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What to Ask When Hiring a Cleaning Company for your Fitness or Recreation Facility

If you work in, or are a client of a recreation and fitness centre, you understand the importance of a clean environment. And so do we.

Fitness software developer Insight writes, “What do customers value? Above all, they value a clean facility! They aren’t overly concerned that you have the latest machines or flat screen TVs, what they want is an environment that makes them feel like they are safe and increasing their health. This is something on which they will vote with their feet and go elsewhere if they aren’t absolutely comfortable in the environment that you offer.”

These buildings see thousands, if not millions, of visitors from morning until night. Patrons are young and old. Many of them sweaty, all of them touching and handling fitness equipment, door knobs, faucets, etc. leaving a constant trail of germs behind. Add to that, the fact that recreation centres are made up of varying surfaces, wet and dry, which can lead to an array of dirt and contaminants building up over time. As well, most have childcare and seniors’ facilities which require the utmost caution and care with these vulnerable occupants.

So, as you can see, cleaning and caring for recreational facilities is very different than office cleaning. Most offices require basic cleaning tasks such as vacuuming, dusting and garbage removal with a team of cleaners working days/evenings. Recreational facilities require those tasks as well as cleaning and disinfecting many surfaces including wet, messy showers, germ-laden water fountains and specialized cleaning of tile and wood floor surfaces. And on top of those challenges, facility hours of rec centres require dedicated staff able to work overnight, with expertise in cleaning a challenging variety of areas and surfaces in a short overnight timeframe.

The health and fitness professional body, IHRSA, reports, “It goes without saying that, particularly in the locker room, cleanliness trumps all other considerations—design, furnishings, amenities. Cleanliness is right up there for most women when they make the decision whether or not to join a club,” says says Bryan Dunkelberger, with S3 Design tasked with designing ideal fitness locker rooms.

Who is cleaning your recreation facility? It’s an important question because as outlined here, it takes a cleaning contractor who understands the unique needs of these buildings and has the expertise to provide solutions.

In Calgary, our company has become a leader in this sector, providing daytime and overnight cleaning, as well as a whole host of specialized cleaning services such as hard surface restoration and electrostatic disfinfecting.

 

When choosing a cleaning contractor for your building, ensure you ask the following:

  • What is your experience with recreation/fitness facilities?
  • What process, equipment and chemical  is used to clean each different area and surface?
  • What is your quality assurance system?
  • Are your staff trained and prepared to do detailed overnight work as well as periodical tasks?
  • What is yor technical background and knowledge of best practices?
  • Can you present us with latest innovations in cleaning?

Cleaning performance and science advocates say, “While ‘cleaning for appearance’ is an obvious goal, science tells us that just because a facility looks and smells clean, it is not always clean, safe and healthy. Tools that enable more complete removal of contaminants, visible and invisible—and productively—should be part of the cleaning performance arsenal.”

Part of our company’s mission is to work with our clients to ensure their entire building not only looks clean but is maintained for the health and productivity of it’s staff and members, improving their bottom line.

This is why our portfolio of recreation centres in Calgary is growing and we’ve been chosen as the preferred cleaning services provider for centres such as Westside Recreation, Trico Centre for Family Wellness and Vivo for Healthier Generations.

 

 

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.

Sanitizing Versus Disinfecting – What You Don’t Know Could Kill You

Understanding the level of cleaning required in your building could mean life or death. OK, that might be somewhat dramatic, but it could certainly be the difference between healthy or sick.

Now, more than ever, the cleaning industry is focused on cleaning for health as well as appearance. And that’s a good thing. Cleaning for health means professional practices and products are used to ensure the utmost health of a building’s people and assets.  As reported by Cleanlink Magazine, “Cleaning with an eye on health helps reduce sick building syndrome, infections and respiratory problems — and it benefits not only the building’s occupants, but also the cleaning employees, since cleaner and healthier workplaces tend to experience less absenteeism among workers.”

Whether you are in the food service industry, in an educational or office facility, it’s essential to understand when and how to treat surfaces to eliminate illness causing germs.

