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Tools that help you lead

September 19, 2010
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Effective management is a simple two-step process: The manager chooses a direction and then moves his or her team in that direction, leading to success.

At least, that is the theory.

In practice, managers must make important decisions with limited information, much of which is often outdated and inaccurate.

A blindfold and darts might be just as effective.

Poor decisions incapacitate a manager’s ability to lead his or her team. Leadership — even effective leadership — is useless without the information needed to choose the right direction.

The most valuable resource for any manager is accurate data — from clients, employees and corporate leaders; data on services performed; and evaluatory, statistical, qualitative and feed-forward data.

New online data tracking systems are designed specifically to provide data to managers and workers in the JanSan industry.

They collect, organize and present data from many different sources so that managers can be in complete control of their situations.

They also relieve managers from the time consuming and distracting task of collecting data themselves, allowing the managers instead to concentrate on leading their teams toward success — in other words, doing what they were hired to do.

These online data tracking systems receive data from the four areas most valuable to managers:

  1. Employee-client communications
  2. Inspection results
  3. Corporate directives
  4. Client surveys.

Employee-client communications
An effective data tracking system automatically tracks all messages sent between employees and clients.

The manager can choose to be notified on a pocket PC or other mobile device whenever a new message is sent or received by an employee, creating an effortless follow-up system.

Managers can stay updated on activities without having to constantly check e-mail or voice mail accounts.

Communications are stored and grouped together with responses for easy retrieval.

Each message can be filed according to its type, allowing managers to track complaints, requests, compliments or any other type of message.

Reporting tools can then display message histories and trends so that managers can see which employees, clients and locations need the most attention.

Complaints are automatically tracked by location, function, time and client.

These easily accessible records help managers review performance and maintain employee accountability so a manager can always know what is being accomplished under his/her supervision.

Inspection results
In addition to tracking communications, online data tracking systems also serve as an inspection program.

Inspectors can use the system to perform inspections on a pocket PC.

These inspections are customized to the services performed at each client location.

The results of completed inspections become immediately available to managers, who can review the inspections online from any computer with Internet access.

The tracking system bypasses written inspection transcriptions and paper filing, thus avoiding potential errors while saving time.

Managers receive current and accurate data so they can actively participate in real-time decision-making.

Poorly performed services can be quickly identified and addressed.

These tracking systems can use information from inspections to generate graphic reports that display past inspection scores and trends for any service location.

Corporate directives
Data tracking systems can be used at every level of company operations.

Employees can take advantage of their messaging capabilities; managers can use it to receive pertinent data; and corporate-level directors can use it to set goals and review current endeavors.

This ensures that managers are leading their teams where business leaders want them to go.

When managers lack clear direction from their superiors, their decisions often unintentionally work against company goals, wasting time and resources. With an effective tracking system in place, managers can easily report to their superiors and corporate leaders.

Client surveys
The customer''s opinion is ultimately the one that matters most. An unsatisfied customer won’t remain a customer for very long.

With a data tracking system, managers can implement a client survey to find out how their customers feel about the cleaning and maintenance of their facility.

Client surveys cover a wide range of questions, from quantitative assessments of services performed for the client to qualitative responses regarding the client’s wants and needs.

Managers can use this information to defuse customer concerns and to introduce additional services to the customer.

The surveys are gathered like the inspections, providing additional relevant information to the records of each client and service location that the manager oversees.

A new perspective
Access to data from these four sources can change a manager’s perspective. Instead of stumbling from crisis to crisis, a manager can see long-term goals and create strategies to accomplish them.

Data tracking systems are the map that helps managers navigate through the maze of opportunities and pitfalls in client relations, customer service, and employee relations.

Michael Jenkins has more than 20 years experience in the JanSan industry, having been in charge of a family-owned carpet cleaning and janitorial business that operated cleaning franchise operations in 11 states and in Mexico. He is president of CleanBrain Software Inc. and can be reached at
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