4 Questions to Ask When Considering a Change of Cleaning Companies

4 Questions

4 Questions to Ask When Considering a Change of Cleaning Companies

How to know that a change will be a change for the better.

As the old saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” In other words, at times it seems like it is better to deal with someone you are familiar with and know—even if they are not ideal—than take a risk with an unknown person.

It is this thinking that keeps many companies from making changes from current vendors, even if they are moderately to significantly dissatisfied with their service. This especially holds true in the arena of commercial cleaning services.

In our conversations with prospective clients it is not uncommon to hear the following comments:

  • “They (our current vendor) will do a good job for a while, but it seems to fade if I don’t stay on top of them. This same thing happened with the last two companies that we worked with.”
  • “You know, they do an okay job, not great, but I don’t know if we are ever going to find a company that really does a great job”
  • “How do I know that you are going to do a better job than my current company? They told me the same things when they ‘sold’ me on their services?”

The good news is that there are professional and reputable commercial cleaning services in the industry who provide excellent service. The bad news is, it is often difficult to distinguish which companies are going to be a good long-term partner and which ones are just trying to make another sale.

Use these three questions to ask to help you distinguish between a potential, reliable partner and another commercial cleaning company just trying to make a sale.

 

Would you provide me a brief overview of your company’s service philosophy and current strategy for growth?

What you are looking for here is some clues regarding how invested the cleaning company intends to be with you as a client and how they intend to provide service your facility. For example:

Unhelpful response:

“There is no job too large or too small for our company. We provide great service because we hire great people. Our managers are some of the best in the business and we have been in business for more than 30 years.”

Helpful response:

“The first step in our process is to discover your needs and service expectations and then design a program that will meet your service and budgetary requirements. We believe that the keys to our long-term, consistent service are sound hiring and training practices, accountability and encouragement from our area managers, and scheduled meetings with you and your team to monitor success. Our growth strategy is such that our new grow will not impact service to our existing clients, and we are seeking to work with clients who value longer-term partnerships.”

Would you show me how you calculated your price?

In this question, you are trying to discover how many man-hours have been estimated to complete the base scope of work, the expected hourly wages that the company intends to pay their team, what types of equipment (and cost) have been included, etc. This would also be a good time to clarify the specific tasks that will be performed as a part of the base scope of work. Good long-term partners are transparent in their pricing and will be willing to discuss all their assumptions and justifications for their price calculation.

What is the leadership structure of your company? Who is my contact? And how long have they been with your company?

Leadership

This series of questions should provide insight regarding the level of latitude that your primary contact will have to ensure quality at your facility, if there is stability in your primary contact role, and the accessibility of senior leadership should issues arise.  Turnover among cleaning team members is an ongoing challenge for most janitorial services vendors.  However, you should be seeking a vendor partner with very little turnover in their operational leadership, (regional managers, branch managers, area managers, etc.) as these are the people with whom you will establish a close relationship and who will ensure that work remains consistent throughout the life of your agreement.

Tell me a bit about 2 or 3 clients whose size and scope are like ours, and will you provide the company name, contact name, telephone number, and email address of these clients?  And, tell me about a client whose business that you have lost.

This question provides a great opportunity to probe a bit deeper about how well the vendor knows their clients, and will provide an opportunity to discuss how they approached the start-up with these clients, how they have resolved issues with these clients, and finally, how they improved upon the work of the previous vendor.  In asking about “lost business”, you will have an opportunity to find out if this vendor is one who accepts responsibility for losing a client.

Lastly, before you consider another provider, you should ask yourself: What is my expectation level on cleanliness? We often hear from prospective clients – “Look, I just want my building clean.” The challenge for cleaning companies is that “clean” is very subjective.  Providing prospective cleaning companies with specific items which are most important to you, and your expectations as it relates to those items, will open a dialogue with your prospective vendor about how they will take care of these items, and will go a long way toward establishing a healthy relationship with your next provider.

In closing, settling for lackluster cleaning services is inefficient and frustrating to you and your team.  By asking these questions, you will increase the probability of finding a long-term janitorial partner who will provide dependable, long-term, worry free service.

 

 

5 Steps to Keep Your VCT Floor Looking Good

5 Steps to Keep Your VCT Floor Looking Good

By Jeff Carmon

“Our floors look terrible!”

