3 Trends Shaping the Future of the Cleaning Industry

You may not think of the cleaning and janitorial industry as one on the cutting edge of technology. But it’s going to be in a few major ways.

And to some extent, these future trends are already shaping how the industry works. Here’s the new trends you should consider:

The Cleaning Robot Market will be a $2.5 Billion Industry by 2020

This data comes from research published by MarketsandMarkets. The annual growth rate will be around 15.3%.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Robotics and automation are growing industries. Robots are becoming sophisticated enough to perform simple tasks in other industries, like fast food. And the same trends will come to the cleaning industry.

Will you replace your human staff? Will you hire more sophisticated workers to monitor the robots? Will this be a mix of both?

Robots won’t be able to do everything. Nonetheless, it’s a trend you’ll have to incorporate into your cleaning practices.

Internet of Things

IoT provides heaps of data. This data affects how you do, or do not do, your cleaning.

Problem: how will you gather and interpret the data?

And who will communicate your findings with the customer?

Your cleaning staff will take on more sophisticated tasks. IoT devices will reveal how frequently employees or students wash their hands, or how often certain areas have been cleaned.

With hand-washing, it may be your job to communicate the importance of doing it a certain number of times daily, for a certain length of time.

In relation to cleaning various areas of your building, you may learn how many hours an employee ran a certain machine during their shift. Then it’s your job to show them how long that should be, and what they should be doing.

The amount and types of data you’ll collect will almost seem insane. So the potential for how this looks at your organization is quite open.

The Changing Nature of Offices

Co-working spaces are clearly gaining momentum. Traditional cubicle-based office spaces are getting smaller. Some employees stand. Others negotiate more time working from home.

All this will impact how you clean your building. If you have co-working space, you may have to spend more time preventing the spread of infections. That may include educating people at these spaces what they should do to prevent disease. You may have to spend more time cleaning office cubes to prevent spread of infections also.

We’ll see what the future holds. For now, you’re at least aware and prepared for these trends as they take shape.

What Pleasant Restrooms Do for Your Business

Bradley Corp recently released its Healthy Hand Washing Survey. And part of this survey reveals what consumers like and don’t like about using public restrooms.

So, let’s take a look at some of the good, and bad, findings from the survey:

92% of Customers Think Quality Restrooms Mean Your Company Also Provides Quality Products and Services

In other words, they think you can judge an entire business based on the quality of its restrooms (like judging a book by its cover). And when you think about it, restrooms are often near the front of the store.

So, they’re frequently one of the first experiences customers have with your company. Give them a pleasant one, and you’ve likely earned their business for some time.

One story of a big-shot investor on the East Coast said he decided which companies to invest in based on the quality of their restrooms. Poor quality restrooms meant the company didn’t care about its employees. That meant the employees wouldn’t care about the customers. As a result, the prospects for success weren’t good. So, that investor didn’t give those firms money.

What Customers Want to See in Your Restrooms

According to Bradley Corp’s survey, customers want your restroom to look and smell clean more than anything else. Not surprising. But as you know, your restroom can appear clean, yet actually be flooded with germs and bacteria. So give that appearance of cleanliness, but truly sanitize your restrooms too.

Behind appearance, Americans want touchless fixtures, and better stocking of supplies like toilet paper, soap, and towels (perhaps the IoT trend could help you with the latter).

70% of Americans Consciously Choose Businesses With Cleaner Restrooms

Your restroom works like a magnet. Customers are almost irresistibly attracted to businesses with clean restrooms. Millennials, the largest of all generations in terms of sheer numbers, patronize businesses because of their clean restrooms at higher rates (77% versus the 70% mentioned above).

The other end of the magnet pushes customers away. 56% of Americans said they weren’t likely to return to a business after having an unpleasant restroom experience.

So yes, your restroom is critical to your company’s success. If you’re not getting the resources you need to make it sparkle and shine, now you have the data to back your case up.

