The question was asked about determining the proper floor care crew size and proper machines for a stripping VCT.

The lowest labor cost comes from the highest production rate. Depending upon the square footage, a three person crew is often the optimum size. Of course extremely small or extremely large jobs will be the exception. An autoscrubber is considerably faster than a single disc floor machine with a wet vac, and it's much easier on the back. It should save you 20 to 40 percent in labor unless the areas are extremely small. Effective stripping normally requires a dual disk or oscillating autoscrubber with heavy brush pressure.

But, here's the rub. If one person does all the work, he or she will continuously be changing from one task to the next. The constant interruption of each function by stopping, laying aside the tool, picking up the next, and starting the next task is highly inefficient. Even two people are somewhat inefficient. The person laying the stripper, scrubbing and blading the edges, and then mopping will not be able to keep up with the autoscrubber. Every time the scrubber stops, forward progress comes to a halt. If only one or two people to do all the work, the start and stop times will be excessive.

A three person crew is advantageous because the work progresses with little interruption. It works like this: #1 lays the stripper, #2 runs the autoscrubber with squeegee up around the edge first and then in the middle (always scrub the edges so the detail persons can work without slipping), #3 performs edge work and hand squeegees the edges, #2 makes a second pass with squeegee down (it is rare for one pass to strip 100% of the finish) and finally #1 and #3 handle the rinsing until it is time for #1 to paint out the next area.

Additional tips: When moving any furniture and dust-mopping, one person should break off 20-minutes before the floors are totally prepped, so stripper can be applied. Normally apply stripper about 7' by 20' which might be about four autoscrub passes. Seven feet is the normal wet mop pass from side-to-side when wet-mopping.

Always have clear water in the solution tank so when making the second autoscrub pass, any areas that are starting to dry up can have extra water applied to bring the slurry back into solution. The first rinse is heavier so any buildup will have time to soak, and the second rinse is light so the floor dries faster prior to recoating. Productivity increases as each person keeps focused on one job. Time is lost when changing jobs. Working non-stop utilizes the power of momentum to synergise productivity.

Gary Clipperton a forty-plus year industry veteran is founder and President of National Pro Clean. As a long-time contractor and now trainer, author and consultant he has written a floor care training program. He can be reached at gary@nationalproclean.com.