Aligning With Your Customer

Creating optimal cleaning operations together

Aligning With Your Customer

Ahhh…the good old days. Remember them? Facility departments employed several managers and provided them with good, solid budgets for cleaning a facility the way it needed to be cleaned.

Fast forward to today: Cleaning budgets have been slashed, facilities operate with fewer managers, and finance executives constantly demand even more cost cuts, especially in the area of cleaning.

Today’s facility managers spend more time putting out fires than planning strategies for keeping their facilities clean. Simultaneously, building service contractors constantly struggle between maintaining high enough cleaning quality standards to prevent clients from drowning in complaints and keeping costs competitive enough to earn business and make a profit.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial to ensure that your cleaning operations are in alignment with the needs of your customers. These five essentials will help you to better meet their needs.

  1. Make your clients look good. The facility manager may not have the expertise to fully understand what it takes to complete the cleaning on a consistent basis, nor should he need to. Your job is to help the manager look good by delivering quality results. This requires putting yourself in your clients’ shoes and understanding their pain points. After all, they hired you to keep their facility clean, and you need to take the lead in this area.
  2. Use visual workloading software. Arming your clients with information will help them make informed decisions that meet the demands of their superiors. One of your best tools is visual workloading software that uses time calculations, such as ISSA’s612 Cleaning Times, to calculate labor. This scientific approach brings credibility to your labor calculation. Additionally, once you enter the spacial information into the system, you can easily run “what-if” scenarios your client can use to help make decisions.
  3. Invest in accountability tools. One of the most challenging tasks of your cleaning operation is keeping cleaners accountable for their time. Today, there are powerful tools to make this task more manageable: biometric time clocks that do not allow for buddy punching; washroom monitoring technology to ensure your cleaners are doing the prescribed washroom checks; and electronic, real-time inspection systems to ensure quality outcomes and timely attention to deficiencies. Additionally, scanning and hand-held devices allow for quick communication to cleaners. These devices were developed to keep labor budgets under control and meet the need for industry accountability. If you are not currently using these tools, you are not in real alignment with your customer.
  4. Stay proactive. Don’t wait for your client to ask for savings. Create a good impression by taking the lead. If you are a cleaning contractor who has been at a facility for some time, you will have a good understanding of traffic flow and can possibly recommend a reallocation of resources that could save the customer money without compromising quality. In some cases, you may even help to improve it. This shows managers that you’re on their team when it comes time to retender.
  5. Educate your client. There are times when you go above and beyond with service delivery, and there are likely unsung heroes throughout your organization. Unfortunately, these often go unnoticed by busy facility managers, who know little of the day-to-day workings of your operations. Documenting these points in your regular reporting and presenting them to your client in a meaningful way is key to strengthening your partnership.

Remember: Stay aligned with your customer, play on the same team, and win the game of optimal cleaning operations together.

Posted On February 7, 2017

Judy Gillies

Founder and President of The Surge Group, Inc.

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

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