In the 20 years since Julio Cisneros founded his Houston-based building services company, he has kept employees at the forefront of his decision-making.

“Most people say, ‘Increase productivity and increase your profits,’” says Cisneros, president of Marcis & Associates. “That’s great but the No. 1 resource is your labor.”

Cisneros says if you keep employees happy — through better wages, proper training and the right equipment — they’ll be encouraged to provide better quality of service.

To improve efficiencies and morale with better products, Marcis & Associates switched to corded backpack vacuums eight years ago. Now Cisneros is examining cordless battery vacuums by taking his staff through trial runs of different models, including a fanny-pack style.

Yet, whether a wearable vacuum is corded or not, a successful equipment change relies on quality training, he says.

“With a beater bar, you’re going back and forth. On a backpack vacuum, you have to learn how to glide it from your left to right at an angle, then cross along the side of baseboards,” says Cisneros.

His first priority in switching to corded backpacks was how quickly staff could be trained to work efficiently. Second was quality. He considered whether backpacks could out-perform a beater-bar; perform detailed cleaning tasks better; and if they would make clients happy.

A week of training for both staff and managers covered working in cramped spaces and proper technique. At first, he experienced resistance from staff but relieved the issue through training which explained correct position.
Ergonomic placement is above the hips with straps snug, not loose.

“It’s not as easy as people think — they think it’s like a backpack,” says Cisneros. “It has to be in the right position.”

Cisneros is considering similar issues while buying battery vacuums. He likes cordless backpacks for elevators and day porters. However, his first cordless trial didn’t go well since run-time was only one hour. Cisneros points out that in a building with 40 elevators, that’s a problem.
But the second trial, less than one year ago, was more encouraging because charging stations kept staff in action, the fanny-pack style was more comfortable, and batteries lasted about 2.5 hours.

He wants his switch to battery vacuums to be as successful as the last time he introduced new equipment.

“I promised everybody who would stick with it and stay with me that we would increase productivity,” says Cisneros.

The market has been waiting for battery-powered vacuums, and now janitors will be rewarded for their patience. As these three end users show, switching to battery backpacks can improve productivity and reduce time spent on carpet care. 

Susan Thomas Springer is a freelance writer based in Sisters, Oregon.  

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