With shrinking janitorial service budgets, how can you as a facilities manager work with your janitorial service to keep your building clean? In a perfect world, you would have a budget that accurately reflects the amount of time and money it takes to keep your facilities in top-notch condition. You would have your janitorial service come nightly, completing every task until the building once again shines like a diamond. But the realities of ever shrinking janitorial service budgets mean you just may not have the dollars allotted to get exactly what you want. Still, with a little communication and planning, you can get what you need.
As we communicate with Facility Managers out in the field, the biggest reoccurring complaint we hear is that their Facility Budgets are continuously being cut. But how can that be with so many Fortune 500 companies reporting record profits? Take for instance the Dearborn, Michigan based Ford Motor Company, they just reported a 2.4 billion dollar profit. So how can so many companies have so little cash dedicated to keeping their facilities in order? The reality is the economy has not fully recovered. Even as we move into a more even keeled economic climate, it takes years for budgets that were cut to slowly return to normal operating levels. Companies continue to be cautious with economic conditions still unpredictable, and many of these companies are profitable because they are being run so lean.
So how can you as a Facility Manager combat a shrinking facilities budget and still get a level of Janitorial Service that at the very minimum, meets your basic needs?
1) Make sure that there is a Cleaning Specification that reflects the cuts in your budget. Many Facility Mangers go wrong by only cutting labor without cutting the frequency with which cleaning tasks are performed in their building or buildings. This all too often sets up your Janitorial Service for failure as it becomes impossible to meet the same expectations after a significant cut in labor. Over many industries, labor has been eliminated and we all know that you cannot simply give the tasks of two people to one person. Sure, everyone can do a little more and work a little harder, but the math of 1+1=4 just doesn’t work. If you eliminate two of your four janitorial service team, you have to scale down the work load to reflect that. It is going to change no matter what, but if you work with your janitorial service company, YOU can help determine what services get cut as “non-essential.”
Here at Stathakis, our customers who have most successfully weathered shrinking janitorial service budgets have reduced services and clearly communicated it to their tenants. By strategically cutting some line items and managing expectations, everyone is on the same page. For example, tenants are not as likely to complain about vacuuming on a Tuesday if they know it is getting done at a reduced frequency on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.
2) Good communication is the key to keeping tenants happy on a thin budget. So you can't afford to clean every square inch of the building every day. If you as a Facilities Manager keep in contact with your tenants and find out how they use their space, you can customize a cleaning program with your janitorial service that can focus on the areas most important to your tenants.
3) Don't let a thin budget be an excuse for an unclean building. Set clear, realistic expectations for your cleaning company. Meeting with your janitorial service regularly is even more critical when you are operating on a razor thin budget. Your janitorial services company likely wants your business, they want to help, so partner with them to get through this tough economic climate. Make your janitorial service company your ally. There is no reason your building cannot look presentable on a tighter budget. Not spending as much on cleaning will mean you don’t get everything done every time, but you can keep things looking good and running smoothly.
The key is to make sure that every hour spent cleaning at night is done in a meaningful way. We at Stathakis call it "Smart Cleaning" because it really takes a lot of thought to make sure that we are properly applying our resources to give clients the best value for their money. With no end in sight to a return to more workable and reasonable janitorial service budgets, we understand you as a facilities manager still have to ensure your building is clean and your tenants are satisfied. Until your budgets more accurately reflect what it takes to keep your facilities in their best condition, you can take some steps to weather the crunch and enlist your janitorial service as an ally making the dollars you do have allotted, work hardest for you.
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