A reader writes: “My company gives me rebuilt/restored machines that tend to break down and sometimes are missing key parts. What can I do to get them to understand that many of our complaints are due to our inability to perform the work since we can’t get the equipment to work when we need it?”

Unfortunately, they are practicing the concept of being “penny rich and pound foolish” which is and old reference to focusing on immediate costs without taking into account the whole picture. I have had BSC owners state that workers will break anything anyway so why should they waste money on them with good equipment.

The problem with that line of thought is multifold. First, it indicates a breakdown in supervision and training. If workers are truly breaking equipment they need to either be retrained or replaced immediately. The onsite supervisor needs to be trained in correct processes and observe the crew’s work. This may include assigning a piece of equipment (vacuum number 3) to the same worker so that he/she can be monitored for possible training or disciplinary action.

Second, they miss the real driver in all custodial contracts, which is labor and benefits. If productivity (and morale) are diminished due to the company sending the message that they are not even important enough to be given decent, functional equipment, how do you think they are going to respond? Also, realize that every minute (hour) that is lost due to poorly performing equipment reduces the ability of the assigned worker to get the job done without going into overtime or simply failing to get the work done that shift. I can assure you that the customer does not want to hear that the floor was not scrubbed or burnished because the machine is “broken again.”

Your company needs to realize that lost productivity due to saving a few dollars is not only costing them in labor costs and morale but also may cost them the contract itself. Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net