5 Food Safety Trends to Stay Ahead of For 2017 and Beyond

Every industry has emerging trends to watch for. What’s the latest in food safety?

Here’s some of the current thinking:

Full Digitization of Supply Chains

Leading retailers like Amazon and Target have sophisticated supply chains monitored and optimized by technology. They can make precision decisions regarding all the products they sell, and exactly how and when to ship food so it stays safe also.

The food industry as a whole lags behind retail’s top dogs. The movement towards using technological devices and analytics will experience tremendous growth now and in the future.

Food Safety Recalls Simply Won’t Go Away

With technology and monitoring increasing, recalls likely won’t decrease. Technology will catch the problems earlier so they cause less harm. And it will catch more products than are currently being caught.

Because sophisticated technology isn’t implemented at many companies, recalls won’t go down this year. However, that may change in future years.

Government Regulation from FSMA Will Be in Full Force

FSMA recognizes it’s better to prevent food safety problems than it is to let them happen and clean up the resulting mess. You’ve known this change would be coming. And here it is.

Now, the FDA will audit the big companies. Detailed recordkeeping will be kept around all recalls and outbreaks. You must have corrective actions ready to go when mistakes happen. And in the worst cases, the FDA could shut down your company’s operations.

Home Delivery Will Continue To Take Off

Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated all deliver gourmet food directly to your doorstep. Of course, that’s going to raise some food safety issues also. How do you time the delivery to ensure the food stays fresh?

Millennials love these food services. And since they’re the largest generation of any kind (numbering around 90 million), it appears as though demand for this will remain high.

Interest Will Continue to Grow in Natural and Organic Foods

While our nation as a whole doesn’t watch its diet, there is a growing interest in organic and natural foods. Organic food sales reached a record $43.3 billion in 2015. That’s up from around $28 billion in 2012. Quick math shows that’s around 50% growth.

Consumers will remain willing to pay higher prices for organic foods. And in relation to safety, you’ll have to continue to work with reputable suppliers you can trust to deliver safe organic foods.

That’s what we see happening in 2017 and the future. Which of these correlates most closely to what your company does?

Are Organic Foods Truly Safer Than Non-Organic?

Consumers buy organic foods believing they’re safer than their non-organic counterparts. They don’t get sprayed with pesticides, so on the surface, this seems true in that respect.

To explore this further, researchers identified 18 outbreaks between 1992 and 2014 that possibly were caused by organic food products. The outbreaks caused 779 illnesses, 258 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths.

That sounds surprising, and not so good. But is it something to actually get worried and upset about?

Interestingly, 56% of the outbreaks studied happened between 2010 and 2014. The study’s authors say this likely results from the increasing production and consumption of organic foods.

At the same time, data generally was not available. The meaning of “organic” has changed over the decades, and didn’t have an official definition until 2000. In addition, state and local health departments are typically understaffed and underfunded, and they frequently don’t have the data necessary to study available. Because of the changing understanding of “organic,” and the difficulties collecting data, it could be that many organically-caused outbreaks weren’t recorded as such.

At this point, the study concluded that you can’t necessarily assume organic milk and produce are any safer than their conventionally grown counterparts. It’s generally perceived both are safer. But it’s not necessarily true.

Standards for Organic Growth Don’t Address Some Safety Issues

Today’s organic standards, set by the USDA, simply say organic food can’t be grown with persistent use of pesticides and GMO seeds. Livestock must be raised without antibiotics or hormones. However, current organic food standards don’t address microbial or chemical hazards.

Studies have found pesticide residue on organically grown produce. However, the general finding has been that lower concentrations are present on organic product.

It seems like you could draw the obvious conclusion that organic food with lesser pesticide residue would have fewer instances of illness than food with persistent pesticide use. However, there is limited data available on the harm that legal pesticide use causes (if any). Most existing studies agree the benefits gained from using lesser pesticides are negligible. This is a contentious subject, so you will find differing strong opinions.

