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In-House Vs. Contract Building Cleaning – Which One Wins for Savings and Results?

In Alberta, businesses are now faced with paying higher wages as well as higher building operating costs due to the carbon tax, higher business taxes and so on. So, companies are searching for ways to improve or maintain quality while decreasing costs. If you are in facility management and responsible for the cleaning of your building, one of the best ways to find the quality/cost balance is to explore contract versus in-house cleaning.

There are pros and cons to both methods, but if cost and efficiency is the main concern, the best option tends to be contracting a cleaning company. Here’s why:

Contracted Cleaning

Management: A contractor manages your cleaning program and the cleaning staff, leaving you more time to do other work. Cleaning staff training and performance evaluations are primarily handled by the contractor. You may have to continue to provide training on building safety and procedures, but the majority of training will be off your plate.

Expertise: Professional cleaning companies can often do a better job of cleaning, having more technical knowledge and being in better touch with innovations and best practices

Savings: Savings on supplies can be realized when the cleaning contractor has more buying power to provide preferred pricing on supplies. As well, the contractor can manage the supplies inventory and replenishment for you.

Quality Assurance: Q.A. programs are typically provided by a contractor. These programs give you regular reporting on the buildings cleaning standards and performance, ensuring the quality of your cleaning program.

Cost Savings: Substantial savings are found when your organization no longer has to pay employee expenses such as benefits and insurance. The cost of training and staff turn-over is also covered by the contractor.

Primary reasons for having in-house cleaning staff  include:

In-House Cleaning

Building Knowledge: Facility managers will be more involved in the cleaning and therefore have more on-going knowledge about the cleaning and any issues.

Flexibility: With their own staff, a building manager can assign new or revised tasks to an existing cleaner on the fly.

Relationships with Staff: A facility manager will be hiring and work closely with the cleaning team, forging a stronger relationship.

For best performance and cost-effectiveness, the contracting option really does “shine” compared to in-house cleaning. Do your own analysis on which building cleaning method will work best. Even better, getting a proposal from a contractor will show you the best fit for your company.

Why Customers Lose When Choosing the Lowest Price

It’s a common trick in the commercial cleaning industry, as well as many other service industries. Use a low priced bid to win the business, then under deliver your service (hoping the customer won’t notice) or ask for more money at a later date.

We’ve seen it time and time again. We’ve lost business because of it.  For us, one instance stands out as a shining example of this flawed strategy.

For six years, we provided the daily cleaning for a very challenging building and in general, had a very satisfied client for those six years. When the building came to tender, it became abundently clear the personel in charge of creating the scope for the RFP were uneducated, inexperienced and focused on trying to get more for less. What was created was a scope of work that would at least double their current budget. Yet, what was awareded was a contract to a company that bid amost half of the current budget. Sorry, the math just didn’t work and why the building’s managers couldn’t see that is baffling.

Follow these tips so you don’t fall victim to the low price trap on your next request for proposal.

  • Ensure the scope of work and the budget you have allocated are in sync. If you are not sure how to do this, ask a trusted advisor that has this experience.
  • Another option to ensure your work and budget are realistic, is to do a pre-proposal walk-through with the bidding contractors. Outline what your high/low priority areas are and then ask them to provide a recommended scope and price based on that. This strategy can be tricky to compare apples to apples but it allows the contractors offer up their expertise and provide a balance between performance and efficiencies.
  • Ask around, find out what companies your peers are using. What companies have proven to be trustworthy, which haven’t. Then compile a list of contractors you would be open to working with and invite them to bid on your work.
  • If you are already in a position where you are working with a contractor that played the low price trick on you and you’re seeing that negative results, start looking for alternative services.

Our company philosophy, as is for some other building service contractors, is to provide “real” pricing and work scopes that represent value and honesty. We may not always win business with this strategy, but when we are able work to with customers that understand it and hire us for it, we are able to forge an honest and respectful relationship from the start.

The low price option always ends the same way. The customer loses with poor cleaning performance and a dirtier building and added work load to manage a cleaning program that isn’t working and then having to repeat the RFP process all over again.

By the way, the building that we lost to the low baller is now looking like it. Don’t ever doubt the old adage, “you get what you pay for”. Especially when it comes to the cleanliness and health of your building.

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EFS Clean Building Services is Calgary’s locally-owned-and-grown commercial cleaning company and authorized dealer for Ceiling Pro International. Our services include Contract Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning as well as specialty services; Ceiling Cleaning, Floor and Carpet Cleaning, Electrostatic Disinfecting and Quality Assurance Inspections. Let us help you get a better clean by calling 403-949-3344 or by requesting a cleaning quote/demo.

