International partnership innovation

20th of September 2019
International partnership innovation
International partnership innovation

Phil Smith, group sales director for Excellerate Services UK - LCC and Templewood, highlights the benefits of international partnerships to transform cleaning provision.

The sheer volume of companies involved in the cleaning sector means competition for business is a constant. This has its challenges, but also means the sector is a hotbed for entrepreneurialism and innovation as people look to find their niche or set themselves apart from the competition.

Today’s business is also increasingly global in scope, so building partnerships or merging with a company that has international expertise can be a good proposition. This can provide a company with added skills and capabilities which enable them to service existing clients in their home market better. This may also help to win new contracts in a competitive market. Additional benefits include efficiencies from shared delivery systems, innovation from new methods, and long-term financial stability and investment in talent.

Know what you want to achieve

Before you enter into any form of international partnership, be clear about what you expect from the arrangement. An international merger or acquisition just because a company becomes available is a recipe for failure. Any partnership must be consistent with the strategic direction of the businesses involved. You need to know what you want to achieve, and which type of company is going to help you meet this strategy.

In our own case two recently merged cleaning, FM and security specialists LCC and Templewood Services have been able to enhance the breadth and depth of our offering in the UK through our respective acquisitions by Excellerate Property Services. Headquartered in South Africa, our parent company is well established as a major property solutions company across sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and now brings its best practice business processes to the UK. Presenting our combined capabilities under a single brand is an exciting new chapter in our UK development.

Our new partnership has, for example, enhanced offerings in cleaning and FM provision, whilst our existing security expertise in the UK is now significantly extended by introducing Excellerate Service’s experience – as one of Africa’s largest security organisations - of providing integrated risk management solutions.

Whilst it’s important to recognise all of our clients have a unique set of challenges that require a bespoke approach, a good group partnership enables organisations to deliver a tailored solution based on combined specialist products and services.

Cultural and strategic fit

Each company brings a different set of sector focuses, priorities, resources and competencies to the partnership. The challenge of any partnership is to bring diverse contributions together, linked by a common vision in order to achieve shared goals. A strong senior management team must be in place to oversee the strategic positioning of the business moving forward and develop opportunities to work more closely together to grow the group.

It’s important that the international business or businesses that you enter into a partnership with has a similar philosophy to your own, and systems and processes that complement yours. Our three companies, for example, have a shared focus on innovation and continuous improvement to ensure quality client care and a strong emphasis on sustainability.

There are, of course, challenges in any shared decision-making process and the need to build consensus by making changes, but this does not need to be complicated. Time and effort must be put into exploring, establishing and managing the partner relationships. In some instances, it is represented by a different way to do business more efficiently, through fresh attitudes and approaches.


The working environment and culture play an important role in the success of any international partnership. The organisation needs to challenge and provide opportunities for talented people to shine and take responsibility, as it’s people that make a successful business.

One of the benefits of international partnerships is that there is a wider pool of talent, including technical expertise and experience, to draw upon. Working alongside others in different countries can help to enhance people’s professional skills and competencies.  However, one of the challenges is that people need to adapt to being part a larger business. Open communications between both individual employees and their managers and teams and other teams (for example, purchasing and production, or sales and customer services) is vital.

It is important all colleagues receive fair pay and on-going training. This helps to build the right environment for innovation. The individual being trained will gain confidence from learning new and important skills and from the investment that has been made in them. Their increased knowledge will help to reinforce best practice and help them achieve their full potential in the workplace. At the same time, clients benefit from having a reliable, professional and motivated people. If a company is widely respected as an ethical, fair and honest employer, it will nurture and retain the high calibre workforce it needs for success.

Continuous improvement

The pace of change is relentless, and the cleaning sector is making huge progress. To continuously improve cleaning service provision, there is a wealth of new ideas to consider implementing across multiple vertical sectors. Sharing international best practice and challenging accepted trends, is one way to guarantee innovation is truly championed.

As well as having access to a broader combination of specialist property solutions, our existing and new clients, for example, will benefit from Excellerate’s technology platforms and extensive IP around providing integrated services. Designed to deliver a transparent and efficient service, this includes the Velocity system which enables biometric management of labour, digital management of
service level agreements and real-time contract management.

Eye to the future

It is important the management team has a clear business strategy that can be communicated to staff, customers and other key stakeholders. We are focused on further enhancing the customer experience and continuous improvement, enabling us to be recognised as leaders in integrated services provision.

The commitment to our UK business from another continent comes at a significant time as the full impact of Brexit is yet to be known. We believe that a stronger support services market will benefit both the buyer and the supplier by providing value, rather than being driven by cost alone. This will improve the overall sustainability and success of the cleaning and FM sector and the global economy as a whole.


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited