We’ve talked to so many janitorial teams who thought they were doing a great job . . . only to find out their client was actually unhappy with the cleaning quality. (In fact, that’s why some of our clients seek out OrangeQC in the first place.) On the flip side, there’s nothing more frustrating than having a client with unreasonable expectations about what you’ve agreed to do. That’s especially true when the client’s upset that you’re not doing something, but it turns out it’s not even in your contract.

Why do these things happen? In the custodial industry, there’s often a bottleneck with the quality control process. Even when teams perform inspections regularly, they’re usually internal and hidden from the clients and stakeholders. Fortunately, there’s a solution that a lot of high-performance teams are already using to achieve success.

The Public Relations (PR) report, sometimes called a Joint Management inspection, incorporates everyone into the quality control process. A type of inspection form, the PR report is different from a standard inspection in that it allows the team to collaborate with its customers to reach a mutual understanding. Instead of a customer-and-vendor type relationship, you’re now working toward the same goal and collaborating and communicating on the issues.

So how does the PR report work, and how can your team benefit from this idea?

Is a PR report right for me?

The value in a PR report is being able to close the gap between what the custodial team thinks it’s achieving and where the customer’s satisfaction level really is.

Being able to see that gap is huge. If there are deficiencies the customer is seeing, or things they believe are critical issues, they are now sharing that with you in the context of you asking for that feedback. That means they’re not silently disappointed (and looking around at what other teams can offer) if you’re not hitting expectations. You also have the opportunity to address even minor problems.

For example, if a team thinks it’s hitting 95%, but the customer thinks it’s closer to 75%, what’s the discrepancy? Perhaps the team needs to make a correction. Maybe the customer views it as a deficiency, but it’s actually not the team’s responsibility.

Either way, minding the gap allows you to address their concerns early, before it becomes a larger issue.

The PR report opens the lines of communications and allows you and your customer to be on the same page. It’s a great practice to use the PR report when first working with a customer to establish a baseline and determine expectations. Additionally, checking in regularly will help keep you both on the same page.

How is a PR report done?

You or a member of your team will work directly with the customer or key stakeholder to complete the inspection. Oftentimes, the team member will hand the iPad with the form to the customer. The customer will fill out the criteria and add in their own notes and comments. They can also take photos of specific problem areas, which can be really helpful for sharing with your team and comparing internal ratings with the customer’s perceptions.

What if you only have 10 minutes with a customer to complete a detailed inspection with 20-30 line items? In that case, don’t worry about filling out the form line by line. Have an open conversation with the customer. The idea is to encapsulate the key elements of your more detailed from into something quick and easy that you can discuss. (One option is to use the text-to-voice feature to capture the comments in the note section.)

In addition to more detailed line items, it’s also really helpful to capture a summarized grade. Add a single line item on your PR report that asks: “What is the customer’s overall impression of the services being performed?” This is a great way to track the “temperature” of your client and their satisfaction level.

The idea is to encapsulate the key elements of your more detailed form into something quick and easy that you can discuss. One option is to use the text-to-voice feature to capture the comments in the note section. You can also use advanced features on your device, such as iOS’s Text Replacement, which lets you create shorthand that expands into full-fledged comments (so typing “NS” could expand into “Not satisfactory”).

Who should participate in the PR report?

Once you have established a consistent rating between you and the customer, it’s time to ask who the stakeholders are. You usually know this information from the contract, which is a good first step.

Second, take a look at the people who are already engaged in the process without you looping them in. Then, reach out and see if they’re willing to participate as well. Think about the people who routinely either by submitting tickets, requests or complaints. By the nature of them reaching out to you, they’re good candidates to be involved in the process.

Optionally, you can go onto a third step, which is the anonymized survey process. This is basically a random sampling of students or tenants of a facility that happen to be there; you’re just documenting their impressions in a very quick inspection. It’s about including the people who are using the facilities, day in and day out, so you can have another data point to work with. (For example, universities will sometimes incorporate student feedback; the University of Minnesota has had great success involving students in their quality control process.) Depending on the responses, this can be a great win to bring to your client.

How often should the PR report be completed?

Ideally, the PR report would be completed frequently, especially for high priority accounts. As new inspections are being run, you will want to compare them to make sure you’re grading based on the PR report and adjusting as needed. OrangeQC allows you to run comparisons between the PR report and standard inspections.

We typically see teams doing PR reports typically on a monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual schedule. If you are new to PR reports, we recommend starting with a quarterly goal, then adjusting based upon your client and team needs.

At first, you may have wider gaps between what you and the customer are reporting. But over time, through training, communication with the client or changes to the form and rating, that gap should be smaller and smaller as you and the customer are in sync.

Want more help putting together a PR report for your clients? We’d be happy to walk you through the process. Email us at support@orangeqc.com.