Industry Leaders Forum: Kerry Boon, Sales and Marketing Manager, Proquip

How was 2020 for Proquip? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

Like everyone, 2020 was a very interesting year with the pandemic that swept across the globe in late March. Despite numerous challenges, our team were extremely resilient, and we managed the ups and downs better than expected.

We had two standout highlights for 2020. First, we launched Proquip Service. Proquip Service is our proprietary servicing division that we launched in Auckland first late 2020 and have now launched in Wellington as well.

This adds a further feather in our cap when it comes to exceptional aftersales service and has been very successful so far. Proquip Service is already a fast-growing part of our business and a focus for 2021.

Our second great achievement in 2020 was the opening of our Christchurch branch in August. We now have equipment showrooms in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

All branches service their regions with the capacity to provide local businesses with a dedicated Proquip team and onsite demonstrations to every corner of New Zealand.

How did Proquip adjust to the impact of the pandemic?

During the first lockdown, Proquip launched Proquip Demo, which enabled us to demonstrate our full range of cleaning and sanitising equipment to customers online. Our customers found this to be extremely useful, as did we, and we have integrated Proquip Demo into our offerings.

Now our customers can choose an onsite or online demonstration, whichever works best for them and their team.

Video communication has very much become a way of life and our agile pivot to utilise this was highly beneficial to us through lockdown. A Proquip Demo video explainer can be found here: https://www.proquipnz.co.nz/terms/proquip-demo/

We also focussed on staying in touch with both our internal team and our customers with regular Zoom meetings, helping where we could and supplying the essential services.

Did you notice any changes in customer behaviour in 2020? How did Proquip respond to these changes?

The focus and urgency for the majority of our customers went immediately to solutions for deep cleaning and sanitising to minimise the risk of the Coronavirus. We have a number of customers in the aged care industry and we saw a significant increase in facilities acquiring specialist equipment and products to reduce risk of infection.

The cleaning industry has featured heavily in the media due to the pandemic, which is a good thing. As we all witnessed, the importance of hygiene and sanitisation across all industries, especially the essential services, was paramount in the fight against COVID. I believe the public now has a deeper respect for the building service contractor industry.

What will be the immediate focus for Proquip in 2021?

We will continue to grow our proprietory offerings such as Proquip Service, Proquip Demo, and Proquip Lease, which is a great option for businesses not wanting to spend the large capital outlay upfront for a machine they need now.

We also have a number of exciting new machinery and products launching in 2021, so be sure to look out for those!

What challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry over the next 12 months?

One challenge I see for the cleaning industry is that there seems to be an increasing amount of end clients offering shorter cleaning contract lengths of 12 months, sometimes even shorter. This creates significant difficulties for contractors as they often can’t justify the expense of equipment they need to properly perform in the contract. This in turn makes them look insufficient. They inevitably lose the contract to someone else, and so the cycle continues.

I think many opportunities are presenting themselves to the BSC industry as the general public have had a crash course in infection control, a large part of which is cleaning related.

BSCs have the opportunity to present enhanced cleaning solutions and services to current and prospective customers. This could go a long way toward the BSC industry changing the perception that some have of cleaners being just a labour pool to being a professional contractor.

Are there any new products to be launched in 2021?

We have quite a line-up of new products on the way from different suppliers, across different product types and from all corners of the world. We’re pretty excited about our latest new product, the Limatic Carbon Steam Machine.

Despite its small size, around the size of a household vacuum cleaner, this compact machine is a powerful steam cleaner with a constant pressure of 5.5 bars.

With a range of accessories, the Limatic sanitises and cleans stubborn dirt, stains, and germs any surface in any industry. Follow us on LinkedIn or YouTube to get the news when these cool new products become available.

What do you expect will be the big product trends of 2021?

Increased productivity is always high on the list for a BSC and Proquip have a number of new products coming that sit well with these requirements.

Improved battery technologies as well as energy saving innovations and eco-products are constantly improving and becoming more and more popular and in demand.

Helping our customers work towards much more efficient and environmentally friendly ways of cleaning is high on our priorities for the future.

The ROI of these new products is drastically shifting the affordability ratio of equipment once thought to be too expensive for smaller contracts and contractors. It’s very exciting for Proquip to be part of this shift.

What additional advice or guidance do you have for the cleaning community now and after the pandemic?

Through the uncertain time of the pandemic and what the future holds for business owners, I would say strive to understand what it is that sets you apart, be even better at what you are good at, and remind yourselves of what the core values of your business are – this is the bloodline of your brand and needs to be cared for as such.

Adding additional services to your mix and creating a greater online presence would be the other two things I would recommend.

New customers are harder to get than selling more services to current ones and the power of the internet should not be underestimated for any business.

Someone looking to take on services will search and spend time online and the results they see can greatly affect the outcome. A question I’d be asking of all BSCs – how do you check out online? Research yourself.

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