Quality Control Programs
What is a Quality Control Program? If you ask most janitorial services to describe theirs, you would probably hear statements similar to the following: “We train our janitors well, and we inspect their work regularly.”
Thorough training and inspections are very important, but it says little about what is really involved in running a top notch janitorial company and providing consistent quality cleaning year after year. There are many important aspects of a business’s operation that affect employee performance and the quality of their work. Following is a summary of the comprehensive Quality Control Program we implement at Corporate Cleaning:
“A Eight Step Quality Control Program”
Hiring & Screening: When we interview people, we look for applicants who are highly motivated to do janitorial work, who have the right attitude, and who have the necessary abilities we are looking for. The person we hire for the job is screened thoroughly. We check up to three references, and for some clients we also do background checks after we have hired the person. We look for employees who prefer to work evenings, who have a good work history demonstating trustworthiness and reliability, and they must have good references from previous employers that confirm the traits we are looking for in our employees. Thorough screening is the first step to reducing turnover and finding people who will do well at janitorial.
Thorough training: It’s not enough to just show a new employee how to clean. We try to thoroughly train our people by demonstrating our methods, by observing and correcting the new employee’s work. We follow a checklist of training categories to ensure that nothing gets missed.
Supervision: We supervise our new employees frequently to ensure that they understand what is required of them and so that they learn to do quality work. After they have proven they can be reliable and trustworthy, we continue to inspect their work on a weekly basis; more often depending on the difficulty of the building and the performance of the employee.
Regular evaluations: Feedback through regular evaluations is an important tool we use to let our employees know if their work performance and cleaning quality is meeting our standards. It helps them understand where they need to improve, and clearly reenforces our expectations.
Good communication: Showing respect, being supportive and clearly communicating expectations is very important to a positive working relationship and for getting good performance from employees. Most people do better work when they are treated with respect and are recognized for their hard work and for the contribution they make. We continually make efforts to keep communication lines open to our employees for their input, or should they need to express their concerns or grievances. Employees should feel safe to air reasonable grievances without retaliation from supervisors or management.
Performance incentives: We try to offer significant incentives to our employees to reduce turnover and make their work more rewarding. We pay a higher than average wage for janitorial in this community through our bonus system for quality work and reliability. We offer opportunities for advancement to employees who are motivated and able to take on more responsibility and move up to a supervisory or floor work position.
Extra detail cleaning by the owner and supervisors: No matter how reliable and good the majority of our employees are at their work, there will occasionally be details that are missed. People have their good days and bad days, and sometimes tasks get overlooked, and the quality of work can slide. This will happen in even the very best of companies, no matter how comprehensive their quality control program is. The extra detail work done by Pam, and our supervisors is one more way we attend to detail and try to make sure that tasks are not overlooked. We are very hands-on.
Proper equipment and cleaning supplies: Cleaning personnel cannot clean efficiently and well without the proper equipiment, tools and cleaning products to help them do good work. We want our employees to take pride in their work. When they know that they have the best tools and products at their disposal, it encourages them to do better work. We make a huge effort to keep our carts clean and tidy and the janitorial supply areas organized. Cleaning tools should be in good condition, and most importantly we service our vacuums regularly to ensure that they are in good condition. A damaged or improperly cared for vacuum will not adequately remove dirt from carpets and mats.
According to a Contracting Profits magazine survey, an interesting point was made regarding beliefs about cost effectiveness. Facilities managers consider cost-effective services those that provide the highest quality for the best price. The lowest bidder does not always provide the best quality. When facility managers were asked what it would take to sign up a contractor who was higher than their budget, only 18.8 percent said they never go higher. In our experience, most businesses do go with the lowest bidder, but that does not exclude the “possibility” that if they preferred a higher bidder they would go with them if they believed the cost to be justified. The most common reason for choosing a janitorial company whose price is higher than budget is if better measurable service points are evident. Higher quality materials, good references and excellent on-site inspections force some facility managers to consider higher-priced cleaning contractors.
“Despite popular belief, price isn’t the top concern for most decision makers when it comes to choosing the right contractor. Respondents said the No. 1 factor in accepting a bid was the extent to which the contractor meets their facility’s unique needs. A close second was the experience a contractor has in their specific type of facility. Price was third.” This slightly misrepresents the situation. It goes without saying that contractors must meet the “minimal” requirements before even being considered. Price usually does become the most important factor in deciding who to award the bid based on who the qualified bidders are. This is true for almost all government accounts, and it is most often the case for private contracts.
The next question is: to what extent do these bidders excel in meeting the above performance requirements? There can be a huge difference in the quality of the bidding companies’ services and performance factors, and unfortunately for the client, shortcomings in quality do not become apparent until after they have been awarded the contract and the company has been cleaning a while. As suggested in the above article, the company’s character, its business practices and the way in which their employees are treated is also something worth considering, and it undoubtedly reflects the quality of the contractor’s services and actual cleaning performance.
Another point to consider when evaluating cleaning contractors is how they take care of their employees. What are their employees being paid? Do they receive benefits relative to what the company can afford? Unfortunately, many businesses who pride themselves in looking out for their own employees in terms of providing living wages, benefits and good working conditions, do not feel responsible for the janitor who is cleaning their building who works for the contractor. There is a direct connection between what a client will pay for contracted cleaning services and what the contractor can afford to pay their workers. Some government facilities require that the contracted janitors be paid a certain wage before they award a contract. If private businesses practiced this policy, it may cost them a little more for the cleaning service, but they would be showing a higher level of social responsibility to the janitors who clean their buildings, and it would most probably benefit the clients themselves.
Good references are very important when evaluating cleaning companies, yet they do not always reveal the entire picture. To get a broader view of how good a cleaning service is, a client might want to request at least a dozen references and then call at least five places from that list. Otherwise, a company will probably only provide a few references from clients whom they can count on to give a positive recommendation.
Believe it or not, some clients are satisfied with mediocre cleaning and will give a good reference based on other positive characteristics of the company. Not everyone’s needs are the same, and priorities differ. What might be a four star rating by one company could be a three star for another. Whatever is important to you is what you need to ask about. Ask for a general rating, and also ask about specific details that are particularly important to you and your business.