Within Facility Management, soft services are usually defined as services that are non-technical. Three primary soft services are cleaning, pest control and security and this is what we focus on for the purpose of this insight.
Health and Safety
Clearly, there is a health and safety element to soft services being executed well. Poor hygiene or pest outbreaks, particularly in establishments handling food, can present real risks to clientele as well as employees. In serious cases, this can lead to legal action, major loss of reputation and temporary or permanent cessation of trading.
However, even in less extreme cases, poorly cleaned commercial spaces can be detrimental to employee wellbeing and safety. Dirty environments can lead to the spread of bacteria or poor air quality and thus reduced productivity and increased sick leave. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have identified cross-contamination through indirect contact as being the most frequent route of transmission for microorganisms. This specifically refers to a patient (in the case of a healthcare facility) touching a surface or object within a facility and then the same object being subsequently touched by another person. They have found that this is far more common than transmission via air or vector (vectors refer to other biological entities, such as insects).
Moreover, failure to follow cleaning best practice can also manifest itself in hazards such as wet floors without warning cones. This may sound like a small issue but can have outsized consequences, such as slips and falls that cause injuries.
When looking at security staff, health and safety issues can be even more immediate. Well drilled security should be the first filter against suspicious activity or crime and bring order in case of emergencies such as fire.
First Impressions Count
It is well known that it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. However, this doesn’t just extend to people. When someone visits a store, office or establishment, they judge their host by the look and feel of the property.
Moreover, in many cases it is not a member of senior management that is the first person visitors see or even meet. This is often a member of the soft services team, who usually wear a uniform with the business logo on it. With nothing else to go on, the feelings generated by an untidy appearance or lack of personal hygiene are automatically transferred onto the business itself.
In fact, in a 2017 survey by Proctor & Gamble, 91 percent of people agree that they are more likely to have an overall negative opinion of an independent business if the public spaces (lounges, restrooms or lobbies) are not clean.
Conversely, the more pleasant the environment, the longer people want to stay in it. This can be particularly important in the hospitality sector, where keeping guests happy to eat and spend money within the facility is a big driver of additional revenue.
The Impact of Social Media
The rise of platforms such as Instagram mean that everything is captured in images. This can easily expose flaws and imperfections, however, it also means that well maintained properties stand out to a large audience. This dramatically boosts the return of investment on soft services.
The useful life of assets such as furniture can be dramatically impacted by their care. This is particularly true when looking after expensive fabrics and materials. For example, using the wrong products on valuable carpets can wear them away, costing the property money. This is also true when considering wooden and marble floors which need regular, expert cleaning and polishing. This has a direct impact on cost base and in many cases can easily offset the additional budget allocated for a professional soft services team.
Isnaad is aware of the importance of a well-trained soft services team and all Isnaad staff go through a thorough BICs (British Institute of Cleaning) training program before starting on projects.