Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

From education yields product knowledge

September 19, 2010

At one time, cleaning professionals would be expected to learn how to operate floor equipment and perform floor maintenance tasks, as well as other cleaning methods, on their own — but, those days are over.

Today, distributors, especially in educational settings with both in-house and contracted crews, are not only expected to be vendors, but also partners with their clients.

Product knowledge, by any means, is a vital component of education and equipment training.

BSC turns knowledge into profit
Along with developing a thorough knowledge of customers, a successful building service contractor (BSC) must stay current on the latest cleaning technologies.

Unlike most contract cleaners, Michael Simkhin, vice president and general manager, Executive Building Maintenance (EBM), Elk Grove, IL, has a master’s degree in engineering. His experience has helped EBM in determining which cleaning products can make cleaning easier, safer, and more efficient.

Simkhin said that building service contractors (BSCs) should become very familiar with what products are available on the market by reading trade publications and attending tradeshows such as the Cleaning Management Institute’s CM/EduConSM and other major industry conventions.

Simkhin’s product expertise has resulted in some manufacturers turning to him for advice when developing new cleaning products and evaluating new equipment.

For instance, Simkhin worked with one manufacturer to develop a new vacuum cleaner, suggesting the company produce a lightweight, ergonomically designed machine with a handle to relieve stress to hands and wrists for ease of use. He also advised adding a molded base to protect walls and furnishings, and an automatic clutch to release the roller brush, preventing large foreign objects from entering the machine — a common problem in some cleaning situations.

Simkhin also told the manufacturer the machine should have a true-HEPA air-filtration system because more and more customers are concerned about health and indoor air quality. The manufacturer then produced the machine using Simkhin’s suggestion.

With training, in-house op floors its facility
Education, training, and product knowledge are just as important for in-house cleaning professionals as they are for building service contractors (BSCs), according to James Hlavin, sales director for Tornado Industries, a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, extractors, and floor care equipment. He said this is especially true concerning floor care.

Though there have been major advances in floor care technology, Hlavin said, floor maintenance is a complicated skill; proper education and training is essential in doing the job right.

A manufacturer must provide a variety of training programs for distributors on the most efficient, productive, and safe use of its floor care machines. Once the company’s distributors thoroughly understand how to use the machines, they can teach BSCs and in-house professionals how to use the equipment.

For instance, a new floor scrubber was purchased by the University of Illinois at Chicago. Unlike traditional floor equipment, this particular machine uses cylindrical brush technology, which tends to be easier to use than comparable rotary machines. However, the manufacturer’s local distributor still met with all the custodians who would be using the machine to review all of the machine’s operating procedures and show them how to use it for daily, periodic, and restorative cleaning.

  • Daily Cleaning. For daily cleaning, the university’s in-house cleaners are taught to “automate” floor care by using the machine instead of mops and buckets. This improves worker productivity and, because of the machine’s vacuum system, minimizing drying time.
  • Periodic Cleaning. At such a busy location, the custodians also must use the machine for a much more through cleaning of the floor than daily cleaning. The distributor teaches the custodians to use a more abrasive pad so that superficial scratches and a small amount of the floor’s finish are removed. A coat of finish may need to be applied to the floor.
  • Restorative Cleaning. Teaching the in-house crew how to use the machine for restorative cleaning involves, among many other things, safely using stripping solution, rinsing the floor, and then reapplying floor finish.

Robert Kravitz, president, AlturaSolutions Communications, Chicago, is a former building service contractor and author of four books about the JanSan industry.