Getting Beyond "Pretty Good" to Know How You're Actually Performing

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Jeff Gilkey is an industry veteran. He’s the Manager of Custodial & Safety Services at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he started nearly 14 years ago; before that, he was a housekeeping manager in the healthcare field.

During that time, he’s seen a lot of change.

“For years, I just did everything on paper,” Gilkey says. He recalls charting out complicated, color-coded cleaning schedules for the hospital on poster boards. When he arrived at Franciscan in 2006, he introduced paper inspections to his team.

We met Gilkey at an ISSA convention back in 2015. “I was looking for software to advance our staff,” he recalls. He talked to various software providers, but was struck by what the janitorial app offered, as well as how interested the OrangeQC team was in his team’s needs.

We recently caught up with Gilkey to see how OrangeQC has changed things for his team.

Photo courtesy of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Photo courtesy of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Better data on performance

OrangeQC has helped Gilkey deliver specific, measurable reports on quality to his boss. “When I have my weekly meeting with my boss, I’ve gone from saying ‘We’re doing pretty good,’ to ‘Here’s where we are. Here’s the graph, here’s the reports, here’s where we are,’” Gilkey says. “There’s a big difference between ‘pretty good’ and ‘94%.’”

In turn, when Gilkey has once-a-week meetings with his direct reports, he’s able to give accurate, responsive feedback to their performance.

He asks his coordinators to complete about five inspections a day. Before his weekly one-on-ones with them, he pulls up OrangeQC to get a sense of how they’re doing.

He doesn’t micromanage their day-to-day tasks, but the inspection software makes it easy to see how well they’re keeping up.

Easier to get everyone on the same page

Gilkey says OrangeQC has “absolutely helped with communication.” When he looks over the reports and notices deficiencies in a certain area (say, bathroom vents), he’s able to pass the information on to his team, either verbally or through a work order.

It’s also boosted his team’s accountability. For example, because OrangeQC inspections have timestamps, he can see if someone is only inspecting a room for two minutes and let them know it takes longer to do a thorough inspection than that.

Professionalism and visibility

“I feel that OrangeQC gives [coordinators] more of a sense of professionalism when they’re walking around the buildings and they have their iPads,” Gilkey says.

Especially in a university environment, it’s important for his team to come off as professional, efficient, and tech-savvy. “It looks a lot better than walking around with a clipboard,” he says.


A big thank-you to Jeff for sharing his experiences with OrangeQC!

OrangeQC is refreshingly simple janitorial software that empowers your team to own quality control. We’d love to connect and give you a free one-on-one demo of our inspection app and website; click here or email info@orangeqc.com.

It's Here! The New OrangeQC iOS App Release is Ready to Get to Work

It’s been months in the making, and we’re so excited to share it with you! The latest version of the OrangeQC mobile janitorial inspection app for iOS devices makes managing quality control even simpler.

The new version (3.7.0, if you’re counting) was designed based on your feedback. It takes the things our clients love about OrangeQC (fast, easy inspections with great data) and makes them even better. A few things the new version lets you do:

  • Fill out forms more quickly, with fewer taps, with redesigned inspection forms

  • Find inspections easily with improved search

  • Get inspecting right away with faster app launch times

  • Enjoy a fresh new look with updated icons and fonts

  • Filter scheduled inspections by the current month instead of the current week

If your devices are set to download updates automatically, you don’t need to do anything. If you aren’t set to update automatically, visit the app store and manually update.

Android app users, we haven’t forgotten you! New bug fixes and updates are coming to your app shortly. They’ll automatically download to keep OrangeQC running smoothly for your team.


How CVG Embraces Technology to Keep Its Airport Amazingly Clean

Airport housekeeping and janitorial teams face a huge challenge: keeping enormous facilities clean despite round-the-clock traffic. We talked to one of our OrangeQC clients about how they use the latest technology to rise to the occasion.

