Swiftclean Implement New System For Planning Jobs And Customer Dashboard

Published 17th July 2021 by Charlotte Porter
Compliance hygiene company Swiftclean have been awarded more than £77k by the I-Construct and TALE (Transport and Logistical Efficiencies) projects to make drastic improvements to their systems.
Gary Nicholls - Swiftclean
Gary Nicholls - Swiftclean

We spoke to Swiftclean Managing Director, Gary Nicholls, about how the investment will make them up to 20% more efficient and offer other benefits besides. We also found out how they are using innovation to help reduce the risk of fire through a new 'Ventilation Hygiene Elite' scheme. 

Q. I-Construct: What services do Swiftclean offer?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“We've been around for almost 40 years now. We specialize in compliance hygiene and fire safety, there are three core areas that we service our customers with.
“Firstly, we've got a fire safety management service for controlling grease levels in kitchen extract systems where we clean commercial kitchen extraction devices, on a regular basis. During the cooking process, grease builds up in ducting and other internal surfaces of extraction systems and that must be kept to a safe limit. So, our service is all about going in, measuring the grease level, removing the grease layer, giving evidence that service has been done and then giving our clients guidance on how frequently it should be cleaned to prevent the level from getting too high and creating an unacceptable fire risk.
“The second area is general ventilation system cleaning and fire damper testing. In a ventilated system where ducts pass through fire escape routes, you'll have what's called a fire damper. In normal operation that's open, it just lets the air through. But in a fire situation, an emergency where heat or smoke is sensed, they will close and will help keep that fire escape route safe. We test those fire dampers to make sure they function when needed.
“The other area that we work in is controlling Legionnaires' disease. We have a team of surveyors that do expert legionella risk assessments to identify various Issues that need to be solved which could cause a proliferation of the Legionella bacteria, and subsequently lead to someone contracting Legionnaire's disease. We risk assess water systems, and then give guidance on what the customers need to do to reduce their risk and keep it to an acceptable level.”

Q. I-Construct: Where does Swiftclean operate?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“We provide services nationally. Our head office is in Southend-On-Sea as that's where the majority of our people are based. But we have another satellite office in Leicester, and then we employ people strategically over the UK to deliver services and also for technical sales around the country. We've got people in Leeds. Birmingham Scotland Manchester, Leicester and other locations.
“Part of what our new computer system will help us to do is to work out the closest person to the job with the right skills.”

Q. I-Construct: What makes the Swiftclean service different?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“The reason to use Swiftclean is we will do the job, right. We work to the right specifications that people can rely on. What we do is going to protect them and keep them legally compliant.
“We are very well accredited we operate our business to ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001. We've done that for many years and the way we manage quality, environmental compliance and health and safety management is to the highest level.
“With our kitchen extract fire safety management service, we are pioneers of a new scheme called the 'Ventilation Hygiene Elite' scheme. That was set up to help the industry to improve the quality. Lots of fires are still occurring in extraction ducting, which is where the grease levels are not controlled properly or not cleaned at all, or bits of it are missed and that's because of poor management, poor contractors who don't really understand what they're doing. They consider it a cleaning service as opposed to fire safety management, which is really what it's all about.
“The insurance industry was not happy with the situation. So, those who understood more about the importance of working to a high standard got together with the people at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and we developed this new scheme together. A specification has now been created called TR 19 Grease and in order to comply with that, you have to register your business with the 'Ventilation Hygiene Elite' (VHE) scheme.
“Every time you carry out a clean of the kitchen extract system, you have to register that you've done it on the VHE scheme and generate a certificate. That will either be a full, clean certificate or a partial clean certificate. It's really important that users of ventilation systems understand whether the systems are fully or only partially clean. Otherwise, there could be a fire occurring sometime down the line because of uncontrolled grease build up. More companies are coming on board, we were delighted to be part of the driving force behind the formation of that scheme and raising standards industry wide.
“To ensure competence all of our supervisors have to go through a training scheme to be qualified to the grease hygiene technician (GHT) level. At Swiftclean we run a training school so we're certified by the BESA to run these training courses and then to qualify people as grease hygiene technicians, which is a requirement of the TR 19 Grease specification.
“We have some competitors that only offer Legionella control services. We have other competitors that offer kitchen extract cleaning services. With our business we offer the whole lot, it’s almost like a one-stop shop. So, in terms of supplier management it's better and more efficient to use us.”

