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Klien IT Systems

Cleaning company as a tool to be socially involved

Partly due to the Covid-19, the turnover of the cleaning company Klien increased only slightly compared to the previous two years. And turnover and profit are above all the conditions for the manager-owner of the cleaning company to be socially involved.

Portrait d’une PME enthousiaste

Raymond Kouwenberg (51 years old) is certainly not the classic entrepreneur of a local cleaning company, although his beginnings can be defined as such. He was a working student who got "stuck" in the cleaning business. While studying civil engineering in 1987, he started working as a student at the cleaning company Klien in Breda, founded in 1974, where he became project manager after two years. After graduating in 1994, Kouwenberg worked for the municipality but remained in contact with Klien, where they worked exclusively with students. "Imagine: in an age without cell phones and laptops, managing, calling and scheduling eighty students," says the entrepreneur. He was good, because in 1997 he became co-shareholder of Klien BV and ten years later director-owner. In 2011, the cleaning company moved into its current almost 200 square meter premises in the De Mark business park in Breda.

Socialement impliqué

On the entrance door there are the stickers 'Accredited training company' and 'We train professionals'. This is only a pale reflection of the projects Raymond Kouwenberg is busy with. To name just a few: the company is a member of nine networks, supports thirteen charities, has the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) quality seal, specifies its CO2 footprint on its website and helps people far from job market. Kouwenberg also serves seven functions on the board, including chairman of the VNO-NCW Breda, and is a city councilor for the VVD party. Kouwenberg and his cleaning company are socially involved, and he is an associate of at least twenty boards and interest groups. "Cleanliness has been the leitmotif of my life for 34 years. But there are three founding principles in my DNA: government, education and finally business. Being socially involved, helping people, is especially important to me. The trick is knowing how always find a balance between these goals and time for my family, my wife and my three children".

D’abord entrepreneur de la propreté

It seems that being socially involved as a cleaning company prevails over doing business as an entrepreneur in the sector… "No, this is the common thread and it provides the income that gives me the possibility to count something for others. Primarily I am an entrepreneur in the cleaning sector". In this role he manages a company with approximately 85 employees from a subsidiary. Seven of them work in the office, including three project coordinators for implementation. The working area covers a 20 kilometer circle around Breda. “We don't need a bigger area, because this also limits our employees' travel time.”

Le respect pour le métier de la propreté

In 2019, the turnover was 1.7 million euros and for 2020 the forecast is 2 million euros, with a growth of 15%. Here too, the Covid pandemic has put a spanner in the works

"We lost almost €300,000, because the gyms and offices closed. We compensated for this to some extent by carrying out many sanitizations. This year, we expect to have a turnover of €2 million. We don't have a burning ambition to grow, we are not active in sales and always ask ourselves: Do we want to work there? Is this customer right for us? We prefer respected customers and also demand respect in return, towards the cleaning industry and our employees. If not, we withdraw. We have even canceled a €70,000 contract – a lot of money for a company like this – because the customer spoke disrespectfully about cleanliness and our employees."

Un faible taux d’absentéisme

Raymond Kouwenberg dit vouloir gérer une entreprise caractérisée par la stabilité et le calme. Cela semble fonctionner, car le turnover des employés reste “un peu marginal”, avec les nouveaux arrivants qui, parfois, se retirent rapidement. L’absentéisme ne représente que 1,7%.

Créer son propre logiciel de propreté

Raymond Kouwenberg travaille toujours à des processus et des procédures, soutenus par l’informatique, visant à optimiser la propreté. “En 2014, trois ans après avoir commencé à travailler dans un vrai espace commercial, j’ai commencé à examiner les processus relatifs à l’établissement des planning, au pointage des entrées et sorties, à la consommation de matériel, au traitement administratif et aux achats. Les exigences des clients sont toujours plus élevées et il devient toujours plus difficile d’atteindre un bon niveau de satisfaction de la clientèle. Je sais, par mon expérience personnelle, que ceci est particulièrement vrai pour les PME de ce secteur comptant environ 40-60 employés. A défaut de digitaliser l’activité, on reste bloqué en tant qu’entreprise de propreté. Mais la transformation numérique fondée sur une aide extérieure est incroyablement chère pour les petites entreprises, parce qu’il faut payer un supplément pour chaque module. Au cours des dernières années, j’ai donc construit pas à pas mon propre logiciel. Pour et par le secteur de la propreté.

Atteindre les petites et moyennes entreprises

The result is that Klien-IT-Systems, led by Kouwenberg junior, has just been born under the umbrella of Klien. The software system includes all modules, including future ones, for small and medium-sized cleaning companies. The system can be rented for a fixed price: up to 100 employees for just under 300 euros per month.

Y a-t-il une relation entre le logiciel de gestion et le secteur de la propreté ? “Oui, parce que notre initiative est née de la conviction que j’ai de la nécessité d’atteindre les petites et moyennes entreprises du secteur, dans un champ qui leur est encore étranger, et que le manque de digitalisation est en train de menacer leur existence et leur croissance.”

Les inquiétudes d’un employeur à l’heure actuelle

D’agent d’entretien à directeur-propriétaire de l’entreprise de nettoyage dans laquelle il a débuté comme étudiant salarié. Quelle est l’aspect le plus difficile de la vie d’entrepreneur ? Kouwenberg : “Les problèmes du travail. La sécurité du travail pour l’employé est fondamentale, avec des piliers comme le paiement continu pendant deux ans en cas de maladie, la transition et une indemnité de licenciement élevée. Toutefois, ce sont ces choses qui font peur à un employeur et qui, malheureusement, dissuadent le recrutement de travailleurs à durée indéterminée.”

Un travail attrayant

Kouwenberg's advice to politicians in The Hague is to make being an employer attractive again. "We have to move towards flexicurity, which is the new direction of the VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland. A dynamic labor market, with a guarantee of social and employment security for all rather than the job itself. In other words, security to go to work and stay in work. An active labor market policy, lifelong development and modern social security to bring jobseekers back into the labor market permanently. It is now too fixed and flexible is too flexible, for both sides. We need a kind of Scandinavian society where someone can always earn an income through work or receives temporary support".

Une valeur ajoutée pour la société

Finally, what's the best thing about being an entrepreneur? "Being socially involved as a cleaning company, getting results and translating them into added value for society," says Kouwenberg. "Helping above all by offering internships, through sponsorship, giving opportunities to disadvantaged people, supporting charities and creating a company characterized by calm and stability."

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