Let’s look at the various levels of cleaning (as outlined by Clorox Professional):

Basic Cleaning – Manual or mechanical removal of soil and debris from surfaces and equipment. Products used: Cleaner, detergent.

Sanitization – Reduction of bacterial contaminants to safe levels as per health requirements. Products used: Food-contact and non-food contact sanitizers, products labeled “kills 99.9% of germs”.

Disinfection – Destruction of pathogenic and other types of microorganisms, typically using chemical agents. Products used: Cleaner disinfectants, products labeled “kills 99.999& of germs”.

Technology has served up a variety of new systems for disinfecting and sanitizing. The system we use in our clients’ buildings is Electrostatic Disinfecting.  

Remember rubbing a balloon on your hair as a kid? The balloon and hair would have opposite charges that attract one another. Electrostatic disinfecting and sanitizing is a similar concept. It uses (+) charged particles, sprayed onto (-) charged surfaces, attracting the solution to every nook and cranny thus providing 100% coverage. A very cost-effective and time-efficient way to kill germs in any facility including health care, althetic, education, office buildings, etc.

Protecting your staff and patrons from illness is easier said than done. Knowing what level you should be cleaning at, and what products and methods to use, can be daunting and confusing. Take the time to ensure your cleaning staff or contract cleaner is properly trained to deliver the cleaning you need to make your facility a healthy one.

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A Clean Business is Smart Business. 

EFS Clean provides smart cleaning to Calgary’s commercial sector. Services include Contract Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning as well as specialty services; Ceiling Cleaning, Floor and Carpet Cleaning, Low-Rise Window Cleaning, Electrostatic Disinfecting and Quality Assurance Inspections. If you have a cleaning challenge, we have a solution. Contact us today at 403-949-3344 or request a cleaning quote/demo.

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 You Need to Listen to Your Customer’s Complaints

Being in the cleaning industry, dealing with customer complaints is part of the job. In fact, the same can be said of any service based business. Some clients habitually complain. Some clients are more reasonable than others. But often, client complaints are valid. Nobody likes hearing criticism, but perhaps we are simply looking at it the wrong way?

I recently listened to an interview with actor Mandy Patinkin. If you don’t know him, then you are not addicted to the Showtime program Homeland like I am. Or perhaps you haven’t seen Princess Bride where he was Inigo Montoya in 1987’s The Princess Bride, in which he delivers the iconic line, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Anyway, I heard the passionate Patinkin talk about his appreciation of criticism and how it can make us better.  That statement got me thinking about how a paradigm shift in regards to customer complaints just might do us some good.

An article in The Guardian outlines some of the benefits of criticism like this;

Criticism is a form of communication – If someone has a criticism it means they want to give you feedback on what you’re doing for them – that means an opportunity to learn more about the person who you’re working for and how to convert them into a satisfied customer.

Feedback helps make your product/service stronger – Use that information to change your performance, service or event – sometimes it will make for uncomfortable listening but it can make your offering stronger.

It forces you to think about how you work – Constructive criticism can guide you away from bad practices and towards good ones. Try to be objective and look at what you’re providing as though it’s not yours.

The right kind of criticism can give you an advantage – If you can get a customer to tell you how to give them the perfect product or service, that’s information you’ve got that no one else has. That puts you at an advantage over anyone else in your sector and can be used again in the future to get things right, even faster.

Use positive language, elicit a solution – Try to avoid getting into an argument. Instead, turn the exchange into a discussion about how to resolve the problem. This way you’re still in a position to get paid and you’ll waste less time guessing how to put things right.

So next time you get a complaint, don’t take it personally. Instead, listen and then thank that customer for helping you improve the way you do business.

“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing,

doing nothing, and being nothing.” ~Aristotle

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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, Rapid 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.

Industry Certification Takes Cleaning to the Next Level

There are two ways businesses can look at cleaning; as a “pain-in the butt” expense that doesn’t really make a difference to their business. Or, as a investment in their business that illustrates professionalism and success.

As a member of the ISSA, we take pride in working closely with cleaning professionals from all facets of the industry to learn what value we can bring to our clients when it comes to their cleaning programs.

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 . . .

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