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Better check there’s no horsemeat in your cleaning...

Author : Tobias Batkin

12 April 2013

No need to rub your eyes, this isn’t the usual brand of current affairs bandwagoneering you might expect from a newsletter...

Consider this—cleaning contractors and companies in the food chain are often awarded contracts on the strength of one factor; price. Iceland’s CEO reckons this is the cause of the horsemeat horror show. Yet in cleaning and FM in general, our equivalent (illegal workers, cash in hand etc) has remained mercifully rare. So, why them and not us?

The answer? Well, whisper it; it’s our FMs and Office Managers...

30 years ago, FM was just a radio frequency. Now, thanks to organisations such as BIFM, cleaning companies’ services are bought and managed by dedicated FMs.

You’d imagine that the food industry has far greater amounts of regulation than the cleaning industry. But is greater regulation always the answer? The fact that FMs procure and manage their services means the buck stops with them. It is in their interests to scrutinise quality as well as price.

This type of buying structure, removes the gaps, which unscrupulous service providers can exploit. In turn, this has forced FM suppliers to become more professional, which regulation alone cannot achieve. Those who are proactive in the cleaning industry have run with this professionalism and created a new generation of commercial cleaning enterprises.

Cleaning companies now need better management and better business practices. As a director of, I’ve found that this drives up standards, even where there is huge pressure on price. It has allowed us to commit to 2 hour response times and supervisory techniques that work; what we call Effective, Available Action.

This scandal will undoubtedly herald an era of even greater regulation. In truth, I’m sure the companies involved did follow the regulations. Sometimes though, it takes a person, like a FM, to see the horse for the cows.

* Tobias Batkin is director of

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