Investing in quality, dependable, productive equipment can be one of the best investments you can make.  Remember that labor and benefits comprise the greatest expense in a custodial contract.  Productive equipment can save many annual direct labor hours that can easily pay for purchasing and maintaining what appeared at first to be an expensive piece of equipment.  It must be noted that when a productive piece of equipment is brought on line there should be an adjustment in labor hours to recoup the initial investment.  For example, a self propelled auto-scrub machine can reduce sweeping, mopping and scrubbing from 20 hours to less than 5 with better results.  If you do not adjust out or reassign those hours the cost will not be recovered.

1. Consider involving front line staff in evaluating a piece of equipment so that they can provide input on something they are going to have to use.

2. Take into account the height and size of staff by purchasing equipment and tools that can be adjusted to fit their particular needs.  An example is that an adjustable mop handle is much better choice than a one size fits all unit.

3. Inspect, service and even repair wheels and casters so that mop buckets and other tools do not mar the floor when allowed to rust or become locked.

4. Replace and then repair any broken or malfunctioning items promptly since a worker can easily “vacuum” thousands of square feet of carpet without picking anything up due to lack of suction.

5. Promote and recognize a way for workers to safely report broken or unsafe equipment and be able to continue their work.  Of course, if a worker continually breaks a piece of equipment they may need closer scrutiny and possible retraining to stop the cycle.

Tools and equipment that operate as intended can safe labor hours, reduce injuries and enhance productivity.  Please note the preceding is suggestive only since regulations will vary by government entity.  It is highly recommended that reader consult with local SME (subject matter experts) on any safety related topic and use the preceding as a starting point.  Go to for more information or use a search engine for local and state regulations.

Your comments and questions are always welcome. 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