Around the world, airport facility teams are dealing with unprecedented traffic.

Total passengers were up 6.6% last year, according to Airports Council International (ACI). Airport facilities and housekeeping teams are facing unprecedented demands to clean and keep supplies stocked as their facilities get busier and busier.

It’s a challenge Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) knows well. In fact, CVG is currently the fastest growing passenger and cargo airport in North America. And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

But the housekeeping team does more than just keep up.

“We have to demonstrate every hour of every day how a clean, inviting atmosphere can play a vital role in attracting and retaining new customers,” said Rae Jean Chambers, Assistant Supervisor of Housekeeping for CVG. “[We’re] moving away from a ‘public utility’ to a recognizable ‘travel brand’ for safe, secure, and clean operations.”

Here’s how one airport uses new technology to meet the new demands.

CVG is innovating with a slew of new technologies. They’re one of the first airports in the country to implement a wearable technology program (using the Samsung Gear Hipaax TaskWatch) to help track passenger flow, communicate thresholds to staff on the ground, activate checklists, and contribute to airport security. The staff uses environmentally-friendly ionized water to mix their own cleaning fluids, reducing waste and eliminating harsh cleaning chemicals. They are also purchasing an autonomous scrubber to keep their terrazzo floors clean.

And, of course, we’re proud to work with CVG! Their teams began using OrangeQC to manage quality control in January of 2015. Not only do they use the app to identify high-traffic areas and spots that need more attention, they also track the cleaning quality of both their in-house and contract cleaners.

“We absolutely love it,” said Chambers. Her team especially appreciates the graphing and charting capabilities that OrangeQC offers.

Getting creative with technology takes things to the next level.

When CVG put up signs asking travelers to give feedback on the airport’s bathrooms, they weren’t sure how people would respond.

The idea was for customers to use their own phones to send notes, either by scanning a QR code or sending an email. CVG’s housekeeping team would get more detail than a simple happy face/frowny face button provides -- and bypass concerns about germs. Most importantly, with technology from OrangeQC, the feedback would go straight to their staff.

“At first we thought, oh, we won’t have many people take the time out of their busy travel to do this,” said But she said they were surprised by how many responses they started getting. “People really do care what the restrooms look like.”

CVG posts placards showing how travelers can leave feedback on the state of the restrooms via OrangeQC. (Photo courtesy of CVG.)

CVG posts placards showing how travelers can leave feedback on the state of the restrooms via OrangeQC. (Photo courtesy of CVG.)

The team even gets positive comments through the system. “Of all the airports, they say they enjoy flying here because we take the time to make it clean and inviting,” said Chambers.

Learn more about how OrangeQC works for airports and aviation facilities and housekeeping teams.

What George W. Bush Had to Say to the Cleaning Industry

What would a former President of the United States have to say to the cleaning and janitorial industry? That’s what we wondered when we found out that President George W. Bush was going to be at ISSA Show North America 2018.

ISSA Director John Barrett and President George W. Bush met for a “Fireside Chat” about leadership, personal growth, and more. We had pretty great seats!

ISSA Director John Barrett and President George W. Bush met for a “Fireside Chat” about leadership, personal growth, and more. We had pretty great seats!


He and ISSA Director John Barrett hosted an informal “fireside chat” that covered a wide range of issues. It was fascinating to hear from these two on how leaders can improve.

President Bush’s main message? Don’t stop learning.

He spoke about the need to constantly keep learning, growing, and self-reinventing. He gave the example of his own reinvention after his presidency, when he began painting as an amateur artist. His Portraits of Courage exhibit features oil paintings of veterans who served after 9/11 and raises funds for veterans’ causes. It’s been curated into an art book and praised for its unflinching look into the eyes of those who have served.

So how does this connect with cleaning?

President Bush spoke to the fact that business owners and team leaders need to continually push themselves and their teams. It’s crucial to constantly invest in learning.

