Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The Power And Price Of Consistency

September 19, 2010

One of the biggest challenges for growing service companies is the consistent delivery of services.

Service delivery systems are notoriously inconsistent for any number of reasons, but mainly because most cleaning service companies are reluctant to apply a systems approach to delivery.

From The Beginning

Many cleaning companies start out with an owner/technician selling services into their community and then working with employees at the jobsite delivering what they sold.

As the company grows, the owner/technician drops the technician label and continues to sell more services without being on the jobsite every evening, leading to a downturn in quality.

Companies at this point begin to align the ranks with "site supervisors" to bring quality levels back to the original specification, only to then face a shift of labor forces and possibly a revolving door of rank and file employees who cannot get along with the site supervisor.

Many times, this is where growing companies face the owner stating the mantra of the small service company, which is, "I just can''t find good help!"

The owner — feeling he or she needs to be everywhere — races around in full micro-manage mode, thus alienating the site supervisor and round two of the employee hustle begins: Finding new management staff to complete contracts.

It can be just a bit overwhelming.

Alternate Route

Contrary to this model is the consistent, systems-driven company.

Numerous businesses subscribe to this theory, but most are not in the cleaning industry.

Any business with multiple locations needs to have quality systems in place to ensure accurate delivery of goods or services.

McDonald''s®, as an example, is a company that employs many people, most of whom are hired by local franchise owners.

This company also consistently serves up a quality experience for each and every customer in thousands of locations throughout the world.

McDonald''s was built on a system of service delivery by thinking more of how the experience was going to take place, rather than the actual creation of the product being sold.

The idea was to replicate the experience by creating a system of tasks designed to complete the experience for the customer with a multitude of workers trained in the delivery system, not just the individual tasks the workers had to complete.

Each worker had to understand how his or her task fit into the system and that the system itself is the product.

This process takes a commitment from the worker, and the training program needs to fulfill the worker''s need to understand the concept in order for system philosophy buy-in.

This systems approach begins with a plan.

Planning is the first function of management.

It is the team leader''s job to plan the system''s processes, tasks and outcomes to have consistent delivery.

Owners and managers need to take some time to look at the business model and see where systems can be utilized.

Ideas for systems can include, but are not limited to: Recruiting; interviewing; marketing; selling; tasking; purchasing; training; administrating; and disciplining.

A sample system could look at the interviewing process as a series of systems designed to staff your company with the best and brightest candidates for employment.

The system could include a method of devising a recruiting program to offer employment to workers of a certain desirable attitude or work ethic.

A series of questions could be developed to ascertain the attitude you are looking for, or call out any attitude you do not desire of your staff.

Your recruiting program could then have a system to eliminate any candidates that fall short of your attitude benchmark.

A management staff member could then devise an interviewing process that calls for multiple interviews, asking a series of acceptable questions to delve further into the attitude issue.

These interviews could be conducted by at least two different managers to solicit multiple opinions on each candidate to ensure a proper fit into the company culture.

This systems approach may seem cumbersome at first, but once in place, the process can continue with small adjustments along the way.

Your business could then develop other systems for all other company functions.

That is the price of consistency.

It is a powerful tool, but done correctly and placed in the hands of competent managers, it can rapidly move companies forward.


If you are looking for different ideas to foster these types of relationships with clients or employees, contact: Dane Gregory, a business consultant and trainer specializing in working with companies in the professional cleaning industry. He currently trains technicians in the use of cleaning protocols for stone, tile, masonry and residential and commercial carpet surfaces for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). He also presents a business opportunity for newcomers in the cleaning industry in the care of ceramic tile, stone and grout, with a full equipment and training package. He can be contacted at dane.gregory@charter.net.