Fixing What’s Broken in the Industry: Facilities Planning

Mr. Lonnell Parks, L.P. Janitorial and General Services, Owner.

Imagine this scenario. Your night shift team cleans the same restaurant every night after closing, between the hours of 2 am and 7 am. One night they show up to clean at the normal time, only to find the restaurant is being treated by pest control. Your team isn’t granted access to the facility; instead, they are turned away by the pest control contractor. The restaurant didn’t get cleaned that night, and now your contract is on the line.

Sound familiar? This situation, and a dozen other scenarios quite like it in all types of facilities, is all too common in our industry. Because cleaning was an afterthought for the manager of the restaurant—a job that isn’t seen or appreciated but just expected—nobody was informed about the scheduling of pest control.

The story has an ending. The cleaning team did eventually get access to the restaurant after a two-hour delay. They were able to get the job done, but as a result of the late start, they ran over. When the Chef showed up to start prepping, he slammed the cleaning crew because they weren’t done. Furthermore, he noticed the effects of the exterminator’s work (i.e. dead bugs). Not surprisingly, he complained to the cleaners. As is so often the case, the cleaning team took the blame for circumstances beyond their control.

Safety Concerns

Lonnell Parks with LP Janitorial and General Services has experienced this situation many times. He had a cleaning contract with a multinational, high-end restaurant chain that made it a habit of scheduling multiple service providers during his cleaning crew’s night shift. “The first time we showed up to that restaurant and a pest control contractor was spraying, it became a safety hazard for my team, who was breathing in those dangerous chemicals,” says Lonnell.

The problem didn’t end with pest control, either. “After a few weeks on the job, one night a different contractor showed up to set up their equipment in the restaurant’s kitchen,” recalls Lonnell. “It turns out this was a company hired by the restaurant to clean the grease off of the kitchen appliances, of which we knew nothing.”

Once they started spraying their degreasers, grease was everywhere, causing slip-and-fall hazards. Not only that, but the chemicals used in degreasing were hazardous to the health of Lonnell’s team members who did not have the appropriate PPE.

Lonnell spoke with the contractors himself to ask about their schedules and to work out a better, safer way for them to do their jobs. The restaurant needed to be informed about the hazards its lack of communication and advance planning were causing among contractors.

“Before we even signed a contract, we had a very specific timeframe so the restaurant knew exactly what time we were coming,” says Lonnell. “But as often happens, once we got started, it seems like the janitorial crew got the last say in everything.”

The TNKA Clean Way

Partnership and communication between the manager of a business or facility and the contracted cleaning company is absolutely essential. Had the restaurant manager in the story above simply mentioned to the cleaning crew lead, at a minimum of 24-48 hours prior, that a scheduled extermination visit had been arranged, the problem would have been avoided. The cleaning team could have planned to arrive later that night, with additional crew members, to get the job done in the appropriate amount of time. There are many ways we can work toward greater communication and planning in our partnerships, and it all begins with respect.

TNKA Clean Steps

  • Facilities must make sure that they are giving those responsible for cleaning a task schedule with frequency requirements for special requests, and a calendar of planned events, meetings and anything else that could affect their ability to clean. This information should be shared at a minimum one month out.
  • The process of communication could be as simple as creating, or granting access to, a shared building calendar, or it could be a more formal process outlined in a contract.
  • Facility Managers should take pride and allocate time in connecting and communicating with the designated Janitorial Lead. Coordinate a day and time to meet weekly, depending on the activities planned within the facility.  The meeting can be conducted via phone or e-mail and should include a review the calendar of events, discussion of logistics around those activities and a plan for what needs to be changed in the plans.  For example: If a press conference will be held in the main auditorium at 6:00 pm on Wednesdays, and the cleaning crew normally arrives at 7:00pm; this data should be communicated during their conversation and then options can be discussed.  The Facility Manager can request that the cleaning crew arrives early to clean that area prior to the press conference, or advise them to arrive at the same time but instruct them to clean that area last to ensure that it’s ready for the next business day.
  • Ask to be connected with other contractors that service their facility, to understand their needs and communicate yours when you are scheduled to service the facility at overlapping times or the same day.  

