Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Spt-Oct 2015 Contents 12 INCLEAN September/October 2015
By Jo Cooper
As a management company working as the ‘go between’ for clients
and cleaning service contractors, Duticall occupies quite an unusual
place in the cleaning industry. Managing that relationship between
contractors and clients can be complex as Duticall strives to meet
the requirements of all parties in the equation. Improving these
interactions through innovation has occupied much of the focus of
Cumming in recent years.
Duticall is a Brisbane-based commercial cleaning business and
Cumming is using his extensive technical and corporate experience to
revolutionise his own operations – and potentially those of many others.
“We have our own bespoke system for managing our clients, fnances
and workfows, which was developed in the mid-90s,” he revealed.
“Over the past three years we’ve been rewriting that system on a
more contemporary web base – a central server, which will provide us
with greater fexibility and access.”
Cumming and the team working on the software – “they have been
terrifc,” he exclaimed – are in the testing stage at the moment but it
will go live this year, interfacing with a legacy CRM system that has
Once that happens, Cumming said Duticall would enjoy the benefts
of more streamlined processes such as the deduction of management
fees, improved margins and scalability. “It will give us the ability to
take this business model and move interstate, into other regions in
Queensland, or potentially franchise the business,” he stated.
“There are other client/management/contractor arrangements
– so with some modifcations there’s also some possible commercial
applications for our software, such as the domestic home rental market
and trade services.”
It is not surprising that Cumming has the foresight to spot such
opportunities. Prior to buying Duticall in 2008, he enjoyed a career in
facilities management, followed by technical roles with Power Brewing
and then senior marketing positions with CUB and Foster’s Group.
“I’m a very technical person by nature and facility services has
always been something that has interested me,” he commented. “With
cleaning being such an important and large part of that, I came
across this opportunity to purchase a business I saw as having loads
of potential with a very solid client base and the opportunity to add
additional value in other services and improve the overall performance
through changes in technology.”
Cumming purchased Duticall from two owners who had established
it in 1991, and were operating it from a cottage in the suburb of
Carina. Since then it has relocated to another Queenslander-style
cottage and then it moved to a modern premises in a Murrarie
industrial precinct 12 months ago.
The open-plan head offce represents more fttingly Cumming’s
vision for Duticall. “It’s a better representation of what we were
trying to do as a business by improving the systems and ensuring
that employees are in an environment that’s conducive to more
productivity,” he stated.
Currently Duticall has fve full time and one part time staff
members, including two client service managers constantly on the
road servicing existing and prospective clients; more than 300 current
clients; and provides management support to about 50 independent
cleaning contract businesses.
Cumming knew he was entering a competitive industry but saw a
way to do things differently. “We saw the opportunity to take it from
where I bought it, to support these contractors in what they need to go
in and effectively perform cleaning services,” he explained.
“The proof is in the fact they stay with us. We don’t make any
bones about the fact we take a healthy administrative charge – but we
provide a very good service. We wear the risk of a client potentially
defaulting on payment so that cleaning business owner is guaranteed.”
Part of the service that Duticall provides to its cleaning contractors
is regular contact with the client; providing and managing a detailed
work scope that they can accept or decline; and specialist support
materials such as OH&S manuals and work method statements.
“We’ve basically started from scratch in developing support materials
– our job is to provide value to our contractors because they’re very
important to us,” Cumming remarked. “That was a big gap and we
try to add value to what they get for the money they pay us to manage
Equally important is the interface with Duticall’s client base, which
features a broad range of entities from SMEs to large corporations
(a particular specialty in the club sector), and stretches across greater
Brisbane to Caboolture in the north, Toowoomba and Ipswich in the
west, and the Gold Coast in the south.
“The thing I really enjoy is the breadth of what our clients do and
forming good relationships with them,” Cumming refected.
Looking back over the past seven years, it is clear that Duticall’s
recent evolution would go a long way in supporting those
relationships. New technology, processes and procedures; more
sophistication in the way it prospects and goes to market; and better
ways of communicating with clients and contractors are all hallmarks
of Duticall as a modern cleaning organisation.
Now Cumming continues to focus on the future, looking at growth
options including expansion or franchising. “Our aim is to maintain
that personal approach that has been our point of difference – we
don’t want to compromise that, we want to enhance it and improve
our response times in solving issues for clients and prospects.”
Modern technology systems and a client
approach drives Duticall's growth
Since Stewart Cumming purchased established
Brisbane cleaning business, Duticall, seven years ago he has
been on a mission to ﬁnesse every element of the operations.
Now, as he tells INCLEAN, the business is on the cusp of a
major technology launch that is set to not only enhance its own
processes but possibly assist the entire cleaning industry.
From left: Stewart Cumming, Rachel McDonald, Cherie Bycroft
and Sarah Cumming
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