnson, Shepherd PR. For more information, or to arrange an interview, please call 01335 368020.
Notes To Editors
Recognised across the UK and Europe as a leader in the research, development, testing and teaching of a wide-range of techniques and systems to enhance the restoration of property damaged by flood and fire, the National Flood School was founded in 1988.
Based in Farnham, Surrey, The National Flood School shares its expertise to support and train restoration professionals and provides information and professional guidance for many other associated industries, including insurers and loss adjusters.
The organisation has three specific divisions: training, consultancy and research and development.
The National Flood School has been accredited by the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) as a Licensed Training Centre.
This accreditation sees the National Flood School offer regular courses under the BDMA Licensed Damage Management Training Programme, alongside its own comprehensive training events.
It also writes and maintains the BSI Code of Practice for Professional Water Damage Mitigation (PAS 64).

Jo Foster
Press release issued by David Johnson, Shepherd PR. For more information, or to arrange an interview, please call 01335 368020.