October 27, 2020
With over 50 years of industry experience at NIC, we are always continuously developing and updating our systems. With this in mind, we have taken into account the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in and have now decided to change a number of our practices. Consequently, the way we deal with the public, our staff and franchise network has been overhauled.
The changes fall into the following areas:
Considering the safety of staff and members of the public are of primary concern. Our franchise network has been fully briefed, trained and constantly kept up to date with current guidelines from both within our industry and through Public Health England and the government. These guidelines are communicated through regular briefings through our Business Development Managers and can also be found on our website.
Although we offer full facilities management, our main business is contract commercial cleaning, and as such, the landscape of customers’ needs and their expectations have changed dramatically over the last few months. Whilst many industries are struggling and finding the uncertainty challenging, the one remaining constant in everyone’s lives is ensuring that their environment is hygienically clean and safe.
Whilst hospitality sectors have declined, and some office workplaces remain closed or with limited staff on site, the need for more hygienic cleaning regimes has increased dramatically. Deep cleans and janitorial services are now in high demand. For example, deep cleaning is necessary prior to workplaces opening, as well as regular and periodic deep sanitising of premises such as schools and other public areas. NIC is aware of this, and as the largest cleaning supplier to retail supermarkets in the country, we have vast experience in delivering these services to the very highest standard, continuously ensuring public safety.
At the forefront of technology, we have trained our network, and supplied specialist equipment and chemicals to cater for this growing demand. This means our network has and still are able to ensure turnover and profit levels remain constant, and in many cases our franchisees are capitalising and are ahead of the game in the new ways of working. As well as the growth in deep hygienic one-off cleaning, we have won contracts in distribution centres, many schools and medical centres. We are also now the favoured supplier for the film industry, operating on location shoots all over the UK. NIC has now become the hygiene experts – defining cleaning standards for the ‘new normal’.
As we are all aware, the legislation regarding employment of people, furlough rules, administration of claiming government grants etc. is proving challenging for all businesses during the present climate.
At the start of the pandemic, NIC immediately took the decision to support our franchise network in this regard, and as such we deliver regular briefings on GOV UK and HMRC rules, and manage the furlough system for all of our franchisees. We administer each of their payrolls and are responsible for checking and claiming furlough payments on their behalf.
We took the decision right at the start of the current situation to support our franchisees on both an individual basis, as well as the network as a whole.
This has included lowering MSF rates, supporting franchisees with cashflow and short-term bad debt issues, where customers have temporarily closed because of COVID-19.
Every four weeks, we provide a profit and loss account to each franchisee, which is analysed with them through their Business Development Manager to ensure any changes to profitability can be identified immediately and addressed accordingly.
We have also aligned ourselves and set up accounts with a number of additional suppliers of chemicals, consumables and specialist PPE to allow our franchise network to access anything that is in short supply. We have also purchased specialist machinery ourselves for franchisees to rent/buy at cost price.
All of the above form part of a franchisee’s ability to plan their business. Regular formal business reviews (in addition to ongoing communication) take place every month with Business Development Managers and company Directors, meaning that changes can be made to suit the current climate in real time.
NIC has one of the highest ratios of Business Development Managers per franchisee in the industry, and through them we have realigned some of the traditional cleaning services we offer in our franchise network, and now cater for specialist services nationwide.
Business Development Managers perform a key part in mentoring and guiding our franchise network, assisting with sales and operations while giving emotional support to their own franchisees to ensure nobody feels isolated. These partnerships have ensured that our network is not only surviving the crisis, but continuing to thrive.
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