We talk a good deal about quality control in the janitorial business, but we’ve found that many teams skip past a key step: setting goals.

We’re going to dive into the why and how of setting goals for your janitorial team to improve your business.

Improvement graph on paper
Image courtesy of Isaac Smith.

Why create janitorial quality control goals?

Creating a quality control process is key to establishing a continuous improvement cycle. Goals help you deliver consistent quality and quantified feedback to employees, in addition to keeping a firm grip on the quality you’re delivering to your clients.

In fact, the ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) says organizations must have a Quality Plan, which is “a written process for determining whether cleaning service requirements are met and for identifying improvement opportunities.”

You may send text messages back and forth with your team members when an issue comes up, but that’s not a process. That’s reactive. It won’t give you data on the areas in which your team needs to improve.

Creating a quality assurance process allows you to shift from being reactive to actively measuring data. This allows you to look at things from a high level, identifying the big wins and areas that need improvement. You can then find the root cause and dig deeper into those issues.

Setting quality control goals is a foundational step to delivering consistent quality and growing your organization.

To create your goals, start simple.

Once you decide to create quality control goals, we recommend starting very simple. It may be tempting to create a long list of goals, but be careful of setting yourself up to drown in data. We sometimes hear from teams who suffer from metric overload or goal fatigue. We don’t want this to happen to you!

So keep your goals small to start. If this is new to you, start with monthly inspections.

Other metrics to look at include the number of customer complaints, the overall score of a facility’s janitorial inspections, and the number of deficiencies. These quantified metrics will give you a snapshot of your inspection process at that point in time and give you a data point to refer back to.

Before you establish your goals, we recommend reading our Definitive Guide to Creating a Janitorial Inspection Checklist. (Other great resources include our article on APPA’s Custodial Service Levels, the ISSA CIMS, and CIMS FAQ.)

You can also refer to your service-level agreement or contract for specific metrics your team has committed to deliver.

Though these inspection guidelines are helpful in outlining how to measure performance, they can’t spell out your exact goals. These will have to be determined among your team and with your clients or key stakeholders.

The next level: Internal goals vs. external goals

You will have two sets of quality control goals: internal and external. Your internal goals are set with your team, while external goals will be set between you and the stakeholder or facility.

Setting internal goals for your team confirms quality and allows you to scale your team in a sustainable way. They should demonstrate iterative improvement, consistent quality, and provide motivation to your employees.

Internal goals will include the number of janitorial inspections across the organization, the amount of customer complaints, and monthly inspections for each client. For instance, if one of your primary concerns is the number of janitorial inspections your team is conducting, we recommend you set a goal of hitting a certain number of inspections every month.

If you already have a process up and running and you’re doing inspections on a routine basis, your goal could be to inspect high-priority accounts twice a month and everyone else once a month.

External goals will ensure cleaning to a specific standard (such as APPA Level 2) with consistency, leave an audit trail and accountability, and set expectations with your client.

A good example of an external goal we’ve seen from our clients is how many deficiencies the team aims to address. An airport facility had a goal of finding 20 line items every day that were out of compliance. Sharing their results with their client allowed them to demonstrate how exactly they were going to improve.

It may seem scary at first to point out your team’s deficiencies to your client, but it will allow you to measure improvement and show your client that you are working toward a continuous improvement cycle. No one is going to be perfect 100% of the time, but it’s important to have truthful results so you can accurately measure your process.

How often should you reevaluate your goals?

We suggest reviewing your goals at least annually, as it is a good idea to keep a pulse once a year and adjust. You can set your goals at the same time you review your business goals for the new year.

If your business has a faster pace, you could reassess quarterly or more frequently with high-value customers or locations. Whenever or how often you reevaluate your goals, they should be set ahead of time, clearly documented, and shared with your entire team. It’s good practice for everyone to know exactly what they’re responsible for.

How should you evaluate if you are hitting or exceeding your goals?

The ISSA CIMS specifies that organizations must use one or more of the following measurement tools: surveys, inspections, complaints, and customer evaluations.

These are all great ways to measure progress, but it is a lot to keep track of. Fortunately, janitorial inspection apps and software, such as OrangeQC, can make the job a whole lot easier. Your team members can record the data with a few quick swipes on a phone or tablet, and we’ll crunch the data for you.

While you could run your process on paper, the objective is to take your results and measure whether or not you’re achieving your goals. Plus, many certifications and client contracts specify that you must have a digital tool set in place to help you evaluate where you are at with your goals.

Whether you use pen and paper or a program like OrangeQC to track your data, it is essential to evaluate your progress and continuous improvement plan. ISSA CIMS points out that management should review performance results by following a documented process and there should be a written corrective action plan and a written plan that describes how the organization will measure, report, and implement performance improvement. Each customer representative should receive a copy of the plan.

Another important aspect of service quality measurement is what ISSA CIMS calls the feedback cycle. This means that the organization should respond to and investigate all customer complaints, meet with the customer representative to review inspection and survey results and discuss complaints, and inform the customer representative and ask for feedback when corrective action has been taken.

When it comes down to is, quality control is all about setting attainable goals and measuring your progress toward those goals. With these tips, we hope you are on your way to drastically improving your organization.