Purchasing - Choosing the Right Cleaning Chemicals
Our previous Talking Point article ‘Understanding Purchasing’ set the scene for a more detailed discussion of the key factors to take into account while choosing the right cleaning chemicals and chemical supplier.
In three follow up blog posts, we will discuss the key considerations for choosing the right cleaning chemicals for your organisation (this article); your choice of chemical supplier (article 2); and some of the purchasing misconceptions we face as a major supplier to the rapidly growing UAE and wider Middle East markets.
The key theme running through all three posts is quality – quality of product, quality of people, quality of service, quality of training, quality standards and regulation.
In an increasingly competitive, and often cut throat, marketplace, there is a danger of suppliers and customers engaging in a ‘race to the bottom’ - a ‘vicious circle’ of aggressive price competition often at the expense of quality.
As a supplier totally committed to delivering the highest quality standards to all of our customers, this does not make sense to us. A ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of price significantly increases risk to the general public (e.g. food safety issues, commercial laundry hygiene etc.) and to employees (health and safety issues working with cheap products with no safe use training).
With chemicals accounting for a tiny proportion of overall cleaning costs, why skimp on quality?
Across the sectors we supply (quality hotels, restaurants, commercial laundries, education, health, in-flight catering), keeping your premises ‘safe and clean’ is a strategic asset. Rather than skimping on costs, the quality of cleaning chemicals used, and related support services, should be considered as a key element of the overall brand proposition.
With customers becoming increasingly demanding and discerning, the consequences of poor hygiene management can be severe, especially in an era where word-of-mouth spreads rapidly on various social media channels.
In cleaning, there is a strong positive correlation between quality and the sustained profitability of your business. In a throw-away world, cleaning chemical quality and longevity of relationship with your supplier are the key to future success.
Quality is something remembered long after the price is forgotten. There are no real cost savings from using cheap, low quality products.
The five key drivers in cleaning chemical choice
The cleaning products market in the UAE, and wider Middle East, continues to grow year-on-year. As a consequence, the market is becoming more and more competitive.
Below, we list six key factors that the professional cleaning customer should take into account when choosing a cleaning chemical type.
1. Performance: At the end of the day, any cleaning product is worthless if it does not work properly. Professional cleaning products must ‘do what it says on the tin’. It is surprising, therefore, that many businesses still insist on buying large quantities of cheap, low active bleach and disinfectant. In many instances, these products are generally worthless in terms of cleaning and disinfection.
2. Cost-effectiveness: All businesses have different views on price and cost. Some will quite happily pay more for a high performance/specification product with credentials if it performs better. Others may prefer to use cheap unit-priced products and accept a reduced level of performance. There is no point in manufacturers being evangelical in their stubborn resistance to ignoring these differing requirements. As such, they must always strive for a balance between price and performance to succeed in the professional market.
3. Ease of use: Products that clean quickly with minimum effort and have multiple benefits and applications are successful due to the convenience factor. Miracle ‘all-in-ones’ have been marketed for decades, but are usually fairly limited in the real world as the fabric of modern surfaces has changed significantly. The argument of ‘why buy three, when you can buy one?’ is still a very important consideration for the professional market especially for inventory rationalisation and the effectiveness of staff training.
4. Fragrance, aesthetics and packaging: The market is crowded, so innovative packaging, controlled dispensing systems and new fragrances can significantly influence users’ purchasing decisions. It is important to remember that during professional cleaner trials, users should understand that it is not really their individual preference that is important. It is not their home they are cleaning, nor their money they are spending. They are trialling the effectiveness of the product to combat mal-odour and stubborn soiling.
5. Environmental awareness: Professional customers are more aware of this than ever before and manufacturers need to balance the desire for eco-friendly products with the ability to meet the genuine and perceived needs of the consumer. Products should at least meet basic environmental standards but the race is on to develop sustainable cleaning products using ingredients from natural renewable sources that cost and perform as well as petrochemical derivatives.
6. To concentrate or not: A particularly important question to address is whether to concentrate or not. In our view, there are four key reasons to embrace concentrates and chemical dosing:
- To reduce the amount of packaging waste and to control chemical consumption thereby improving a business’s environmental profile and reduce its carbon footprint.
- To ensure the accuracy of disinfectant solutions so that critical food-contact equipment and surfaces are disinfected to meet industry standards; similarly for health care and washroom surfaces where there is a potential for cross contamination.
- To be able to control cleaning costs in a disciplined way rather than rely on end user free-hand pouring or continued use of expensive and environmentally unsound ready-to-use pre-packed cleaning products.
- To reduce the risk to users of accidental contact with potentially hazardous chemical products and thereby improve the safety profile of your business.
In the article to follow, we will look at the factors to be considered when choosing the cleaning chemical supplier most appropriate for your business taking into account issues such as customer service, engineering support, training, adherence to health and safety guidelines and industry standards, compliance with government regulations, quality control procedures, social and environmental responsibility.
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