This is a common phrase that we encounter when called in by a prospective client to provide a proposal for cleaning services. In fact, besides dirty restrooms and break rooms, there is nothing that draws the ire of building owners more than dull, damaged tile flooring.

This should really come as no surprise to most of us. Think about the places that you go—doctor’s offices, grocery stores, department stores, restaurants—do you notice when the floors are shiny? Do you notice if the floors are dull or dirty?

In this document, I’ll share some information about vinyl composite tile (VCT) flooring and how to maintain the look of these floors.

So what is VCT flooring?

Vinyl composite tiles are composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chips formed into solid sheets by heat and pressure. The filler material used in VCT flooring is limestone. In fact, almost 65% of VCT flooring is limestone. As such, while the surface of VCT feels smooth (because it usually has wax on it), the surface is actually rather porous. Since the surface is porous, it is prone to collect dirt and grit. That is why it is important to apply and maintain an appropriate amount of wax (coating) on this type of tile at all times.

Five simple steps to keep your floors looking their best

What can you do to maintain a clean VCT floors? Try these tips:

Use Walk-off Mats

You wouldn’t think of taking an electric sander to your VCT floors, but that is what you are doing if you allow shoes to walk on your floors that are filled with dirt and other grit! Hence, the importance of walk-off mats where people are coming in from an area where their feet will track these elements. In an industrial setting, it is especially important to position mats where team members are walking into and out of the shop floor. While the mats won’t catch all of the particles, you might be surprised just how much these do catch. If possible, find a service that will replace these mats on an ongoing basis, and remind your cleaning team to vacuum these nightly.

Dust Mop Daily

The best defense against floor dulling is a good offense. The offense includes daily dirt/dust removal using a microfiber mop.  Microfiber materials are excellent at capturing a great deal of the dust/dirt that is left on a floor. Next, use a damp mop with a mild soap to gather any remaining debris.

Damp Mop Often

A question that I get often is: “How many times a week should our floors be damp mopped?” This depends on a number of items but is usually directly related to the amount of foot traffic that your floors receive. If your facility has a great deal of foot traffic, and/or the foot traffic has a heavy amount of dirt/dust, daily damp mopping might be needed.  A floor scrubber, using a light-colored pad, is an acceptable alternative to damp mopping by hand.

Buff Occasionally

Floor buffers produce shine by smoothing the surface of your VCT floors. Without spending too much time on this topic, when a surface is smooth it tends to reflect more light or shine. Over time, VCT floors develop small “pits” or scratches from daily foot traffic abrasion, scratches from rolling chairs, etc. The buffer, using an abrasive pad and heat from the spinning surface, will smooth the scratches and pits to produce a more reflective surface. As such, it is important to use a buffing machine occasionally to produce a shiny appearance.

Restore Annually (in most cases)

Over time, all of the scratching and pitting and buffings will eventually wear off the wax on your VCT flooring. As such, it is important to restore the surface of the tile by stripping off the remaining old wax covering and applying several layers of new wax. Again, the frequency of this restorative process depends on several factors. Advances in floor wax have created long-lasting protection. Generally, we suggest at least an annual floor restoration for facilities with medium-to-high traffic.

With a little ongoing TLC and a good preventative maintenance program, VCT floors can look very nice for a very long time.

Partners in Keeping the Environment Clean

NOF Headquarters

Partners in Keeping the Environment Clean

Frantz Building Services, Inc. provides cleaning and light maintenance for two of National Office Furniture’s (National) locations: Fordsville, Kentucky and Santa Claus, Indiana. Our story emanates from Fordsville.

Steve Goffinet is the Environmental Coordinator at the Fordsville facility. He is responsible for regulatory compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Department for  Environmental Protection (KYDEP). Along with all of his National co-workers, Frantz Building Services also play a big role in helping him maintain the proper environment inside and outside of the building.  Together they maintain high standards for overall pollution prevention of the water, land, and air. It’s also a high priority to have an environment that looks clean and feels clean.

National Office Furniture Team

“I have an important job at National,” says Goffinet. “Our company is serious about sustainability and very conscious of the mark we make on the environment. We are committed to the continuous development of best practices and expertise in a sustainable environmental discipline.

