Hard floor care is a major cost in most facilities and plays a key role in overall building appearance, health and safety. Floor care costs normally range from as little as sixty cents per square foot to over two dollars per square foot per year and represent 5% to 20% of the cleaning budget in most facilities. Cost reductions of up to 50% or more in floor care cost in any size and type of a facility is a realistic goal that can be achieved when new processes and technology are applied to how floors are maintained.
Making Cost Reduction Work in Your Facility
Reducing costs is not a one size fits all or one step process. True savings come about when all aspects of a floor core program evaluated and changes customized to meet the needs of the facility and its occupants in a way that improves processes, without a loss of service quality. Change and improvement that reduces costs takes time, part of the process involves the tracking, monitoring and adjustment of processes and frequencies based on testing and factual information.
Put together a “can do minded team”, do the needed research, develop a realistic plan and time line and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much can be accomplished over a fairly short period of time. I didn’t say it would be easy or fast, but floor care cost reduction is definitely doable without a loss of quality.
Actual cost in each facility will vary depending on a number of factors. The most common being:
- Type and condition of existing floors
- Type and amount of soil present
- Traffic level and building use
- Customer and management expectations
- Procedures and frequencies of service
- Skill of the cleaning staff
- Chemical and equipment used
Here’s How You Do It
In order to reduce floor care costs, one or more of the above impactors must be changed. Some of these impactors we have control over, others we don’t. Focus on those you can do something about. One of the greatest challenges we face in reducing costs relates to making changes that don’t have a negative impact on the level or quality of the service provided, specifically the appearance of the floors and the building. The impact on health and safety shouldn’t be overlooked, however, when it comes to floor care, most managers’ focus on the visual appearance, or cleanliness and shine of floors.
Change is required
In most cases, cutting costs isn’t about working harder or faster. It’s about changing the way you do the work. “You can’t reduce floor care costs if you don’t make changes in your floor care program”
One of the challenges in reducing cost is over coming resistance to change, expect it, plan for it, and deal with it. Resistance to change is a natural human response when people are faced with the unknown. The best way to deal with resistance to change is to educate those involved as to what is taking place, when it will happen, why it is being done and how it will impact their jobs. This doesn’t mean everyone will be happy, go along, or support what is being done, but educating and involving those who will be impacted by the changes being made is the best option you have to smooth the transition to new ways of doing things.
Focus on Cost Reduction
In order to reduce floor care costs, management must set goals and lead the way. This generally starts with a detailed analysis of what is currently being done, along with a review of costs and all the other impactors. Beyond this an inventory of hard floor surfaces, with square footages and types flooring in each area will provide a better understanding of what needs to be and is actually being done. Digging deeper to take a look at existing schedules and costs will give you an even better view of reality and where changes can and should be made.
Start with the Basics
When looking at your floor care program, break up the work being done into the following four categories:
- Initial tasks
- Daily or routine tasks
- Periodic tasks
- Restorative tasks
Taking a Closer Look
How is the work currently being done? Are there written procedures for such tasks as mopping, scrubbing, burnishing, stripping and refinishing? Are the procedures used in training and daily operations? Are employees, supervisors and managers aware of, following and referring to the written procedures when questions or problems arise and retraining is needed? It is important that everyone, including the customer is on the same page as how the work will be done and what the final result should look like (Quality Assurance Guidelines).
Quality Assurance Guidelines:
Need to be in writing, used in the same fashion as procedures and specify, in easy to understand language, what the expected end result of performing each task should look, smell and feel like. In some cases a quantitative measurement may be used to validate that the desired end result is achieved (gloss meter, slip meter, film thickness, etc.).
Frequencies and Assignment Schedules:
Should be flexible, in writing, and based on the needs of each building and micro area being serviced. Setting service schedules and basing cost on flooring types alone is not a cost effective approach as area needs vary greatly. Cost effective programs look for way to eliminate or reduce the frequency of costly tasks such as burnishing, stripping and refinishing.
When is each task to be completed and who is responsible for verifying that the work has been completed when scheduled and properly (meets applicable quality assurance guidelines).
Actual blueprints or fire evacuation maps of each floor are helpful in identifying work areas, square footages, and can be color coded as to floor type, processes and frequencies.
An inventory of existing floor care surfaces is helpful in knowing what tasked are needed. It’s also a good idea to research and collect each manufacturer’s installation and maintenance specification. Having this information on floor surface helps prevent and identify problem causes. Most cleaning and floor performance problems are related to improper maintenance and or installation.
New Types of Flooring:
Many of the new surfaces entering the market today are sold as low maintenance products (LVT, Laminates, Laminated vinyl, rubber and vinyl sheet goods). In many cases no topical finish is required, or is actually prohibited as exposure to moisture, abrasives and harsh chemicals (stripping) can have an immediate and negative impact on surface and wear layers, backings and adhesives. To avoid permanent damage and voiding of warranties, the best place to get maintenance information is directly from flooring manufacturers.
Major enhancements in equipment over the last few years have made substantial increases in productivity and sustainability possible. These improvements have resulted in reduced use of labor, chemicals, water, and energy as well as reducing waste.
Advances have recently been made in the application of computers, connectivity, robotics, diamond polishing, and surface treatments (nano), all of which have increased productivity and have the potential to further reduce floor care costs.
Customer expectation are changing, shine is taking a back seat to clean, safe, healthy and cost effective.
I cannot overstress the value and importance on ongoing employee training when it comes to cost reduction and process improvement. Employees can’t do a job “properly” if they don’t how “properly” is defined. The most effective training programs are a blend of instructional styles, with an emphasis on hand on learning vs lecture, PPT, Videos or sales presentations. Training should be conducted on regular basis (30 minutes per month) and includes exposure to internal (company) as well as external (industry) learning opportunities.
Workers respond to recognition for a job well done. If you want top performance, recognize and reward it often.
That’s it Folks, there you have it, the rest is up to you. Best of luck and keep it clean out there.