Janitorial and facilities teams have always been behind the scenes, doing their best to keep things clean and healthy. For better or worse, many people in the industry only feel their hard work is noticed if there’s a problem.
But as the world begins to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, people in the general public are suddenly interested in cleaning and disinfection like never before.
People walking into any building want to know: Is this space clean? Is it healthy? Am I taking a risk by going to work, school, the doctor, or shopping?
That’s exponentially true for places where we spend lots of time. Schools, offices, day cares . . . The pandemic has taught people the true value of cleaning, disinfection, and a healthy environment.
For many teams, it’s a huge mindset change. So let’s say it loud and clear.
Janitorial workers are no longer the “cleaning fairies” that come in overnight and seem to magically make things better. They’re front-line workers, essential to the public health. Their expertise can, and will, save lives.
This is more than a feel-good mantra; it’s essential to thriving in the new industry environment.
From the background to the foreground
For some of you, this change has been very obvious. But for others, it’s been much more subtle.
Here, we’re going to take a look at how janitorial and facilities teams can do three things to thrive in the current environment:
- Communicate with your clients.
- Communicate with the people who use your buildings.
- Communicate with your team.
Some of you have been able to leap right into doing those three steps above, while others of you are just starting to bounce back after long, lean months. We hope the industry best practices we’ve gathered here are useful in either case.
Let’s get started!
Communicate with your clients.
If you haven’t heard much from your clients, especially if they shut things down, check in. Ask closed businesses about their current reopening plans. Emphasize partnership; small businesses depend on one another to succeed.
For your clients who have reopened or are considering reopening, suggest higher or more frequent levels of cleaning. Be clear about price and show the break-down behind the additional cost; transparency is key in communicating value.
Regular inspection and QC reports help keep customers in the loop as well. You can download PDF versions of these directly from OrangeQC or have them automatically sent to your clients.
Also, share what you’re doing to keep your employees safe and healthy. People are more aware than ever of how essential workers are treated; communicate how you’re ensuring no one is coming into work sick (temperature scans or enhanced sick leave, for example). Your client should feel confident that you take care of your people so that they don’t need to worry about a scandal.
Update your website and social media with COVID information. Are potential clients visiting you and just seeing your old website? That’s not reassuring. Update your online presence to showcase your expertise, training, and safety.
If you don’t already have an email marketing strategy, this is a great time to create one. Services like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor make it simple to create professional-looking newsletters where you can keep your clients (and potential leads) informed about the steps your business is taking. (We’re diving into that topic soon; stay tuned for an article on the best software for janitorial teams working remotely during COVID-19.)
Additionally, you’ll want to share information with your clients that they, in turn, can share with their customers, residents, or other stakeholders. Let’s dive into that next piece of the puzzle.
Communicate with the public.
As the world begins re-opening, many brands have been proactive in offering information on cleaning schedules, products, and techniques. Just searching my own personal email inbox from the past month, I heard from:
- A movie theater advertising that they are using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers and vacuums with HEPA ﬁlters, as well as promoting their partnership with Clorox
- A cooking school sharing that they are having disinfecting crews come before and after every event
- A car rental company detailing their multi-point cleaning and disinfection process
- An optometrist promising all clinic surfaces will be sterilized with medical-grade disinfectant
- A coffee shop telling me they sanitize all high-contact surfaces every 30 minutes
- A major airline touting electrostatic sprayers that distribute a CDC-approved disinfectant
. . . these are all from emails sent to the companies’ entire marketing newsletter list.
In addition to providing your client with language they can include in their newsletter, you might also want to send out a press release, especially if your team services a high-profile space in the community.
If you work in schools, provide your district with information they can share with parents.
Extend your communication one step beyond your client, to their customers, by providing language and resources your client can share.
Additionally, it’s good for the entire industry when the general public becomes more educated about cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection. It helps people recognize the value of good cleaning beyond the way things look, and instead becomes about healthy spaces.
Communicate with your team.
It seems obvious . . . but when the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you’re rushing to adapt to a situation that changes daily, sometimes you forget what the people around you don’t know.
Don’t fall into that trap. (Or if you have fallen into it, it’s time to climb back out.)
Your cleaning team is the key to your success. Every day, they are the ones delivering the service that helps your business or organization thrive – and they’re also taking on the highest levels of risk.
At the extremely bad end of communication, stories of cleaners who aren’t in the loop have made national headlines.
On the other end of the scale are cleaners who feel noticed, empowered, and purposeful.
Here’s what you can do:
- Communicate how your business is doing. People are worried about their livelihoods. This can be as easy as saying, “Things have been up and down, but for now, our business is solid and I don’t want you to worry.” Or, “We’re working on a plan, but I want to be honest that business has been hard to come by. That’s why we really need to work on retaining this account.”
- Communicate what they should do if they feel sick. Consider updating your leave policy to ensure people are not coming into work sick.
- Communicate risk. EVERYONE needs to be on the same page about how cleaning in a space with confirmed coronavirus exposure will be handled. And everyone needs to know how to report if your policy isn’t being followed.
Notice a theme?
Communicate the process. And then follow up on the process. And then quiz on the process. (If you aren’t doing process compliance audits, you need to be.)
We hope these tips help your team run successfully as you not work to make your community healthier, keep your team employed, and create a safe working environment. Our hats are off to you!