This is a message that any team can take to heart. No matter how far you’ve come, there’s always room to keep growing.

Practically speaking, this might look like investing in training and education, both for leaders and staff. Maybe it means sitting down to hear from cleaners on the ground to hear their own feedback and ideas. Maybe it means committing to master new business skills and best practices.

But as we head into December, a time of reflecting on the year that’s almost behind us, we think it’s worth looking forward to ask: How can we challenge ourselves to learn and grow?

If you were at ISSA, we’d love to hear what you took away from this meeting of janitorial minds! We had a great time hearing from key figures in the industry and meeting so many people with a passion for pushing their own businesses to the next level.


OrangeQC is refreshingly simple janitorial software that empowers your team to own quality control. We’d love to connect and give you a free one-on-one demo of our inspection app and website; click here or email info@orangeqc.com.

Last Chance to Catch OrangeQC at ISSA 2018 - Booth 3553!

ISSA Show North America 2018 is wrapping up in Dallas today, and so far, we’ve had a blast meeting new people, saying ‘hi’ to our clients, and showing off our janitorial inspection software and app. If you’re at the show, please stop by!

Matt demonstrating our janitorial app and quality control program at the booth.

Matt demonstrating our janitorial app and quality control program at the booth.

So far, it’s been a great show. It’s always amazing to meet so many people who are passionate about what they do.

Of course, we had to fuel up for all the excitement with some good Texas BBQ. Thanks, Lockhart Smokehouse!

Of course, we had to fuel up for all the excitement with some good Texas BBQ. Thanks, Lockhart Smokehouse!

Did we meet already? Make sure to check out our special information for ISSA guests. And have a great last day of the show!

Why You Need to Know Who Your Best People Are

We work with all sorts of cleaning, janitorial, and maintenance teams here at OrangeQC. They range from small, family-run businesses where the boss makes the coffee to huge BSCs that employ hundreds of people to clean entire airports.

There’s one crucial thing that every business we work with has to do: manage its employees well. That’s true whether your team has two people . . . or two thousand.

It’s not the mop that matters; it’s the person pushing it. (Photo by  pan xiaozhen .)

It’s not the mop that matters; it’s the person pushing it. (Photo by pan xiaozhen.)

More than in almost any other industry, cleaning and maintenance teams rely on people who roll up their sleeves and get the job done. Yes, great equipment and technology can help. But in the end, it’s the people on the ground who need to deliver great service.

In our last blog post, we mentioned the 2017 ISSA/BSCAI Building Service Contractor Benchmarking Study, which found that 41% of respondents reported a 50% or higher employee turnover rate. Annually.

That number represents a huge investment of time and money spent hiring and training new people. But we would argue there’s an even more important question to consider: What’s our turnover rate for our best people?

The truth is, not every hire is going to work out. Some just won’t be up to scratch. Some will move on to other things.

But you don’t want to sit back and watch this happen. When you know how each cleaner is performing, you can take better control of managing your team.

One way to do this is by tracking each employee’s quality. It’s not enough to just know how your sites are performing; you need to know how your people are performing.

That’s why we’ve added the ability for inspectors to quickly note who was responsible for cleaning or maintaining each area from a drop-down list before inspecting. Premium reports include a real-time employee dashboard and the ability to quickly compare scores, see what line items an employee keeps missing, and more.

So what can you do with this information?

First of all, watch for the outliers.

When someone has low scores and tons of deficient line items, don’t ignore it. Decide what makes sense: more training, sitting down to look over the inspections together, or another intervention.

When someone is performing consistently well, don’t ignore that, either! Studies have shown that recognition is a powerful motivator for most people. Let people know when they’re doing a good job. Thank them.

Secondly, use the data to inform your staffing decisions. That poor performer? If they can’t turn the ship around, it might be time to let them go. But if they do start racking up high scores, a word of praise can go a long way towards validating that trend. And when you need to make decisions about raises and promotions, a list of who has the highest average scores in your entire company is extremely useful.