In a situation like the one described here, the exterminator should have been in communication with the cleaning team from the first time the appointment was scheduled. That would have helped the cleaning team to do its job protecting the health of restaurant workers and diners. And it would have had the added benefit of protecting the restaurant’s image and bottom line in the process. Nobody wants a dead bug near their food. If only the cleaning team was made aware so that they could have a plan of expectations, and extra manpower to avoid a nasty problem for everyone involved.

Common Problems in Other Facility Types

This kind of challenge crops up outside of food service, too. When Lonnell’s team cleans office buildings, he will often run into issues when construction and building repairs are scheduled. “We will show up one day and right in the path of the trash cans we need to move there will be roofing equipment and exposed nails everywhere,” he says. “It’s so important for any building to let their cleaning crews know when to expect construction so we can plan around that, and take the necessary safety measures.”

According to TNKA Ambassador Mija January, the lack of scheduling has caused problems in a Corporate Office Setting. “At the last office I worked at, I noticed that some of the offices of those of us who stayed late for monthly meetings and to meet regular deadlines, weren’t being cleaned,” therefore complaints were made. “When I put two and two together I realized that we stayed late toward the end of the month, after our staff meeting when we had deadlines to meet.” Therefore, those areas weren’t neglected, nor did the cleaning company fail to clean, the cleaning crew was being respectful of the employees’ work space and allowed them to continue without being disturbed.

Mija suggested to the office manager to inform the cleaning crew to push their start time from 7 pm to 9 pm, during the last week of each month, and to follow up with them periodically to get feedback on timing and office occupancies. With that quick scheduling fix, everyone won.

“In the end, it is all about understanding that service people aren’t mind readers and they can’t be expected to do their jobs with building occupants or other service people in the way,” says Mija.

The Clean Revolution Challenge: Take every opportunity to explain the importance of your work for protecting public health so that you are treated as a partner and not an afterthought.

Join the Clean Revolution and make the change. Let’s take action and hold our contracts and each other accountable to be better partners in the common cause to protect public health through better sanitation and cleanliness. These problems won’t go away on their own. Until we make them a priority, there will be scheduling problems, and even bugs in food from time to time.

Join us in the Clean Revolution. [Link to membership opportunities]

Getting our Sexy Back!

Baby Boomers grew up understanding that they could do ANYTHING, whatever they decided to do, it could be done; the end game was to “do whatever they were TASKED to do and to do it to the BEST of their ability. ” Marking an era in time, no profession was considered beneath or undesirable. Fast Forward to Generation X and now the Millennials, somewhere during that span of time the Sanitation and Cleanliness lost it’s Sexy. As a result, the State of Public Health is in JEOPARDY!

As time progressed it became a career path that fell under the radar but the beacon of light couldn’t be extinguished. The foundation and importance of having well-trained and skilled professional personnel occupying those critical posts is for the Health and Safety of us all. It is TNKA’s goal and mission to PIVOT! The aggregation of Janitorial and Cleaning industries has been wounded and they are hemorrhaging. Our community of businesses are concerned about acquiring companies, inventory and cost control but not one has taken the time to publish the research and development efforts needed to determine the corrective course of action. The Millennials may not want to occupy the post of a cleaner but as they enter the workforce and they become the decision makers for facilities, in the Health Care Industry or Transportation and Hospitality, they will seek the information that they need from our industry via the web, statistics, and other online sources. Their challenge will be finding the data when they search for it.

Committing to an industry standard that will absolutely impact public health in a positive way works for us all. Creating regimens that are easy to Embracing innovation and leveraging technology will have a lasting and powerful effect on our sales and customer relationships.  Mobilizing our workforce,  performing research and development for the benefit of every cleaning business and then sharing our findings in an organized way elevates each of us and creates the change that we really want and need to have in our companies. This is how we restore the sexy to sanitation and make it stick this time!

Voices of the Clean Revolution: Meet TNKA Ambassador Mija January

Mija “Red” January,
Singer/Songwriter/ Model/Mother/Brand Ambassador/Clean-Freak

As we continue our mission of bringing global awareness to cleanliness and public health, we’ve enlisted the help of some influential advocates to help us out. Our TNKA Ambassadors are leading the Clean Revolution by spreading awareness throughout their own spheres of influence. They are our boots on the ground, speaking up about the vital role cleaning plays in our collective health and helping us solve the problems facing the cleaning industry.And we couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce to you our latest TNKA Ambassador, Mija January.