Q. I-Construct: How are you working with the Haven Gateway Partnership?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“I heard of TALE through a consultant I worked with and also through the Best Growth Hub as well. The funding was a big thing, and the help that we got to secure that funding has been really useful. TALE helped us change our computerization systems to make us more efficient.
“I use a number of consultants for different things, David Newman who works for us, identified that we were inefficient. I think we knew that anyway, but his analysis cemented it. We were using lots of different IT systems, taking information out of one and putting it into another. We'd have one accounting system, another CRM system and lots of Excel spreadsheets. The idea of the TALE funding was to start to bring that all together into one system or linked systems.
“The I-Construct funding is about developing that system further so that the dashboard, all the information we give to our customers, is state of the art. It's considering how the customer wants to see that information. 
We're not just a local company, we've got a national footprint. Our ideal customer is one that's got multiple outlets because it's great for growing our turnover. One of our customers is Dunhelm, for example. We look after their Legionella control across all the sites across the whole country.
“It's about presenting the compliance information and probably more importantly the non-compliance areas because that's really what they need to address. We need to present the information in a way that helps them to manage their non-compliance issues efficiently.”

Q. I-Construct: How does the dashboard work?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“It all starts off through the CRM system. The technical salespeople collect information about systems that need servicing quantities, etc. and then that information is added to the CRM system. That can then be converted into a contract on the Collabit system. The system's a planning tool. Once the contract's set up, those jobs that need to be done will be added to the planner. Certain jobs will be set automatically, every three months etc.
“When the engineers go over to site, they will get issued the job on the smartphone or tablet, the idea is there's no paper. They will then carry out their job.
“If it's monitoring temperatures in the water system for example, they will input the temperatures, and the system will automatically say if it's out of parameter. Cold water should be 20 degrees or below, if it starts going above 20 then you've got a Legionella risk developing. If you take the water temperature and it's 21, that'd be flagged as a non-conformance. The system would automatically flag that and put it onto the customer portal. The customer can then go into the system and see these non-conformances that need to be dealt with.”

Q. I-Construct: What tangible benefits has the new system offered?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“At the moment we're still in that transition period, and we're doing it service by service. We used to use another system, and we've gone from 70 licenses on that, down to about 29 because we're transitioning over to Collabit.
“With the fire damper testing, on the old system we could only test 10 dampers on a single job instruction. In a lot of these jobs there might be 250 dampers. So, then they'd have to issue 25 jobs. Back in the office, reporting was a real nightmare because they had to take all those jobs and merge all the reports. It would take hours and hours to do that. Whereas now with Collabit we can just press a button and a report is produced. So, there are real efficiencies there. We're now also automating the notifications to customers and that sort of thing.
“In the long-term when the whole project's complete we think we'll gain at least 20% efficiency allowing us to expand without increasing our overhead. The gross margin on the business is around about 50% generally. So once the turnover covers the overhead, then the net profit will increase exponentially because of the efficiencies.
“Having that customer portal also differentiates Swiftclean against our competitors so that when our salesmen are out in front of customers, they can show them this really useful dashboard. We're also hoping that by having that desirable customer interface, our customers are really going to want to stick with us. They won't want to move because they love the information that we're providing them.”

Q. I-Construct: How would you describe the I-Construct network?

A. Gary Nicholls, Swiftclean:

“I'd say it's a great support for your business, the people are easy to deal with.
“I think you'd be a fool not to use it really, because if you're thinking about projects, you're going to need funding as well. It's a big help for your business to get support or funding for development and expansion projects much sooner than maybe you would do. The extra bit of funding is that extra bit of encouragement I think you need to get things going.”


If you have an innovative project like Swiftclean's in mind, visit the TALE website or the I-Construct offering page to learn more about the benefits each project offers SMEs.

I-Construct and TALE are funded by ERDF.