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The Value of Clean

Written by  Stacey Wong, VP Sales, Servicon Systems, Inc.

Defining "clean" and keeping clients content

Window Cleaning

Who defines clean? You or your tenants?

Building services cost. But how much should a facility manager pay to have a "clean" building? And who defines clean?

Would you buy a Honda and expect it to drive like a Porsche? Why then do we have a similar mindset with our cleaning contract? Facility professionals are often compelled to choose the lowest cost service provider in order to hit their budget and are disappointed when that vendor can't perform quality work. Although budget versus performance is an ongoing issue for facility managers, there are several key elements that will help you find the right balance for your organization.

One goal is to clearly define cleaning expectations with your cleaning contractor and the building occupants while also keeping workplace wellness a top priority.

Consider these three key aspects:

1. Define "clean" with all major stakeholders and clients.

2. Communicate how clean is delivered and explain cleaning expectations

3. Make sure you understand the value of clean

Begin with the janitorial statement of work. Remember that SOWs are not always updated annually, however, chemicals, cleaning philosophies, and equipment improve significantly each year. One major example is your strip and wax frequency. Many SOWs still require this procedure quarterly, but the chemicals have improved drastically and don't require this process as frequently. It's also important to do your homework. A good place to start is to have an open conversation with multiple cleaning contractors before you hire them. Get information from multiple sources that will allow you to develop a comprehensive and realistic SOW that is attuned to your budget.

Once the SOW is further refined to reflect your budget range, ask key building stakeholders about their knowledge and expectations of clean. As a facility manager, this is the moment to learn more about your occupants' expectations and work towards delicately redefining them against the new SOW. As an example, if you know the SOW calls for three days of vacuuming yet the tenant wants all debris removed from the floor nightly, bring up the constraints of the SOW and the cleaning frequencies on the contract. This will not only help curb tenant disappointment, it also allows for better support and understanding of the cleaning crew which will decrease complaint calls.

One key practice at Servicon - a janitorial company - is to proactively interview key building stakeholders before we begin a new cleaning contract in order to fully understand the client and tenant's perception and expectations of clean.

Another key element of cleaning that can impact a facility managers balance between budget and cleaning performance is making sure everyone understands the Value of Clean.

ISSA's Value of Clean details the hidden numbers of clean that can cost the most.

Cost per work ticket

A quick response may help to satisfy a complaining customer, but the only thing that will reduce your budget is to prevent work orders from happening at all. Time versus cost studies have shown that the cost involved in processing one invoice alone can range from $13 to $49 per work order, including the cost of labor and the multiple steps in order processing, order placement, management approval, and vendor interaction.


Health-related lost productive time (LPT) has been targeted at more than $222 billion per year in the U.S. with the average per employee annual cost at approximately $1,320. Causes of absenteeism such as colds, flu, and asthma are major contributors that can be reduced as much as 80 percent with the right preventative janitorial practices.


What does a clean environment mean to employees? A study of 400 managers and employees conducted by HLW International LLP on employee productivity levels reported a 5 percent productivity gain in quality clean environments in a 100 associate office with an average salary of $25,000. A workplace wellness approach not only attracts employees, it retains them - especially millennials who have come to expect a health-conscious focus from their employers.

At the end of the day, you must engage in setting the expectation of "clean" with building occupants if you want to hit your budget goals and still ensure tenant satisfaction. Partner with your cleaning contractor to work toward this mutual goal and don't forget to make cleaning for health the priority for a safe, productive, and "clean" workplace for everyone.


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