How Certifications Help Guide Your Vacuum Selection

Has it been a while since you’ve had to replace a vacuum? Or, maybe you’re new to purchasing cleaning and sanitation equipment.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to differentiate all the choices available. While certifications in some niches can serve as moneymakers for the certifying organization more than anything else, they do help with your decision making when it comes to choosing the right vacuum.

With vacuums, the leading (and highly credible) organizations are LEED, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), and the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA).

1. Highest Level of Certification: Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America

To be certified by the AAFA, a vacuum must have CRI’s highest level of certification (gold), and meet HEPA system standards. The AAFA also puts the vacuum through a series of rigorous tests that actually prove it reduces allergens and asthma causing irritants. The vacuum must also provide increased environmental control versus others, and must withstand routine cleaning.

If a vacuum comes AAFA certified, you can bet it’s as good as vacuums get. You can learn more about the AAFA’s certification, called the “Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification” at their website.

2. CRI Seal of Approval

This certification, just mentioned in the previous point as part of the AAFA’s certification, comes in three levels: gold, silver, and bronze. Here’s what each level requires:

  • Gold: 55% of soil removed from carpets with less than 35 micrograms of dust emitted per cubic meter of air
  • Silver: 50%/must emit less than 100 mcg
  • Bronze: 40-49%/must emit less than 100 mcg

CRI offers a detailed explanation of its certification and exactly what it means at its website.

3. LEED Green Cleaning Certification

Also based on the CRI certification, a vacuum must have a CRI gold rating and emit less than 70 decibels of sound when operating to become LEED certified.

LEED has a much more cryptic website than most, but you get plenty of detail on their certification and what it’s all about here.

So now, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the vacuum you’re about to buy. These certifications help you understand which vacuums rock and will accomplish the purpose you hope for.

How Points-Based No-Fault Work Attendance Systems Backfire

No-fault work attendance policies have been gaining popularity among small employers and global corporations alike. The janitorial and cleaning professions, among many others have frequently use these systems. However, that popularity has waned in the past few years.

Absenteeism presents a challenge for many employers, and it can be difficult to figure out how to address it. For example, it’s difficult to judge the merit of the reason for missing work, which leads to inconsistent application of the policy. And you can understand how that would be upsetting to employees.

Though you may be well-intended when using a no-fault attendance policy, you can easily violate employees’ civil rights.

How Civil Rights Violations Happen

Life gets outside your employees’ control sometimes. The plumber comes too late to fix a leaky pipe. A child gets sick and they can’t find a babysitter. Or their car suddenly breaks down, and they have to have it towed in and repaired.

Those situations do not put you at risk for civil rights violations (or eventually, lawsuits).

However, problems happen when employees get penalized for not attending work for reasons protected by civil law. This can happen because of pregnancy, childbirth, or due to a disability (the most common reasons violations happen).

For example, in 2011, Verizon had to shell out $20 million after the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the company did not make exceptions to its no-fault attendance policy for employees with disabilities.

How Do You Avoid Potentially Expensive, and Reputation-Damaging, Lawsuits?

The more employees you have, the more difficult it is to manage a “no-fault” attendance policy.

The trick is to have your supervisors and managers trained to understand civil rights law: what can they penalize employees for, and what can they not.

They then need to understand what questions to ask so they can document the proper reason for the missed absence.

Or, you could simply abandon the policy entirely, and simply focus on incentivizing positive behavior with rewards, rather than punishing undesirable behavior. Psychological studies have repeatedly proven the former always works more effectively when influencing human behavior.

Finally, you could also create a system for hiring employees who you can trust. Both of those are longer-term strategies, but they have a huge payoff.

Regardless, you’re at least aware of the issue and can identify the best solution for your company.

How to Dispose of Your Excess Inventory

Even the janitorial industry needs to do its own spring cleaning. When you find yourself with excess inventory you simply can’t put to use, what do you do with it?

Do you sell it to a liquidator? Do you try to resell it online at one of the many marketplaces?

As you know, this takes hard work, and you really get back just a small return for your effort. In business terms, it doesn’t make much sense.

Have you ever considered an alternative idea, like donating your excess inventory to your favorite local non-profit?

Yes, you get a tax deduction for that. But think of the many other additional benefits also:

1. Improve Your Local Reputation

What’s your company without a good reputation? You can raise awareness that you’re the kind of company who cares about everyone in the area.

This can get you good, personal public relations. It may not lead to additional clients right away, but you might have a few who come in later on.

2. Win Greater Employee Engagement

Employees, and especially Millennials, like to work with companies who show more interest than only in the bottom line. Since they like your company more, they serve you and your customers better.

