CrestClean is a thriving New Zealand cleaning franchise business with a strong interest in environmental sustainability. True to his clean green New Zealand roots, the company’s co-founder and Managing Director Grant McLauchlan says CrestClean has always been keen to operate sustainably and is committed to ensuring its services and products in particular have minimal adverse environmental effects.
“We’ve always sought to ensure that the systems we have in place support good environmental habits such as energy efficiency, waste minimisation and recycling. We also wanted to ensure the chemical products our personnel use have minimal adverse impact, and that our training focused on environmentally responsible cleaning methods.
“We feel we have achieved this with good standards and systems over the past 20 years we’ve been in business, but that was only our view,” says Grant. “We believed it was important to get independent, third-party validation of our environmental approaches to doing business – which is why we turned to Eco Choice. It was a logical next step and something the market expected of us.
“We also wanted to send a message to our customers and the industry in general that green issues should be taken seriously.”
Grant says Eco Choice Aotearoa (Eco Choice) was the logical organisation to turn to for that validation. “We saw them as the authoritative, Government-owned accreditation organisation operating to internationally recognised standards and principles.”
Achieving Eco Choice accreditation was a rigorous and, at first, daunting process, he says. “It involved a detailed examination and audit of all of our company’s operations and procedures, and we had to pull together an enormous amount of documentation. But we were pleasantly surprised to find that we were already compliant in many ways because of the practices we’d developed and implemented across our franchises.”
Importantly, the Eco Choice audits showed that CrestClean’s systems and processes were consistently applied across the country, says Grant. “How it was done in Auckland was to the same level of environmental standards to that done in Taranaki, for example. That’s something we very proud of, given we have around 550 franchises and the numbers are growing steadily.”
The services to gain Eco Choice approval were Commercial Cleaning, Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, Pure Water Window Cleaning, and Hard Floor Cleaning and Maintenance.
Eco Choice assessment and approval of CrestClean’s training, which is carried out by the Master Cleaners Training Institute, was critical to the accreditation, says Grant. “In both the initial instruction and the ongoing training and upskilling we organise, a key component is around ensuring participants understand the impact of their cleaning work on the environment. Cleaning doesn’t have the level of environmental impact of many other products and services, but it does use some chemicals that, cumulatively, could be harmful to health and the environment if not used in a safe, controlled way.
“We also encourage CrestClean personnel to work to, and uphold, the environmental policies of their customers. We are all partners in that respect.”
Grant says the relationship with the Eco Choice ecolabel will also foster other initiatives by the company. “We fully subscribe to Eco Choice’s sustainability ethos and will be putting in place further systems to explore where we can make further environmental gains in areas like recycling, waste output measurement, and fuel usage monitoring. We’re keen to understand our carbon footprint and keep improving what we do. If we can gain more efficiencies, our business will be better off and so will the environment – which is good for everyone.
“We also intend to play our part in the greater community by offering and promoting better environmental practices and we’re constantly working on innovation and accountability around sustainability with a view to passing on the benefits to customers.” One area of work was identifying better cleaning technology, such as using colour-coded microfibre cloths and mops to reduce cross-contamination, and to reduce chemical usage.
Grant says the benefits of coming under the wing of the ENCZ ecolabel are immediately apparent. “We’re one of just two cleaning companies in New Zealand that have this accreditation, and our customers now have the reassurance that, in the cleaning area, they are meeting high international environmental standards within their organisation.
“We’re also hearing from customers that Eco Choice certification is helping them in their quest to improve their own environmental footprint. It certainly provides independent verification that our services are meeting sustainability objectives.”
Accreditation also brings benefits for the company as it seeks new franchisees. “For us as a business, it’s a strong signal to those looking to work with us that the environment will get a high priority. And for our franchisees, it tells their customers that systems and processes to deliver good environmental outcomes are a core part of the offering.”
Established in 1996, Crest Commercial Cleaning Ltd (CrestClean) is New Zealand’s largest locally-owned cleaning company and the only one with Eco Choice accreditation to offer a nationwide service. After initially starting up in Dunedin, it moved to Christchurch and then Hamilton in 2000. It now operates throughout New Zealand. CrestClean has a corporate structure that utilises franchised owner-operators to deliver its services.
A wide range of financial and training services are provided to franchisees including financial accounts preparation, revenue collection, and GST, and compliances management.
The company now supports more than 550 franchisees incorporating about 1700 personnel, who look after in excess of 4500 customers, including 350 schools. The company places a strong emphasis on rigorous initial and ongoing training of its personnel, and encourages close collaboration with customers on environmental initiatives such as power-saving and recycling.
CrestClean has experienced year-on-year growth north of 20% annually for the past 10 years. It has been included three times on the Deloitte Fast 50, an annual list that celebrates fast-growing companies. It has expanded its services offering to include pest control and property caretaking as specialist divisions.
CrestClean supports other New Zealand businesses, procuring its products and services locally in each region. It also gives back to the community on many levels, with major sponsorships of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, and the LeslieRugby Junior Rugby Coaching Programme that supports junior rugby through offering 50 coaching clinics around the country each year.