Goffinet adds, “We have a creek that runs directly behind our Fordsville facility. Stormwater testing is done semi-annually and process wastewater testing is done quarterly. Required reports of these test results are submitted to the city of Fordsville and the state of Kentucky. Every month Frantz Building Services discharges 10 water pan spray booths, cleans, and refills them. Frantz scrapes out the sludge, filters it, and dries it to a solid state for proper disposal. Frantz carefully documents each step, and after our review, these documents are filed for future reference verification. Frantz gets it right every time.”

No Substitute for Good Communication

Frantz Building Services takes great pride in how hard its staff works and the processes that they follow to produce consistent client-pleasing results. The most critical part of the Frantz cleaning process is building a custom plan for each client and then carefully reporting progress each day.

“The supervisor for the Frantz team communicates with me through a nightly report and supplements that with weekly face-to-face meetings to review any exceptions that may have occurred. My confidence level is very high for the quality of the work and the timely manner that it is performed. I know things are going to be done properly,” Goffinet points out.

“We have to execute against Steve’s plans,” says Steven Kidd, Frantz branch manager. “Knowing his parameters helps us to produce the proper end results. We take our role very seriously. Our communication back and forth with our clients is what sets us apart. I asked Steve to paint a picture of how important our work is to NOF.  When you really understand what is important to your clients, it is much easier to coach your team to achieve specific results for each client. When our team understands how important their role is in helping the customer achieve their goals, it really begins to hit home.”

Experienced Staff and Service Longevity

Goffinet sees that understanding in the performance of the assigned Frantz team.

“I know the Frantz staff members. I review the crew members’ work and know what they are supposed to be doing. This is a complex operation and Frantz does a great job of supporting our needs.

NOF Sign

“In addition to general cleaning of our offices, restrooms, and shop floor, Frantz also performs a variety of other tasks for us. One of the most important duties that they perform is overhead dusting. Our process creates a great deal of combustible dust. Frantz routinely cleans all of our overhead rafters and pipes to ensure a safe environment. Frantz also replaces our spray booth filters, cleans, and paints our booths, and manages our recyclable materials program. The Frantz team knows what we need and expect and they have a direct impact on our environmental goals.”

Follow the Plan to Success

National Office Furniture knows what they want from a building services company. Frantz knows how to deliver on expectations. To be successful, there must be a solid plan followed to the letter. The plan is only as good as the people who execute it and the careful routine review of how it is working.

Steven Kidd sums up the relationship. “As the Branch Manager, I talk with Steve Goffinet often. We used to hold monthly partnership meetings but Steve has now relaxed that requirement because our day-to-day communication is so thorough. When we do meet, Steve and I walk every inch of the facility and personally inspect all the elements of our plan. Partnerships become friendships when working like this.”

National Office Furniture, a brand unit of Kimball International, Inc. (NASDAQ: KBAL), is a Jasper, Indiana-based manufacturer of high-quality office furnishings. Since 1980, National has built a reputation for excellence with stylish furniture of exceptional value; a dedication to personalized service; product designs that reflect a passion for the user’s comfort and productivity; and a commitment to environmental responsibility. National operates facilities in Santa Claus and Jasper, Indiana; and Fordsville and Danville, Kentucky. The two Kentucky-based facilities are both members of the KY EXCEL “Kentucky Excellence in Environmental Leadership” Program. The two Indiana-based facilities are members of the IN ESP “Indiana Environmental Stewardship Program.”

Frantz Building Services. For over 25 years have offered a wide array of regional services to companies like yours providing a flexible, cost-effective solution to managing your facilities service needs. Our team of more than 300 specialists is carefully selected and managed by experienced managers who stress hard work and integrity.  Our goal is to build long-term partnerships with our clients based on the trusted quality services we provide. By combining written inspections with standardized operating procedures, we ensure the success that you expect on every job, every time.

For more information on Frantz Building Services, please visit our services page.

Comparing Apples and Oranges: Demystifying Cleaning Company Proposals and How to Avoid the “Low-Ball” Offer

Cleaning Company Proposals

Comparing Apples and Oranges: Demystifying Cleaning Company Proposals and How to Avoid the “Low-Ball” Offer

The 6 Primary Components That Should Be Included in Your Cleaning Service Proposal

Have you ever received cleaning service proposals that are significantly different in their pricing? It is not uncommon to have multiple janitorial services proposals with significant variances in pricing. Why does this occur?