While researchers figure out the truth, your customers should simply treat organic produce just like non-organic produce. For now, you can keep giving your customers what they want, and follow the same strict safety standards for both organic and non-organic produce.

What to Do When Your Customers Direct Your Janitors

Customer relations can sometimes be extremely difficult to manage. Every customer is different. And every once in a while, you get a tough one.

What do you do if you get the type of customer, whether internal or external, who takes it upon themselves to director your janitors as to what they should do? Worse yet, what should you do if you get a customer who removes your janitors from their tasks and then complains they’re not getting things done like they should?

Such unreasonable scenarios do happen. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in one:

Let Your Customer Know the Consequences of Their Actions

Customers don’t realize that if they direct your staff to do different work, they expose themselves to liability. Since they gave the order themselves, they are on record as being liable for workers’ comp injuries, or civil lawsuits. They may also expose themselves to additional fees if your current service contract doesn’t cover their request.

You Need To Have a Chat with Your Customer

Customers may engage in this type of behavior for a variety of reasons. They may not like their contract, so they could be putting your staff in impossible situations so they can claim you violated the contract. They also may not understand that their contract doesn’t cover what they request, so they may be interested in rewriting their contract.

Some customers just want to have control. You can offer it to them, but negotiate the appropriate costs with them if they do.

Train Your Staff So They Can Deal with This Situation

Since your customer gives orders to your staff without involving you, you’ll have to train your staff on what you want them to do when your customer directs them. For your staff, it’s pretty simple:

  • Acknowledge the customer’s request
  • Let the customer know whether or not they can do the requested task
  • Contact you, their supervisor, so you can straighten out the situation with your customer

Then, it’s up to you to talk with your customer and negotiate a relationship that works for both sides. In most cases, this is possible. In rare cases, it isn’t. You may have to terminate the relationship with your customer.

However, you now have a workable approach for managing customers who direct your staff.

How to Overcome the Most Common Problems with Finishing Floors

Floor finishing isn’t always easy or straightforward, depending on the type of floor you’re considering. Sometimes customers have their own unique concerns that make it difficult to accomplish the objective of having a beautiful, and sanitary, floor.

Here’s what to do when those challenges come up:

Your Customer Insists On “Waxing”

Here, you’ll have to educate your customer that floors often don’t get “waxed” anymore. You’ll have to show them the type of finish that’s appropriate for their floor and goals, and why it’s used (instead of wax).

They may continue to use the term “wax,” even after you’ve educated them. But, let them go ahead and do so, as long as they let you do their job and give them the outcome they want.

You might tell them that using wax in this particular situation will lead to great expense down the road should the wax need to be removed. Talking money often gets customer attention.

The Customers’ Floor Isn’t as Glossy As They’d Like

Here again, you’ll have to educate your customer as to what needs to be done. Tell your customer they may need more coats of finish, thicker coats of finish, less abrasive buffing pads, removal of sand left on the floor, or even to replace the tile on their floor (if it’s quite old and porous).

Customers typically want the superficial shiny look because it gives the appearance of a building in good order (whether that’s the case or not). You may also need to educate them on the use of additional floor mats so dirt, sand, and other debris cling to those instead of the floor. And your customer may need to educate their building’s occupants to make more conscious use of these mats.

Keeping a building clean is truly a team effort between you and your customer.

Your Floor Finish Has Lots of Streaks

This problem is most likely caused by your janitorial team. It could have a number of causes, such as:

  • Floor finish not being given enough time to dry before additional coats get applied
  • Your team may have used dirty mops or pails to apply the finish
  • Your floor finish was stored in extreme temperatures
  • The floor wasn’t rinsed properly before being coated
  • If you use cotton mop heads, they may not have been soaked prior to use

So, you now have some common solutions to floor finishing problems. And, they’ll save you plenty of stress and hassle when you use them.

