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Cost pressure in the cleaning sector

Kostendruck in der Reinigungsbranche

The cleaning sector is experiencing considerable economic pressure. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the labor conditions in the sector are difficult in comparison to other areas:

  • Commercial cleaning involves heavy physical labor.
  • The places of work and tasks vary.
  • The work hours tend to be at marginal times, in other words early in the morning or not until the evening. This makes a work–life balance difficult.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated cleaning conditions.
  • And at just €13/hour (since October 2022), the statutory minimum pay for commercial cleaning is on the low side.

All of these points lead to higher skilled worker turnover. The result? Staff shortages. In addition, there is the never-ending price war. Customers aren’t keen to spend money on cleaning duties at their company and therefore often outsource them to others. They want to save as much as possible on commercial cleaning.

This increasing cost pressure from the customers coupled with the same quality expectations results in immense time pressure for the cleaning companies. On top of this, they are required to document the cleaning work performed in detail. And with there being so much competition, it is usually the cheapest cleaning company that secures the contract.

Higher minimum wages and rising material and energy costs further heighten this effect. Price hikes for the customers in 2022 are therefore almost inevitable.

The cleaning companies then have no choice other than to save on staff costs or to reduce the time assigned to tasks, thereby lowering the quality—simply to remain affordable? We explain which additional efficiency improvement measures can continue to balance the time spent, the quality, and the costs.

Smart solutions for a smooth workflow

With the cleaning sector being affected by a major shortage of skilled workers, efficient planning and carefully considered employee management are particularly important. Digital solutions can optimize workflows and give a company a competitive edge, enabling it to save both time and money.

New resource planning systems make it easier to assign employees and equipment to the right place of work. This keeps rostering flexible and enables a company to respond to new customer wishes spontaneously. The customers’ expectations of quality can continue to be fulfilled as detailed duty lists reduce the likelihood of something being forgotten.

In addition, thanks to digital technologies, the workers can document their cleaning activities via an app and also easily log their breaks. This results in work time transparency and allows cleaning companies to plan their work assignment better in the future. The time spent on planning and admin is also reduced. What’s more, this form of data collection is less susceptible to errors as it eliminates manual data logging with pen and paper.

Learn more about how cleaning companies can benefit from digitization in commercial cleaning.

Cleaning robots take on monotonous tasks

Be it in large office spaces or public institutions, cleaning robots are now assisting their human team members highly successfully with professional commercial cleaning. What are known as cobots (short for ‘collaborative robots’) can see to automated, precise floor cleaning. Multiple cobots can be connected to one another, enabling work across larger spaces or on a number of floors to be divided among them. This allows the mechanical assistants to handle the more monotonous work steps, leaving the skilled workers with more time to focus on demanding tasks. And with the capacities this frees up, the staff shortages can be offset, too.

The work of a cleaning robot is so efficient and so much time is consequently saved that its acquisition is usually amortized in next to no time.

Sustainable commercial cleaning

Another good place to start when trying to boost profitability is the consumption of energy and resources—at a company’s own premises, at those of the customers, and while traveling between the two. The first step is for a company to determine and analyze its own energy consumption. Regular energy accounting is a helpful means of identifying savings potential as well as of raising the employees’ awareness of energy-saving work methods.

Purchasing energy-saving cleaning machines can be a step in the right direction. Energy guzzlers like vacuum cleaners and single-disk rotary machines should be replaced with modern, energy-efficient equipment such as cobots.

The use of cleaning chemicals should be reduced to a minimum, too. If environmentally sound cleaning agents are used as an alternative, this not only prevents drinking water contamination, but is also good for the environment. Water-conserving equipment and cleaning methods support this effect and promote the efficient use of resources. It is not only the environment and cleaning companies that benefit from such measures—a commitment to sustainability often makes an impression on the customers, too.

Conclusion: greater efficiency to tackle cost pressure

The cleaning sector is experiencing immense pressure on profitability. Companies have to operate more efficiently to remain competitive. But rather than saving on staff or in terms of quality, there are other supplementary steps that companies can take in order to withstand the current developments.

If digital solutions are used, workflows can be planned and managed as efficiently as possible. Digital service and work logging saves time and money—and additionally establishes transparency between a cleaning company and its customers.

Cleaning robots support the work of the skilled workers by taking on monotonous tasks. They reduce the employees’ time pressure, allowing them to dedicate more time to more important tasks and provide a high-quality service. Time and costs are simultaneously saved.

What’s more, a sustainable approach additionally reduces the consumption of energy and resources. This not only conserves the environment, but also lowers costs.

All of these efficiency improvement measures help companies manage their time, quality, and costs better and therefore relieve the pressure on the sector.