colorful hands raised in response to annual reader survey

Cleaning executives comment on staffing challenges, budgets and departmental concerns

Year after year, facility cleaning managers are asked to do more with less. Facilities grow, staffs fluctuate, cleaning demands increase, but budgets rarely budge. Managers have been forced to adapt and, more than ever before, are working smarter, not harder. Efficiencies seem to be the name of the game.

According to this 2018 Annual Reader Survey, budgets are expected to remain flat again this year, forcing facility cleaning managers to make adjustments. With 53 percent of budget dollars allocated for labor, these decision makers are implementing both products and processes that emphasize productivity and efficiencies.

For example, a growing number of departments are investing in smart phones and two-way radios (55 percent and 71 percent, respectively) as options to keeping channels of communication with staff open. Smart phones put information in workers’ hands — task lists, safety data sheets, etc. — and both technologies limit travel times while providing access and open communication between staff and management.

Although these technologies cost money, managers are already reaping the productivity rewards and are willing to make room in the budget. Even though 29 percent of cleaning executives believe departments to be underfinanced relative to workload, they have no plans to postpone purchasing. They’ll simply make smarter purchasing decisions.

For example, managers are planning to scrutinize consumable products used in their departments. Twenty-five percent (compared to only 15 percent in 2017) hope to save budget dollars by switching to lower-grade or off-brand soaps, towels, chemicals, etc.

Dollars saved will go toward purchases of products and/or equipment that support efficiency initiatives, such as large equipment with productivity advantages associated. Thirty-six percent of departments (compared to 28 percent last year) already adjusted their purchasing strategies with these efficiencies in mind.

In addition to budgetary advantages, implementing product and process improvements have made departments more efficient than ever before. In fact, many are able to take on more tasks. Specialty projects that were once outsourced are coming back in-house. Carpet cleaning, floor stripping/refinishing and matting services are just a few of the tasks that in-house teams are able to tackle because of increased efficiencies.

Managers attribute much of the 39 percent drop in outsourcing of these specialty tasks to the fact that in-house staff can complete jobs quicker.

In addition to saving budget dollars, the shift has also kept contract threats at arms length. Improved in-house cleaning efficiencies and communication of cleaning results are credited for the reduced threat of departmental outsourcing (10 percent — down from 25 percent in 2017).

In 2017, facility cleaning managers were looking to “streamline efficiencies and stretch tight budgets.” According to the results from this 2018 Annual Reader Survey, they’ve achieved exactly that while also securing in-house jobs.

The survey is broken out into a couple different categories. Links to each are available here:
Management Priorities
Departmental Budgets
Employee Staffing & Retention

To compare this 2018 survey with results from previous years, click here.

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Survey Examines Priorities Of Cleaning Managers