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Who is to blame – Client or Contractor?

by Clean India Journal Editor
0 comment

Gauging contractors

Pulak K Mukhopadhyay,
Bardsai Management Group, Kolkata

We do not take contracts at the expense of minimum wages. And even if someone is offering services at low margins, the client has to think and understand. They have to gauge the contractor who is prepared to work at a lower rate. He has to find out what are the areas that are being compromised.

If someone is offering something for Rs.80 against another quote of Rs.100, the principal employer has to re-look and find out if the service can actually be provided at Rs.80. And, if the client feels that the services offered for Rs.80 is correct, then he should go ahead with the lesser bid. Hence, if the client has a better understanding of what is being offered by the housekeeping company, he is in a better position to select the right service provider.

Educating contractors

Bhupendra Singh,
Classic Hospitality Services, Udaipur

It’s not just the client who needs to have better understanding of the cleaning process; there are many contractors who may not even be aware of equipment available for cleaning. Being in this business, firstly, I should know the various equipment, its applications, the tools and chemicals to be used. Only then will I be able to explain to the clients.

Take for example, a big industry that needs to be maintained. I deploy 50 workers initially and thereafter introduce mechanised cleaning and reduce manpower to 25. Now, if I am giving better performance and increased efficiency with reduced manpower and am able to lower the quote from Rs.300,000 to even Rs.290,000, the client stands to benefit.

Headcount based contract

Bhupendra Singh

When we talk of mechanised cleaning, the calculations are still based on per head basis. If I am deploying five machines costing Rs.400,000 which have a life of three years, it is divided by the per man head count and the costing is added. In this case, around 11 more will be added to the actual count of workers in place of machine. Over and above the equipment, I would be using chemicals and tools which will go unaccounted. I also have to convince the client about the usage of eco-friendly chemicals that will not damage the floor; about special tools like telescopic rods to clean high ceiling.

The housekeeping services that we offer is not a sweeper’s job and we also have the scope to provide value-added services like checking civil problems, electricity problems, etc. The client too will realise that there is so much more to it.

Though the awareness levels have improved today, it was not so eight years back. I still remember this customer who called me to “wash” his sofa set. I did not take up the job, firstly because sofas have to be shampooed and not washed, and secondly, the fabric was not of good quality.

Convincing clients

Bhupendra Singh

Housekeeping is hard work and hence if a client tells you that this is only ‘just a cleaning job’, you have to convince him that it is more than just that. It is professional cleaning. If a client demands to get his job done in Rs.3000, I would charge him Rs.5000 because I believe in paying PF, ESIS and also service tax. When a client does not agree, then I don’t want to do that job. There is no use of working for a client who is not quality conscious. You either convince the client or quit.

No layman’s business

Bhupendra Singh

I pay my workers Rs.7000 and have a turnover of over Rs.2 crores in a small city like Udaipur. It is only those who really want to do this kind of job should be in this field. Many think housekeeping is as simple as vacuum cleaning, print their visiting cards and get down with business. They may not know the advantages or disadvantages of using certain chemicals. They will definitely not go for cheap chemicals, if they understand its harmful effects on the workers. These are small concepts which when put across in the right perspective will definitely yield results.

In a greater horizon, we may not be able to get more contracts as there are many who are ready to work at a lesser wage. In Kolkata, there are workers who are put to work for 12 hours but we do not engage in such exploitation.
Pulak K Mukhopadhyay
Bardsai Management Group, Kolkata

Confused clients

Shivkumar Tiwari,
Scorpio Facility Management Pvt Ltd, New Delhi

We cannot entirely blame the client for not giving the right wages or honouring the contract proposal, as we are equally at wrong. Just imagine the plight of the client, when I quote Rs.200,000 and my industry colleague quotes Rs.150,000 to the same client company for the same service! Definitely, the company, who is the principal employer, will try to reason this wide discrepancy.

At a place where it is not possible to quote with Rs.50,000 margin, if my colleague is ready to offer services, there is sure manipulation at some end. It could be in the wages of the employees or their security benefits or the standard of cleaning products being used. If the principal employer gets a PF bill of say Rs.40,000 against Rs.60,000 being paid to the earlier vendor, he is certainly going to find it fishy and he will start exploiting. Hence, we just can’t blame anybody but the faulty system of procuring contracts.

Spokesperson,
IT company, Mumbai

At our end, we have never had a problem with the wages or any other payments. This is an IT company and we have five facilities being serviced by one of the leading FM companies. We have various departments like the procurement department that decides on the vendor and ensures the payments are made on time. We do not face any problems with our vendors. Yes, we are very strict with the documentation as regards the benefits and compliances are concerned. Every quarter the facility in charge gives its input to the procurement team who decide accordingly on the renewal of the annual contract.

Spokesperson,
Leading paint manufacturing company, Mumbai

We are a brand conscious company and do not face any problem with our vendors. Definitely, the payments made to them are on time. If any housekeeping company is complaining about non-payment, it could be they are facing such problems with some companies but with us we ensure not just payments but also statutory compliances.

Skilled workers

Ashok Bhola,
Krishna Housekeeping Services, New Delhi

Today, most of the demand for services comes from MNCs and naturally there is a demand for well-mannered and groomed workers. The trend today is to recruit boys with at least Std X education for routine cleaning where unskilled manpower was used earlier. It is becoming all the more difficult to find such labour. In fact, why would a Std X passed labourer work for minimum wages in India? He would rather migrate to the Gulf and get better paid for the same job. Whether skilled or unskilled, even the MNCs are keen on giving only minimum wages.

Educating clients

Pulak K Mukhopadhyay,
Bardsai Management Group, Kolkata

There is a huge gap in the understanding of cleaning with the client companies, especially the corporate sector. Anything that looks clean is clean for them. What is deep cleaning, the methods of cleaning, the chemicals used, green chemicals, etc., especially where cost is involved, they either have no knowledge or are reluctant to invest. Hence, there is a lot of demand but we are unable to sell a good product to the clients. We have to compromise on the products. Again, to sell a good product, the client has to have the knowledge. Who is the client we are dealing with in the first place? It is either the admin supervisor or HR head who probably has just about the knowledge of cleaning.

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