The "2011 Cleaning Industry Insights" survey, which queried 400 cleaning industry professionals and decision makers, revealed that in today's economic climate, the preferable action (reported by 75 percent of total respondents) to improve their business' bottom line would be to 'find ways to become more efficient'; compared to 20 percent who would prefer to 'raise prices for clients or customers.' Six out of ten respondents indicated their business has taken a 'doing more with less approach' within their organization by 'doing more or the same amount of work with fewer employees.' The other four out of ten respondents indicated they've taken this approach when it comes to internal products and services, such as using multiuse cleaning products.

Procter & Gamble Professional launched the survey to explore the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors, as they relate to the current economic climate, of decision-makers managing in-house or contract cleaning services in the healthcare, food service, hospitality/lodging and commercial industries.

Certainly in today's economic climate, 'value' is a key consideration for any decision-maker and there are various ways of defining the value of products and services. Nearly half of the survey's respondents (48 percent) indicated 'versatility of use' as best defining value. Nearly as many respondents (40 percent) selected 'high-quality or effectiveness,' compared to just 13 percent who selected 'low price' as best in defining value when it comes to the cleaning products they use within their business.

Achieving Efficiencies Good for Business
Across multiple survey questions, the results suggest that cleaning professionals are interested in improving efficiencies. Specifically, three out of four respondents would rather 'find ways to become more efficient' than 'raise prices for their customers' in order to improve their bottom line. In an environment where raising prices doesn't seem to be a preferred option, it's not surprising that a mere 15 percent reported 'making a profit' as the most important factor for their business right now. Further, when asked what their business had cut back on as a result of the economic climate, close to one-third of respondents (28 percent) reported their business has cut back on 'staff, such as laying off employees.'

According to 83 percent of survey respondents, cleaning professionals or those they report to have been under pressure to control costs over the last 12 months. The good news is that 83 percent of those surveyed also reported being effective in this area over the past 12 months. Similarly, when asked about how efficient their business has been in the last 12 months, thinking exclusively about cleaning operations, 83 percent of survey respondents reported being at least somewhat effective.

Additional Survey Highlights
• Customers are King: The most important factor for businesses right now selected by three of the four industries surveyed, is 'keeping customers satisfied,' (selected by 33 percent overall) followed by 'growing the business' (23 percent), and 'being as efficient as possible with their current resources' (17 percent).
• Surveyed professionals indicated they would rather 'find ways to become more efficient,' than 'raise prices for clients or customers,' by a margin of more than three to one (75 percent versus 20 percent.)
• Getting the Job Done the First Time: Forty-seven percent of respondents reported that the most helpful element when it comes to performing their cleaning services would be 'products that get the job done the first time.' 'Products that work quickly' (30 percent) and 'a simpler routine that all staff can get accustomed to' (25 percent) round out the top three most helpful elements according to respondents.
• Training Needed: One in four respondents selected training as one of the top three challenges with managing a cleaning staff today. Trailing only "quality of work (selected by 60 percent)", "lack of interest/motivation/dedication" (54 percent) and "employee turnover" (36 percent).
• Although training challenges differ across industries and businesses, the overall top four challenges or obstacles to effective cleaning-related training include 'loss of work productivity,' (selected by 18 percent of respondents) 'availability of qualified training leaders,' (18 percent) 'language differences' (17 percent) and 'actual cost of training' (13 percent).

Training Helps Improve Operational Efficiency
After 25 percent of respondents selected training as one of the top three challenges with managing a cleaning staff today, more than three out of four survey respondents (77 percent) also reported that they believe employers are most responsible for training cleaning staff to best perform their duties.

For the full report of the survey, click here.