We started Caere with no credible background in housekeeping and with limited monetary resources. Naturally, the first three years were tough. What went in our favour was that all our initial clients were from retail sector – Lifestyle stores, RPG – Spencers, Future Group… Precisely at that time there was a retail boom and as our clients grew we also grew. The new players were watching how the premises were maintained and we started getting new contracts. When some of the companies moved out of Hyderabad, we moved with them too. We have in our client base names like Mahindra Retail, D-Mart, Reliance, GVK- One mall and the ultra premium stores of Madura Garments.
Expanding to other segments
Though we have a strong retail client base, we are also into servicing other segments. For example, we service biotech companies, manufacturing & engineering companies, restaurants, corporate offices, hotels & large gated communities. Caere looks after a luxury resort near Hyderabad. For Green Park hotel, one of the leading star hotels in Hyderabad, we offer a complete gamut of housekeeping services and kitchen stewarding. These apart, we are into other segments – we work with Vimta Laboratories, a scientific testing lab catering to International clients. Their standards of cleanliness are extremely high. We are checked from time to time on our adherence to the WHO norms. We also service Bharat Biotech and an American company called Albany Molecular Research Centre. This environment is so different from the retail store, factory or the food processing sectors, demanding cleaning to the level sterilisation.
We have now started catering to hospitals, including the two premium hospitals. The third level team in a hospital is the housekeeping personnel and here Caere’s team handles pre-operation and post-operation cleaning, supervised by the nursing team. We handle bio-medical waste. In fact, our team in the hospitals also handles packaging bodies. The housekeepers are trained as per international standards to wear double gloves, to cover all equipment and to co-ordinate with the waste management company.
In Mumbai, Caere works with Mahindra & Mahindra’s tractor division.We work with corporates like Satyam and Coke in Hyderabad. This vast and varied client base has helped us develop expertise across a range of industries and has helped us adapt our service offerings to suit any sector, be it a food processing plant or a battery manufacturing unit. Our work has taken us this far. We never had to make a marketing strategy. We have our branches in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Baroda.
Going beyond housekeeping
Apart from housekeeping, Caere provides a few support services – like providing trained manpower for all allied functions of a retail business process. For instance, a lot of support activities go into the efficient functioning of hospitals. We provide workers involved in patient care, lab assistants, receptionists, guest relations executives, etc. Thus, we add value to our service and consolidate our position with the client.
Learning and Development
Caere has evolved a unique training methodology to ensure even those who are not highly literate understand and adhere to the defined processes. We have evolved a visual based training system, one that uses pictures and reinforcement tools or images focusing on safety, hygiene and cleanliness. All employees of ours carry ‘Image Guides’ that clearly outline the various processes we have diligently defined.
There is one thing, which sets us apart. In the last eight years, we’ve been implementing strict colour coding based on the housekeeper’s ability to comprehend. It could be as simple as this: Outer areas are green, inner areas are red, restroom areas are blue, coffee machine is brown. We’ve also done a time and motion study of how the housekeepers do their work.
There are training managers and a full-fledged training centre with real life settings at Caere which enable near-site training. The training centre itself is divided into work specific areas – like a hall with marble flooring, a restroom where the trainer can actually illustrate toilet cleaning and pull a screen down to also project what needs to be done. Going further, there are different rooms, each done up in a particular style – like a software room with a carpet, workstations and computers, a hotel guest room with beds, wooden flooring & attached bath and a range of commonly used floorings. There is an exclusive room dedicated to learn the use of high-end cleaning equipment.
Our modules are designed in-house as we have enough data created by an internal research team reviewing the modules. We are definitely using the IT intervention now because we see that a great amount of back-end needs to be done, especially related to statutory requirements. We are in the process of implementing an ERP that integrates this all.
Managing and retaining people
We do find attrition levels quite high but through training intervention and other employee engagement methods we have brought this down to a large extent. The pressure from the client to get the work done at any cost often leaves little time to attend to the growth needs of an employee. The client companies do not value our intervention as skilled. Still, the stiff competition makes the cleaning industry to agree on a minimum service fee, as all that matters at the end of the day is volume of business.