Comparison of Key Industry Performance Metrics

An abbreviated view of some of our findings.

I had a request from a client to compare his performance to industry key performance metrics under traditional task/frequency and performance-based specification relationships.

Well, it took some time and we found some interesting data.

I’d like to share an abbreviated view of some of our findings in this column.

Study Protocol

In the course of this study, we visited 371 buildings in 80 sites from our client base throughout the United States.

There were 159 buildings using non-performance, traditional specifications and 212 buildings using performance-based specifications.

The properties studied comprised over 53,205,486 of total square feet of cleanable space overall with 21,444,477 square feet found in performance-based facilities and 31,761,009 square feet found with traditional specifications.

In those properties, we conducted 2,752 room evaluations of 44,596 items, based on a 10 point attribute assessment; and, we also conducted 634 on-site interviews.

These interviews occurred more often in traditionally based buildings with 491 interviews conducted there.

We found that 62.9 percent of these properties were unionized facilities and the balance did not have a union.

We set out to study a wide cross-section of properties with the primary focus on the type of specification used.

The property types included colleges and universities, utilities, airports, commercial office properties, healthcare facilities, retail properties and bank properties.

About 58.8 percent of these properties used traditional specifications and 42.2 percent used performance-based specifications.


  • Facility Cleanliness – Portfolio Cleanliness: Overall, performance-based properties exhibited higher levels for cleanliness appearance based on customer-driven attribute metrics. For all facilities, as a whole, cleanliness appearance rated 68.8 percent defect free on a 0 to 100 percent scale, based on our on-site assessment. Traditional specification properties rated a 60.2 percent cleanliness appearance level, while performance-based specifications delivered an 82.5 percent cleanliness appearance level.

  • Room Cleanliness: While we inspected a wide cross-section of rooms, we used 13 types of rooms as indicators for property-wide cleanliness findings. Of the 13 room types found in traditionally cleaned properties, only one room type (reception/waiting areas) met cleanliness targets set — about 7.6 percent. By contrast, performance-based properties showed 13 out of 13 room types meeting customer set cleanliness expectations.

Item Cleanliness

Performance-based properties exhibited fewer cleanliness failures for the specific items inspected, based on customer-driven attribute metrics.

Performance-based properties exhibited problems with carpets and their corners, edges and baseboards, which accounted for about 25 percent failure for all possible items, furniture, fixtures and surfaces present.

Traditional specification properties exhibited a greater number of cleanliness problems with chairs, carpet and hard surface edges and baseboards and doors/frames, which represented a failure rate of nearly 40 percent for the items studied.

Cleaning Process Failures

We tracked eight types of the cleaning tasks used in these properties.

These included litter removal, dusting, attention to detail, streaks, appropriate gloss or shine, soil/problem buildup, spots and effective vacuuming.

For properties using traditional specifications, cleaning process failure occurred most often for spots, streaking and dusting — all of which relate to a failure of regular cleaning tasks.

Likewise, performance-based properties exhibited the same process failure, although to a lesser degree.

Occupant Satisfaction

We found higher levels for occupant satisfaction levels in performance-based properties based on customer responses to our interviews.

For all facilities, as a whole, occupant satisfaction levels reached 77.0 percent on a 0 percent to 100 percent scale based on our on-site verifications.

Traditional specification properties rated a 75.4 percent satisfaction level, while performance-based specification properties delivered an 81.5 percent occupant satisfaction level.


  • Night Productivity:
    The regular work shift was the night shift in most cases, where the actual cleaning typically took place. Night shift productivity under Traditional specifications averaged 4,518 square feet per person per hour. Productivity under Performance-Based specifications averaged 5,708 square feet per person per hour, with a high of 7,258 square feet per person per hour where travel was augmented by mechanical means.

  • Day Productivity:
  • Facility day shift tasks consisted of general policing, restroom restocking and spotting and emergency response. Day shift productivity under Traditional specifications was 23,016 square feet per person per hour. Productivity under Performance-Based specifications averaged 28,308 square feet per person per hour, with a high of 38,550 square feet per person per hour, where travel was also enhanced by a mechanical means.

Overall, our study revealed a clear advantage for performance-based specifications over traditional task/frequency specifications for the metrics studied.

Author’s footnote: After 40-plus years reviewing, creating or modifying cleaning specifications, I want to enter a word of caution.

Calling something a performance-based contract is a lot like calling all the plants in my grandmother’s garden flowers.

Some of those “flowers” smell good and some just smell; some last a long time and some fade quickly — just like some performance-based contracts I’ve seen.

It’s important to understand the differences in flowers and contracts.

Being called the same title does not mean they are equally successful.

The proof is in an understanding of the elements that make up the specific performance-based model.

Posted On May 15, 2013

Vince Elliot

Founder, President and CEO of Elliott Affiliates Ltd.

Vincent F. Elliott is the founder, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Elliott Affiliates Ltd. of Hunt Valley, Maryland, He is widely recognized as the leading authority in the design and utilization of best practice, performance-driven techniques for janitorial outsourcing and ongoing management.


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