Periodically I like to get back to the basics of cleaning since we all need reminders along the way of the steps necessary to clean a facility effectively and safely. Remember:

Cheap supplies and tools can result in hidden costs that are not readily apparent in day to day operations. Whether it is using watered down chemicals, purchasing cheap vacuum cleaners or failing to utilize high capacity paper products, the loser is oftentimes your profit margins. Remember that the most expensive part of any custodial service contract is labor and benefits for the front line workers. Focus on this major cost first. Although a supervisor or project manager may make more dollars per hour, their total wages and benefits are well earned if they scan stay on top of day to day labor costs.

I recently witnessed a situation where the company purchasing agent boasted of cutting supply costs to the bone and making his workers use watered down chemicals or water itself for the last month of a contract. Not only did he send the wrong message to workers who will find other ways of "cheating the system" but he also put tenants and workers at risk due to the obvious increase in pathogenic germs that were allowed to thrive during that budget cutting period.

I have seen other situations where purchasing refused to provide simple items such as vacuum cleaner belts and paper liners since they felt the crew was obviously pilfering supplies. Although he had no experience in cleaning, he claimed to know what it would cost regardless of traffic and usage. Of course, he was not overly concerned with workers losing productive time due to down time, increased dusting and thereby increased labor for workers who got the message that management really does not care.

Most people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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