Welcome to the first part of our Quality Control 101 series! Whether you’re just getting started with janitorial/facilities quality control or are an old pro looking to revisit the foundational building blocks, this series will give you a well-rounded foundation for QC. So let’s dive in.
Why have a great quality control program?
Quality control is checking a sample of a product or service against the standards of how it should look.
For janitorial services, this means inspections. You’re checking whether the result — the freshly cleaned building — lives up to the quality standards you agreed on with your client.
We’re going to start with why.
Why do you (or should you) have an inspections process? There are a few obvious reasons, but one a lot of people miss is this: a good inspections process helps your business grow.
If a great new opportunity comes up, you want to be able to jump on it. That means your processes have to be ready to scale.
This is true for all parts of your business. For example, you might work with a CPA on your finances so that everything is in order as your revenue grows. Or you might switch to Google to manage your email and documents so that you can add new people easily.
As the business grows, you know the systems can keep up. It’s one less thing on your plate.
Your quality control process is no different.
When businesses are small, they can rely on informal communication and veteran employees who know how things work. You might be an owner who walks around a facility and mentally makes notes. You might even take a photo or two, or shoot off a few emails.
This works for your first account or two, but eventually . . . it’s just not enough. You become a bottleneck to your own growth. You can’t really tell if you’re improving or not. Your team has no insight into common problems. Emails get lost or forgotten.
One or two slip-ups, and customers start complaining about the quality not meeting promised standards.
So what’s the alternative?
There’s a popular saying in business: “If you don’t track it, you can’t improve it.”
That’s the idea behind a well built QC process. It’s the system that ensures you’re maintaining your standards where it matters: at your customer’s facilities. It streamlines how your team responds to issues and customer concerns. And if things start to slide, it sounds the alarm early.
To sum it up, a strong quality control process starts by enabling you to track quality. The next step: Responding to what you find.
How inspections lead to happier customers
Once you’ve caught onto an issue, how do you respond?
There are two steps you’ll need to take for most issues:
- First, figure out why it happened and fix it. If you’ve got a cleaner who is consistently forgetting to wipe down vertical surfaces, tell them! No one can improve without feedback.
Of course, if all of your cleaners are missing vertical surfaces, it might be a problem with training. Or not giving them enough time. Or an equipment failure. But once you see the smoke, you’ll be able to find the fire.
- Second, decide what you need to do to solve the problem. Should it be fixed immediately, or can it wait until the next cleaning? Everyone needs to know who is responsible for handling the problem and when it’s resolved.
That second step requires your team to communicate seamlessly. So how do you organize the issues that come in?
Sending an email or calling one person is not enough. When there is no central communication around which issues are still outstanding and which still need work, things fall through the cracks.
Remember, we’re trying to build a process that will work as your business grows. Make sure that your process enables everyone on the team to know the current state of that issue.
You need a central spot (either physical or digital) where all your to-dos get tracked. As inspections come in, the issues that need to be resolved should be posted so that the team can divvy up the work. And when something gets done, everyone should know that, too. If you ever need to know the current status of an issue, you should be able to trust that you can go to that spot and see the latest information.
If a customer contacts you with a concern, a work order, or any other request, that should also get tracked in this spot. It becomes the company’s source of truth. Your stress levels will fall when you know nothing is being dropped.
In the analog days, this might have been a physical notice board, or a binder full of work order forms. But we highly recommend using a digital system. Of course, we’re a little biased — after all, OrangeQC is a digital system that allows you to track inspections results and organize tasks and customer requests all in one spot. But whatever service you choose, digital is best because:
- It’s easier to scale. If your team doubles in size, or you expand the geographical area you cover, a paper system becomes a huge headache. A digital system lets you access information from anywhere and add users in an instant.
- It’s future-proof. Even if you’re small enough for a paper system (or an informal system) now, if you ever want to grow, it won’t be enough. Don’t wait until your team is growing and more revenue is at stake to start trying to find a process that works well for you. Find one you like now, and it’ll save headaches for years to come.
- It simplifies customer communication. With OrangeQC, for example, customers can log onto our app or send an email to a dedicated address and create a ticket within your team’s workflow. Your team on the ground could be notified of the issue and resolve it without a single action from you.
- It stays up-to-date. You know you can trust the information because it’s constantly being updated. If a team member marks a ticket as completed, everyone else sees that instantly.
The important takeaway is that your quality control process needs a way to respond to problems. Without it, the only time you’ll know about issues is when a customer contacts you. You only get the customer’s grace so many times. Your process should be proactive in finding issues and resolving them — so fast that your customers don’t even notice most slip-ups. The more responsive you are, the happier your customers will be.
That’s the why behind quality control for your janitorial business.
- Part 2: How to build a great inspection form and develop the right rating system
- Part 3: Four steps to set your inspectors up for success (coming soon)
- Part 4: How to get more business with a great QC system (coming soon)