In most cases, the variance is due to each cleaning company’s estimation of the number of staff hours needed to complete the cleaning tasks. However, there are other elements that go into the development of a cleaning proposal. The following six items should be a part of every cleaning proposal you receive:

  1. Direct Staff Wages

Direct staff wages account for the largest portion of your cleaning services price—typically 60% of the total price. As such, companies providing proposals for your cleaning services should carefully consider two questions:

  1. How long will it take us to clean this facility (number of staff hours)?
  2. How much will we have to pay (market hourly wage) our cleaners?

It is helpful to provide as much information as possible to prospective vendors to help them determine the staff hours needed to complete all cleaning tasks.

HINT: Prospective vendors who ask good questions and take measurements tend to be the most accurate when determining staff hours. In addition, regional (vs. national) providers tend to have a better understanding of hourly wages in local markets.

  1. Direct Staff Taxes and Benefits

In additional to payroll taxes, there are several other direct staff costs that prospective vendors should include in their proposed pricing. Things like vacations, employee benefits (e.g., insurance, 401K), background checks, drug screens, and uniforms should be considered and included in the pricing. This amount will vary by vendor (benefits provided) and location (state and local taxes).

HINT: Prospective vendors who provide some amount of benefits tend to have more satisfied employees and less turnover.

  1. Supplies

Supplies represent the cost of items that are used on an ongoing basis. There are two types of supplies: (1) cleaning supplies such as cleaning chemicals, microfiber rags, scouring pads, etc., and (2) consumable items such as toilet tissue, paper hand towels, hand soap, etc.  Most cleaning proposals include cleaning supplies in the base price.

HINT: Ask your prospective vendor to provide pricing per unit for consumable supplies. Most regional (vs. local) cleaning vendors receive excellent wholesale pricing for consumables that they will pass along to you and will manage the inventory of these items for you.

  1. Equipment

Prospective vendors will need to invest in certain pieces of equipment to complete the work your facility requires. The cost and quantity of equipment needed will vary according to the scope and complexity of the work. Prospective vendors should consider the depreciation of their equipment and include this cost in their proposed pricing.

HINT: You should expect prospective vendors to have new/slightly used equipment while working at your facility. Vendors that use quality, maintained equipment tend to work more efficiently and have more satisfied employees.

  1. Indirect Costs (Overhead)

There are a number of indirect costs that prospective vendors should include in their pricing. Examples of indirect costs: accounts payable/receivable costs, HR costs including the cost of recruiting, liability and workers’ comp insurance, management/supervision, etc. Unlike the other costs above, indirect costs should not vary much from customer to customer. In other words, vendors should have an indirect cost/overhead percentage that is applied to each customer.

HINT: The smartest cleaning companies keep a very close eye on overhead costs. Additionally, regional (vs. national) cleaning companies tend to have lower overhead costs.

  1. Profit

It is important that prospective vendors derive a reasonable return for the work that they perform. Vendors with a healthy profit margin tend to provide better service and remain in business longer.

HINT: There are many “here today and gone tomorrow” cleaning companies who don’t consider all of these elements in their pricing, and subsequently are not able to sustain long-term profitability. As such, look for companies who have been in business for a number of years and provide strong references.

If the cleaning proposals you receive don’t have the above components included, make sure you ask about them. Otherwise, you could be signing a low-ball offer that you’ll regret later.

6 Signs Your Cleaning Services Company Has Quit You

Frantz Building

6 Signs Your Cleaning Services Company Has Quit You

And What to Do About It

Here’s a little secret your cleaning services company may not tell you: you’re a declining investment.

Most janitorial services agreements offer a set monthly price for a defined set of services. It is common in the building/cleaning services industry for contractors to quote a monthly rate at a level to “win” business. However, after the ink is dry on the agreement, and the actual work begins, contractors discover that they have underestimated the amount of time needed to complete the tasks, or they estimated wages such that it is difficult for them to find quality staff.  When this occurs, their profit takes a hit. To counteract this, many cleaning services companies will begin to cut corners on the work or switch to lower-earning staff. Either of these things will lead to a service fade.

Here are six signs your cleaning services vendor is no longer making you a priority, and you might be on the verge of a service fade.

  1. Your Staff is Complaining More than Usual

You expect your cleaning crew to make your job easier. A few calls or emails are expected here and there but, overall, you shouldn’t be bothered by mundane cleaning issues. If you’re hearing these types of comments: “We keep running out of toilet paper in the women’s restroom,” or “My office hasn’t been dusted in months,” it may be a sign your cleaning company is no longer dedicated to your account.