 

 

 

 

Why “Cleaning for Health” is a Better Way to Clean

There’s a bit of a revolution happening in the cleaning industry. In the past, there was a demand for janitorial services that provided a clean looking building at a low price. With better education and a more sophisticated perspective, building managers are now looking for a cleaning program that focuses on cleaning for health.

A Contracting Profits survey of facility executives shows a majority — 64 percent — value a healthy and sanitary environment for building occupants more than a clean appearance (28 percent), an environmentally-friendly green cleaning program (6 percent), or a low price for cleaning (2 percent).

Cleaning for health provides the dual functions of; 1 . surface cleanliness, and  2. prevention and control of infections. So not only is the look of a building important but the health and productivity of it’s occupants is also addressed.

This approach to cleaning is important to any and every business sector, but is particularly vital to industries such as healthcare, schools, fitness facilities and restaurants where germs and infection are dangerous, sometimes deadly.

On 9th February 2011, the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) resolved to make Cleaning for Health a key priority in the coming years. Cleaning is our first defence against the ongoing threat of ‘super bugs’, influenza viruses, and more recently E.coli. In healthcare settings the importance of cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing is widely accepted and its implementation is usually strictly enforced. However, outside the healthcare environment and within community settings such as schools, offices, retail, hotels, public transport etc; the value of cleanliness is less understood. (WFBSC Cleaning for Health Report – Cleaning for Health Report 2012/2013).

As an example of this misunderstood concept; commercial kitchens sometimes leave the job of cleaning to their staff to save money. The problem with that strategy is that these workers do not have the expertise, or when it is the end of their shift, do not have the energy to clean their facilities properly. This often comes to light when the health inspectors arrive. As in the case study of a restaurant in Las Vegas, there were numerous sanitation issues that were found including:

  • Stoves, ovens, and deep fryers were not properly cleaned.
  • Floor drains all contained grease and food particles.
  • Damp mops and rags were stored in the kitchen (and likely reused when needed throughout the day, causing them to become increasingly soiled).
  • Floors were not thoroughly cleaned. In some areas there was a film over the floor, indicating a grease residue.

Some recommendations to remedy these issues include:

  • New mops, and having a supply of new mop heads on hand. This will keep contaminants from being spread and will help rid grease build-up.
  • Consider using a wall-mounted system that mixes water and chemicals automatically to ensure proper dilution rates.
  • Use a food service steam cleaner that can release steam hot enough to melt down grease and oils and destroy many types of germs and bacteria.

No matter what type of business you are in, cleaning for health is essential for happy staff and customers. If you haven’t already, consider using a cleaning services company to do your cleaning for you. They will recommend the best processes and equipment to ensure an attractive space and more importantly, a healthy environment. Yes, this will require an investment in your cleaning, but like any good business formula, the benefits will far outweigh the costs.

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EFS Clean Building Services is Calgary’s locally-owned-and-grown commercial cleaning company and authorized dealer for Ceiling Pro International. Our services include Ceiling Cleaning, Commercial Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Hard Surface/Tile Restoration and Quality Assurance Inspections. Let us help you get a better clean by calling 403-949-3344 or by requesting a cleaning quote/demo.

 

 

Dirty Ceiling Diffusers Can Put Health and Business at Risk

Imagine, you’re sitting in a shopping mall food court, eating your lunch, when you look up and above your head is a ceiling caked with a layer of black dirt and dust. Not very appetizing, is it? It’s also not good for your health as that ceiling could indicate air quality issues in that building.

These are the very reasons why we were recently called in to clean the ceilings in a shopping mall food court. The dirt coming from the diffusers was an on-going challenge to the property management company, knowing it was unsightly and unhealthy for their customers and staff.

Dirt coming from ceiling diffusers is often less about dirty ducts in an HVAC system and more about poor air quality in that room.

Investigations have shown that “smudging,” as we call the deposition of dirt particles on the air outlet and surrounding surfaces, is more likely to be generated from room activity that releases dirt into the room air rather than from dirty supply air. This dirt suspended in room air, called an “atmospheric aerosol,” can then be entrained (drawn) into the discharge of the diffuser. (Hart & Cooley’s Tech Talk August 2006)

Dirt particles can be composed of both natural and man-made materials such as dust, smoke, greasy fumes, lint and pollen. Areas with heavy foot traffic will stir up these fine particles and keep them in suspension contributing to the smudging appearing on the ceiling.

An indoor environment report by Cochrane Ventilation Inc. states, “If the air in the ductwork is clean and the air in the room is dirty, when air in the ductwork exits the diffuser and enters the room it displaces air already in the room. Clean, ducted air coming out of the HVAC system through a vent sets the already dirty room air in motion, forcing it to impact nearby surfaces, such as walls and ceilings.”

