In an ideal world, cleaning contractors and their clients would operate in sync. In the real world, facility managers face constant pressure to reduce costs, and building service contractors face increasing competition to provide the lowest bid, so it’s not surprising that gaps exist between client expectations and the deliverables of the cleaning service. There are ways to bridge this gap, but it requires cleaning contractors to take a more proactive role to deliver a fully transparent and consistent cleaning service.
The lack of a documented task list is often the first place where gaps between expectations and deliverables develop. “Keep my building clean,” can have different meaning for different clients, and pressure to keep costs low often means contractors can’t meet the clients’ expectations. Back offices, for example, may receive cleaning less frequently than the more visible areas. But, this cost-cutting measure may not be clearly communicated to the client.
Creating a more precise definition of what the client expects and what the client is paying for will help to clear up communications between the facility managers and contractors, and also for facility stakeholders.
You cannot improve what you do not measure. Today, electronic inspection software provides real-time inspections and reporting to your clients. Yet many cleaning companies continue to struggle in this area.
For numerous reasons, inspections get put on the back burner or are never shared with the client. This leaves facility managers wondering why they hired a cleaning contractor, particularly if they end up managing the process themselves. Inspections can go a long way to arm you with valuable information for avoiding complaints and rewarding staff when the job is well done.
Most facility managers I deal with want to know they are getting what they pay for. However, they often lack the time to sift through long, complicated reports.
The most important and often neglected element of client relations, in my experience, is useful and relevant reporting. For busy professionals, this should be a snapshot detailing important outcomes in a clear and a concise manner. This might include:
- How many audits were conducted
- The scores from each audit
- What you are doing to fix any deficiencies
- Special challenges posed bythe facility
- What went right. This allows you to shine about what usually goes unnoticed or forgotten
To the outside world, cleaning looks quite straightforward; you take a mop and bucket and away you go. We all know this is not the case, with variables such as floor type, use of space, density, clutter, and equipment. Not only do these variables make calculation of labor requirements challenging, it also often makes it difficult to communicate those requirements to the client.
Workloading software uses a more scientific approach to cleaning based on recognized standards. This will earn you more credibility in defending your labor costs as well as allowing you to evaluate “what if,” scenarios for right-sizing operations to benefit both you and your client.
Third Party Cleaning Audits and Consulting
Cleaning issues can stem from a multitude of factors. If repeated, they can significantly taint a client relationship. Often, both sides contribute to the problem, but a third-party consultant, looking at the situation with impartiality, may see the situation differently and suggest a better resolution to the problem.
Today’s facility manager may not have the time or expertise to implement optimal cleaning strategies. It is up to the cleaning professional to lead the charge and commit to bridging gaps in understanding. A proactive approach in managing the cleaning process can go a long way.