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Total solutions to cleaning needs

Within five years of operation, Total Solutions has an impressive list of corporate clients. What have been your strategies?

When we look at Total Solutions, what started as a company five years back has now become a brand. Our focus has been on our clients, our people, the quality of our service and of course the financials. We have tried to keep simple business processes with structured reporting systems in all the locations and branches. We have clearly demarcated departments with a lot of focus on accountability. As we are an evolving organization, we have to empower each department.

You offer total solutions literally. How has the change in the mindset been happening in India’s outsourcing scene?

Outsourcing is not new to this industry. Even though these services have been available for over two decades, I would still not call this an organised sector. However, one can see the trends and patterns improving by the day. There are a lot of new systems, processes, methods, machines and materials in the Indian market today which are getting noticed and adopted. This has also been possible because, in comparison, this industry is quite mature in the US, Europe and also the Far East and South East Asia. We can take a cue from them to follow and implement best practices. Also, because of the growth potential of the Indian market, a lot of renowned players and suppliers worldwide have seen this as an opportunity to enter the Indian Cleaning Industry.

Having said that, the pattern of the end users and the clients, needs to change. What we are doing today may be right for the time being, but there are better ways. There is need to educate clients and spread awareness.

Today, FM is also about managing risk, business continuity, asset life cycle…. FM Company is moving to become a value added partner in improving the bottom line of its client companies.

We are a Cleaning Company and my answer to this questions would be YES and NO. As an industry, we have made great strides. I think the end users realize that having spent so much on creating these offices; they also need to maintain them. The expectations are high, but the amounts spent are not proportionate.

We provide services to different sectors like IT/ITES, BPO’s, residential complexes, hotels and restaurants, malls, retail etc… The terms mentioned by you are terms that we have taken from the Western world and sound very good. However, the ground realities are very different. We must understand that while all of these can be implemented, they come at a cost. It’s a mixed bag and the majority of the clients want the best for the least.

We understand the changing trends and the rising expectations and are continually working towards delivering the best within the available parameters.

Facility professionals should be equipped with good knowledge and ability to cope up with complex problems. How has TS been tackling issues like training manpower and attrition?

While we talk about India being one of the fastest developing and emerging nations, I am glad that you have mentioned this, as manpower is the biggest challenge. Being the most populated country does not mean that excess manpower. We are already experiencing shortage of skilled manpower and soon it would become a scarcity.

There has to be a two pronged approach to address this: One, looking at newer and more innovative strategies for recruitment, including partnering with companies that specialize in this and two, looking hard at the causes for attrition and trying to address these as part of an HR initiative.

As far as training goes, our strategy is to have a multiple module based certification, spread over three months, for the housekeeping staff at all levels. This works better than a single long training session. This helps us in identifying potential candidates at each level and training them to step up to the next level. This provides us with the necessary supervisory staff and gives them the opportunity to grow with the company.

With increasing challenges in sourcing manpower, it is logical to start adopting the Western model – using more equipment and less people as the cost of equipment keeps going down. It is important that people are educated on the proper use of facilities; after all the best way to keep an area clean is to not let it get dirty in the first place!

We also try to ensure that our employees have a clear understanding of our expectations to ensure better customer service.

What is your growth plan? You are already a pan India company. There are foreign companies setting shops…

We have never really gone looking for more business and have been honest about what we do and to the best of our abilities. Even in future, we will follow the same mantra. Geographically, we are looking at extending our footprints further across the western region and stabilising existing operations. We are also looking at creating more business verticals within our gamut of services, to offer our clients’ total solutions.

In the meantime, foreign players setting up shop is indeed a welcome move. It is a sign of the industry coming of age and the great potential that it offers. As with other industries, the coming of multinationals would definitely raise standards in the industry from which everyone benefits. We are well placed to take advantage of this.

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