Today’s facility managers are under constant pressure to defend the importance of a clean and safe environment, while cutting budgets to satisfy those looking only at their bottom line. Now more than ever, we need to find ways for what I call “adding value to clean,” or providing janitorial services to organizations—whether in-house or outsourced—that go beyond just mopping floors and cleaning toilets.
I spoke with some thought leaders in the industry and asked them about their views on adding the value to clean. While their answers varied somewhat, they generally fit into these five important categories.
- Customer impact. Know how cleaning impacts the overall goals of the customer/end user. Every customer has a customer they answer to; for example, a clean, tidy appearance may be necessary to attract parents to a daycare or preschool facility. Clean can also have different meanings to different customers. A facility might associate clean with clear, shiny surfaces. Adding value to clean means meeting those appearance requirements in addition to your regular cleaning.
- Innovative equipment and the right products. Stay on top of new developments in the industry and select equipment and products that align properly with cleaning requirements for the facility space. Innovative and more ergonomically friendly equipment has greatly improved productivity and reduced the number of injuries associated with cleaning. Keeping equipment properly maintained for effective cleaning must be a high priority. Environmentally friendly products can contribute to a healthy and safe environment for all occupants using the facility, and should be a key factor in determining the right product. Be sure to standardize cleaning protocols across the organization.
- The right staffing. Staffing your cleaning operations with a fair and equitable workload that ensures effective cleaning at a reasonable cost is key to adding value, but it also can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are workloading software programs available that, when set up properly, easily calculate how much time it should take to clean an area. Using labor wisely to impact high-use customer areas, such as washrooms, entryways, etc., can add value by enhancing the appearance of the facility as well as demonstrate your credibility. Workloading software can also be invaluable when calculating what-if scenarios to help in both defending and communicating your cleaning budget if the facility changes.
- Training. Delivering consistent results and constant improvement should be a high priority for any cleaning operation. We also know that cleaning goes well beyond the visual aspect, and the removal of nonvisible contaminants contributes to occupant wellness. Both of these goals require a well-trained staff, without which your labor dollars will quickly evaporate. Management from both sides are usually involved in resolving cleaning issues, and I have seen an inordinate amount of management time wasted with very little value when upfront training could have prevented the problem in the first place.
- Technology. The final element, and one of the biggest improvements we have seen in the industry, is the availability of technology for mobile devices. Real-time inspections allow you to gauge cleaning performance, report trends, and ensure staff accountability. This handheld technology allows you to be the most informed people at the table when it comes to negotiating contracts or addressing issues.
While each of these separate elements is important and fundamental, they all need to be applied and aligned to get it right. A weakness in one area can throw a cleaning operation completely off the rails. Adding value to clean means excelling in—and coordinating—all five of these elements.