Seeing is believing. When it comes to training new employees, this old adage proves true. Merely handing new employees a handbook of cleaning procedures or rattling off instructions on their first day will not have the same effect as showing them how to clean.

But, popular training videotapes can be cumbersome to building service contractors who need to train on-site — a television with a VCR may not always be readily available.

“To stay competitive, BSCs…have to use upgraded and more interactive training methods that capture the attention of their workers and make it easier to educate staff anywhere at any time,” says Dianna Bisswurm, director of industry outreach, International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), Lincolnwood, Ill.

ISSA is currently developing training materials into a format more easily presented on laptops, allowing trainers to be more mobile, says Bisswurm.

Similarly, Managemen offers their (OS1)™ training kits on video or DVD. (OS1) is a team approach to cleaning. Kits are available for each of the four team roles and also a separate kit for managers instructing how to “coach” a team. In addition to the videos, each kit features an audio tape that helps reinforce the benefits of team cleaning. The program has proven successful in numerous markets.

For instance, after implementing (OS1) into the cleaning services at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, custodial accidents decreased by 70 percent. Added safety is just one benefit of the program — and it can be easily seen in the training video.

Jeffrey Campbell, Ph.D., facilities management program chair for the university, praises systems like (OS1) that standardize processes, similar to how Ray Croc and McDonalds standardized fast food.

Another great source for on-site training is the Internet. Some BSCs are required by state, local and federal regulations to provide safety training in sensitive topics such as bloodborne pathogens and hazard communications. ISSA’s online training courses help meet those requirements and provide sufficient documentation. Online courses allow cleaning staff to log on at anytime, anywhere. And for employers with high turnover, accessible training is ideal, says Bisswurm.

Follow it up
After the initial training, it’s crucial for business success to ensure that employees are putting what they’ve learned into effect. Tracking cleaning times and complaints can identify where additional training is needed.

ISSA offers their newly updated 447 Cleaning Times multimedia kit. In addition to the popular booklet that details standard cleaning times, the kit features a cleaning times calculator spreadsheet that allows users to enter their own staff’s times to compare with industry’s average. Managers can see which employees may need further training to get cleaning times to where they should be.

Customer complaints are another indicator of subpar performance. Managemen’s eCoMM Internet database allows clients to immediately send complaint forms by logging into a secure server. The complaint can be received by the cleaning supervisor via palm pilot, cell phone, pager or blackberry as a text message. Complaints can be tracked by the BSC to benchmark across accounts and employees.

“[eCoMM] gives us our top ten complaints. It’s like a survey you would see in a trade publication, but now I can get surveys exactly for my business,” says Joseph Jenkins, president and CEO of BearCom Building Services, Salt Lake City.

After using the program, Jenkins realized the potential his company possessed. He could immediately identify what areas where lacking in quality and which employees needed re-training. As a result, he’s retained more clients now that he can pinpoint his mistakes.

Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Campbell will be speaking at the ISSA/Interclean show in New Orleans on Nov. 17. His presentation titled “Facility Asset Preservation: Best Practices for Saving Millions of Dollars” is part of the Facility Service Provider Track sponsored by Contracting Profits.