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Management And Training

Cleaning Like A NASCAR Pit Crew

March 07, 2012
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It''s possibly time to stop whining and start winning.

If you agree, you have much in common with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) pit crews that keep racecars winning through specialized, team-oriented, organized work.

Exactly how do they do it?

Let''s explore traits of NASCAR pit crew members and see how a Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PCHS) program may help cleaning managers emulate these winning teams.

Team Players

All members of a NASCAR pit crew have a specific job precisely orchestrated and synchronized with the rest of the team.

According to Rex Morrison, founder and president of the non-profit PCHS Consortium, "In process cleaning, we begin by workloading the entire building or group of buildings so we know exactly what must be done and when. Then, we assign and train specialists to get the job done in the quickest and easiest way to ensure an affordable, healthy outcome with the lowest stress to workers and budgets."

NASCAR pit crews, like winning cleaning teams, first analyze the entire set of job functions, coordinate the work and then decide what tasks must be done and in what sequence.

Just like your custodial staff utilizes a teamwork approach to complete tasks, so, too, do pit crews.

And, although only a handful of individuals might be visible at any one moment, there are numerous axillary and support staff working behind the scenes to ensure smooth operation.

Seconds And Training Count

According to one pit crew school instructor: "It''s amazing how much time students can shave off a pit stop with just minimal instruction."

In setting up the first PCHS teams, Morrison used a stopwatch to determine the quickest and easiest way — in terms of processes and tools — to get the job done.

"By using a stopwatch, we determined the best tool and approach to use in vacuuming a classroom," Morrison said. "We typically use backpacks, well-trained workers and a precise route — known as the ''loop method'' — to keep times within the quality, health and fiscal standard we created. It is saving schools many thousands of dollars, keeping classrooms cleaner and workers prefer it over older, clumsier methods."

It was similar in restrooms, where spray-and-vacuum technology proved to cut cleaning times in half with better, more hygienic results and happier workers.

"Importantly, though, when workers are not cleaning, they are training," Morrison adds. "This is key. Even with the right equipment, we spend the most time up-front on training and setting up training at each school, because this makes the difference between winning and losing — it must be done and done well."

Focus And Flow

According to Breon Klopp, who works for the 5-Off 5-On Race Team Performance pit crew school, "You have to be able to shut everything else out."

Morrison''s approach with PCHS is similar: "We try to simplify the work to the point where workers can focus on a highly streamlined process, move effortlessly and easily flow through the job with a simple focus and a clear mind."

It takes time, commitment and experience for pit crew members to qualify and get up to speed.

Pit crew trainers encourage applicants to exercise to stay in good physical shape and practice their pit moves several times per week.

Then, aspiring pit crew members typically get jobs within smaller racing circuits before breaking into the major NASCAR divisions.

Only experienced pit crew members can train others to perform at the level needed.

Morrison''s experience is similar. "When I started out, I knew nothing about cleaning. I was shown the building, handed my keys and told not to make any mistakes."

After years of trial and error — and practice — Morrison perfected his moves, as have other qualified PCHS trainers, custodial professionals and pit crew members.


Ruben Rives, chief executive officer (CEO) of Miami, Florida-based H2Only Renewable Cleaning Inc., is a renewable cleaning advocate and foundational supporter of the nonprofit Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools Consortium (PCHS). He has been in the cleaning business for 20 years, with special focus on infection control. Rives can be contacted via e-mail at RubenRives@BellSouth.net.

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