Rethinking the business of cleaning

1 September 2015

Cleaning companies aren’t always in the job of creating dreams and opportunities. But through an innovative business model, dedication and a strong brand reputation, EcoPro Cleaning Co has done just that.

Run by Bob and Anne Quaid, the company not only has the environment at the core of what it does but also the wellbeing of its employees with its ethics-over-profit approach. 

The business structure, Bob says, is that of contractors (meaning there are no employees): cleaners are contracted by EcoPro and this gives them a bigger slice of the pie.

In order to remain financially viable EcoPro maximises the profit its contractors make, retaining them for longer and maintaining the quality brand Eco Pro is known for 

“Our contractors,” Bob says, “must do things our way and to our standard. They must use our chemicals, that we supply free of charge, instead of us clipping the ticket and them buying cheap bleach.” 

The business model does create competition, with contractors contracting out their work to teams of people and eventually becoming too big for EcoPro. 

Bob says that, “people have built up their teams and broken away”. 

Anne affirms him, adding that they support the decisions of their contractors. “They get to a point where they’re too big for us – if they’ve started employing people to do the work for them then we say ‘if you’re big enough to do that you can go out on your own’.”

EcoPro’s innovative approach to business and determination to be on the cutting edge of technology has placed them as industry leaders, including having influential input in the Environmental Choice NZ (ECNZ) industry regulations. 

“There were a lot of people saying that the industry couldn’t change and we weren’t able to go environmentally friendly, that it would never work,” Anne says. “But we had already been doing it and continue to work in that space. 

“We met Mary Neat from ECNZ who wanted the industry to have ECNZ qualifications on services and we helped write the qualifications.” 

“After that,” Bob adds, “we got the licence and we’re still the only cleaning company to be ECNZ accredited.” 

EcoPro is now trying to come up with a business model that will allow it to expand into other regions. 

The model could take on the shape of a licensing agreement but the pair are refining the details so they can maintain one of the company’s most important values: ensuring staff are paid fairly and can grow within the company. 

Part of the company’s growth is a tentative venture into the cleaning training field. Already being ECNZ accredited Anne says they could help improve the industry with a well developed programme. 

“We’re looking at the training field and becoming a training outfit as well. At the moment we do all our training in-house and our cleaners have NZQA or other experience. Our training teaches them what sets us apart.” 

EcoPro is set to keep challenging the cleaning industry. Anne and Bob both agree that more could be done to clean the industry up and while they say that would come with legislation, the value of forging on ahead can’t be overstated. 

EcoPro is a sponsor of the 2015 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.