A Facility Manger’s Guide to Assessing, Understanding, and Streamlining Janitorial Services
Running an office, building, or any facility can be expensive. Maintenance and upkeep often make up a large percentage of overhead costs. Efficient execution of janitorial services can be a key factor toward the making an economically efficient facility. The key to efficient janitorial services lies in better understanding of how to assess and execute your needs.
Streamlining said services begins by asking the following questions:
Knowledge is power. As a consumer, your power comes from being fully equipped with an array of important facts, specifically pertaining to your expected overhead costs.
This sheet aims to provide you with an overview of crucial information to empower you, the consumer of janitorial services, with the requisite knowledge to help streamline and maintain an efficient balance sheet.
Assessing your overhead begins with assessing the demands of your facility and understanding what kind of janitorial services you need provided. The first step is determining what kind of facility you need cleaned and what the specific services that facility requires.
FM Benchmarking suggests a number of best practices in janitorial services and facility management which will help ensure a clean environment. Some of these include:
It’s important to get on the same page about these best practices with a janitorial services provider before entering into a contract, and then to regularly check in with your provider to confirm such practices are being implemented at your facility.
Be aware that certain industries need specific janitorial services that may affect your maintenance overhead.
For example, considerations for janitorial services at medical facilities should include:
Industrial facilities, manufacturing plants, or distribution centers considerations:
Commercial facility considerations:
Janitorial services for retail and/or hospitality considerations:
Janitorial service providers will consider a wide array of factors about a facility before making a bid on a job. These include, but aren’t limited to:
Clean workspaces start in the restroom. It’s important to guarantee that the janitorial service provider you’re hiring is qualified to adequately and efficiently clean your facility’s restrooms.
Some of the work, however, starts with you and your decisions about the kinds of technology you can afford to include in your facility’s restrooms. Do you want more traditional equipment, like paper towel dispensers, or does your facility allow you to take advantage of smart-tech eco-friendly and efficient technology, like electronic hand dryers?
How important are “smart methods” for bathroom sanitation?
You should also be aware of the “smart methods” that some janitorial companies use to keep restrooms clean, to make sure that the service provider you choose to contract with is implementing the most efficient, up-to-date cleaning technology. Think of it like this: Don’t you want to be using the latest iPhone, not a flip phone? These smart methods include:
Maintaining clean floors is not only important but also costly and can impact your janitorial overhead. Your facility’s flooring material and hours of operation will impact costs. No matter what the cost, consider using energy efficient technology, like low-flow dispensing scrubbers, which can reduce water usage by upwards of 70%.
Rubber probably isn’t the first material that comes to mind when you think of a floor.
Yet in a study that compared 12 frequently-used synthetic and natural flooring products by assessing initial purchase price, cost of installation, and cleaning and maintenance costs over the course of 15 years, Sue Tartaglio of the International Interior Design Association found that rubber is the most cost-effective and long-lasting flooring option, with a lifespan of approximately 30 years.
“With new colors, innovative designs, and the fact that many types are now considered both green and sustainable, cleaning professionals can expect to see more rubber floors in all types of facilities. Cleaned and maintained properly, a rubber floor can prove to be a high-quality, good-looking investment welcomed in all types of properties for many years to come.”
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, carpets account for 51 percent of the total flooring market in the United States.
Best practices for carpet care include:
How much does it cost to clean carpet? Cleanfax’s 2018 Carpet Cleaning Benchmarking Report provides helpful facts and figures.
Brushing up on your carpet cleaning terminology will also ensure that you’re speaking the same language as your janitorial service provider when negotiating on a bid. Cleaning & Maintenance Management (CMM) provides a helpful guide here.
Wood floors can be particularly cleaning-intensive — and costly to maintain — since they need to be stripped and refinished.
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is emerging as an aesthetically similar yet easier-to-clean substitute for wooden flooring.
“You get the feel and look of wood, but you’re not dealing with wood at all,” says Stanley Quentin Hulin, president and CEO of Future Floor Technology, regarding LVT flooring.
How long does it take to clean a building? How long will each cleaning task take?
