3 Tips to Reduce Janitorial Cost

3 Tips to Reduce Janitorial Cost

Download our white paper: “5 Things Janitorial Companies Know About Their Price, That You Don’t

Most buyers reduce their janitorial service costs in the RFP process.  Yet the actual savings for commercial janitorial services do not occur on paper—they occur on the job through a process. The contractor either takes back the savings given in the RFP through malpractices or recoups the savings through efficiencies gained by working their process.

Responsible buyers and facility managers should know where those savings are coming from.  In this post, I will discuss three tips to help you do some due diligence as to where your savings are actually coming from. If your due diligence does not uncover management processes such as the three tips below or something similar, then your savings may be more of a shell game than actual, realized cost savings.

Tip #1-Focus on production

With commercial janitorial services, the production rate is the single most important factor that influences cost. A production rate is defined mathematically as output divided by input. In the case of cleaning, janitorial service production is the amount of square footage covered (in an hour) divided by the total hours.

Two things influence production rates: Human speed and mechanical speed.
Human speed is the rate at which janitors clean. A number of factors determine the rate at which professional cleaners move through the facility, including:

  • The cleaning process, or lack thereof
  • Cleaning technique
  • Cleaner’s choice (or motivation)
  • Building architecture and design,
  • Scope of work and,
  • Management and supervision intervention

Mechanical speed is the production rate created by a machine or tool. Technology is the biggest determinant of mechanical speed. Technology includes a range of devices and products:

  • Machines like ride-on auto scrubbers to autonomous robots
  • Tools from spray-bottle-holsters to ergonomic handles
  • Electronics from RFI tags to bar codes to smartphones

Technology does not necessarily mean the cleaning device need be “mechanical” or “electronic” per se. Take for example microfiber technology. Microfiber can offer significant production rate improvements by cutting out actions like “saturating a surface with chemical”. The labor required to remove the chemical is reduced, leading to gain in production. It is also much faster and more effective to wipe and remove chemical or soil from a surface than other products like paper or cotton towels.

Tip #2: Divide Janitorial Workflow in Production quadrants

Production quadrants are a derivative of Lean Six Sigma. In Lean Six Sigma, you use a spaghetti diagram of a production floor to map out and determine the most efficient workflows. In professional cleaning services, you use a building blue print and divide square footage into four equal proportions, and then determine a workflow through those quadrants.   Quadrants become the bases for setting up standard work (another Lean Six Sigma term).   Standard work includes identifying the required tasks and the time it takes to complete those tasks.

Tip #3: Use Job Cards

Job cards include both the schedule and a map of the workflow cleaners take through the facility. Job cards reduce cost when the schedule is based on production rates (Tip #1). The first card starts with a production rate goal, say 5,000 square feet per hour. Once achieved, 5,000 ft2 becomes a standard rate. Then a new production rate goal is set. Say 5,700 ft2/hour. Using the goals (best set by the cleaner), production rates can be ramped up to the maximum rate. Management can then use technology to help the cleaners hit the maximum rate (Tip #2).  The cards become the cleaner’s standard work. With a job card in hand, each cleaner knows exactly where they need to be and at what time they need to be there.  The job cards are not only an effective training tool, but an efficient way to train on the job.

The best janitorial services companies know how to lower cost through a process. If you do not feel your commercial cleaning company is helping you achieve the best price, look first at production rates, then look to see if they are incorporating efficiency tools like production quadrants and job cards. If the answer is no, you may have to upgrade your janitorial company!

Download our white paper: “5 Things Janitorial Companies Know About Their Price, That You Don’t

Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, salesforce.com deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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