Danish ISS shared their Story with Members of DCC

Claus Madsen, Regional Director of ISS Greater China, welcomed members of the Danish Chamber of Commerce (DCC) in Hong Kong at ISS’s office in Quarry Bay on 28 August, 2012 and gave an enjoyable presentation to the 26 attendees.

A lot of people have heard of ISS, however, this event was an opportunity to get underneath the clean floors to find out what this company stands for and what their key success factors are.

In brief, ISS (Copenhagen-Frederiksberg Night Watch as it was originally called), was founded in 1901 with the objective of keeping watch at different office locations during night time. Thirty three years later a cleaning service (Det Danske Rengøringsselskab) would be added, as owners found an opportunity to ensure that offices would never be unattended even after the watch patrols would leave at 4am, the cleaning team would be present until the employees would reenter in the morning.

Later the company split into two companies, ISS and Security, which later became G4S.

With Paul Andreasen at the wheel, ISS (which stands for International Service Systems), introduced a new way of standardization on how to clean. In this way it was possible for a cleaning person in Denmark to clean 1500-2000m2 in an hour whereas e.g. in Latin America the equivalent area would take a person a full day.

ISS, business areas are split between

51% Cleaning
19% Property (maintenance)
10% Catering
8% Support (hiring)
7% Security
5% Facility management

In 1997 the strategy ‘AIM2002’ was launched, which is a strategy focused on delivering multiple services to the same customer.
In 2005, ISS was taken private by EQT partners and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. The same year ISS launched their strategy ‘The ISS Way’. Key success criteria of the ISS Way was to introduce Brand protection, Center of Excellence and Core Values (such as Honesty, Entrepreneurship, Quality, and Responsibility), as well as a more ‘soft side’ focusing on changing the employees’ perspective to see the bigger picture of their efforts and establish dedication by allowing them to unleash the power of human nature.

The ISS vision is that leading facility services globally is by leading facility services locally.

Claus Madsen finalized his presentation by a video focusing on ‘unleashing the power of human nature’, paying tribute to some of the thousands of ISS employees to the lovely tones of Keane ‘You don’t see me’. The presentation was followed by a great tapas buffet.

ISS Key facts:

Number of employees: 534,519
Represented in 53 countries
3rd largest private employer in Europe
Revenue 2011: EUR10.4 billion
Operating margin 2011: 5.7%
Growth 2011: 6.2%

In addition, Claus Madsen enlightened the attendees with the surprising information that only 60% of men and 80% of women wash their hands after a visit to the toilet, so we assume there is still a lot of room for improvement, and you might want to think twice before eating from the peanut bowls in the bars.

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