It’s a very common gripe amongst businesses that cleaners often start off doing their job well but gradually become complacent or lazy, leading to lax standards and complaints from staff. But why does it seem so much to ask them to just maintain their standards?
We’re not going to deny that there probably are some lazy cleaners out there, but more often than not we find that the poor performance businesses experience with cleaners can be traced back to either:
a) A lack of good systems, checks and balances
b) The wrong cleaning plan for the business
c) Obstacles preventing the cleaner from getting the job done.
Irrespective of what the job is, no one performs at their peak without being regularly challenged to achieve defined goals and standards. It is critical that your cleaner’s work is overseen and is subjected to regular audits based on the results in your workplaces and their adherences to standards and processes.
Cleaning isn’t rocket science, but nor is it so simple that there’s no need for training and procedures. Don’t forget that these people are using specialised professional-grade equipment and chemicals. Take a vacuum cleaner for example. Now surely anyone can operate a vacuum without guidance – but do you know the correct way to disassemble, clear and replace HEPA filters in a commercial vacuum, and how often this needs to be done to keep the vacuum functioning correctly? Well, without proper training, your cleaner won’t either.
WHO’S AT FAULT: The cleaning company.
HOW TO FIX IT: Challenge your provider to present a solution to the problem which includes evidence of their training systems, a clearly defined schedule of Quality Assurance checks, performance management program for the cleaners involved and reporting system to make this information available to you. If they can’t or won’t provide this, it’s time to look for a new cleaning company – just make sure you use the same measuring stick when appointing the new provider.
Unfortunately many cleaning providers suffer from a massive disconnect between the sales staff who promise the world on a shoestring in order to close a deal and the cleaners who are left to deliver on those unrealistic promises thereafter.
The issue is that the salesperson establishes the specifications for your cleaning, including the maximum amount of time which the cleaner will be paid to complete it. So if a salesperson under-prices your cleaning, this will likely result in them engaging an inexperienced or lower-quality cleaner to do the work, and/or the cleaner cutting corners so they are able to finish the job in the allocated time.
Another common pitfall is missing key tasks when establishing your site’s cleaning specifications. Remember that the price which you are quoted for your cleaning is based on a specific list of tasks. If it doesn’t include dusting the blinds, cleaning the door jams or emptying the bins, then they haven’t accounted for the amount of time this will take, which means either the cleaner has to cut corners elsewhere to get it done or the company may simply turn around the tell you they never agreed to do the task in the first place.
WHO’S AT FAULT: The cleaning company and to a lesser extent whoever has signed off on the cleaning specs on the client’s behalf.
HOW TO FIX IT: If your cleaning specifications are wrong then you’ll need to renegotiate these with the provider, and you will probably need to accept that this will mean an increase in cost. Whether it is with the same provider or you choose to find a new one, be clear on exactly what you want done, how frequently and to what standard it needs to be done. AND make sure that this is documented in the cleaning specifications which you sign-off.
Professional cleaning services are cost-effective because cleaners are engaged to carry out a predictable series of predetermined tasks. Unlike a live-in butler or housekeeper from the days of old, their work has clear boundaries and does not incorporate whatever peripheral tasks may arise at any given point in time – remember, they are working to budgeted hours and likely have several other sites to visit after yours.
So unless it is part of your negotiated cleaning arrangement, leaving a pile of dishes in the sink will prevent your cleaner from being able to wipe down that area as they would’ve done otherwise. The same is true of desks and other surfaces which may become cluttered over time – your cleaner will clean the surface of your desk, but if you allow dust to accumulate on piles of paper that’s outside of their control.
WHO’S AT FAULT: Your staff (sorry).
HOW TO FIX IT: This is simply a matter of understanding and education. Make sure your staff are aware of what the cleaner is responsible for and what they are responsible for. If cluttered areas are preventing cleaning from occurring and your workplace is developing a dust problem, take action to direct your staff to change their behaviour so that the cleaning which you’ve planned can occur. Lastly, if there’s something you really feel the cleaner should just do, renegotiate your cleaning specifications and get it on paper so everyone understands what is expected.