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Building business on trust

The growth

In the mid-80s we started off tying up with builders in Chennai to service the residencial sector. But the margins were low and we shifted to Corporate and commercial clients. That’s when Trendz was formed incorporating more services other than the routine housekeeping. The growth has been good and the journey has been great. We have opened up offices in about 19 locations across India. We are in Udaipur, Siliguri, Noida, Nagpur, Vijaywada, Vizag, Guntur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Cochin. Hubli, Ludhiana and Amritsar. Our business involves 300 locations across the South.

We have got into payroll processing and flexi staffing. We have a lot of contract employees who are placed in various organisations across the country. Like for example, the Wipro laptop factory in Pondicherry has about 100 employees on our rolls, of which only 25 would be housekeepers, the rest would include executives and other staff ranging from commercial to accounts to process engineering. We handle their salary processing, appointment letters and contract letters and we ensure that bank accounts are opened for them and the salary goes to the bank; all the statutory processing are done by us. In fact, 30% of our business is from Contract Staffing.

We have branched out into providing man power support services for technical areas. One project has been the driving license project being handled throughout Tamil Nadu. We have people in the RTO offices where they did the printing, cutting, laminating and handing over the licenses in about 110 RTO offices. We did the complete election ID card project in Hyderabad, where we put close to 450 people at multiple locations and we handled that for seven to eight months.

Trendz has also diversified into service apartments. We have another company – Mileu Living – which handles this service. The other focus area is housekeeping at malls.

Attrition and training

The cities are good revenue models these days, especially cities like Mumbai, Madhurai, Coimbatore. A lot of companies outsource the maintenance. It is more difficult to find a housekeeper in Coimbatore than in Chennai, so we have to import help, and then we are always dealing with people from the lower strata of society. So obviously, no matter how much you train them, you have to be prepared for attrition. We do try to do things for them, like giving a pay slip, opening a bank account and giving an ATM card, it gives them a sense of self-esteem. We ensure that all their ESI cards are given and we educate them on the benefits they are entitled to. We give insurance cover and give financial help.

Our accounts are huge, like for example we handle Congnizant Technologies where we have 500 employees only housekeepers! And they are all dependent on their salaries for their living. Big FM companies outsource housekeeping to us; they try to cut costs and pay us an amount with which we have to pay the workers. So we really are fighting that out. We feel ultimately that at the end of the day, the worker should get a decent salary. Because once he gets a decent salary, there is no need for him to leave. In the process we also make sure that good workers are recognised and are given promotions. Because of that our attrition rate has not been too much as compared to the normal market status. We have also given clear instructions that in the event of any of our housekeeper coming in with a problem, the issue is addressed directly by us and we try to fix it for him.

Equipment and training

Trendz has bought a lot of equipment like single disk scrubbers, high pressure jets and wet &and dry industrial vacuum cleaners from Karcher. We have also got Taski, Roots and Nilfisk machines. We are now looking at some local machines too.

When it comes to spare parts and servicing we face problems with some of the imported equipment. Our requirement is very high and we have invested a huge sum on equipment. Some equipment companies do not have enough service engineers as each engineer is trying to become an entrepreneur. Basically, lack of knowledge on the machines could lead to a very expensive proposition.

There is as much attrition in the manufacturers’ side as there is in housekeeping. There is a dearth of good manpower. And training is a continuous process.

Current slowdown?

Every threat is treated as an opportunity. For, if some of our clients say they need only two hours of cleaning, we would rather send the housekeepers to ten offices and increase our volume. We are in this business and bound to be here for a long time.

We will manage that by keeping our overheads low, and expanding with grace.

We have decent accounts; we have Pfizer, Dupont, Star TV, CTS, ETL, KPMG, Pantaloon, Bayer and India Infoline. We were managing nine guesthouses for Google, about five for Franklin Templeton.

Our business is completely built on trust. In this industry keeping a client happy is very important.

Today, thankfully we have accepted outsourcing; we have accepted housekeeping as an industry, but we have a long way to go.

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