For the first time in 3 years the BSCNZ was able to run face-to-face industry events…… and so we did!
In March we celebrated our ‘industries best’ with the CleanSweep™ awards. Looking back to March 2022, its difficult to believe that only 12 months ago covid settings restricted attendance to 100 individuals. At the time we scrambled to provide our attendees with RAT tests prior to arriving, as RAT tests had only just arrived in New Zealand. To ensure no member missed out on the celebratory evening we live streamed for members unable to attend. Ironically, I can report that through this online streaming we had our greatest number of attendees ever, with small group celebrations taking place all over New Zealand.
BSCNZ, in conjunction with Interpoint, ran the CleanNZ industry expo in the month of October. Giving our industries distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers the opportunity to engage across a wide network of building facility management and commercial cleaning operators. Another highlight was the presence of international brands, in attendance to learn and network. It is always exciting to see the new innovations displayed by exhibitors.
Lastly, in October we held our “Evolve” conference. This covered important topics such as the current and forecasted economic state of play, the potential impact of legislative changes, the learnings from the past few years and how we can integrate those learnings into our future planning. Acknowledgement of success and the importance of always remembering the ‘wins’ along the way. Conference also allowed for group discussions around industry training and our requirements into the future. Learning more about new technology and asking the ever-evolving question of how these technologies can be utilised to support the sustainable growth of our industry.
All three events were great networking opportunities, feeling extra special after such a hiatus between major events.
Another highlight was our ongoing work with the Ministry of Social Development. Through our work broker programme, in 2022, placing 130 individuals into employment with BSCNZ members. We continue this work in 2023, but as everyone can agree, with unemployment currently at 3.3% finding labour continues to be an issue across multiple industries.
As a collective group of employers, when we review the challenges, our experience is very similar to other industries across Aotearoa…
Engaging with a Government that ignores the cries of industries as businesses struggle to find labour. The list of industries struggling with labour shortages is endless, which drives up wages and competition between industries to attract and retain staff. Across the board business growth is stagnated.
Many contractors have reported walking away from contracts, not bidding for work, knowing that their high standard of delivery will not be feasible. BSCNZ members choosing the well-being of their teams and brand reputation over business growth.
Some of the governments proposed and implemented legislation only adds to the complexity of doing business, at a time when support and simplicity are required and needed. Two examples of this are ‘Fair Pay Agreements’ and the mandatory insurance scheme. While the ideology behind some of these legislative changes are supported by many business operators, the execution is lacking, reeking of a ‘disconnect’ between idealism and the realities of running a business while surviving in this current economic climate.
- What are your main priorities for 2023?
Advocating on behalf of our industry and members. This has never been more critical for multiple reasons; we are heading into an election year. A change in government and therefore a potential change in political agenda, or a re-elected ‘re-branded’ Labour government. If labour is re-elected, we will see the progression of fair pay agreements, and all the complexities that this legislation will inevitably bring. Also the potential of the mandatory insurance scheme which could mean an increase in tax by 1.4% for every employee and employer throughout NZ. Immigration settings that make it impossible for industries like ours to ascertain obtain the labour required to deliver our essential service.
Regardless of who ends up running this country, it is critical that the BSCNZ advocate to ensure our industry voice is heard by our countries leaders. The last New Zealand census showed that our industry is 29,245 workers strong, GDP contributing $1.3 billion. Our industries contribution in New Zealand is significant. This significance is highlighted as we all continue to navigate our way through covid. Recent flooding in the upper North Island is another key example of how our industry are on the frontline when disaster strikes. We literally turn up and clean up.
The economic environment is more uncertain than it has ever been. Economists and senior business leaders presenting at our Evolve conference sung from the same song sheet “we are facing unprecedented times”. Graphs on global economies resembling what one might describe as a spat of earthquakes. Which leads to another priority of the BSCNZ, in facing unprecedented times comradery is vital. BSCNZ plays the important role of bringing the people of our industry together. Members collaborating and realising that as a collective group we hold greater strength in working together, and not facing these industry issues alone. This is also the important forum where we discuss and agree upon solutions.
Another priority of the BSCNZ will be to focus on our industry training. With the Government’s implementation of RoVE (Reform of Vocational Education), as an industry we have an opportunity to engage with the new established entities. Careerforce is now integrated into Te Pukenga and mandated to deliver industry training. Ringa Hora is our new work force development council required to engage with NZ service industries and set industry qualifications and standards. BSCNZ will be coordinating the important discussions between industry, key stakeholders, and these new entities. Having those essential and valuable conversations. Ensuring our industry training is fit for purpose now and into the future.
Statistics tell us that 53% of commercial cleaners have no post-school qualification. If we can get the training formula ‘fit for purpose’ we can assist some of our industry workers in gaining their first NZQA recognised qualification. Research shows that businesses that support the ‘learning’ of their people are more likely to retain their staff.
Our training also needs to capture the many wonderful career opportunities our industry can offer, moving from commercial cleaner to specialist cleaner, supervisor, operations management etc.
In 2022 the BSCNZ joined the World Federation of BSC, engaging and networking with industry world leaders. In 2023 BSCNZ will be sending representatives to the World Federation CEO Summit to capture insights and network on behalf of the wider membership group. More information from this engagement will be shared with members in due course.
- What do you see as some of the challenges the market will face in 2023? What do you see as the solution to address those issues?
Inflation and the rising cost of doing business. Which inevitably leads to passing on customer price increases. The challenge of managing customers’ expectations, working with them as they also face the pressure of taking cost out of managing their portfolios. Customer education is a key component of this, halving the cleaning bill will not halve the work. One member shared their experience of explaining to a customer that if they adjust the contract to only clean every second week, the time it will take to clean every second week will be extended and thus the cleaning required to maintain their facility would not change. Making the customer aware that this could be to the determent of the facility and their customers experience.
Another challenge is the changes in the political environment. Ensuring the leaders of this country and policy makers understand the unique issues that our industry faces. Ensuring political leaders understand the unintended consequences of the policies they have made or will make. The obvious solution is the importance of networking and having those crucial conversations when needed.
Many industry leaders from across different sectors are all hoping that that this current government starts to listen to business. New Prime Minister Chris Hipkins within the first week of being Prime Minister, meet with a large group of business leaders through the Auckland Business Chamber. This shows hopeful signs, but the proof will be in the actions taken now and into the future.
Staff burn out is another challenge well worth mentioning. Taking care of your operational staff on the frontline is imperative. In the past few years many of our team members have stepped up and gone above and beyond expectations. With that comes a mental and physical fatigue, I believe it is truly important to acknowledge these important team members and support them where we can.
- What opportunities do you see for the cleaning industry in 2023?
Working with industry customers to continue to highlight the importance of the service our industry provides. Through pandemics and natural disasters we are the industry that turns up. A collective group of people who are passionate about the environment around us and the impact that has on communities’ health, safety, and wellbeing. We will celebrate Thank Your Cleaner Day™ this year on Wednesday the 18th of October. This celebratory day is a great way to promote this important message.
BSCNZ has the opportunity in 2023 to continue to advocate on behalf of our members in this politically changing environment. Listening to the collective voice of members as we navigate our way through 2023. Keeping members abreast of legislative changes that affect our industry.
A final opportunity I see for commercial cleaning owner/operators in New Zealand is to join the BSCNZ. As we look to face the issues and challenges of 2023, there has never been a better time to be part of an association that understands and advocates on your behalf.