Commercial Cleaning: How COVID-19 Changed Executives’ Expectations
Contributed by BSCAI
Many consider 2023 to be the year when the world has possibly returned to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic. This certainly doesn’t mean there haven’t been permanent changes in how we work and building service contracting companies carry out their services.
To identify the current needs and expectations facility executives have of their commercial cleaning contractors in the United States in 2023, Contracting Profits magazine and the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) conducted a joint study in early 2023, and recently released the corresponding 2023 Report on Facility Executives’ Contractor Expectations earlier this summer. What follows is a high-level overview of the report, highlighting key insights and data that the study uncovered.
Changes in Preferred Cleaning Time
One of the report’s key findings was the growing preference of facility managers towards daytime cleaning instead of nighttime. In 2021, 10 percent of facility executives wanted day cleaning in their facilities, but in 2023, the number has grown to 18 percent.
On the other hand, the trend of facility executives wanting night cleaning with a day porter on-site is showing a decline. Back in 2021, it was preferred by 63 percent of executives but only 51 percent prefer this service in 2023.
With the rise of COVID, the commercial cleaning industry witnessed the introduction and greater acceptance of smart technology, predetermined cleaning routes, accident-avoidance sensors and data collection as some of the top technological advancements.
Though 80 percent of executives are still not inclined to use such technology, the percentage of those that now prefer to incorporate autonomous equipment has doubled from 2021 figures to 20 percent today.
Moreover, 85 percent of facility executives don’t plan on implementing smart technology that sends service alerts in restrooms, and 53 percent are choosing not to implement robotic equipment for the facility cleaning routines. Further, 27 percent believe robots would not work in their facilities, showing a strong opposition to automated cleaning.
Industry Certifications and Hiring Processes
Through the study, it was also discovered that 47 percent of executives consider certification to be an essential requirement when deciding on a contractor, with the Certified Building Services Executive (CBSE) and LEED Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) being the leading certifications. However, it is worth noting that despite the preference given to industry certifications held when selecting a contractor, only 11 percent of executives are willing to pay a higher price for this benefit.
Obtaining certifications ranks fourth on the list of priorities when selecting a building services contractor, just beneath lower prices, reputation and service offerings. The report also revealed that 87 percent of managers believe that a consistent quality service would justify a higher rate.
When it comes to hiring practices in the industry, 95 percent of executives expect their frontline janitors to undergo background checks during the hiring process. Additionally, most executives are in favor of frontline janitors wearing uniforms and undergoing frequent drug testing.
Wages and Pricing
One of the industry’s greatest challenges continues to be the ability to increase wages. There appears to be a return to a lack of interest from facility executives in improving wages. This clearly creates greater pressure on contractors battling one of the worst economic markets of finding labor coupled with higher wage demands.
When talking about improved pricing, there were multiple factors that potentially would validate a higher price. These factors include consistent quality services (87 percent), cost increase due to minimum wage increases (50 percent) and additional bundled services apart from cleaning (40 percent).
Aside from the above, additional reasons facility executives would be willing to pay high prices include:
• Infection control procedures: 40 percent
• Providing living wage to janitors: 39 percent
• Grean cleaning: 27 percent
• Day cleaning: 23 percent
• Sustainability initiatives: 17 percent
• Industry certifications: 11 percent
On the other hand, executives agreed upon bundling many services. Floor finishing and deep carpet extraction were the top choices for extra services in bundle options at 69 percent each. See the chart for additional details about what executives are now willing to bundle for their facilities:
With a rise in global awareness towards sustainability, the survey sought to identify whether facilities have set any sustainability goals. Results showed that 44 percent of facilities have goals in place and several executives have considered discussing the possibility of their contractors’ aid in achieving those goals.
Energy efficiency, smart building initiatives and using environmentally safe products were among the main sustainability objectives seen in facilities. However, 56 percent still do not have any plans in place, so a cost-benefit analysis must be undertaken before taking any steps towards being more sustainable.
Overall, while executives feel many strides have been made and positive changes have occurred in the past three years, there are still areas of business in which building services directors feel improvements and changes are needed. To learn more about the survey results, read the full report here.