There are three areas of cleaning organizations that should be standardized to maximize efficiency and they all come back to the carts and caddies. Equipment, chemicals and procedures should all be standardized.

Having uniformly organized carts can provide maximum flexibility in both equipment and staffing. Standardized cart organization means that any staff member can grab any cart and know exactly what they’re getting. Disorganized carts waste time.

“Making sure that carts are pre-equipped is the most important thing,” says Kevin Keeler, owner of Keeler Consulting, Dimondale, Michigan. “You don’t want someone to be running back and forth to grab something that they need.”

In addition, standardized carts can make staffing more flexible. If carts are organized the same way throughout the facility, then any cleaning professional can be subbed in wherever necessary. Wherever staff go, they know what to expect and what is expected of them.

“First of all, make sure that all of your carts have the same products and equipment on them so that if you interchange people, it works,” says Keeler. “It needs to be standardized so that you can use people wherever you need to.”

Standardizing carts and caddies seems like a no-brainer until you start thinking about team cleaning. In team cleaning situations, not everyone needs the same equipment or chemicals. In that case, it is imperative that specialized carts can be recognized immediately on sight.

“You have to make sure workers can differentiate the carts,” Keeler says. “Especially if you are doing team cleaning, they need to know which cart they need for their specialty.”

For example, the carts being used to clean and stock restrooms are not the same carts being used for general office space or lounge areas. The chemicals used and the cleaning processes themselves will be different enough to warrant cart specialization. For maximum efficiency, the carts should be clearly marked for training and staffing purposes.

Sending A Message

The standardization of carts also allows easy oversight of both procedures and professionals. Even the best laid plans are subject to revision. By checking in on the way carts and caddies are being used, managers can evaluate the efficacy of procedures and training.

“Take a look. Are you getting the results you thought you would be getting?” says Keeler. “If not, take a look back. Was someone doing it the wrong way? Did they not have what they needed on hand? Maybe the vacuum wasn’t working. Was the tool or chemical not the best one for the job?”

Carts that stay organized and stocked can be a sign that the professional is adhering to the procedures they have been taught. It’s also important to remember that carts and caddies are a snapshot of your organization.

“When I go somewhere, I look at the carts,” Keeler says. “Does it look efficient? Is it a good representation of your company and your department?”

One quick look may not reveal whether they have the right chemicals, or whether they are using them correctly, but an organized cart often means that the professional has the system down and is taking pride in their work. A messy cart could reveal a need for additional training, or a more standardized and better communicated set of procedures.

Carts are workhorses for custodial departments and, therefore, can show a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning and maintaining this equipment can impact appearances, but upgrading to newer designs can also help. Many facilities are embracing black “executive” carts or switching from plastics to metal or stainless-steel options. These tend to hide the dirt and wear-and-tear of everyday use better than more traditional models, according to Denise Vilot, a customer service representative at Waxie Sanitary Supply.

Cleaning carts are an important piece of the equipment arsenal. Their design and the care given to them can improve productivity and make or break the impression building occupants have for departments. Managers should choose carefully when purchasing, so as to capitalize on all the benefits of these departmental staples.  

CARYN JONES is a freelance writer based in Centennial, Colorado.

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Choosing The Right Cleaning Cart Or Caddy