It’s never the intention of a cleaning company or in-house cleaning operation to over promise and under deliver. Yet, time after time, cleaning complaints escalate to the boardrooms of top organizations, leading to contract terminations and tarnished reputations.
Take the case of Sandra. She is a property manager who knows what she wants. Her tenants are demanding, but she is prepared to do what it takes to make them happy. When Sandra had a new building to tender out, she put together a clear scope of work and set out to hire the perfect cleaning company that would understand her challenges and make the building—and her reputation—shine.
Sandra thought she had found the right fit with a company that touched on all the right things in their discussions and then got off to a great start. But things soon started to unravel. Tasks weren’t getting done, the cleaning seemed hit-or-miss, and the tenants were beginning to notice. After all her years of hard work, Sandra’s reputation was at stake, and she needed to take action.
Outsourcing cleaning can be very cost effective, but there are property managers like Sandra who sometimes feel they are actively managing cleaning tasks and staff—precisely what they hired a professional cleaning company to do. So what happens between the signing of the contract and the delivery of the service that makes things go wrong? What can your cleaning company do to keep property managers like Sandra happy?
Being proactive, or rather, finding and addressing problems head-on rather than waiting until they escalate, is the best tool for customer satisfaction. This requires:
- Regular Cleaning Inspections
All too often, cleaning companies will score themselves too high, because they are not inspecting through the clients’ eyes. Automated, real-time inspections allow property managers to see that you are actively reviewing cleaning quality and providing real data when dealing with the tenants’ issues. Be sure to also report maintenance and safety issues that you come across. Property managers will appreciate this value-added service.
- Competent On-site Management
Never underestimate the value of a quality on-site management team. A good team ensures issues are resolved on a timely basis by serving as a conduit to all involved parties and contacting them daily. To be effective, the on-site team must have your support every step of the way. They must feel empowered to motivate cleaners and solve problems. They should also be rewarded for their own goals and achievements and have access to professional development. The performance of your on-site management team can make or break your reputation.
The art of communication is the golden nugget for keeping cleaning complaints to a minimum. Information comes from many sources: facility managers, cleaning companies, cleaners, tenants, product manufacturers, distributors, etc. Keeping all those people on the same page makes communication one of the most challenging issues to address. Start by ensuring that all parties are crystal clear on what service is to be performed. Have documentation for: what is to be cleaned, how often it is to be cleaned, and who is to clean it.
In addition, don’t forget these basic rules every business should follow:
- Be in the business of doing things right the first time.
- Deliver quality service every time.
- Provide enough supervision, especially at the implementation phase of the contract.
- Anticipate client needs and resolve issues before they get out of hand.
- Employ quality and trained workers who will want to do their best.
- Know your client. Sometimes cost is not the issue. There are still facilities willing to pay for outstanding service.
Whether you are a contractor or an in-house operation, implementing these suggestions can turn your path of good intentions into a path of gold.
Judy Gillies is the founder and president of The Surge Group, Inc., a cleaning consulting company in Toronto that helps facilities managers improve their cleaning operations. She is a co-author of Behind the Broom. For more information, visit www.BehindtheBroom.com.