You’ve just won a major new contract – awesome!
The office is buzzing. All the hard work building a relationship with the prospect, hours spent at a laptop filling out the proposal (which was checked and checked again for typos). It was all worth it. You won!
In truth, that was the easy bit, the real work starts from now on. What you do next may be the difference between delivering an outstanding service… or not.
Contract mobilisation is a well-trodden path in the commercial cleaning industry. The TUPE of staff and process management is carried out as a matter of course. It’s often considered a necessary evil and just something to tick off the list before the important task of delivery begins.
Wrong. Contract mobilisation is arguably one of the most significant activities you undertake and represents some of the greatest opportunities for long term success.
Energise your staff
If you only take one thing from this blog, let it be this: invest time energising and building a solid relationship with TUPE staff. An engaged staff will go a long way to maximising your service quality, growth opportunities and client satisfaction.
Managing the TUPE of staff is a fundamental aspect of contract mobilisation (not to mention a legal requirement). But more than that, it’s your opportunity to make a strong first impression. Getting your new team on board early is crucial, spend time listening to them and build their trust (read: don’t make false promises).
Be honest with them – they know when you’re being shifty or dodging questions. Remember many of them will have been through the TUPE process before (some will have had good experiences, some bad), they will be naturally nervous and probably listen to you with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Explain very early that there may be changes made to the contract (why else would the client be changing contractor – they want changes). Communication with the new team will make it easier for you to mobilise quickly and they will appreciate being kept informed (no matter how many proposed changes there are).
More importantly, TUPE is often a time of rumour and gossip – uncertainty breeds misinformation and worry. Open and honest (and consistent) communication between you and the staff fills the information vacuum which threatens to emerge and quashes rumours before they have a chance to take hold and undermine your good intentions.
Finally, make sure you introduce new staff to their management team as soon as possible. It’s vital their relationship is given time to develop before the contract start date. You may be on site a lot in the early days, but to have a truly scalable business you need to be able to hand over to your managers and trust them to deliver.
Manage the process
Be proactive in managing the change process, this shouldn’t be just a ‘tick-box’ exercise.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the Service Level Agreement (SLA) will have been outlined during the initial proposal stage. The way in which you intend to deliver these measures has to be managed using an effective quality and benchmarking system.
A quality system is only as good as the data you collect and more importantly, what you do with that data. You may well set out to collect quality audit scores daily, conduct training sessions with new staff on regular intervals and supplement the client’s H&S policy by conducting your own audit. But what are you doing with that data?
- Will you share real-time data with your client to demonstrate your commitment to quality and transparency?
- Will you extrapolate insights from the data you have gathered to make fact-based recommendations on service delivery (some of which may result in savings for your client or re-directing investment to other areas of their cleaning contract)?
- Will you deliver trend graphs and projections illustrating the improvements made since you took on the contract to communicate your value and clearly demonstrate your client’s return on investment?
The contract mobilisation stage is the time to decide how you are going to deliver your service. It’s the time to implement the tools and processes you need to have in place to achieve the quality levels you want to be renowned for (and, more importantly, have been appointed to deliver). This is the foundation upon which your entire service delivery is built – so take it seriously, proactively manage it and focus on what you need it to do.
The mobilisation phase is often the first opportunity you have to ‘look under the bonnet’ of the contract. In this case, it may be the suggestions put forth in your proposal will need to be altered as you learn more about the client’s site.
Don’t be precious, be flexible. Listen to insights from your new TUPE staff, chances are they will know the site better than anyone and they will appreciate you valuing their input.
Listen and gather information – understand what your client really needs, get to grips with what is currently being delivered and uncover areas of inefficiency (there are always areas of inefficiency – trust me).
The stages outlined above, energising your staff and managing the process, will present you with insights to make more informed recommendations to your client about where to invest and how further savings can be delivered. Doing this early in the relationship will go a long way to forging trust and further establishing your credibility as a valued cleaning partner.
Furthermore, information and data gathered to inform your quality system can be leveraged to make recommendations based on fact, not just gut instinct or industry experience. This is far more compelling to clients and will open doors to additional sales or new contract wins as they learn to trust your approach and see the benefits.
Contract mobilisation may take place at a very early stage in your relationships with the client and new TUPE staff, but the insight and data you gather at this stage can create important opportunities for growth further down the line.
Don’t just go through the motions. Focus, be proactive, and mobilise with intent.