That strengthens your position in the marketplace. It also reduces turnover if you show you have a serious long-term commitment to this.

3. Save Your Company Time

Whatever method you use to eliminate your excess inventory currently takes more hard work than simply donating to charity. “Gifts-in-kind” nonprofits actually administer this process for dozens of clients so it’s easy for them to eliminate mass amounts of excess stock.

4. Reap A Little-Known Tax Reward

IRS tax code 170(e) (3) actually allows you to deduct up to twice the cost of your inventory if you’re a C-corporation and you donate to charity. If your product costs $15, and stores sell it for $30, you can add back in half the difference between your product’s cost and the retail price.

The difference in this case is $7.50. So, add that to your product cost of $15.00 to get a $22.50 deduction.

5. Benefit from Helping Those in Need

This is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

What seems to you like no big deal could actually be a huge thing for an organization or person in need. Some nonprofits have to decide if they can turn the air conditioning on. Or, they may constantly turn the heat down during the winter. You don’t know what a box or two of cleaning supplies really means to them.

If they in turn donate goods directly to people, those people may be grateful because they live in a messy house and don’t have any money to buy even basic necessities.

So while you and your company may not struggle with the basics, there’s actually a great chance someone else does.

And you feel great and they feel awesome too because you’ve helped them meet their needs.

So, whether you’re a C-Corporation or not, consider donating your excess cleaning stock to nonprofits. There’s so many wins to be had!

4 Myths and Misunderstandings about Mops

Believe it or not, mops can be just as responsible for spreading bacteria as they are for removing it.

That is, only if you continue to act in ways that fit with these mopping myths:

1. Myth #1: Mops Don’t Spread Soil

Mops can spread soil. Several studies have found this true over the past several decades.

To prevent this from happening, you must make sure your mop head remains wet (not just damp). You also need to inspect it for the amount of soil it currently holds.

If your mop head remains too loaded with soil, simply change out to a new one.

2. Myth #2: Soaking Your Mop Overnight Kills Most of the Germs and Bacteria Holds

This one depends on how you do the decontamination. To do it properly, you should first shake out or vacuum the dust off your mop head. Then wash it in the washer, and be sure to use a netted bag if your mop requires one.

You don’t need to use bleach when washing your mop head. Simply use a gentle detergent and hot water. Then hang the mop up to dry overnight.

3. Using More Disinfectant in Your Cleaning Solution Improves Your Mop’s Germ-Killing Power

Using more disinfectant than recommended actually reduces the disinfecting potency of your mop.

This happens as a result of “quat binding.” That term’s short for “quaternary ammonium chloride,” the active ingredient in many cleaning disinfectants. “Quat” has positively charged ions that naturally attract to the negatively charged ions in the fabric of your mop.

So, whenever you mix a cleaning solution, mix to the ratios recommended by the manufacturer.

4. Mopping Floors Improves Your Shoulder Muscles

The truth is you only experience more pain and discomfort as a result of the repetitive motion. This happens throughout your shoulders and back.

If you want to spare yourself from that pain, use autoscrubbers or go to the gym and exercise those muscle areas regularly.

Advocate for your employer to provide a monthly reimbursement for a gym membership if you need to!

Did any of these mopping myths surprise you?

Now you know the truth behind them so you truly do the best work every time you mop your customers’ floors.

4 Top Factors to Consider When Bidding a New Account

There’s absolutely no one single rule of thumb to follow when submitting a quote to your prospective customer. Needs vary way too widely. The environments you’ll have responsibility for cleaning and sanitizing have their own intricacies.

So, no matter how hard you try, you won’t find a single rule that fits for bidding every new contract. But, that also doesn’t mean you have to guesstimate.

Instead, consider these top factors so you submit an accurate quote that also makes sense to your customer:

  • Meet with Your Potential Client On-Site

The real value when meeting with your potential customer isn’t that you’ll understand their needs. While important, this really gives you the opportunity to show them you care. Customers want that the most because they’ve all been through situations with companies who don’t care.

It’s also your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and competence. That builds customers’ trust. And you also get to learn the ins and outs of their building so you know exactly what you’re getting into. You’ll also get a basic understanding of who your customer is, and how to have a successful relationship with them.

Many of your competitors won’t take the time to do this. It gives you a huge advantage.

  • Use the Workloading Method of Calculation

You’ll often see the advice to charge so many cents per square foot, based on what you learn about your customer. But that approach is overly simplistic and doesn’t accurately account for the various types of surfaces you have to clean, the precise tasks you use to clean each area, or the production rate per employee.

Yes, technically you do include all that in a per-square-foot bid. However, you’re estimating.