When you or your supervisors sit down to have these conversations with your employees, opening up OrangeQC to review inspection reports steers the conversation in the right direction. Concrete scores, photos of what went wrong, a trend line that shows how their performance has improved over time: these kinds of concrete data help keep the conversation rooted in reality.

Managing people is always hard, especially in an industry so marked by turnover. But we’ve talked to so many clients who work really hard to not only deliver great service to their customers, but also to be a great employer for their teams. Tracking employee performance is just one more way to reach those goals.

Not using OrangeQC yet? Request a demo. We’ll walk you through our easy-to-use janitorial software and app to show how it can help your team be ready for anything.

What to Do When Things Fall Apart at Your Cleaning Business

Every janitorial team faces challenges — and the occasional crisis. It’s not a question of if, but when. Today, we’re looking at how to deal with three common problems that can send a cleaning business into full-out panic mode.

Photo by  Oliver Hale

Photo by Oliver Hale

The problem: A big client is unhappy and threatens to leave.

That’s where Thats Clean found themselves back in 2012. You might have read owner Tony Witana’s story before: he thought everything was going smoothly, but then his biggest client called and said they were looking into other cleaning services. They weren’t happy with the cleaning quality or communication. So Tony’s team turned to OrangeQC, and everything changed.

But why?

It’s not about fancy technology or a cool app. It’s about transparency.

Tony could really see how the cleaning was going at his clients’ facilities, and he could show his client how he was tracking things. Thats Clean didn’t just fix the problem. They proved they had fixed it.

We recently got back in touch with Tony to see how OrangeQC is working for his team now, six years after they first signed on. He says complaints are down and transparency is high.

“Inspection reports are geotagged and show exactly how the sites are represented — there is no hiding anything,” Tony says. “It has given us increased consistency of service delivery as no one can hide from the inspection reports — they don’t get LOST in a file somewhere!”

If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t panic. Identify the problem and how it can be solved. Then, make sure you communicate the changes you’re making with your client or organization.

The problem: Your team doesn’t communicate well.

Communication problems can take many forms. We’ve heard it all over the years:

  • Completed inspection forms that no one ever looks at.
  • Supervisors who sit down at a desk and fill out inspection forms . . . without ever walking into a facility.
  • Clients who think supervisors aren’t actually walking into the facility, even though they are.
  • Cleaners who don’t realize they’re making the same mistake in every room.
  • Inspectors who penalize cleaners for things they’re not responsible for.
  • Emails about problems that get sent to the wrong person — who never makes sure the right person finds out about the issue.

There are so many moving parts for janitorial teams, it’s no wonder communication problems crop up frequently.

The key is making sure that everyone has access to the right information at the right time. That’s why a mobile-based inspection app is a great solution. Your team can access it at your facilities, and any problems can be flagged so they’re dealt with quickly.

OrangeQC’s janitorial work order and ticket system is designed around this idea. With tickets, client requests and complaints don’t get lost in someone’s inbox. Everyone can see the ticket, who’s responsible, and what the status is. It’s easy to stay on the same page.

If you use OrangeQC, you may want to consider having your clients use the platform as well. That way they can always check on the status of a ticket and know when it’s been resolved. (Of course, you can always set up a dedicated email address that automatically creates a ticket within our system, too.)

The problem: Your staff keeps quitting.

Employee turnover is a huge issue in the janitorial industry. According to the 2017 ISSA/BSCAI Building Service Contractor Benchmarking Study, “41 percent of respondents reported a 50 percent or higher annual employee turnover rate.”

Of course, some turnover is natural, and even desirable. But when half your employees are leaving every year, you’re investing way too many resources on hiring, onboarding, and training people who aren’t sticking around long enough to justify the expense.

