Once upon a time, cleaning was considered a routine operating cost. Property management would pull a generic RFP template off the shelf, add in some cleaning specifics and award a three-year contract to the lowest bidder. This worked reasonably well in an environment of high occupancy rates, robust margins, and when cleaning for COVID-19 was not an issue.
Cleaning typically ranks amongst the top two costs in operating a building. Having a cleaning plan with clear objectives, KPIs, tasks/specifications and roles/responsibilities can save you money, make your building safer and make your life (and the life of your service provider) easier.
It is essential that the plan align with your corporate culture (vision & values, e.g. does cleaning support your ESG objectives) and that you consider strategic alternatives. Most cleaning contracts and systems involve trade-offs. The goal is to find the sweet spot to drive the effectiveness and efficiency of your cleaning investment:
Cost versus quality. Don’t let your contractor clean by default. Set a visual cleaning standard that suits your building and adjust your specifications and costs accordingly. A significant number of buildings we inspect for visual cleanliness are currently over-cleaned, which means you are overpaying.
Data driven versus generic cleaning-for health. In a world where touchpoint cleaning is essential to mitigate the spread of the virus, property managers need to decide whether to use generic standards or a data-driven approach. With building occupancy and tenant density substantially reduced, a data driven approach may save significant amounts of money without compromising health and safety. Hygiene testing is a MUST to determine if sanitization efforts are effective.
Centralized processes for multiple buildings (RFP’s, equipment, and cleaning standards) versus fit-for-purpose. Centralization has advantages in terms of purchasing power, standardization, and control. Decentralized systems allow for more autonomy, on-the-spot decision making, increased flexibility and accountability.
Long-term relationships versus short-term contracts. Long-term relationships can work well if they include a process to update pricing and specifications. Cleaners get to know the buildings, the tenants, and the issues, but we typically see poor cleaning quality creep-in after the honeymoon period.
Shorter-term contracts keep contractors on their toes (up to date prices and specifications). However, change costs money and can increase risk (the devil you know).
Proactive versus reactive cleaning management and inspections. Proactive management takes time but helps ensure that issues are dealt with before they become ingrained and money is unnecessarily spent. Reactive management can work well in smaller buildings with few issues. Most QC issues fundamentally boil down to reporting systems and communications. Auditing is essential.
Going to market versus mid-contract reviews. Some companies mandate that cleaning contracts must go to RFP after 3 years. In general, we think this is a good idea as competitive forces work. However, if you have a contractor that you trust, providing good value and quality, hiring an independent expert to review the contract terms (update specifications and pricing to reflect current market conditions) can be a low-cost, low-hassle alternative.
Additional considerations can include in-house versus contract cleaning, task-based versus outcome-based contracts and automation and technology versus manpower. For a nominal fee, DCS can help you develop a cleaning strategy and a plan it works best for your facilities.
DCS has been Canada’s trusted independent advisor on cleaning issues for over 20 years. We take the worry out of cleaning. DCS supports organizations in commercial real estate, education, transportation, and the public sector. We understand our client’s pain points and provide practical, cost effective solutions. Our values are honesty, integrity, fairness, transparency, and respect.
DCS has extensive experience with pandemic scenarios, having built on our experience with effective cleaning strategies during the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) pandemic in 2003. In February, 2020, BOMA Canada approached DCS to sponsor and update their 2020 pandemic handbook. DCS is also active on a number of industry panels, writing thought pieces and providing advice to property and facility managers on cleaning for COVID-19.
For information on our CLEAN and SAFE© program click here or contact us today at 1-877-225-9603.