Putting Clients – and Quality – First

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-By Aleisha Parr

As a national cleaning services company, with offices in every Australian State, Academy Services knows what customers want – quality. While the past few years have seen a reduction in just that by both competitors and customers struggling to survive the GFC, privately owned Academy Services has stayed true to its corporate culture and its wholesome family values approach to service and quality project outcomes. With a healthy network of over two thousand commercial cleaning clients across a broad range of industries, Academy Services sets itself apart in the industry through its experience, skills and above all, its dedication.

“During the GFC many businesses focussed on cost reduction,” says Mark Hoffman, Academy Services CEO, “which in turn lead to lower service level requirements and service scopes to save money.” Academy however, has fought this movement, in favour of maintaining – and indeed, improving upon – industry standards. Under the guidance of Mr Hoffman, the company makes it a point not to enter into any contract or bid on a tender unless it is certain that a high quality service can be rendered.

“Whilst we must remain price competitive,” Mr Hoffman explains, “we defiantly focus on the quality aspects of the cleaning industry, rather than ‘Chasing the Turnover’ with unsustainably low prices… We believe if a job is going to be done, it should be done right in the first place, and focus our attention to deliver on this key point.”

Although this means functioning at something of a disadvantage in a tightly competitive market, Mr Hoffman reports that the company is proud of its record in regards to its strict compliance within the industrial framework in which it operates, and that many competing companies have since been recognised within the industry as the “sham contractors” they are.

He reports that the industry is now experiencing a shift back to the higher levels of service requirements which were once the norm. This he attributes to the realisations of clients who have experienced the difference between recent service and the importance of “a pristine working environment for their staff and complying with their workplace health and safety obligations.”

Above and beyond these standard obligations, Academy Services also sets for itself very strict Objectives and Targets in order to measure and monitor each aspect of the organisation. These Objectives and Targets, set across all levels of the organisation, have a particular emphasis on the company’s service delivery and achievements.

The company has also implemented an interactive portal for its clients, enabling them to have reliable involvement throughout each project through on-line reporting. A similar application, which currently is available for use on tablets, is under continuous review and redesign in order to increase functionality and better meet the needs of Academy Services’ field management and business development staff.

While each of these areas is no doubt quite important in providing clients with an exceptionally high quality outcome and a positive project process, perhaps the most exciting and rewarding aspect of Academy Services’ offerings is made possible through its Environmental Management System (EMS) framework. In accordance with this framework, Academy has set specific objectives through which the company implements waste reduction and recycling improvement strategies with its clients. Says Mr Hoffman, “The comprehensive manner in which we have developed and achieved this has led to Academy being known as a niche provider of these, and environmentally responsible services, in the market place. This has added to our value proposition and no doubt contributed heavily to our growth and success.”

Of specific importance is the company’s ‘zero waste to landfill solution’, developed in 2007 and implemented in many flagship buildings including those rated five and six star.

None of these exceptional quality offerings would be possible, of course, without the backing of a dedicated and knowledgeable team. Mr Hoffman is proud to boast not only of his team’s exceptional training, management and supervision, but also of its loyalty. “An exceptionally low staff turnover rate,” he says, including in his management and admin staff, “makes our continual improvement efforts much simpler. Working with the same motivated and dedicated team day in and day out is a very large advantage. I have worked for Academy for over ten years and most of the managers who have joined us in that time certainly stay for good.”

In order to sustain this loyalty, the company works to show its employees the same exceptional level of involvement and respect as it provides to its clients. Through regular conferences bringing together key personnel from different departments nation-wide, Academy Services is able to promote a sense of community and significance to each of its employees, while also enabling each to actively contribute to the overall success of the company.

“Our workplace culture is the most important aspect that I consider on a daily basis and is a matter taken into account before any decisions are made or implemented.” Mr Hoffman says that this sentiment is one shared by the owners and the board of Directors. He adds that the company strives to prioritise an employee’s attitude over his or her skill set during the recruitment process, which ultimately ensures a positive and dynamic workplace culture, with an emphasis on growth and innovation. “The benefit our staff brings to our company over many of our competitors is that our team really cares about the services we are offering… Our culture of celebrating success contributes to the passion our staff have for Academy.”

Over the past ten years, the company has managed to grow from just three offices operating out of SA, VIC and WA, to now maintaining offices in every major capital city, helping the company expand at an exponential rate. With its wide range of services and its national reach, growth should come naturally to Academy Services. However, through its commitment to quality service outcomes and dynamic development from within, the company has experienced far more than its fair share of growth even throughout the GFC and its recovery period.

“Whilst being accustomed to high levels of growth” explains Mr Hoffman, “this financial year alone, we have grown more in the first twelve weeks than we have in our previous best twelve month period, engaging in excess of an additional four hundred people in that time. We have also invested heavily in staffing and management structures to ensure the growth we achieve can be sustained and that our clients are never underserviced as a result of this growth.”

In recognition of its commitment to quality, Academy Services has had the distinct pleasure of having won back its largest client after having lost them at a tender round three years ago. While this experience is not something new to the company, Mr Hoffman says that it was a perfect vindication of the quality of services offered by his company.

“We are a progressive, service oriented business,” he says in closing, streamlining the varied but exceptional aspects of the commercial cleaning company. “We never lose sight of the reason we exist – to make our clients’ premises shine and to deliver on our commitments of providing outstanding customer service.”

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December 19, 2018, 5:12 AM AEDT