Employee retention is a complicated issue, but two key pieces often go overlooked:

  • Recognizing good work
  • Correcting poor work

Of course, these are two sides of the same coin. If you have an accurate idea of how your employees are performing, you’ll manage them much more effectively. You’ll be able to praise good performance (for positive reinforcement) and catch problems early (to prevent bad cleaning habits).

Let your cleaners know how they’re scoring. Confirm when they’re doing a good job. And make sure the motivation is there by rewarding excellent performance.

We heard one great idea from Renee Kavanagh, the Environmental Services Coordinator of Mary Rutan Hospital in Ohio. They use OrangeQC to identify problem spots (for example, baseboards), then host fun competitions where employees who have high scores for that line item get entered into a drawing for a gift card. (Read more about how OrangeQC works for Mary Rutan Hospital.)


We hope these tips help your cleaning business stay on track when the going gets tough. Here at OrangeQC, we truly believe that tracking quality and acting on the results is the key to keeping your business growing for years to come.

Not using OrangeQC yet? Request a demo. We’ll walk you through our easy-to-use janitorial software and app to show how it can help your team be ready for anything.

See Us Live: Announcing Our 2018 Conference Schedule!

We've finalized our 2018 summer/fall conference schedule, and we're so excited to meet new teams, connect with our clients, and learn from other industry insiders.

Are you going to any of these trade shows? Add our booth to your favorites and be sure to stop by:

In addition to showing off the janitorial inspection app and software at our booth, we're also scheduling one-on-one meetings. Get in touch if you'd like a personal demo of the app, to talk through your organization’s inspection process, or to touch base with us if you’re an OrangeQC customer. You can email us at support@orangeqc.com.

Four Tips to Build Better Janitorial Inspections Forms

Do you want to know the absolute easiest, cheapest way to transform your janitorial business?

Write better inspection forms.

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It might seem too good to be true, but a good janitorial inspection form can make the difference between getting great feedback about your team’s cleaning quality, knowing who needs more training, and fixing client issues before you lose business . . . or not.

The truth is, how you write your inspection form makes a huge difference. But the good news is that it’s not complicated. We’ve been helping teams do this for years, and we want to pass that know-how on to you.

Inspect what you expect...

“Inspect what you expect” is a mantra in the janitorial business for a reason. If you want a good starting point for writing an inspection form, start with the checklist your cleaners use! You should only be grading the room based on what you’re asking your cleaning team to do.

In other words, if your cleaners aren’t supposed to clean the windows, don’t have your inspectors check the windows. It sounds simple, but we see it all the time.

If your cleaners do their jobs well, they should be able to earn a high score — otherwise, it’s frustrating for them and unhelpful for you.

For example, if you want to take an inventory of supplies left in a room, but your cleaner isn’t responsible for restocking them, you don’t want to make it a graded line item on the form. However, good janitorial inspection software (including OrangeQC!) will allow you to include a field to capture that information without having it affect the score. In OrangeQC, you can use a number picker for the inspector to take inventory, check temperatures, etc. without affecting the score. You can also change the weight of a line item to 0 if it shouldn’t count in the final score.

...and inspect what’s expected of you.

You should also think about your client’s expectations. Whether it’s in your contract, SLA, or just from the conversations you’ve had, you want to make sure your inspections help you meet those expectations.

Sometimes that means adjusting the grading scale your inspection form uses. For example, in our interview with Alan Slinkard of University of Colorado Boulder, he shared that his team had to adjust their grading scale to reflect the APPA level their organization had requested. If you’re supposed to be delivering an APPA level 2 (“ordinary tidiness”), you need to grade based on that, not an APPA level 1 (“orderly spotlessness”).

Of course, it’s great to exceed expectations! But if you’re giving yourself brownie points for items a customer isn’t paying for, it’s going to be less obvious when you aren’t delivering on something they do expect.

Keep it short.

We say it all the time: the best inspection is the one that gets done.

