Supporter / Facilitator / Youth worker
Business Support for a social enterprise PLC owned and staffed by adults with learning disabilities.
Previous experience in enterprise development
Since May 2018.
A Clean Sweep Ltd.
Currently 6 members aged between 36 – 60, male and female, all employed as cleaners.
Support needs range from low – medium. Support given to learn new routines, job coaching, travel training, understanding policies and procedures.
(previous 10 + embers before pandemic)
Business support needed to drive new business and ensure business functions legitimately.
Field of Business
A cleaning business since 1995, they have been through various ups and downs and tried out different markets. Before lockdown ACS were cleaning mainly office spaces and workplaces.
This business began over 25 years ago as a think-tank of ideas from a group of people who wanted to start their own learning disability owned business. After exploring other ideas such as car washing the company decided on cleaning as their line of business and to organise themselves as a co-operative structure.
This means that members meet regularly to discuss the plans for the business, give ideas, address any problems, approve accounts, and address new policies and procedures.
The business has evolved in waves along with the rise and fall of demand for their services. Historically ACS have promoted their value using two facets 1) improving social responsibility for organisations and 2) a focus on ‘green’ or environmentally conscious cleaning products, which was most likely a geographically-based decision given Bristol’s status as a green city. It is now thought that these two facets are not very compatible as a marketing strategy and that the value of both of these in the current climate are dwindling in light of the pandemic and how this has changed the needs of their customers.
Challenges faced have been many; since I have supported the business they have faced challenges managing relationships between members and the contracts, challenges to recruiting the right people, interpersonal team challenges as well as behavior-related issues. The main challenge however has been the effect of the pandemic on business and now needing to steer the business in a different direction as the climate for what ACS previously offered and appealed to as their USP has lost its demand.
Principles that ACS strive to attain to are that of professionalism (they are not a charity), effectivity (the get the job done well) and integration (they want to be seen).
I found the training of real assistance in helping to explore ways of repositioning the business and redefining the business values. The model given on one of the videos with the values Belonging, choosing, contributing, sharing ordinary places, being respected by connie and johhny o’ brian of inclusion.com echoed exactly what ACS try to achieve as a business and so has helped to think about these values in a more structured way which will help articulate the marketing strategy going forward.
From working with ACS it is clear that they have a USP around improving morale and well-being, both within the workplace and when engaging with individuals on domestic contracts.
The section on Anthony at your service was really inspiring and helped with this as it made me think more about the skills of each individual member of the business and ways to organise the business around these. Some members are very personable and likeable whereas other members’ skills are in their efficiency and reliability. It highlighted the importance of my role in pairing each member specifically to a contract based on the needs of the contract and their own skills and allows for exploring the social/higher needs-based cleaning for more vulnerable people whilst also having an arm of the business which stays in organizational/corporate cleaning.
The module on business planning was really useful in explaining how to write and approach a business plan which I will use when planning the next phase of the business.
What are your plans for the future ?
To explore a route into social and domestic cleaning. It has been observed that ACS had something to offer over and above just a cleaning service.