Proper planning is necessary for a successful summer floor care season

Proper planning is necessary for a successful summer floor care season

A good plan saves the executor time, energy, money and manpower when completing a large task. Summer floor care is a task where a good plan is not just a nice idea, but a necessity. Between employee summer schedules/ vacations, buildings with limited accessibility, and the humidity in the air, a thousand things can go wrong if a site manager or custodial supervisor has not taken the time to create an action plan.

Here are things to keep in mind when making your summer floor care plan:

Survey the floors. Walk through the facility and make note of what types of floors you have, and what kind of square footage each kind of floor covers. Whether they are rubber, hardwood, carpet, marble, terrazzo or vinyl, these floors each require a unique cleaning and care plan.

Determine what needs to be done where. Some floors may need to be stripped and refinished. Others may only need a good top scrub and recoat. Calculate how many square feet of your facility needs which tasks and what kind of floor is in that location so you can start getting supply lists and employee hours organized for your summer floor care program.

Consider your workforce and plan employee hours. Keep in mind which employees have training in which kinds of floor care and make sure you have these individuals scheduled strategically to maximize your floor care program.

Evaluate your equipment. Look over your machines. Are repairs or PMs needed? Do you need additional parts on hand? Is it time to replace some of your equipment for newer, more efficient models? Keeping stock of your equipment like you would do for your other supplies will help keep everything running smoothly.

Planning for your summer floor care program will help your team avoid major issues and will save you time, money and energy. How do you keep your plans for your summer floor care program organized and moving forward? Feel free to keep the conversation going by commenting below or emailing me at Katie@pennvalley.com.

5 things your competitors can teach you about sustainability

5 things your competitors can teach you about sustainability

Sustainability is broadly defined as the ability to meet current needs in a way that will allow us to meet the same needs in the future.

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As a BSC, the goal is to create a program that looks well planned out and organized, saves your customers’ money and resources, and helps you create a more profitable bottom line. By making a sustainable program, you meet all of these requirements for a successful package AND help propel your business, local environment and our community towards a more viable future.

Have you looked at how your competitors are handling the sustainability of their programs? Here are five ways your competitors can easily out-sustain you if you aren’t working to stay ahead of the curve.

  1. Properly educate and train employees. Have you seen the chemicals and tools we work with?! If someone doesn’t know what they are doing with a 23% acid bowl cleaner or mishandles a swing machine, the effects could be disastrous. Don’t let your team fall victim to a preventable injury. Proper training goes a long way.
  2. Save resources like electricity and water. Day cleaning programs, though harder to sell, help cut electricity use drastically since your team is working when your customers are working. Also, to pull off a successful day program, you must use quiet, energy efficient vacuums and machines as to not interrupt their business. This forces you to use eco-friendly equipment that doesn’t waste resources. There are also many great machines on the market that use less or no water, or recycle water. They will make a great addition to your fleet when you are trying to sell your sustainable program to your customer.
  3. Use green cleaning chemicals and supplies. Green cleaning products are better for the environment and human health. Third party certifiers like Green Seal make this easy for you to find these products. They do the testing—you just need to find which chemicals and products they recommend. Most approved products will have their logos right on the packaging for easy identification.
  4. Go paperless (or use as little paper as possible). Offer your customers paperless invoicing and statements. You can also set up your sites with tablets where they can find procedural charts, training videos, SDS and any other documents they need. This looks more professional and is more organized than trying to manage an overflowing binder of paperwork.  It also gives them access to more in-depth information so you are supporting your team’s right to understand, and fostering a safer, more sustainable work environment.  They can also place supply orders for the site virtually, so they aren’t wasting time and paper with faxing or hand-writing their orders. There are also apps that are specially designed for our industry.  Have you checked out CleanBid? No more keeping track of usage charts and paper quotes, you can easily organize your information and calculate your bids on your phone.
  5. Plan for the future. With every decision you make for your business, you should be thinking about the future impact it will have. If I keep using this chemical, will my very loyal, hardworking employee still be able to work for me in 10 years if he wants?  When I choose to use this brand of equipment, am I going to be replacing it in two years or is it made to hold up? If I am overly-generous in serving this company now, will this help build my reputation for future prospects? Strategic, sustainable planning makes for a successful business and a competitive edge that can’t be met.

We could all make a little more effort to be sustainability-minded in our work.  Take a look at your program and look for places where you’ve done things the same way for more than five years.  These things are the key to your sustainability program. If it is working well and has been keeping your program safe, effective and profitable, then it is a sustainable practice and you should continue using it.  However, if it has become outdated and is no longer the best solution to whatever problem, do some research and find a greener, more successful way of performing that task.

Winter floor care matters

Try as I may to block the last couple of winters out (I am so not a snow and ice fan), it left a lasting impression. And I believe it did the same for many of our facilities managers and BSCs.  We couldn’t keep the sidewalks and entrance ways clean enough. Our lobbies looked like hot messes. And regular maintenance projects? Who had time for those between shoveling, scattering ice melt and shoveling some more?!

I remember one of my customers called in a panic because people were slipping and falling in her lobby, hallways on the first floor and even some rooms on the second floor. “The floors are dry, I don’t know what is going on,” I remember her saying. The problem was debris from ice melters and rock salt. Even dried, once it is ground into the floor, it makes a slippery mess.  She needed a solution and she needed it fast.