Compliance for Produce Safety Rule May Extend Well Beyond January 2018

After the FDA’s mid-February meeting led by Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, companies learned they’ll likely not have to comply with the Produce Safety Rule until after January 2018. Currently, there is debate about the water quality requirements, as producers claim the current legislation is “burdensome.” And the industry is debating additional proposed legislation because it’s written in a vague, and unclear way.

The current legislation would affect produce growers who grow fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and other specialty crops.

What Does the Produce Safety Rule Regulate?

First proposed in 2013 under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the produce rule went under extensive testing through public meetings, webinars, and firsthand visits to farms across the nation. Revisions were made which led to the rule becoming more practical, flexible, and effective. It wasn’t passed in its current form until a couple years later.

The current rule regulates agricultural water quality to eliminate generic E. coli from a farm’s water supply. For example, E. coli must not be present in water used:

  • To wash hands during and after harvest
  • On food contact surfaces
  • To directly contact produce
  • For making ice during or after harvest
  • To help with sprout irrigation

If general E. coli is found in any of this water, famers must immediately discontinue its usage, and take corrective action before use continues once again. There is additional legislation on water, and how agricultural farms use it. Much of the debate about compliance currently centers around this legislation.

The rest of the produce safety law regulates:

  • Raw manure usage
  • Stabilized compost
  • Sprout contamination (frequently associated with foodborne illness outbreaks)
  • How farms use grazing animals
  • Worker health and hygiene
  • Equipment, tools, and buildings

The rule does not apply to produce not in its raw or natural state. For example, that means asparagus, a number of kinds of beans, chickpeas, coffee beans, horseradish, okra, peanuts, pecans, peppermint, and many grains.

The law permits states, tribes, and counties to apply for variances, which are exceptions to various parts of the produce rule.

Do Your Vendors Work With Companies Who Comply With the Produce Rule?

Your customers ultimately judge you by the quality of your food. If they get ill from your food, they hold you responsible (even if it wasn’t technically your fault).

So the question for your vendors is: how can they reassure you they get food from farmers who comply with the Produce Rule?

Only build relationships with ones that make you feel comfortable they work with farmers who are in full compliance with this rule, to the best of their knowledge.

Will Food Regulations Tighten Up in 2017 and Beyond?

Think food safety law is tight? It’s unclear, but it seems as though it may not tighten up anytime soon.

According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Americans find many aspects of food safety and management important. However, their greatest concerns are “…affordability, nutrition, and food safety.”

Americans place a high degree of trust in the FDA. But they trust the food industry itself and the media least of all, according to the same article.

What’s Driving All This?

America has a strong infatuation with food. Think of all the celebrity chefs and cooking shows you see on TV. Netflix documentaries about food get high viewership rates. As a result, it only naturally follows that Americans have a strong interest in the policy protecting the food they eat.

However, the current presidential administration isn’t necessarily supporting the creation of additional legislation. The Congressional House has already passed the Regulatory Accountability Act, while the Senate is working on its own version.

If the whole act successfully passed, here’s the rough process you could expect for any new food safety rule:

  • The FDA and USDA would be forced to consider many regulatory options
  • Judges, whose job it would be to question the FDA’s and USDA’s experts, would then review these proposed rules in two separate reviews
  • Both the Senate and House would then have to give their final approval of any proposed legislation

The Food Industry As a Whole Supports Additional Legislation

While the current administration wants to reduce federal regulatory power, the food industry itself supports it. The effect of additional regulation is that consumers have more trust and confidence in the food industry. In addition, it puts unethical companies out of business.

The previous administration’s support of the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011, was viewed as a big step forward for food safety because of its shift to a preventative (versus reactive) approach to food safety.

What Can You Do?

Even though public opinion sways in the opposite direction of federal action, that doesn’t mean you need to sit by the wayside. You may not have the ability to influence federal regulation.