With workloading, you know each of those factors exactly. While you may not be perfectly accurate in your quote, you’ll be much more accurate than simply offering a per-square foot cost.

  • The Difficulty of the Customer

Let’s be real: some customers are easy to please, while you can’t seem to do anything right for others. You’ll notice the things easier and more difficult customers will say when you visit their property for the quote.

Adjust your price upward for more challenging customers, and keep it down slightly for easier ones. Higher prices attract better customers, and chase away ones destined to cause you trouble.

  • How Much You Need the Business

You have to include this too. While you’d love to price high and justify to your customers, sometimes your business needs the additional work.

In sum, view all these factors as working on a dial. For each factor that looks good, turn your mental pricing dial down, or don’t change it. For each factor that sends a red flag, turn your pricing dial up. When all is said and done, you’ll end up with a workable rate that makes sense for you and your customers.

How to Have Successful Relationships with Your Customers

Every profession, including cleaning, requires strong customer service skills. When you don’t manage customer relationships well, your reputation takes a blow.

How do you work with many customer questions and concerns? Here are some things to say and not say, and better ways to communicate with customers that keep the relationship healthy and thriving:

  • “We Don’t Provide That Service”

Should you say this, or shouldn’t you? After all, it’s honest. You don’t want to lead the customer you provide services into feeling good about you just for this moment. They’ll feel hurt after they find out you really don’t provide the service discussed.

If you don’t offer the service, simply redirect the conversation to a service you do offer that achieves the result they want. If you don’t have that, notify your boss. You may have a new line of revenue you can access by offering a new service.

  • “Let me look into that for you.”

Customers hear this all the time, and they assume it means you’re not going to look into it at all and ignore what they asked.

If your customer stumps you with a question you can’t answer, tell them you will look into it. But, also give them a deadline when you’ll have the answer. Give yourself plenty of time so you beat your deadline and exceed their expectations.

They’ll be delighted with you.

  • “I’m sorry.”

Customers measure the truth about how sorry you are by whether you follow up your apology with action to make it right. Apologizing verbally is a good start.

But, you have to explain how you’ll fix your mistake. Be 100% honest, and follow through exactly with what you plan.

Customers can live with mistakes. However, they’ll love you when you tell them how you’ll fix it – and follow through on your proposed action.

  • “Sorry, I’ve got another call coming in.”

In most situations, this sounds like an excuse you make to a customer so you can get rid of them.

If you have a legitimately important phone call come in, tell your customer you have an emergency phone call. Follow that up with when you will get back to them, and then follow through with action.

This keeps your relationship intact in the moment so your customer doesn’t feel unimportant. Assuming you follow through as promised later on, it also keeps the customer happy with you on an ongoing basis.

Did you see the pattern throughout? Basically, mean what you say. Never tell customers what you think they want to hear. Always follow through.

Follow that recipe with internal and external customer service, and you’ll find yourself as the employee customers love to tell others about.

Why We Created the Ferveo Line of Hand-Care Products

Do you use the hand washing agents available at your business exactly as directed?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. And even when you do use the product as the manufacturer instructs, sometimes you still don’t have all the bacteria and germs on your hands killed like you should.

Handwashing doesn’t seem like a huge deal. Yeah, so it prevents some people from getting colds and flus each year. But that’s not worth shifting to a new product for cleaning your hands and instructing your employees on properly handwashing technique, is it?

Believe it or not, it is. According to an article by the New York Times, about 100,000 patients die each year because of poor hand hygiene in the medical industry. This also leads to an additional $30 billion in medical care costs.

Those numbers may be a bit extreme and not as applicable to other industries. But it does demonstrate that hand hygiene is a sound business/organizational decision that’s worth paying attention to.

And That’s Where the Ferveo Line Comes In

Ferveo isn’t just for the medical industry. It’s for every industry. Poor hand hygiene may not lead to thousands of deaths in your industry. But, it leads to additional (and unnecessary) illnesses. These illnesses in turn:

  • Reduce productivity when workers are present
  • Increase workplace absences
  • Deplete worker morale
  • Cause other hassles, like missed project deadlines

Have you ever taken time to calculate your number of illness-related work absences? Once you have a baseline, use Ferveo, and set a clear policy around hand hygiene. Then analyze how many illness-related work absences you have.

Why Use Ferveo and Not Some Other Hand Hygiene Products?

It’s the only product that kills 99.99% of bacteria in 5 seconds or less (which is about half the time of most other hand hygiene products) without a pungent smell or taste. In fact, Ferveo users report it goes on just like a lotion.

So if you’re in the food or medical industries, for example, you and your patients (or customers) won’t have to deal with the scent or taste. It also comes with a thick and rich lather so your hands aren’t left dry or chapped.

