Investing in a More Cost-Effective Facilities Program

Try these smart solutions to keep staff working efficiently.

There are a lot of things that go into keeping your building clean, safe and well maintained – from cleaning tools and equipment  to specialty chemicals and automated dispensers — but these all require someone to use and oversee them. With any facility management program, that human element is the biggest investment; it's common industry knowledge that 90+% of a facility's maintenance budget is tied to labor. So how can you ensure you're optimizing your budget and your workforce?

Take a look around. When's the last time you stopped to think about your cleanable space and how it's maintained? Which areas within your facility get the most traffic, and require the most attention? Prioritize areas that need more maintenance, like entryways, breakrooms and restrooms, and determine how often these areas need to be cleaned.  Once you understand what needs to be cleaned and how often, it's easier to establish procedures and then "right size" the staff and processes for what needs to be done.

Pick your products wisely. Cleaning products can make a big difference in how much you spend on labor costs. Purchasing a "low end" floor stripper may offer short-term savings but what is often misunderstood is that certain products, while delivering initial price savings, can add to the total cost by making processes less efficient and requiring more labor. This low priced stripper may require more concentrate to be used, it may require more agitation and several wet rinses — all adding to the overall cost of the project. To reduce the cost of labor, you should be focused on implementing the right processes and using the right products that will increase efficiencies and productivity. It's important to consider these factors in addition to the actual product price:

  • Ease of use – Is the product user friendly? Is there a tradeoff between cost and usability that may add to your staff's time in fielding complaints or managing product waste?
  • Maintenance – Does the product necessitate extra maintenance to keep it functioning smoothly, cleanly and safely?
  • Overall effectiveness – Is the product effective, or is it necessary to use more product in order for it to work as well as another, more effective option?

Ultimately, what these factors point to is the time that will be spent utilizing the product — too much time means the savings you might have achieved up-front are wasted when you factor in the additional labor costs.

Take time to train. Once you know your space, have chosen your products and have streamlined processes where possible, training is the next opportunity to increase your team's effectiveness. Implementing a standard, comprehensive training program means the job gets done right the first time, saving time and effort for your staff. In addition, proper documentation and training can eliminate the need for repeated clarification, and can be effectively leveraged to reduce risk to your employees from unsafe or unclear work practices. More information on custodial training can be found at:

Any successful business hinges on the effectiveness and quality of its workers, and it's no different for a successful facilities maintenance program. Focusing on labor efficiencies is an easy way to strengthen your program and your bottom line.

Have you done these 8 things to make the most of your facilities program?

  1. Evaluate policies, standards and goals to maintain quality and consistency.
  2. Conduct an activity audit activities and a walk-through inspection to evaluate your program's effectiveness and facility areas that require the most attention.
  3. Identify the number of tools and products being used and what each is used for. Look for opportunities to consolidate.
  4. Evaluate chemical safety and segregate / eliminate chemicals that create hazards if mixed or improperly used.
  5. Evaluate current training and create a written training program for employees.
  6. Create what your facility considers your "standard of clean" and routinely evaluate your teams progress towards that standard.
  7. Integrate best practices and keep processes simple — complexity creates mistakes and inefficiencies.
  8. Consider consolidation with suppliers who align with your business objectives and values.