Part three of this three-part article looks at how distributors can help janitors prevent injury while mopping.

With so many updates hitting the shelves, buyers can feel overwhelmed. Distributors play the important role of educator to help ease customers through the buying process. That starts by simply making customers aware of the ergonomic choices available to them.

“So many hours are spent mopping, and anytime you can address overexertion we need to do it,” says Mitchell. “One of our biggest opportunities is to build awareness for new solutions that can address those needs. It’s our job to make sure cleaners know there are alternatives that can help their backs, wrists and forearms, and help them be more productive.”

Selling new products isn’t without struggles. Mops are traditional tools, and many people have been using the same style for years or even decades. When janitors are stuck in their ways, it can take time and effort to convince them to change.

“For folks who have been cleaning for a very, very long time, making a mop or bucket change can be pretty drastic,” says Dufour. “The success or failure of a new product or system, however, depends in large part on those internal power users. How can you help them have a positive reaction the very first time they try something new?”

The best way to get employees to buy in, manufacturers say, is to put the tools in their hands through demos and trial periods.

“It can take a little getting used to, but after cleaning with it for a week or two, they notice a major change in their backs not hurting as much,” says Mitchell.

Once frontline workers are on board, the next hurdle to clear may be a manager’s objections about price.

“Facility managers are working with fixed budgets and have an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality,” says Dufour. “Building service contractors may be more open, but still it often comes down to a dollars and cents conversation.”

Distributors should be prepared to share facts and figures with customers about the potential return on investment (ROI) promised by premium ergonomic mopping tools. Ask manufacturers for statistics and research to illustrate ROI.

Microfiber mops may offer savings through reduced water or chemical usage. They also last longer than string mops, creating a lower per-use cost over the long run. Certain products have demonstrated productivity gains and others reduce weight or splashing to lower the risks of injuries.

Most importantly, distributors need to remember each client is unique. Customize the sales strategy to each location’s individual needs.

“It’s interesting to see how nuanced it can be and how differently people can take the act of mopping,” says Dufour. “What concerns a buyer in healthcare may be totally different than someone in education.”

Propper Mopping Technique

Besides making sure janitors are using the properly-sized tools, distributors can help ensure they are using them correctly.

A janitor should mop in a “figure-eight” pattern, which will keep the mop close to the body and also keep elbows close to the person’s sides. A common mistake is holding the mop too far in front of the body, which forces a person to bend over. This, in turn, causes a person to grip the mop tighter, forcing additional strain.

Keeping the mop close to the body will also prevent the janitor from trying to cover too wide of an area with one swing, which is another common problem. Such wide swings will cause back problems as the user twists and contorts.

Becky Mollenkamp is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.