Eight questions your cleaning supplies partner should be asking. Part 1.


It’s one of the biggest, yet often overlooked, spend categories that any organisation manages.

Even though cleaning supplies is one of most significant budgets a businesses has, it’s all too common to see the same buying habits repeat themselves and the potential for improving value not being realised.

Rather than stick to what may feel tried and trusted, taking a new, more strategic look at this category can help to boost value, reduce spend and enhance business practices.

Finding the right supply chain partner to establish a better cleaning supplies strategy with is the first vital step.

The search for cleaning supplies should go beyond spreadsheets and price lists. The reality is that the best providers will think further than this, ask the right questions and delve more deeply.

In Part 1 of our look at the eight questions that cleaning suppliers should ask, are questions one to four:

What’s changed in your business recently?

The right supply chain partner should be making every effort to understand what your organisation has been doing in recent months and not just making assumptions based on any historical knowledge. If budgets have been cut or an acquisition made, suppliers should be asking you about this and applying that know-how to the advice they give you.

If staffing numbers have changed, new pressures applied or a change in use of premises has happened, this will have a knock on effect on cleaning and associated budgets and you need to know that your supplier is acting in your best interests with those changes in mind.

What may have represented best value before any changes may no longer be the best route, so your cleaning supplies provider needs to keep themselves in the loop, show an active interest and give you relevant advice.

What are the biggest pressures your organisation will face this year?

Your facilities management challenges will be unique to your business and they are liable to change as the organisation develops. Possible economic, management or political change may  affect the lie of the land and your suppliers need to know if these are on the horizon so they can react quickly and appropriately.

Giving cleaning suppliers the chance to structure the contract to take possible future outcomes into account will make your business better prepared to react and flex its buying to optimum effect.

From a buyer’s perspective, knowing what your business may be facing and how to improve value in every category as those developments take hold is key. You need to take your suppliers on that journey with you.

Where do you want to be three years from now?

For realising true value, there is a world of difference between a transactional relationship and a strategic one. The best suppliers will do more than help you to tackle outcomes of the last quarter or gear up for the year ahead.

They can help to optimise your cleaning supplies value on a rolling basis when they are briefed on the organisation’s ambitions for the next few years. If the business is looking at expansion, changing its longer term offering or has to make a set of savings every year for the next five years, the supply chain should help in more ways than reactively reducing or increasing volumes.

Innovation in partnership with the supply chain is a building trend and the potential to achieve this in the area of cleaning supplies should be high on the list.

Why are you going to market?

Suppliers should be digging below the surface to find out what really has motivated you to put your cleaning supplies contract out to tender.

Many organisations say they would like value, but this word can have a different meaning in each one. Suppliers should be looking to uncover what value and innovation mean to you and examining what these mean in your organisation in practice.

Issues that good suppliers can uncover by asking the right questions often include current suppliers that don’t understand your business, contract compliance issues, product quality issues, excessive invoice admin or disgruntled end users.

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