A vivid interview with Regina Henrich, a new European Manager for ISSA. She has been working for more than 25 years in professional cleaning industry, occupying different Marketing and Sales Management positions.
Regina, recently you’ve occupied the position of European Manager. Are there any new feelings at your current position that you have no before at your previous job? Please share your feelings.
It is particularly attractive to me to cooperate with partners from different areas of the cleaning industry, to build a deep trust and to work together to further promote the positive contribution and value of cleaning to health, environment and earnings improvement.
Do you remember your first “meeting” with cleaning industry?
Yes, when I finished my studies in economics I started to work for Diversey, which at that time belonged to the Canadian Molson Concern and was situated in Wiesbaden, Germany. That was about 25 years ago. I started in the in the Food & Beverage department and later moved to the Institutional.
Regina, please, tell us about your great professional experience! What projects, brands have you been working with?
I have been working in the cleaning industry since 1991. After my studies in economics I have started as marketing assistant for Diversey in their Food in Beverage department. In 1995 I was asked to become the Marketing Manager for Institutional and focused on the development of the Suma brand. To become more familiar with customer needs I started to work as Key Account Manager, focusing on Quick Service Restaurant Chains in Germany. While working for Diversey I experienced the changes from Diversey to DiverseyLever to JohnsonDiversey. In 2005 I commenced to work for Ecolab as Corporate Account Manager for Food Retail, later for the Ecolab headquarter in Switzerland as European Marketing Manager. In 2011 I was offered to become the International Marketing Director for tana, which is a sister company of Werner & Mertz in Mainz in Germany, promoting the development of the international portfolio including its professional brands tana professional and green care professional and supporting various cradle to cradle® certifications.
As we know a month ago there was a great and global INTERCLEAN show in Amsterdam. Are you satisfied with the results of the show? What can you say about this event as European Manager?
Currently ISSA is expanding in EMEA. One of our key targets is to increase brand awareness for our activities in this region of the world. Also the Interclean exhibition offers a quite attractive auditorium for that and we are happy having reached so many valuable new contacts and talk to a lot of highly appreciated members.
Regina, what are your responsibilities as European Manager? How your professional background can be beneficial to ISSA?
I’m convinced that understanding the demand from the customer first requires an understanding of the customer. Having worked over 20 years in various Marketing- and Sales Positions in the professional cleaning industry has provided me with a profound knowledge basis of the market which I still widen continuously. Based on our close industry contacts, highly qualified and experienced ISSA colleagues from all over the world, I´m convinced that we will be able to increase the benefits for our ISSA EMEA members constantly.
New technologies are key factors of Industry 4.0. Cleaning industry is trying to remain up-to-date with evolving technologies and, of course, stay ahead of the game. As an example we can mention Innovation Lab which was very popular during INTERCLEAN Amsterdam 2018. In our previous interview with Dianna Steinbach she commented on the gap in days past: “The time that has been whittled away by the unfortunate race to “do more with less”. Regina, taking into consideration your great experience, please, share your opinion regarding smart-technologies, trends and other innovations in cleaning industry.
I’m convinced that smart technologies are not only a trend. In an increasing speed they will become part of our life. If you implement them carefully and farsightedly, beside all new challenges, I feel that smart technologies offer enormous opportunities. For example, overconsumption of our natural resources and its harmful consequences threaten the basis of our existence on the earth. Smart technologies offer better ways to shape, monitor, communicate, and govern sustainability as they can also gather data to analyze new ways towards a more sustainable world, for our future generations.
From 15 till 18 May 2018 INTERCLEAN was hold in Amsterdam. During the show ISSA organized ISSA World Association Meeting. Can you tell us more about this Meeting? Who took part in the Meeting? What were the results?
The ISSA World Association Meeting is a member event and this year it took place in the Elicium of the RAI, where Mike Boxall of i-Clean was speaking about benchmarking results of training in our industry. Within the frame of continued financial uncertainty and a general demand to deliver more with less, benchmarking can become a very strong tool. It can lead to long term benefits at minimal cost and support continuous improvements. Benchmarking can deliver long-term benefits but it’s important to get the basics right.
