We recently contacted cleaning veteran Richard Sanchez, who is an expert in health care custodial and maintenance duties.
As custodial crews in this field are aware, health care facilities present unique hazards for the cleaning staff and require detail and attention.
Sanchez, who works hard to satisfy the customer, shares how he has excelled in this profession and has overcome a few hurdles.
How did you get your start in the cleaning and maintenance industry?
I have worked in the custodial and maintenance department of a major hospital in Northern California for more than 20 years. The hospital staff taught me how they wanted things cleaned. Like all hospitals, we are very concerned about nosocomial (hospital-acquired) diseases, so cleaning is a top priority.
One of the doctors who is also in private practice asked me if I would clean his office. He was happy with our service, and because doctors like to select vendors by referrals, before I knew it he had referred us to several more doctors around the city. Although we clean all kinds of facilities today, a large portion of our clients are doctors, dentists and others in the medical industry.
Tell us a bit about your duties at your job, as well as how the company has changed over the years.
For many years, I cleaned our clients’ offices myself. As the business grew, I asked other people I worked with if they would like to help me for a few hours each night. Many came on board. When I need more help, I usually look for someone working in the hospital that I think might be good, or many times people come to me because they want to make a little extra spending money.
Our business is run as a sole proprietorship and I am the owner of the company.
What responsibilities do you find most challenging?
The most challenging part of the cleaning business is dealing with customers if they are unhappy with the service. It does not affect me personally, but I want all our clients to be happy. However, some people can be more difficult than others. Usually, after they get to know us — and because we address any problems as soon as they come in — they get to trust us and the calls or complaints subside.
But sometimes they go too far. Once I had a customer who placed a tiny piece of paper on the carpet next to a partition in his office. He apparently looked every day to see if we had vacuumed it up. The tiny piece of paper was actually in an area of his office that needed very little vacuuming.
One day he called me and asked me to come to his office. He showed me the tiny piece of paper on the carpet and said it had been there for three weeks. I realized at the moment you must always do your best, but you can’t please everyone. I returned his keys on the spot.
What is your favorite part of the job? Least favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is helping my customers. When I visit our locations to check on them and see them clean and sparkling, it makes me very proud of my company and our people.
The least favorite can be some of the customers, as mentioned earlier. Luckily, there are always one or two (troublesome ones,) but no more.
Tell us a bit about your personal life (family, hobbies, what you do in your free time).
My wife and even my ex-wife have helped me in my business, as have my children. My parents have also helped me and given me a lot of support.
I must admit, most of my time involves working. I still work at the hospital during the day and attend to my own business at night. I must say I love my business and I like the industry. We really do a lot.
If you know of someone who you think should be featured in A Clean Sweep, e-mail Associate Managing Editor Ashley Sterne at email@example.com