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, and ideas like translation earbuds for non-English-speaking staff and drones that fly up and check gutters for icicles or use infrared signals to find energy loss.

His team recently won a $25,000 innovation grant from the university based on their use of OrangeQC. They found OrangeQC drastically improved communication between custodial supervisors and building proctors/managers.

Before OrangeQC, Slinkard says, “trust was pretty minimal” between supervisors and building proctors. Proctors thought 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 allowed proctors to feel confident in the information they received, and they were "impressed" when supervisors were honest in 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.

Slinkard’s team had two surprises when they began using OrangeQC’s inspection software.

One was that “a lot of our employees were technology-illiterate other than being able to check their phones for emails or text messages . . . 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 like playing with the iPad . . . they like the process of being able to take photographs and take notes.”

The other surprise was in the way supervisors scored the buildings. Switching to the inspection forms on OrangeQC helped them get “beyond that scale of 1–5,” he says. “It was demonstrating to them that you may think your unit is cleaning at a 1 or 2, but your customer is only paying for an APPA 3 or 3.5, so you’re really only at a 2 or 2.5. It was a learning curve for the supervisors.”

Slinkard says their walkthroughs “really helped improve the relationship between the custodial staff and the building occupants.” 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 the people 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.

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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.

Janitorial Apps: Which Are Best for Business?

These days, there are apps for everything—including janitorial businesses. Janitorial apps handle a multitude of tasks, from simplifying inspections to tracking how many bottles of glass cleaner you have left.

But which janitorial apps are really best for your business? As we’ve designed OrangeQC, we’ve put a lot of thought into that question. But it really boils down to a few things.

Simple

First of all, it has to simple. An app can have all the features in the world, but if your team hates using it, it doesn’t matter. It won’t get used. Your team has enough on its plate without complicated software trainings and struggling to get technology to work.

We reach for apps when they’re easier than the manual alternative. For example, pulling up an inspection on the OrangeQC app, filling it out with a few swipes of your thumb, and having it automatically upload is a lot less hassle than juggling a clipboard and keeping track of papers throughout the day.

Likewise, our own team uses an app called Slack for team messaging. Slack has free options and a fantastic chat room feature, as well as private messaging, and it only takes a few minutes to get started.

Ready to Grow

Secondly, a great app needs to scale with your business. There are plenty of solutions that might work in the short-term, but if your business grows, you’ll be scrambling to find something new… and after you land that big new contract is the worst time to be figuring out a new app. (But it can be done, as Joe Stamler will tell you—he found OrangeQC after his company won a bid to clean one of the largest airports on the East Coast.)

For instance, we often recommend our clients use Google Drive to share and manage documents such as contact lists, Scope of Work documents, and contracts. Google Drive works great for a tiny company—but some of the biggest companies in the world also use it for file-sharing and collaboration. We personally use it here at OrangeQC, too.

Worth the Price

That leads to our next point: a good app is worth the price.

Certain free apps work well at a small scale, but they’re still not worth it if they won’t grow with your business—or if they’re creating more work for your team, which actually is costing you money.

On the other hand, you don’t want to overpay. If you have a five-person cleaning team, why should you pay the same amount as a company with hundreds of employees? And why should you spend extra to unlock core features on an app that’s deceptively cheap?

So when you’re considering purchasing an app or software program, look for:

Support and Updates

Apps need to be updated and maintained by their developers. Otherwise, they’ll eventually stop working, and you’ll be back at square one. Look for apps from established companies that are dedicated to improving their service.

You also want to find apps that offer support if you need it. You’d be surprised how many apps refuse to offer support if you aren’t paying a certain amount, so check to make sure you can get help if you need it. (This is why we offer support for all our clients, small and big.)

How to Find Great Apps

Is there a business that has the success and growth you’d like to see in your own business a few years down the road? Find out what software and apps they’re using and whether they like them. For example, many of our own clients use and like solutions such as TSheets and Kronos for time tracking and workforce management. Don’t be afraid to ask around!

Any app should have publicly available reviews and testimonials, too. (You can check out some of OrangeQC’s own clients and success stories.) Read them and ask: does this app sound like it solves the problems my own business is facing? Is it just good enough for now, or will it help take us to where we want to be?

We hope these tips help you find the right apps for your business! If you’re in the market for an inspection app and quality control software, we’d love for you to claim your 30-day free trial of OrangeQC.

How Bad (or No) Janitorial Work Order Software Costs You

Great janitorial work order software is all about efficiency. It saves your team the time and money you’d spend manually sorting through requests, forwarding client emails to the right person, and remembering to follow up on a mish-mash of issues.

That’s why getting it right is crucial for cleaning companies.

The true cost of bad janitorial work order software

If you’re using the wrong system, or none at all, it’s costing you. And that’s before you even take into account the price of the software.

How so?

In lost time—and lost business.

Without a system that sorts everything for your team, work orders get lost. A client calls someone who’s on vacation that week. Emails about future projects that need to be done get forgotten. It’s not clear who’s in charge of each task. If your business is small, when a key team member isn’t there, the system can fall apart. It’s also hard for new team members to grasp priorities: What needs to get done first? What can wait?

And the wrong system is just as bad as no system at all. In fact, it can add even more wasted time as team members try to install, learn, and use headache-inducing software.

That lack of organization leads to slip-ups. Things get done late or not at all. Clients have to follow up on their requests. They become unhappy with your service, and then—surprise—when your company’s contract comes up for renewal, they’re looking into other options.

That’s what happened to Tony Witana, the owner of Thats Clean, one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cleaning companies. In 2012, his biggest client called and told him they were looking into other providers. The problem? Issues with quality—and poor communication.