Mija started her own janitorial business, JJD Janitorial, when she was just 25 years old. She and her husband grew that company with grit and determination, placing a team of contract cleaners in a mix of residential and commercial accounts throughout the Topeka, Kansas area. “We started as a  back-of-the-truck type business,” recalls Mija. “But we really grew from there.”

After a few years of growth, Mija ran into those same problems we hear from building service contractors again and again: disrespect in the field, a confusing and rushed bidding process, high turnover and a lack of guidance.

“There were so many discrepancies in the way the bidding process was handled between different facilities and accounts, and that causes a lot of difficulties for businesses like mine,” she says.

As a small business owner working hard to manage a team of contractors and keep her accounts happy, she learned firsthand some of the biggest challenges and dysfunctional business practices plaguing the cleaning world.  

Mija is a strong believer in the power of standard operating procedures when it comes to bidding for contracts throughout the cleaning industry to help move the needle on the way buildings are cleaned and cleaning businesses are respected. She also believes in paying cleaning workers a fair wage, something she has advocated for since she started JJD Janitorial and works to promote throughout her work today.

“A big part of the problem in this industry is pay,” says Mija. “In some places, cleaning professionals are paid less than minimum wage, and that doesn’t align with the important work they are doing to protect public health.”

Low pay contributes to high turnover, which was one of the biggest obstacles to JJD Janitorial’s growth. When her employees would stop coming to work, Mija herself would show up to do the job in their place.

When bidding on contracts with JJD, Mija found there to be zero consistency with specific protocol that had to be followed right down to the delivery method and envelope size.  Each bid’s requirements were totally different from the next.

“Wouldn’t it be helpful if the entire industry followed a similar detailed process for bidding so that companies could be evaluated based on their ability to meet the public health needs of the facility, rather than for speed of delivery or lowest price?” asks Mija.

Another lesson Mija took from her hard work at JJD Janitorial was that there is a need for advocacy and support in the cleaning business. She and her husband were quite young when they started the business, and didn’t feel there was a place they could turn to for the resources they needed to navigate the industry and standardize their own business practices. That’s one of the reasons she’s so excited to be a TNKA Ambassador. She wants to help small business owners like her old self to find the answers they need to succeed.

“I am hoping to help be a voice for the people who were like me who didn’t know who to turn to, who to ask, or even what questions to ask,” says Mija. “I look at people in the cleaning industry or related fields like the underdog, and they need someone to stand up for them and say to the powers that be, ‘Hey, if it weren’t for these people cleaning and doing their jobs, public health would be at risk.’”

As a TNKA  Ambassador, Mija has been using her platform to start making some noise already. She’s getting some attention about the need for change and respect in the cleaning industry. And Mija just happens to have a pretty awesome platform for broadcasting that message. With the stagename Red January, Mija is a singer whose forthcoming EP is titled The Scarlet Letter. As a runway model, Mija has also been involved in the fashion industry for several years. She will be working with her connections in the music and fashion industries to raise awareness around public health and to bring in her friends to continue to build the Clean Revolution.

You can follow Mija on Facebook (@The Red January), and Twitter or Instagram (@the_redjanuary) to keep up with her TNKA Ambassador work or to hear her unique blend of funk rock and R&B music.

 

Interested in joining the Clean Revolution and becoming a TNKA Ambassador?

Because the cleaning industry has been overlooked and underserved since inception, NOW is the time for social change; for FAIR wages, creation of professional curricula, standards, guidelines, and regulations. Join the Clean Revolution and help us spread the good word.

TNKA Brand Ambassador Guidelines are very simple!

  •       MUST BE passionate about the cause and knowledgeable of the profession.
  •       MUST BE outgoing, friendly, warm, and inviting.  TNKA Ambassadors should love engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds.  
  •       MUST HAVE PROVEN influence within the public health, hospitality, or cleaning industries or be a public figure.

o   Vlog/Blog/YouTube with 1000+ subscribers

o   Social Media channels with 1000+ followers

o   MUST currently engage audiences thru social media at least twice weekly

Of course, as a TNKA Ambassador, there will be perks!

  •       FREE TNKA membership for each year served as a TNKA Ambassador
  •       You or your brand will be featured on TNKAs Member Spotlight
  •       $500 Strategic Alignment Gift Certificate from Red Worldwide for professional or business development

 

Apply today.