The International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) suggests conducting the following seven-step “time study” to determine your particular building’s production rate (the number of square feet cleaned per hour):
“Because there are so many variables — cleaning frequency, customer expectations, building surfaces, equipment used, and level of quality, to name a few — and accurate production rates are so essential, the best practice is to develop your own building-specific rates. Conducting your own times study is one of the best methods to determine the production for a given task.”
ISSA’s formula for calculating cleaning time is as follows:
Giving the example of trash removal for a 15,000-square-foot area with normal density and no variables, ISSA calculated the following production rate:
|Time to Complete
In this particular time study, this works out to:
Therefore, we know that the base production for trash removal in the building is 30,000 square feet per hour.
For additional insights into cleaning times, The Janitorial Store provides detailed charts on the estimated production rates for various areas and components of an office building here.
To get a benchmark for bids, first determine which pricing category your building falls into from the cleaning industry’s perspective:
Next, assess the variables. William R. Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services, explains that price can be affected by local competition, the stock market and financial stability, skill and knowledge level of the service provider, and the expectation for the training and supervision that will be required from the job.
Developing a benchmarking system for comparing and contrasting your building’s characteristics — such as occupancy per square foot — to other facilities is another useful tool in determining what you should be paying for janitorial services.
“Facilities managers are usually looking for better ways to clean and provide a better, more healthful, environment for the occupants. But janitorial services are often the first things to be cut in any budget reduction initiatives and it’s very difficult to get the funds back when the economy improves. Many clients and attendees at conferences readily admit that their facilities are ‘moderately dingy’ and would like to do something to improve the appearance and cleanliness of their facilities. Benchmarking can help you understand how your costs compare with others in your peer group and may be able to help you justify budgeting additional funds.”
According to a study conducted by Nilfisk and ISSA, labor costs typically constitute approximately 70% of total cleaning costs.
Every facility and business have fixed and variable costs that impact your overhead.
If a cost is fixed, it never changes despite sales, vacancy, or fluctuations in your business. This can include rents, property taxes, insurance premiums, equipment depreciation, and labor that does not change regardless of business fluctuations.
If a cost is variable, it changes based on business performance or sales. Usable inventory like napkins, sauces, cleaning supplies, food, and labor the changes with business fluctuations are considered variable.
Janitorial services are generally considered a fixed cost and should be budgeted as such. This changes, however, if your facility qualifies for “vacancy credit” which may lower your janitorial overhead costs in the event of a vacancy.
Typically, cleaning contracts with janitorial service providers are based on 100% occupancy. Obviously, at times a space may become and remain vacant. That’s where a vacancy credit comes in. A vacancy credit is an allowance given to a property manager using janitorial services that guarantees not paying for unoccupied spaces. Vacancy credits are calculated using a vacancy-credit rate formula which is based on a pre-negotiated rate multiplied by square footage of your facility.
In order to get the best quote from a janitorial service provider, there are a few key numbers and rates to be aware of that may impact your costs:
To economize costs and avoid being overcharged, provide bidders with accurate measurement of your facility’s cleanable square footage. Estimating or guessing can come back to bite you and result in being overcharged for square footage that may not need to be serviced.
Understanding your production rate can save you money. Production rates are calculated using a formula and used to determine the number of labor hours needed to adequately clean your facility. The cost of labor is then multiplied by the number of hours required. Note that this cost will always differ based on your facility’s work hours, floor surfaces, special needs, etc.
To get an estimate for your facility’s production rate, use the following formula: PROD. RATE = cleanable square footage / total hours. In practice, this formula shows you that the smaller your cleanable square footage, the lower your production rate will be.
It is integral when bidding out your facility to ensure that the different service providers are clearly letting you know their estimated production rates. This will allow you to have an apples to apples assessment of the competing firms for your business.
Equipped with the right information on production rates, labor costs, flooring options, and more, you now have a better idea of what to expect when calculating how long it will take and how much it will cost to clean your facility.
It’s important to remember that there are many important questions to consider when it comes to janitorial services, but few definitive answers, as every building is different. But with the right framework for decision-making, you can begin the investigatory process of determining your facility’s cleaning profile, and that crucial information will enable you to take the necessary steps toward attaining a clean space and a clean mind.