During the show you hold two workshops: Accredited Auditing Professional (AAP) and Estimating Made Easy (EME). Tell us about the experience of running such kind of events. What was the aim of these workshops? How did you manage to succeed?
The event went very well. We had registrants from all over EMEA. ISSA increasingly offers trainings to the cleaning industry. Offering the workshops at the Interclean offered trade visitors to get both at a time: visiting the Interclean and personal further qualification.
Regina, what events and development programs are you planning to carry out for the benefit of ISSA Europe? What are you professional plans and tasks for 2018 and next 2-3 years?
We will continue to enhance the positive perception and appreciation of professional cleaning. ISSA provides its members already with a variety of benefits. However, we continuously are looking for innovations that help our members in EMEA to improve their business success focussing on comprehensive benefits that differ from current market offers. We will go on strengthening our EMEA team to provide excellent support to our members.
Taking into consideration your experience, please, give advice on strategic management to those people who are going to start their cleaning business either as a manufacturer or cleaning contractor.
Find out what your potential customer really needs. Try to form a vision for it, define how it will differentiate from existing concept and feel the desire to create it. But, you have to be brave and know that often things take longer thank you think. Don´t chase the money. Chase the vision. The things you do, try to do them as best as possible and do not worry about failure. Outpace all doubter who just want to make you insecure. Think positive!
What do you think are main mistakes in marketing strategy and planning made by cleaning contractors? What principles should they stand by to avoid such mistakes?
No one can really predict the future. Market is changing in a high speed. I feel that is important to keep your eyes open to follow all relevant market developments and pro-actively prepare for any required market approach.
There are various challenges that especially contract cleaners are confronted with: competition is fierce, profit margins get much tighter. Customers are looking for better quality and professionalism but budgets are limited. New approaches need to be thought of. Fluctuation is high, employees relate to their need and want as well as skills. Emotional and social support is part of the employer’s remit today as much as training and education.
A lot of customers search for service providers on internet. This leads to the key requirement that the company website and its content is in excellent shape.
Digitalisation cannot be ignored and especially contract cleaners need to evaluate how this development will influence their business.
We ask every interviewer to give advice to cleaning starters and next generation in cleaning industry. Please, give advice for women who want to make career and succeed in cleaning industry. What is your message? Do you agree with a statement that it is much more difficult for women than for men to work in this business? What qualities should a woman possess to succeed in a cleaning industry and rise to eminence in profession like you?
Focus on your customers and their change in needs and adapt pro-actively. Try to be become a business professional and convince any doubters with your knowledge. Stay authentically. Do not listen to people who only want to make you afraid instead of helping you how to overcome challenging situation and focus on positive people and surroundings. Listen to your gut instinct, make a choice and set your priorities in life right as you only live once.
It is sure that your schedule is too busy. But ISSA’s member should not only work hard, but have some time for leisure. How do you like to spend your leisure time?
Yes, that is right. My schedule is very tight. I´m very much interested in digitalization and its social-ecological transformation regarding service, product design and staff management. The remaining time I spent with my 10-year old daughter and the rest of the family.
We ask you as a cleaning industry expert to give advice to newcomers in cleaning industry. What is your message? What should they do to succeed? And what not to do?
Start-ups are really hard and you have to be courageous. Most do have a lot of hurdles and setbacks that one has to overcome. You have to realize that selling is truly understanding the customer’s need. Find out what is most important to the market and make it perfect. Also try to differentiate from the current offers. And finally: believe in yourself, stay curious and be patient – success takes a minute.
And final question. In the last interview we asked INTERCLEAN manager Rob den Hertog to recommend someone for the next interview. Regina, who do you think will be interested to interview next?
I highly appreciated to work with Michel de Bruin. He is the CEO of Greenspeed.