Technology has played a key role in the advancement of performance across a wide spectrum of businesses. The way we communicate, the products and services we use, and our expectations from vendors have changed dramatically. And while a majority of businesses have embraced this technology, the commercial cleaning industry appears to have a slow and inconsistent adoption.
This is not surprising as the industry tends to be fragmented with a significant share of the market belonging to small, independent cleaning companies who continue to use the same techniques and equipment that they have relied on for so many years. This is further exasperated by the fact that many customers tend to dismiss cleaning as a science and simply rely on price to make their vendor choices.
Unfortunately, the result is that many businesses overpay for the actual services they receive and more times than not, the facilities are not being cleaned adequately or consistently. While it's understandable that the cleaning companies are expected to keep their equipment and methods up to date, some insight into the latest developments will help facility and property managers get the most value for their ever-shrinking budgets while improving the overall health and appearance of the facility.
For a deeper dive into overall pricing for commercial cleaning, let's examine the mandatory variables that all credible commercial cleaning companies must account for:
Labor is by far the largest share of the overall cost of cleaning a commercial facility and insurance tends to track labor as a percentage of payroll making the sensitivity to labor even greater. In fact, labor holds the key for determining pricing of any contract cleaning agreement and will be our focus for this whitepaper. From a practical perspective, labor costs can be lowered by reducing the hourly wages of employees, but that tends to result in underperforming employees with low service quality and high turnover which costs much more in poor service, retraining costs, and HR overhead.
Another way to adjust labor is to make changes to the actual number of hours allocated to a particular cleaning job. Of course, many cleaning companies will indiscriminately make these adjustments in their bids without any justification for such changes. The classic result is a new cleaning service that gives you a great price and starts strong, but eventually trails off that performance to meet the price point that was bid.
The alternative approach which can reduce labor while improving long-term cleaning performance is to leverage technologies that can, first, calculate labor-cost drivers for a facility and second, improve productivity with more efficient cleaning. The net result is a higher level of quality with lower labor demands. While there are a number of technologies to speak of, we will focus on the following:
High Power HEPA Filtered Backpack Vacuums
Workloading software is designed to help building service contractors estimate the total man-hours required to perform the cleaning according to very specific tasks and frequencies. While it's always handy and convenient to have a rule-of-thumb for estimating based solely on square footage, this simplistic approach does not provide the accuracy to fine tune cleaning tasks and frequencies that can help drive down estimated labor and achieve a realistic lower price. Workloading software allows cleaning professional to create custom cleaning programs that are compose of well characterized, specific cleaning tasks and frequencies. By understanding how space is used within a facility, the workload software can accurately assess and calculate the total amount of time required on a recurring and periodic basis to complete the specified tasks.
With the recent economic downturn, workloading software has been especially effective for determining labor savings for increased vacancies within facilities that don't require the same level of detail and frequency as the occupied areas. Furthermore, workloading software helps to accurately predict labor requirement s for a mix of cleaning tasks and frequencies within a facility to maintain high cleanliness levels without wasting expensive resources.
One of the most important breakthroughs in recent years has been the advent of microfiber which is a synthetic material made up of ultra fine strands that are able to reach into microscopic crevices of surfaces to more effectively remove soils and bacteria. Microfiber is also designed such that, when used, the fibers become positively charged so that they attract and trap negatively charged dust and dirt. Although I could go on and on regarding the health benefits, when we look at bottom line price, Microfiber offers cleaning companies an advantage in their ability to improve productivity, while maintaining higher levels of cleaning performance. The lower labor directly translates into lower pricing for customers without sacrificing quality or consistency.
An additional cost advantage of using microfiber is that, due to its cleaning characteristics, it requires less chemical for the same and often better cleaning results. From the cost drivers that we examined earlier, the savings in chemical costs also directly translate into lower pricing to the customer.
Microfiber cost and performance benefits continue as we move our discussion to floors. It is well known that invasive floor restoration procedures such as strip and finish can be costly especially for larger facilities. Because of its unparalleled effectiveness in lifting and removing soil from floors, with regular maintenance of floors using microfiber, additional cost saving can be achieved by reducing the frequency that expensive strip and finish procedures are needed. Furthermore, the ongoing usage of microfiber flat mops will provide additional cost savings by reducing the amount of floor cleaning chemical required.
High Powered HEPA Filtered Backpack Vacuums
Vacuuming using traditional equipment proves to be slow and laborious as cleaners must push and pull heavy duty industrial motors throughout large facilities. Backpack vacuums shift this paradigm by evenly placing the weight of the heavier motor components on the upper body of the cleaning employee leaving only a lightweight wand and floor attachment that the cleaner now moves quickly and effectively throughout the facility. Furthermore, by moving the engine onto the worker, a much more power vacuum with more sophisticated filtering can now used without impacting the productivity and stamina of the cleaner.
The latest backpack vacuums provide substantially higher productivity rates which more than justify lower labor requirements and real cost savings. The design also enables cleaner to use various attachments on the lightweight vacuum wand to quickly handle high and low dusting as well as hard floor dusting at much higher productivity rates further driving down labor requirements and cost.
This whitepaper summarizes some of the key benefits of incorporating technology into a commercial cleaning company to achieve lower practical price points while improving the quality and consistency of the cleaning service. Although I recognize that the capital costs may be higher than using some less expensive traditional equipment and methods, the cost savings and overall benefits should adequately address those costs over the lifetime of the equipment. More importantly, any effective price reduction for cleaning services must be justified and rationalized to ensure that the quality and consistency is maintained. The science of cleaning has come a long way and now is among the best of times to leverage this technology to improve service and lower costs to benefit customers. To learn more regarding our high tech commercial cleaning and other green cleaningtechnologies, please follow the links to our website.