He knew he had to act fast.

The value of great janitorial work order software

Tony’s story has a happy ending. He found OrangeQC’s inspection and work order software, then immediately implemented it with his team.

The client noticed the change and decided to stay with Thats Clean. Afterward, they wrote: “Thats Clean is one of our best suppliers. I can now confidently report that we are happy with Thats Clean's communication and most importantly we are more than happy with the cleaning standards onsite." (Read more about Tony’s story here.)

So what makes the difference?

Good janitorial work order software organizes everything for you. It allows your team to sort tasks by date, priority, and who’s responsible. Everyone knows who’s in charge of each task.

Clients are often relieved to have a simple way to submit issues and work orders. With OrangeQC, you can opt to have your client email a dedicated address with any issues, or use the simple OrangeQC app right from their phones. Then, we automatically create a ticket. It’s all done in real time, so team members in the field can access all the right information.

The right work order software also positions your company to grow. Maybe an informal system works fine for now, but if your workload doubles and you’re hiring new employees, will it still hold up? Or how long will it take to train new employees on that complicated software? If an employee leaves the company, will you be able to seamlessly transition their workload?

The bottom line: When a system is easy to use, it gets used. That’s the philosophy we embrace at OrangeQC. Our system is simple and intuitive, so you can start using it in minutes. It empowers your team members to knock out the highest-priority tasks fast. And it organizes everything in one place, so you can see your upcoming workload and important issues at a glance.

Ready to make a change? Learn more about how OrangeQC simplifies communication, or sign up for your free 30-day trial to see how easy work orders should be.

How Using Data Right Makes Your Business Smarter

Is “data” a four-letter word in your book? In the day-to-day struggle to Get Stuff Done, collecting and using data can take a backseat to… pretty much everything. It’s never going to be the most urgent thing on your plate.

But it is one of the most important. So don’t just live with a guilty, nagging suspicion that you should really be collecting more data. And don’t collect lots of data, and then never bother to dig through or use it. Instead, find a simple way to get the information you need… and then have us analyze it for you, so you can learn from it at a glance. It’s smarter decision-making, simplified.

Why collect data?

Yes, business owners and managers need good intuition and the ability to feel out how things are really going. But intuition can only take you so far.

When they’re collected correctly, numbers don’t lie. They’re not friends (or enemies!) with anyone on your staff. They offer an unbiased, high-level perspective that’s impossible for any one person to feel out.

Data will also help you spot problems and trends much faster—before your customer complains, or a staff member points out the problem, or it gets too big to ignore. And data can reveal some of the easiest ways to improve your quality and efficiency.

Another big advantage of tracking your quality through data: You leave a paper trail. This can give you peace of mind—because you know for sure how things are going at your facilities. And it gives your customers an increased sense of transparency and lets them know you’re on top of things. That’s why many of our clients bring up OrangeQC and their quality control programs in meetings with potential clients.

How do I collect data?

For the janitorial industry, getting quality control data means doing inspections. Inspections are how you get hard numbers around how often your team is hitting your quality standards for any given site.

We’re a little biased here, but we truly believe that OrangeQC is the best way to collect this data. Why? Because the best inspections are the ones that get done. OrangeQC’s inspections can be done one-handed on the inspector’s own mobile device. No remembering to grab paper forms, no logging into complicated software programs, and no confusion over who’s supposed to do what.

What do I do with my quality control data?

You can collect all the data in the world, but if it just sits there, it’s a waste of time. Make sure you’re getting all the value you can from the data you collect through inspections.

Your data should do three things for you:

  • Alert you to specific problems right away. If your team forgot to clean a restroom, or someone tracked mud all over the freshly scrubbed floors, you want to know now, so you can fix the problem immediately.
  • Identify trends and opportunities over time. Spotting trends can reveal low-hanging fruit to help you improve your quality. If it turns out the windows aren’t cleaned to your standards half the time, you can remind your team of the right procedures. Or maybe a certain restroom needs to be cleaned more often. When you know where your problems are, you’ve also found your biggest opportunities.
  • Help you keep clients and win new bids. As you respond to issues quickly and watch your trends, you’ll see your quality improve—and you’ll have the numbers to prove it. Talk to your current clients about the trends you see and let them know you keep an eagle eye on quality. And when you sit down with a prospective client, show off the charts and numbers that prove your team is committed to quality. (Read more about how to impress your current and prospective clients with great quality control data.)

Analyzing data takes work—but OrangeQC does the work for you. If an inspector notes a problem, we flag the inspection and open a ticket so the right people can jump on the issue. Our dashboard lets you see trends at a glance, while our more in-depth reporting reveals trends for specific line items and more.

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We automatically compile custom reports you can download for meetings with clients, too. If you haven’t checked out the “Reports” tab in OrangeQC recently, give it another look. We’ve made some improvements so that reports are even easier to use… and have even more valuable data.

If your team uses OrangeQC, you already know how we empower your team to do quality control right. If you haven’t given us a try yet, be sure to start your free 30-day trial and see for yourself how refreshingly simple quality control can be.

We Want to See You at ISSA 2017 in Vegas!

Are you going to ISSA/INTERCLEAN in Las Vegas this year? We are!

If you’re going to be at the show, please stop by booth 1344 and see us. This will be a great time for us to answer your questions, hear how your quality control process is going, and demonstrate our newest features in person.

You can also contact us at support@orangeqc.com if you’d like to set up a time to meet. We’d love to sit down one-on-one and talk about your quality control process and how we can help.

Hope to see you there!