A review of Washroom Services Providers with The Toilet Expert
I am going to go out on a limb here and list every washroom service provider I can think of in the UK. This may be a big page. One of the biggest complaints generally about washroom service providers is the lack of service, this quickly will follow on to service contracts because it is only when you experience bad service you will want to get out of your contract. So lets start with the UK’s favourite washroom service provider (biggest).
PHS are based in Caerphilly. One of the largest business service providers in the UK who’s interests range from PAT testing to crate hire. PHS are owned by a large corporate fund (Who I can’t be bothered to look up). PHS’s strength (for them) is its size. They have a phenomenal purchasing strength and regularly will do deals with suppliers to gain exclusivity of a specific design or product. This strength works in their favour as the margins are sufficient to pay for plenty lawyers to enforce their highly suspect and fine print contracts. They also employ a lot of salespeople who are paid commission. The incentive therefore, is to sell you the customer, as much equipment as they can at as high a price as they can. Invariably this can lead to conflicting views and disagreements which you can only resolve through their ‘customer services’ team who will point you toward the contract and suggest you can buy yourself out at 75% of the remaining time. (I am sure if I have this wrong I will have a letter from their lawyers soon). PHS increased their online presence drastically by buying Direct Hygiene 3 years ago and re-branding Direct365. They are quite cute at avoiding the PHS will be doing the servicing until the van turns up and then it is too late – so be warned!
So what are their ‘tricks’? Well first and foremost be aware that these will vary from region to region and dependent on how honest the person selling you the contract is.
Duty of care notes: These must be provided by any waste carrier to show due diligence. Most waste companies provide these annual certificates free as will PHS but if they can get away with a charge they will – as much as £250 per annum? So always remember to include any additional fees in your total costs
Other ‘Exceptional’ charges: At one time congestion charges being added but I am unsure if this is still the case.
Small print: One key clause in a PHS contract is there ‘right to increase pricing at any time, at their discretion without notice’. Now I have paraphrased but you get the gist. You may sign a contract for £100 a year and the next invoice might say £105 and their is very little you can do about it.
Service: PHS contracts state services per annum, now this may seem ok but if you are expecting 12 calls over 12 months and they miss a few, (and you quiz them on it) they can and have sent a service vehicle every week for three weeks to ‘fulfil’ the contract. The contract will state ‘x’ services per annum not ‘x’ services per month. Again be wary and be ready to manually change the contract.
Service: One fundamental flaw with PHS is that the service operators do not have to achieve 100% service to achieve their bonus. Last I heard an 80% service record was sufficient to secure bonus payments so tough luck if you are one of the 20% that gets missed (It may explain their huge profits).
If you have specific PHS questions please post them in comments and I will reply by email and if appropriate post the answer here.
Technically the IWSA could be the biggest washroom services business in the UK. However it is an association of independent washroom service businesses. Using their own figures the IWSA fulfil 30,000 washroom service visits every week with over 300 service vehicles run by 23 members. I have taken the info below from their website.
The IWSA was set up to:
a. Create a recognised voice on behalf of the independently owned sector of the industry b. Enable local independent service providers to work together to deliver services nationally.
c. Provide an authoritative voice on all matters that impact on washroom services in the UK and Ireland from the independent operators perspective
d. Establish a common set of service standards that are recognised and upheld nationally within the independent washroom services sector
e. Promote initiatives that improve the environmental impact of services
f. Facilitate a regular communication forum for the independent sector to improve the quality of services delivered to customers
g. Provide advice and support for the independent washroom services supplier, e.g. health and safety, human resources, funding, etc.
h. To share best practice and useful ‘trade and competitor’ knowledge/activity
amongst its members so that they may optimise their performance.
Specialties: All IWSA Members’ staff are security checked to ensure they are suitable to work in areas were they may have reasonable access to children or vulnerable adults through the POCVA, CRB, or AccessNI schemes.
Absolute Hygiene Solutions
Caledonia Washrooms (Scotland)
Crystal Care Services
O3 Group (Ireland)
Pristine Washrooms (Lancs)
Pristine Washroom Services (Essex)
Pure Washroom Services
R-Tech Solutions (Wales)
South West Hygiene
The membership does change from time to time so worth checking the IWSA website if you would like to speak to one of the above. IWSA Website
Like with any organisation there are good embers and some better members so if you have two in your area speak to a few members and see who you like best – remember a salesman will disappear but an owner should be around a lot longer!
The 2nd Biggest washroom provider in the UK? Well who knows. IN order to hide the profitability of the washroom division – like PHS they include other sectors that make it impossible to know. As part of the Initial Rentokil Group they also have huge resources.
Initial are improving. The design of there newer washroom systems are nice. There are similar questions about salespeople selling on commission it is not impossible to find a ‘green’ air freshener unit which is UV powered in a room with no windows and low energy bulbs, but overall they are OK. Like PHS, contracts are long and monotonous, but issues are resolved locally through the regional office (usually a local rep or Business Development Manager) will come and visit onsite and sort things out.
Cannon are now part of the Facilities group OCS. They have focussed in recent years on more specialist waste such as healthcare, including dental waste, although they are happy to service individual sites. They also have a strategic deal with Johnsons Apparelmaster and having Johnsons buying Cannons Laundry operations Cannon now provide washroom services to Johnsons customers? Confused? Hang in there.
The cannon range is looking a bit dated and they tend to just rebrand ‘other’ suppliers equipment as their own. But that can work. The are a bit like the Mondeo of Washroom Services – nothing flashy, a bit overpriced but reliable. Cannon are not the cheapest but they do provide a pretty good service – again this may vary regionally but that is the same with all National companies.
Cathedral Hygiene Services
The new kids on the block. CHS have accelerated the last few years to becoe a national supplier (all be it a little patchy in places). They have in the last couple of years had some clever re-branding on their vehicles and are the coolest of the national brands. Cathedral seem to be very clever with contracts – they price weekly so costs are low and tie clients into 5 year deals, and will price very tactically to secure business. I have little direct experience with them but have been impressed with their online strategy they have effectively set up a ‘washrooms company’ in every town in the Uk. Each advertises online as a local specialist but is just a clever way of tapping into the local search market. They are privately owned.
Mayflower are a strange washroom services business. They are National because they service Marks and Spencer. So you w
ill be driving somewhere obscure and see one of their vans. This is a little strange as washroom service businesses rely on efficient loading of vehicles and maximising the service runs – most customers possible out of minimal miles. I don’t know how they do it – I am sure they must have a client base in the South of Engand but again a business I rarely see (except when I go to M&S)
Shorrock are a large regional business based near Manchester. They are predominantly a janitorials supply business but have a large washroom business which is strong in Northern England but through their national retail clients they cover the whole of the UK. Shorrock install all equipment themselves but will subcontract servicing to local trusted partners where geography and distribution costs make servicing themselves unprofitable.