If you are challenged with dirty ceilings in your building, your first step will be finding the root cause of the ceiling smudging and how to address it. Enlist the help of an HVAC expert to examine your system as well as your diffusers.

The key to keeping a ceiling clean is to avoid induction of room air on the ceiling next to the supply diffuser. Various diffusers have much more dirt or more pronounced black areas around them than others. The design of the diffuser and the path of induction of the room air to the diffuser are critical. (The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS – Dec. 3, 2012)

Like our friends at the shopping mall, you will also want to have the unsightly dirt cleaned from the ceiling surface. Look for a qualified ceiling cleaning company that has the knowledge and experience to do this specialized work. Maintaining a clean ceiling will give your business a clean, professional look while ensuring your staff and customers feel good about being there.

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EFS Clean Building Services is Calgary’s locally-owned-and-grown commercial cleaning company and authorized dealer for Ceiling Pro International. Our services include Ceiling Cleaning, Commercial Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Hard Surface/Tile Restoration and Quality Assurance Inspections. Let us help you get a better clean by calling 403-949-3344 or by requesting a cleaning quote/demo.

Do-It-Yourself Cleaning in Restaurants Pose Health & Safety Risks

We were recently having a staff meeting at a well established restaurant in Calgary when we saw something we never like to see. With our table in direct view of the kitchen, we saw a staff member precariously perched on a ladder, rag in one hand and spray bottle in the other, trying to clean the kitchen ceilings (to no avail). Lucky for that restaurant manager, I do no work for Occupational Health and Safety as the placement of that ladder and the positioning of that staff member on it would have violated many safety codes! No only was there a risk of falling but who knows what the solution was being used to attempt the cleaning of that ceiling.

Office Cleaning Tips to Avoid Spring Allergy Symptoms

This spring we’re seeing an increase in allergy symptoms due to the dry winter and warm temperatures. You may have noticed this, either with yourself or your co-workers, suffering from sneezing fits and watery eyes.

Here are some tips to ensure your office is being cleaned for health, meaning it’s being professionally cleaned to a level that will help with allergies and sensitivities . . .

Post-Construction Cleaning – Know This Floor Care Question

We recently visited a construction site of a large retail building to consult on the post-construction cleaning needs. Most of the project was typical post-construction cleaning but then we started asking questions about the floor. An interesting discussion with the project manager and site superintendent for the building ensued. What soon came to light was the fact that the construction managers simply didn’t know what was required for the care of their client’s shiny new floors. By not being able to answer one important question, this construction company could have failed their client by providing a faulty floor surface.

Educating Customers for Success

We recently started a new contract in an office building with a wide variety of tenants. Already having experience in these type of buildings, we know what’s coming . . . a whole bunch of people with different opinions and thoughts on how their offices should be cleaned.

How to Properly Apply Ice Melt in Winter

Winter brings it’s usual challenges of extra layers of clothing and unpredictable driving conditions. And for those of us who are building service contractors (otherwise known as professional cleaners), it also means five months of cleaning buildings that are extra messy.

Cleaning up wet, muddy floors is a given. But to add “salt” to the wound (excuse the pun), we are often faced with extra clean-up due to misuse of ice melt. With of the huge liabilities that businesses face with slip-and-fall injuries, there is no doubt ice melt is a must have when the snow falls. What many people don’t’ realize is there is some knowledge required to using this product properly.

We got a call from one of our clients who noticed a white chalky residue left on their floors. Of course, the floors had been properly cleaned the night before but when daylight came the residue was noticeable. It didn’t take long to discover that around their building was an excess of ice melt on the sidewalks and around the doors.

The easy solution to the floor surfaces inside the building was to use a neutralizer.  It’s acidity has a chemical reaction to the salt residue and then this reaction turns the alkaline nature of the ice melt to a neutral pH. The result is that the residue will then have the same basic neutral pH state as faucet water and therefore becomes as easy to wipe up as water.

We then recommended to our client that less ice melt be used. Not only will this help with less of the product tracking into the building and causing havoc with the floors, it will also help prevent excess de-icer eating away at the metal trim on their building’s exterior. In addition, we mentioned that good quality tracking mats inside and outside the doors will help keep the ice melt outside, where it belongs.

The best way to ensure your de-icing efforts are doing more good than harm?  Do your research to find the right kind of ice melt and then make sure you are using the right amount. A simple solution to a common problem.

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EFS Clean is Calgary’s locally-owned-and-grown commercial cleaning company. Our services include janitorial services, construction cleaning, ceiling tile cleaning, electrostatic disinfecting, low-rise window cleaning, tile/hard surface deep cleaning and quality assurance inspections. Let us help you get a better clean by calling 403-949-3344 or send us a message on our Contact Us page.

 

 

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