Cleankill has always prided itself on being a professional, efficient, friendly, environmentally aware pest control business. But the question has always been – how do we show our customers this?
The answer is – certification. Choosing an internationally recognised standard for Quality Management and Environmental Management allows us to clearly demonstrate to everyone our commitment to running a great business in an environmentally responsible fashion. For several years, therefore, we have worked with QMS International to audit our business and check compliance with two standards:
ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality management systems and, in a nutshell, it helps to establish whether the business is being run in an efficient manner. It looks at every aspect of the business in minute detail, from new staff inductions to management hierarchy and customer service. It is a thorough examination of the business which, we feel, helps us to drive down costs, increase productivity and boost customer satisfaction.
ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management. It helps us identify and control any aspect of our business that may affect the environment. As a company that prides itself on being a ‘green’ pest control business, it is important to look at all aspects of our environmental footprint. In simple terms, there is no point in us promoting ‘green’ pest control methods if we waste paper, electricity, petrol and don’t recycle. ISO 14001 has helped us generate an all-encompassing ‘green’ agenda for the business.
Through the hard work of the Cleankill team we have held both standards for a few years, but they always require an annual audit to check compliance. It is always nerve-wrecking when you allow someone from outside the organisation to come in and review your working practices.
This year Jeanette Gater, Office Manager, and Chris Davis, Technical Manager, took the lead on looking after the auditor, who spends an entire day with us and can request to see any process or procedure which relates to either ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 - basically all aspects of the business. For example, he might ask to see how a new member of staff is inducted. Firstly, he’ll want to see if an induction has taken place. Then, he’ll want to see documentary evidence of what was included in the induction and see that it has been signed by both the trainer and the inductee. He’ll also want to see evidence that the induction contained enough of the right type of information and that all legal checks on right-to-work/UK residency have been carried out. Finally, he’ll also want to verify any training and look at associated certification. This is all for one aspect of the business, so you can see it is a thorough examination of the structures of the company.
These level of examination is used for both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, and so it is hardly a surprise that Jeanette and Chris felt exhausted at the end of the day. The good news was that, after a whole day of answering questions, running to find evidence, and inevitably cursing when the piece of paper you need at that moment has mysteriously ended up in the wrong file, we were given our feedback and this included NO non-compliances. I think it’s quite rare for a business to have zero non-compliances, so this made me very proud of the team, and especially Jeanette and Chris for taking us through the audit. Jon Whitehead and I have both commented how great it was that something as important as an audit didn’t require the presence of a director - a testament to the professionalism and skill of the staff.
The key to passing the audit, and I believe the key to a successful business, is to always strive for improvement. It is one thing to believe your business to well-run and environmentally responsible, but it is quite another to have someone come from outside and audit your approach. For us, it is important that we have the certificates to prove to customers that quality assurance is of paramount importance to the business. But, it is equally important to us to have that fresh pair of eyes, looking at the business, to see where we can improve.
Obviously, no business is perfect and so we did slip-up on one thing – we ran out of sugar! Luckily, it didn’t seem to faze him when he had to have honey in his tea and coffee. I know Jeanette has made a special note in her diary to make sure we have extra sugar for next year. So, considering the outstanding work she did in getting the office ready for the audit, I think I’ll overlook this oversight.
With another audit completed with exceptional results, all that remains is for me to go through the reports and look at any recommendations. However, I do note the reports do seem to suggest Jon is now managing director! Is this a hint by the auditor? Should I start writing the hand-over now? I hope not. I’m think this is great business and I’m extremely proud all the people who work in it and make it such a success. It’s just nice to have the certificates to back-up that assertion.