Good facility hygiene practices are critical to the health of your business, just as washing your hands is a critical part of maintaining your personal health.
Simply put, facility hygiene describes the actions, products and services associated with the overall cleanliness, sanitation and safety of a building or a facility, and properly maintaining these standards is a difficult job.
Oftentimes, the tasks and functions associated with this important responsibility are overlooked or ignored, which can lead to serious and expensive problems over time.
To avoid these types of issues, a good building manager needs to be able to recognize and respond quickly to any deficiencies in the current cleaning system.
In order to accomplish this, building managers often enlist the help of outside companies to address their challenges with meager results.
Finding a commercial cleaning specialist — a true hygiene partner that offers products, services, training and support — takes time on the frontend but will pay enormous dividends in the long run.
A hygiene partner should possess a wealth of knowledge in multiple aspects of the cleaning process and be able to advise you on all facets of facilities maintenance — from the front door, to the restroom, to the kitchen or on-premise laundry and to the dumpster out back.
An outside company with expertise in only one or two areas forces you to deal with multiple vendors who may offer conflicting advice.
Your hygiene partner should possess not only the knowledge that you require, but also be able to provide the products and services you need along with the appropriate training to effectively implement the programs you require.
Most importantly, they should be able to audit each program for effectiveness and make changes where necessary.
A one-stop shop allows you to manage your business most efficiently.
Evaluating Touch Points
How do you know whether or not you''re partnering with the right company?
When selecting a hygiene partner, a number of things need to be considered.
The first step is to evaluate the critical touch points associated with your responsibilities.
List all of the areas you are required to maintain and note which are the most important in terms of safety, upkeep and customer appreciation.
Next, go over your list and determine if your current cleaning programs sufficiently address each touch point.
It helps to use a ranking system with predetermined responses such as “not addressed or inadequate,” “adequate but can be improved” and “excellent” to evaluate each touch point.
For the touch points that score less than “excellent,” evaluate the reasons why.
Is the issue personnel or training; do you have the proper products and services; are the cleaning methods being used in the daily process fully developed and being followed?
Finally, determine which programs you wish to be handled by internal staff and which you may wish to outsource to an external company.
The completion of this critical step requires honest self-appraisal and provides the necessary information to help identify the right hygiene partner.
Products Versus Services
After the internal evaluation is complete, bring in one or more potential hygiene partners to discuss your assessment and review your current cleaning program.
Ask the company to provide their recommendations on which programs should be handled internally and which should be outsourced — and have them explain their reasons why.
For the programs they recommend having outsourced, the company should provide a detailed description of the services that will be provided, the products that will be used and the results you should expect.
For the tasks that will be managed internally, the company should recommend specific products to be used for each application and the methodology used to achieve the best results.
They should discuss their ability to train your staff and explain how that process can be implemented.
The best hygiene companies will have a combination of web training, on-site training, point-of-use wall charts for demonstrating proper product and equipment use and manuals or brochures that can be utilized by your staff when questions arise.
A hygiene partner that is also able to provide an ongoing on-site audit service is invaluable.
Each program should be evaluated on using objective criteria that is agreed upon by you and your hygiene partner.
The auditing process will also provide the needed feedback to help you regularly evaluate your programs and provide a written record for your files.
Choosing A Hygiene Partner
You should evaluate a potential partner company according to your needs.
If you have multiple sites, are they able to perform the same services at the same level at each location; what is their track record of success and the strength of their services and products; will they be able to work within your budgetary requirements; are they able to provide references?
Once you choose your hygiene partner and agree on the scope of work to be performed, you enter the most critical phase: Implementation.
Successfully analyzing the strengths of your programs, identifying your hygiene partner and agreeing upon a strategic plan requires time and effort.
That time and effort is wasted unless you communicate the plan and the reasoning behind it to your management and staff and obtain their buy-in.
Even then, the proper training must take place to ensure that each person is aware of what needs to be done at what time in each area.
Once accomplished, you will have engineered a strategy and program to provide long-term results.
Interestingly enough, you may also find that identifying a suitable hygiene partner and enacting a well-planned strategy will provide you with better results, while making your job less stressful and saving money.
Bruce Mullan is the vice president of supply chain and inventory management for Swisher Hygiene Inc. Mullan is responsible for managing and organizing all activities involved with the identification, acquisition and distribution of goods through the complete supply chain system. Before being named to his current role in 2003, Mullan spent time working for Swisher in a number of different areas, including international and domestic franchise sales, corporate operations and purchasing. For more information, visit www.SwisherHygiene.com.