Keeping abreast of industry trends can often be the best way to stay one step ahead of the competition. And often, new innovations are introduced at major industry events such as trade shows and conventions. This April, BSCs can learn the latest technological trends during a skill builder’s session at the Building Service Contractor Association International Convention and Trade Show on Saturday, April 2nd.

Trends include timecard changes, spoken incident reporting and the paperless office. Here’s a preview of the seminar:

Since most employees check in at the job site, BSCs are forced to use the honor system — employees record hours by manually filling out a time sheet. Unfortunately, this leads to dishonesty and padded hours. Employees will simply write in the hours for a full shift for each day whether they have worked that long or not, says Jill Davie, vice president of sales and marketing, TEAM Financial Management Systems, Omaha, Neb., which is presenting the seminar.

One method to reduce this problem is through telephone timekeeping. Instead of a punch card, employees clock in using a touch-tone phone. The employee calls a server housed at the home office or outsourced to a data center. The server asks the employee for his or her pin number, which accesses the main menu. From here, employees can clock in or out for the day, as well as during the lunch hour.

The system uses caller ID to verify that the employee is calling from the correct location. If the employee tries to contact the server from anywhere other than the site, the call will be flagged.

Telephone time systems keep track of hours to the minute, rather than the estimated time worked, says Davie. On average, customers see savings between four and six percent from their payroll dollars, she adds. Also, facility managers appreciate the assurance that their buildings will always be staffed. If a janitor fails to check in, a supervisor will be alerted immediately. The missing employee or a substitute can be contacted to fill the vacancy.

For larger cleaning companies or those with large job sites, such as airports, the technology trend is moving towards biometrics. With this technology employees check in by scanning their handprint. Security requirements forces these high profile facilities to assure that the specific person showed up for work, not just a body, says Davie.

Biometrics also helps reduce another attendance problem for BSCs — “buddy punching.” This is where someone punches in for an absent employee. With biometrics, cleaners have no choice but to report for work.

Incident reporting
Telephones are being used for more than just employee attendance. A similar system allows employees to immediately report accidents. BSCs who believe employees will type or write out an incident report at the job site might be expecting too much, says Davie. Realistically, it doesn’t happen that fast, or at all.

Now, janitors can call a server and record their message describing the incident — for example, a chemical spill — as soon as they witness it. The telephone system can then alert a supervisor to the problem. Since the incidents are recorded faster, a response to the problem can also come quickly.

Eliminating the paper trail
The Internet is helping BSCs move towards a paperless work environment. Potential employees can log onto a Web site from home and fill out human resources forms such as job applications, I-9 forms and benefit forms. Paper forms can also be scanned into an online database. A paperless office increases efficiency and security, says Davie.

These are just a sampling of the technological trends currently impacting the contract-cleaning industry. Since technology is constantly improving, remaining up to date with tech trends can be time consuming, but savvy BSCs who make the effort may find increased profitability as a result of implementing new innovations.