The great thing about OrangeQC is that an inspector can walk into a room, fill out the form with a few taps and swipes of their smartphone, take a photo if need be, and be done. That’s it.

The shorter you keep your forms, the more likely your inspectors are to keep up the pace you’ve set. You can always create a more detailed form to be filled out annually or monthly, but if you can turn a monthly check into a weekly or daily one by making the form short and sweet, it’s worth it every time.

Get everyone on board.

If two inspectors walk into a room, they should give it the same score. A good inspection form doesn’t leave much room for personal opinion. (This is why OrangeQC lets you view inspection forms by inspector so you can check out average scores.)

You need to be specific about what kind of a clean corresponds with what score. OrangeQC allows you to leave comments by your line items with what’s expected, which is a great reminder. And because all of the rating systems are customizable, you can choose the one that works best for your team.

Have you ever sat down and decided what it means for windows to be given an “exceeds expectations” versus “meets expectations”? Can you find a place where the difference is in writing for your inspectors to refer back to?

Our free BSC quality control email course goes into great depth on how to get your team on the same page and includes a free downloadable ratings guide. Check it out if you haven’t yet!

University Facilities Management Team Wins $25,000 Innovation Grant with OrangeQC Project

Alan Slinkard is a Facilities Management project specialist at the University of Colorado Boulder. He’s also a former Microsoft and Apple employee who brings a tech-savvy edge to his work. He's a part of a team that's open to new ideas like translation earbuds for non-English-speaking staff. The Facilities Management group he's a part of promotes ideas such as drones that fly up and check gutters for icicles or use infrared signals to find energy loss.

With the help of departmental leadership and support from Custodial Teams, the department was collectively awarded a $25,000 innovation grant from the university based on their use of OrangeQC. They found OrangeQC has drastically improved communication between custodial supervisors, building proctors/managers, and staff.

Before OrangeQC, Slinkard says, “trust was a concern” between supervisors and building proctors. Proctors assumed they worked off of paper inspection forms, and that the supervisors were just printing the form and checking off boxes . . . without actually inspecting anything.

The building proctors were frustrated with the lack of transparency. And the supervisors “didn’t think anybody cared.”

Then, they started using OrangeQC.

“It created a level of collaboration between our supervisory staff and building managers and proctors,” Slinkard says. It gave proctors more confidence in the information they received. They were "impressed" as they saw honest commitment to reporting and correcting problems.

Notes and photographs were two of the most important features that demonstrated to the proctors that custodial teams wanted to be open and transparent. Slinkard says the photos and notes have also helped them with training. They use examples of a job well done to train other staff members, and also to give credit during evaluations. When the job isn’t done right, those tools also give insight into areas for improvement.

The unit’s Innovation Team had several challenges when they began using OrangeQC’s inspection software.

One was that “a lot of our employees were not as tech-savvy as they could have been . . . We had a ways to go in bringing our custodial supervisors and leads up to speed on technology,” Slinkard says. Now that they’ve adjusted, though, many “actually enjoy playing with the iPad . . . and have found features like being able to take photographs and notes a real asset.”

Another challenge involved the way supervisors scored the buildings. Switching to the inspection forms on OrangeQC was transformative because it took them “beyond that scale of 1–5,” he says. “It demonstrated to them that you may think your unit is cleaning at a 4 or 5 ("spotless,") yet your customer is only paying for a level that is somewhere in the middle. It was a learning curve for the supervisors.”

The unit as a whole has also benefited from the supervisory walkthroughs done during inspections. “It's really helped visibility between the custodial staff and the building occupants,” Slinkard says. As supervisors go through the buildings to do inspections, they talk to occupants—who realize that the myth of custodians as “those little angels that come in in the middle of the night” to leave everything spotless isn’t true. In fact, they’re able to meet and thank those who keep their buildings in great shape.

For more information on how OrangeQC’s inspection software helps teams at educational facilities, check out our education page or start your own 30-day free trial.