However, you could create your own in-house standards above and beyond the current requirements of federal regulation. Then, you can market this fact to consumers. They may not trust your own standards as much as federal ones. But when they see you holding yourself to a higher standard than federal law, they’ll take that seriously to a degree.

It’s an idea for creating trust and confidence in consumers when the powers that be don’t support what the public wants.

Should You Use IoT to Manage Your Food’s Safety?

Woman at a grocery store talking on the phone

You’ve probably at least heard chatter about the “internet of things.” You may have heard sensational stories of remarkable business transformations IoT has made possible.

Those are real. In 2010, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestburg first made the prediction that the world will have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. In 2011, Dave Evans, a Cisco employee, made the same prediction.

What Is IoT?

You may not yet have a concrete idea of the internet of things. Basically, it’s hooking up sensors throughout your building in places that weren’t previously possible. You can now do this because it’s finally become cost-effective enough to mass-produce sensors so nearly every business can afford them.

Why Should C-Stores Care about IoT?

IoT sensors automate a lot of manual labor. And when you have them integrated properly into your c-store and business processes, you can actually predict and respond to anticipated future events before they happen. Attempt to do the same on your own, and you shoot your labor costs through the roof.

For example, IoT sensors could monitor your stock of a certain brand of candy bar, and then automatically order more when you need them. Multiply this by a thousand times across all your stores, and that’s where the savings start to pile up. Then, you may be able to use the data to make more intelligent business decisions.

But Don’t Use IoT Because It’s The Next Hot Trend

There’s no doubt the internet of things makes sense for many businesses. Many are adopting it already.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Elliot Grant, founder of Harvest Mark, a traceability company that serves the food industry, recommends:

“Having more data doesn’t necessarily give you more insight. So my recommendation is to identify what are the key drivers of risk and opportunity that could potentially be improved with more measurements.”

He also adds that you should take a thousand measurements by hand to see if the data you harvest from that process actually makes any difference for your company. Once you understand how that does (or does not) help your business, then you should make a decision on using the internet of things.

IoT will be a megatrend in business. But only you can decide if it makes sense for yours.

 

How to Use Backpack Vacuums

Maybe you have a new cleaning team member. Maybe you finally convinced your boss that you need Vacuum Cleaner Hose in Handbackpack vacuums because they’re so much more efficient than their upright counterparts.

In either case, you have to introduce your team to backpack vacuums. They’re a little different than uprights. But your team will love them once they get used to them.

Here’s how to break the ice:

  1. Start Your Team Off Slow

You don’t know the true physical condition of each of your team members. You don’t want one to hurt their back and go on worker’s compensation.

So, start them off slow. Let them begin with just a single hour of backpack vacuuming. Then, allow them to move their way up to a full shift. This minimizes the stress on their body so they get used to it gradually, which minimizes their chance of injury.

They’re constructed to be fairly lightweight. But you never know the condition of each team member’s body.

  1. How to Wear the Backpack Vacuum

Each employee should grab the backpack vacuum off the floor with the hand they use most often, whether right-handed or left-handed. This minimizes strain and risk of injury when first putting it on.

Again, depending on the hand they use, your employees should leave the strap on the side of their body they favor just slightly loose. This frees up their stronger arm, which makes it easier to use and control the vacuum. The vacuum should not slide around on your back. If it does, it’s a little bit too loose overall.

  1. Keep Tools and Accessories on a Belt or Nearby Surface At Least Waist-High

Backpack vacuums are not designed to allow you to bend over while you wear the apparatus. However, some come with a belt that keeps tools in reach. You can also consider laying out the tools you need nearby on a surface that doesn’t require you to bend over to reach them.

Alternatively, you could simply leave all tasks requiring various tools until the end. That will make doing them as efficient as possible.

Once your staff sees how much faster they’re able to clean, they’ll love your backpack vacuums. They’ll be able to look over these minor adjustments.