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.

janitorial inspection forms.jpg

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.


How Scheduling Inspections Gives Your Team an Edge

Imagine you’re on the phone with a prospective employee, trying to find a good time for an interview. They throw out some dates, and you check to make sure you’re free. Once you pick a time, you jot it down — whether it’s on your calendar, your phone, or a notepad — before you even hang up.

Why? Because if you didn’t, you’d forget. External reminders make sure things get done.

The same is true for inspections.

scheduling janitorial inspections.jpg

For janitorial and facilities teams, inspections are the heart of quality control. They’re how you know your team is doing a great job. Rather than having a nagging thought in the back of your mind that you should inspect more often, you’ll know (and be able to prove) you’re managing quality control effectively.

Here are a few other ways that scheduling inspections helps teams succeed, plus some tips for getting started.

Scheduling inspections gives you a big-picture plan.

How often do each of your sites and areas need to be inspected? Which forms should the inspectors use? Who’s responsible for getting each inspection done?

Sit down and answer those three questions. Done? Congratulations: you’ve just created the framework for your team’s quality control process.

Of course, you can always adjust things later, or schedule one-off inspections when you hear about a problem or want to double-check a certain area. But when you have a big-picture schedule of inspections, it helps you ensure you’ve set aside the right resources.

Scheduling gets everyone on the same page.

A good schedule eliminates confusion so that everyone can do their jobs well. Inspectors know exactly what they’re responsible for doing, and when it needs to be done by, without any micromanaging.

A scheduling system paired with your inspection software puts all the data in one place; for example, in OrangeQC, inspectors can find a list of all the inspections they have due soon. You can also use tools like shared online calendars, although they won’t be linked to the inspections themselves.

Scheduling creates accountability.

When you have a written record of where an inspection should be done, who it needs to be done by, and when it’s due, there’s no room for confusion. Things are either done on time or not.

There are three parts to this accountability:

  • Management is accountable for making sure inspectors have the time they need to get their inspections done.
  • Inspectors are accountable for getting the inspections done on time.
  • Cleaners are accountable for making sure their areas pass routine inspections.

This clarity empowers team members to own the quality control process. Everyone can focus on their piece of the puzzle and know when they’ve done a good job.

Scheduling helps you deliver excellent service.

And isn’t that the whole point? Any tool you use should support your team’s mission to make sure facilities are well maintained.

When you routinely inspect your facilities, you ensure things are up to your promised standards. You catch problems before anyone else even notices them. You can help cleaners improve by letting them know when they’re doing a great job, or when they’re dropping the ball on certain tasks. And you leave a paper trail that proves to clients or partners that you’re on top of things.

Scheduling inspections doesn’t take long, but it’s hard to overstate its impact. If you’re not an OrangeQC customer, we hope you’ll sign up for your free trial and see for yourself how a simple scheduling tool can be a game-changer. And if you’re already using OrangeQC but haven’t started scheduling your inspections, check out our guide to scheduling inspections to get started quickly.

3 Ways Janitorial Quality Control Software Helps Hospitals

Janitorial quality control is always important, but the stakes are unusually high for hospitals and healthcare facilities. As Renee Kavanagh (Environmental Services Coordinator for Mary Rutan Hospital in Ohio) says, it all comes down to safety.

“Working in a hospital environment, obviously we deal with infectious things,” she says. “Our key focus is to make sure our workplace is safe.” That’s not just for patients, but for the doctors, staff, visitors—and everyone else who walks through the door.

So how can hospital janitorial teams make sure they get it right? Quality control is a huge part of the answer because it affects everything else: staff training, team communication, early identification of problems, and more. The right software empowers janitorial teams working in healthcare to stay on top of all these details.

Kavanagh’s team at Mary Rutan Hospital uses OrangeQC, and she gave us an inside perspective on how using our app and software helps them meet their quality goals.

1. It makes it easier to get inspections done.

The best inspections are the ones that actually get done. Having great janitorial quality control software in place makes this a lot easier for busy janitorial teams.

Before they started using OrangeQC for inspections, Kavanagh’s team relied on paper checklists. Now, she appreciates the easier alternative. “The program is loaded onto our iPads, so we can take it anywhere we go,” she says. “We don’t have a stack of papers to track, and the inspection goes into the cloud so we can access the information anywhere.”

As an added bonus, Kavanagh can see which areas have been inspected recently (and which haven’t) at a glance, which helps her prioritize inspections for the day.