Only you can decide whether Ferveo makes sense for your organization. For now, you have the awareness and understand the value.

Industries, Organizations, and Venues that Can Benefit Most from Ferveo

Does your organization really need better hand hygiene? How important to your functioning is it really?

You don’t have a mass epidemic going on every year. So, everything must be okay with your organization, right?

Well, not so fast. Remember, the New York Times reported 100,000 patient deaths are caused each year in the medical industry by poor hand hygiene. That results in $30 billion in unnecessary expenses too.

This in an industry where hand hygiene is of the utmost importance. You’d think this industry would have extremely high awareness of the issue, and clear policies to make sure hand hygiene gets followed to the fullest extent possible.

Will poor hand hygiene, and the resulting spread of illness, lead to the same consequences at your organization?

Probably not. But it could cost you a lot of money and productivity, which you could otherwise use to beat your competition.

Take a look at some industries, organizations, and venues that can benefit most from good hand hygiene practices and products like Ferveo:

  • Healthcare
    Clearly, any organization in the medical industry can benefit from better hand hygiene practices and products. Ferveo, for example, kills 99.99% of bacteria in less than 5 seconds – without a strong scent or taste.
    Sanitizers do the same in 15 seconds. Antimicrobial soaps do it in 30. And general purpose soap takes 60 seconds.
    Often, they have bothersome pungent odors and tastes.
    In an industry where you’re constantly on the go and saving lives, a product that works in 5 seconds or less simply makes sense.
  • Food
    Your employees constantly touch food. They wash their hands many times per day. Do they really wait 15, 30, or even 60 seconds between the time they wash their hands and touch more food to make sure it does its job killing bacteria?
    Or, do they get right back to work as soon as they’re done washing?
    With Ferveo, they only have 5 seconds of downtime. That’s a boost for productivity. And it leads to far fewer illnesses that could be caused by your food.
  • Schools and Universities
    Schools with young children always have high rates of illness. It’s just the nature of the work.
    While you won’t be able to stop every last illness from happening, you can dramatically reduce them with better handwashing policy and a fast-acting product.
    Lesser illness means better education for your students. It leads to fewer teacher absences. Parents are less stressed.

Everyone becomes a winner.

Yes, Ferveo Drives True Business Value

Regardless of the type of organization you run, improved hand hygiene helps your bottom line. You just have to take the time to make the calculation and figure out the real impact. But as you can see, hand hygiene products like Ferveo can absolutely make a noticeable difference for your employees and your bottom line.

How to Improve Strained Customer Relationships

Do you have internal or external customers? Both? From your experience as a cleaning pro, you know how hard it is to keep everyone happy.

You’d love for everyone to be ecstatic with you and your service. But sometimes, that’s not possible. People have different personalities and preferences. Sometimes they have stressful personal issues boiling over into their professional lives.

You don’t always know what’s going on with them. That makes it difficult to have a successful relationship with every customer. So of course, some relationships become strained. And in some cases, relationships will be impossible to maintain.

Here’s what you can do to get those relationships back on track after they get into a rough spot:

Consider Involving Another Team Member

The idea here isn’t to tag-team your customer. Instead, you include another team member so they can identify ways to improve the relationship. Their own demeanor may play an important role in improving it.

They may also be able to offer you feedback on things you could do to be more successful in the future. And, you might also try switching team members who interact with certain customers because sometimes, people connect better with different personalities.

Admit Where You’re Wrong First

Unhappy customers can always find something wrong. So, let’s say you have an unreasonable customer. They’re obviously 99% in the wrong, but you have just 1% of the wrong.

Own up to your 1%. Lead with that when you start conversation. Trying to show your customer where they’re wrong only results in them getting angrier and feeling more justified in their behavior.

It’s hard to have a humble attitude like this when someone else is being unreasonable. But, it helps smooth things out.

Ask What You Can Do to Improve

Some customers have their own idea of what you need to do to make them happy. Their expectations may or may not be accommodated in your contract.

If they have a small ask outside of your contract, consider giving it to them. If they ask for more, you’ll have to remind them you already pulled them a favor and bent the rules.

Otherwise, try as best as you can to accommodate what your customer wants. They’ll tell you. You’ll have to decide on your limits.

Be Willing to Lose the Customer

Some customer relationships just aren’t meant to be. Try as you might, you just can’t get on the same page.

Know your own boundaries. What are you willing to do? What won’t you do? At what point does the customer become so unreasonable that it’s best for you to part ways?

Make sure you define that for yourself.

When you follow these simple strategies, you can repair relationships that have gone off track. It leads to a more stable business, and you’ll have more fun in your work (and less stress) as a cleaning pro too.

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.