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Management And Training
May 2014 Raising Standards

Building On Quality

One cleaning industry principle that should be the cornerstone of your organization.

May 02, 2014
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There is a reason why “Quality Systems” is the first principle listed in ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS).

Quality is the cornerstone of any successful cleaning organization.

The Quality Systems principle is all about quality control — establishing a quality plan, communicating that plan and measuring results to ensure continuous improvement.

Cleaning organizations without quality control will struggle to deliver consistent, measurable results that ultimately increase productivity and retain customers, both of which impact the bottom line. 

What Is Quality Control?

To define quality control, think of it as two separate words with two separate purposes.

Quality is a standard of excellence.

It is how well something is done.

CIMS helps organizations define quality by ensuring they establish a quality plan that defines cleanliness levels.

Control is all about measurement — measuring and documenting performance and results against what is set forth in the quality plan.

Inspections and customer surveys/feedback are two major areas for measuring quality levels.

Measuring Results

Many organizations use a pass/fail rating scale when measuring quality.

More and more cleaning organizations are moving to a larger pass/fail rating scale.

For example, many are moving into a 1 to 5 rating scale similar to the APPA cleaning standards:

  • 1 – Orderly Spotlessness
  • 2 – Ordinary Tidiness
  • 3 – Casual In Attentiveness
  • 4 – Moderate Dinginess
  • 5 – Unkempt Neglect

With a larger rating scale, a cleaning organization can choose which ratings count as “fail,” and which ones count as “pass.”

Also, with five levels, priority can be given to the worst deficiencies first.

How Quality Control Increases Productivity

There are many ways cleaning organizations can provide more value per dollar than their competitors, including providing best practices, high performing cleaning tools, cleaning processes and software automation.

With software, a cleaning organization can easily document a deficiency in five steps, while simultaneously logging, dating and time-stamping it, then sending it to cleaning workers, managers and the customer if desired, which increases productivity.


  1. Where the deficiency is.
  2. What the deficiency is.
  3. How bad it is on the rating scale.
  4. Details about it.
  5. A picture of it.

Improved Service Levels

With software, not only are inspections and customer feedback easy to track, work orders can be created, requiring completion.

Issues are easily resolved and tracked through online and mobile communication — everyone is connected and can collaborate and communicate the completion of deficiencies.

In addition, trends can be identified among those reoccurring deficiencies in service levels.

Reports like “Top 10 Deficiencies” can help evaluate items that are the most critical.

Deficiencies may be corrected, but if they keep happening, a cleaning organization will lose that account.

Software can help stop this before it happens.

Software protects accounts by helping maintain consistently high service levels.

Boosting Client Retention

Finally, software use has proven to increase customer retention because it allows cleaning organizations to prove performance and provide personal attention.

When customers have a complaint, they can easily get it to the cleaning organization through an online portal.

It immediately creates a work order and notifies the people responsible.

If someone does not respond within a certain amount of time, it escalates to upper management.

Work orders are easily updated in the field, and customers receive notifications back, while everything is documented online in the software.

This is part of the feedback cycle detailed in the CIMS Quality Systems principle.

Negative feelings from the clients are turned into positive feelings through their use of the software, even if it was from a complaint.

Additionally, all of the other features of an online customer portal like seeing inspection data and schedules, all branded with a cleaning organization’s company name and logo, customers gain more trust in the cleaning organization and competitors are turned away.

Having a well-documented quality control program is the factor that helps good cleaning organizations become great, with increased productivity, service levels and customer retention, giving cleaning organizations positive financial returns.

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