  1. You Hear From Your Contractor Less and Less

Remember when those inspection reports were hand-delivered? No more. Now you’re lucky to get an email attachment. Ask yourself when was the last time you received proactive communication from your cleaning services provider?

  1. They Take Their Sweet Time Responding to Your Service Issues

Sometimes things get missed. It happens. But when you call them about three overflowing trash cans that were missed, you should expect your contractor to respond quickly. When you don’t receive prompt responses to phone calls and emails, it may indicate that your contractor is stretched too thin, or they have simply lost interest in your account.

  1. You Notice New Faces on the Crew All the Time

Turnover in the cleaning services industry is high—nearly 200%. Some turnover on your cleaning team should be expected. However, if the people that are cleaning your facility are constantly changing, this might point to larger human relations issues with the contractor such as relaxed hiring practices or lower than expected wages. Also be exceptionally wary if the entire crew changes without you being notified.

  1. They have worn or broken equipment.

Is your cleaning crew using worn out or broken equipment? Does the vacuum cleaner cord have electrical tape holding it together? Your cleaning crew should feel comfortable asking for repairs or new equipment from their corporate office. If their equipment is old and worn out, this is a sign that the contractor is no longer investing in your account.

  1. Your primary contact changes often.

Probably the greatest sign of problems with a cleaning services company is constant turnover in their manager-level positions. If your point of contact is constantly changing, trouble may be ahead. Turnover in these positions is an indicator that the culture of your janitorial contractor is unhealthy.

What To Do

Here’s a game plan if you’re seeing these issues:

  1. Meet with the vendor, discuss the issues, and probe for causes. Use specifics: Why is there so much turnover on my cleaning team? You used to respond in three hours now it’s two days. Why is this?
  2. Define your expectations. Maybe the expectations for service were not properly discussed on the front end of the agreement. Your vendor may honestly not know what’s important to you. Give them ample time to fix the problems.
  3. Be prepared to bail. Most janitorial contracts have 30-day out clause for service deficiencies. If you don’t see improvement, be prepared to move on to another vendor.
  4. Have an RFP ready. Once your vendor is on notice, go ahead and draft an RFP. If they don’t improve then you’re ready to begin the process of selecting a new vendor. If everything works out, then you have a draft ready for when the contract ends.

Job Openings – IN & KY

Frantz Building Services is currently accepting applications for FT & PT positions in the following areas: Mt. Vernon & Evansville, IN. Additionally, Owensboro, Hopkinsville, Fordsville, Sebree, and Henderson, KY. A variety of schedules and shifts are available. Come be a part of the exciting environment of our growing team! We provide the training, no experience is necessary. Benefits include 401K participation and paid vacation time. Please fill out an application.

Why Janitorial Work Is Important And Valuable

Often times, janitorial work is seen as menial, unimportant, and possessing little value. In our “you gotta get a management job” culture, janitorial work is certainly not something we are encouraged to aspire to. However, I want to suggest two reason why janitorial (and other facility maintenance work) is valuable and worthy of performing. Continue reading

Immediate Opening – Janitorial & Industrial Cleaner Positions – Mt. Vernon & Jasper, IN

Are you hard-working, dependable, and willing to learn? Do you want to be part of a team that is growing, learning, and doing great things? Do you want to work for a company that cares about it’s people? If so, than consider applying at Frantz Building Services. While we are always taking applications for our Western KY, Southern IN, and Middle TN locations, we have immediate openings in Jasper and Mt. Vernon, IN. These positions pay anywhere from $8.25-$9.00/hr depending upon the position and duties required. If you are looking for a challenge and want a place to move up in your career, then submit your application here.

Now Hiring

The following areas have available job openings:[distance1]

[list-ul type=”star”][li-row]Mt. Vernon, IN–FT and PT General Cleaners[distance1] [/li-row][li-row]Hopkinsville, KY–FT Floor Technician and PT General Cleaners[distance1] [/li-row][li-row]Morganfield, KY–PT General Cleaners[distance1] [/li-row][li-row]Jasper, IN–PT General Cleaners[/li-row][/list-ul][distance1]

Please fill out an online application or email your resume to Jodie at jstallins@frantzbuilding.com.