Even as a self-proclaimed “non-techy” person, Kavanagh says the OrangeQC app has lightened her workload. “It’s just so simple to use . . . It’s made my job a lot easier, for sure.”

2. It helps with training (and retraining) team members.

Kavanagh uses the inspection data for two kinds of staff training.

First, she looks at results on an individual level. “I can track issues with specific employees to know their weaknesses and things that they need to improve on,” she says. “That’s really beneficial when it comes to new employees.” Seasoned employees can also get into a routine where “they clean what they clean,” she says, and regular inspections help her give feedback on what they may be missing.

Secondly, she tracks staff-wide issues that keep cropping up. “We zero in on a problem area—say, baseboards—and that is our problem for the month,” she says. Staff members who get high inspection scores for that area get entered into a drawing for a gift card prize. It’s a fun way to get everyone on the same page about quality expectations.

3. It facilitates better communication.

Kavanagh’s department sets goals for the year, then uses OrangeQC to measure whether or not their performance is on track for them to hit the goal. Everyone stays up-to-date with automatic emails from OrangeQC that report scores and issues. That allows the department’s director to keep his focus on big-picture issues, like budgets and managing multiple facilities, while still staying informed about inspections and quality control at each location. If he notices a particularly low score, he can follow up with the right coordinator to address the problem.

Kavanagh also appreciates getting inspection scores sent to her email each day, which helps her stay on top of any drops. If she notices a dip in inspection scores, she makes a point to connect with the right team member the next day.

For janitorial teams at hospitals and healthcare facilities, quality control is paramount. The safety of patients, staff, and visitors depends on it. That’s why it’s important for teams to have the right tools to help them succeed. We believe great quality control software is a huge part of that.

For more information on how OrangeQC helps hospital and healthcare teams meet their goals, check out more information on our solutions for hospitals and healthcare or request a one-on-one demo to see how our software works for yourself.

Why You Should Never Say “We Don’t Have Time for That”

We have a rule here at OrangeQC. We never say “We don’t have time for that.”

Instead, we force ourselves to admit the truth: “It’s not a priority.”

This simple swap, popularized by a Wall Street Journal article, keeps us honest. In work (and life), a lot demands our attention. There are the daily tasks that keep the lights on and the business running. There are the calls, emails, and problems that pop up and demand our attention right now. And then there are long-term projects that need to get done... eventually.

It’s the classic Eisenhower Box, which helps rank tasks on a scale of urgency and importance:

  (Try making plotting your to-do list on a chart like this, instead of just writing it as a list, and see how it helps you plan your time more effectively.)

(Try making plotting your to-do list on a chart like this, instead of just writing it as a list, and see how it helps you plan your time more effectively.)

On any given day, there are countless tasks we could do, but we have to decide what we’re actually going to put on our to-do list today. So we prioritize.

For us, that means always responding quickly to our clients when they reach out for help (urgent and important). But it also means taking time to develop new features that will make the OrangeQC app and website more valuable for you. Improving our tools isn’t urgent, in the sense that if we take a Tuesday off from working on a useful new feature, our clients won’t suffer (or notice). But it’s definitely important. If those improvements never got made, we wouldn’t be doing our best to help your business.

That’s why, when we sit down to talk about our team’s to-do list, we force ourselves to own our priorities. If we were to brush off tasks by saying we “don’t have time” for them, we’d be lying to ourselves. No, we don’t have time for everything, but we make time for our priorities. Sometimes it hurts to look at a task that would be good to accomplish and decide to put it on the back burner for now. But when we admit that “it’s not a priority,” we’re making sure that the things we do prioritize get done. We’re ensuring that the important doesn’t get lost in the urgent.

What might this concept look like at your janitorial business?

You’ve got your own urgent, important tasks, such as responding quickly if there’s a problem at a site. You’ve got the day-to-day cleaning or maintenance that needs to get done. And then there are tasks that are less urgent, or time-sensitive, but still need to get done: inspections to ensure great quality control, for example, or training your staff on the most efficient cleaning techniques.

We sometimes hear from cleaning businesses who don’t use quality control software that they “don’t have time” to do inspections. A more honest statement would be “Inspections are not a priority for us.”

What are your biggest priorities as a business? Maybe it’s increasing your team’s efficiency. Maybe it’s becoming more environmentally friendly and marketing that benefit to potential clients. Maybe it’s identifying and promoting the best talent so that your team is ready to grow.

Every business will have its own unique priorities, but by being clear about what they are—and organizing our to-do lists accordingly—we set ourselves up to flourish in the long term.