We’ve got plenty of info on matting and what they can do to protect your floors here.  I highly suggest you check it out if you have less than 30’ of matting in your entrance ways. However, mats can only do so much, especially once we get in the groove of winter where we get one storm after another.

To care for your floors through the winter, you need to be vacuuming regularly. This means that if you are able to, you should be vacuuming entrance ways during business hours.  Vacuum whenever you get a chance.   Obviously, this isn’t always feasible, so if you have to wait until business is closed for the day, vacuum as soon as you can start.

After your floors are vacuumed, you should neutralize the floor. You can do this with an auto scrubber or a mop.  Once that is done, flood the floor with cold water and dry.  Be sure to check the floor with a microfiber rag for residue. If your rag is clean, you have done an awesome job of saving your floor for another day.  If residue remains, your floor needs to be neutralized again.  Repeat the process until all of the residue is removed.

Here is a chart and reference page for you to print about how to properly remove salt residue from floors: FLOOR CARE salt residue cleaning

If you have any questions about neutralizers or how to best serve your facility’s floors this winter, please feel free to email me at katie@pennvalley.com or comment below.

Healthy hands are happy hands

Healthy hands are happy hands

Wash your hands. It sounds simple enough, right? In actuality, only one in three American adults washes his hands properly and frequently enough. Are you the one in three? Or are you one of the other two who will hopefully be converted after reading this blog?

There are tons of gross statistics I could bore you with (seriously, Google “gross facts about hand washing” and you will never want to shake hands with anyone again), but I prefer the proactive approach. The best thing you can do for your facility to ensure people are washing their hands is actually two-fold.  First, make sure you keep paper towel and soap dispensers filled. If you have hand dryers, please seriously consider changing them out for towels. Studies have been done that show people are less likely to wash their hands because they don’t care for hand dryers AND that hand dryers can actually spread germs by blowing them off the one person’s hands and into the air. Secondly, just posting a reminder about hand washing can increase the number of people who hand wash at your facility by almost 45%. If you are looking for a chart to laminate and post, you may want to download this one: How_To_HandWash_Poster.

As a facilities manager, you want your team, your customer’s employees and your site’s guests to be washing their hands regularly. Why? Because when illness spreads, as it so often does at this time of year, you and your team will be the ones doing damage control. If a viral outbreak occurs at your site, you will need to stop your regular cleaning and switch gears to disinfection and possibly work on putting a quarantine plan into effect on site. No one wants compound their already full schedules with extra work, especially around the holidays. And then what if someone on your team gets sick from cleaning a disinfected area? This will put added stress on your team.

London researchers estimate the one million deaths could be prevented annually if everyone washed their hands properly several times throughout the day. Doesn’t taking the time to stock dispensers and hang a few placards sound like a more than fair exchange for healthier hands and ultimately, lives?

Matting 101

Matting 101

Time for a pop quiz, friends.

How many feet of proper matting does the average facility need in order to effectively wipe out virtually 100% of the moisture and debris from incoming foot traffic?

The answer is 30 feet. 30 feet of the proper matting will scrape away ice melt fragments and other debris and wipe away that winter slushy wetness from your employee and guests’ feet. 30 feet of the proper matting will save you hours of labor and gallons of cleaning chemicals. 30 feet of the proper matting will help reduce your chance of having a slip and fall accident on site by over 50%.

In the perfect world, your facility will have 30’ of a combination of outdoor scraper matting, indoor scraper/ wiper matting, indoor wiper matting. These three mats work together to clean off debris and moisture from foot traffic to not only keep people safe while walking indoors but also to protect your facility’s floors. We track in some pretty harsh stuff on our feet and floors can need a total overhaul by the end of winter if a facilities management team doesn’t properly care for the floors all along.

Remember last winter? How much inside care was your team providing when they were busy shoveling and salting and trying to make the outdoors safe for employees and guests? They probably had time to refill dispensers, do some spot cleaning and maybe swab some toilets. They weren’t focused on floor maintenance because there just were not enough hours in the day. And that is totally understandable. Matting is a solid investment that helps reduce the need of a daily floor maintenance routine in the midst of everything Old Man Winter throws at us.

If your facility doesn’t lend itself to 30’ of matting or if a three-mat system is not in your budget, having something is better than nothing. A small outdoor mat and indoor mat will still help alleviate the damage done to floors and protect your employees and guests. Don’t let a tight budget or space get you in to a heap of trouble later this winter.

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Here is some more info about the three types of mats:

An outdoor scraper mat is usually made of a synthetic material like PVC, vinyl or polyethylene and has little blades to help clean off the larger chunks of debris. A good scraper mat will hold pounds of dirt per square foot.

A wiper/scraper mat has a deeply-grooved design that helps retain moisture and dirt. It is designed to scrape the dirt from shoes and hold it below shoe level while wiping water away.

A wiper mat is designed to do just that– wipe the moisture off shoes. When reviewing your options, you may want to consider an olefin mat because it can dry up to three times faster than nylon and polyester.

Is it clean?

Is it clean?

Imagine you and your team just spent an entire day cleaning the windows of one of the skyscrapers in Philadelphia and upon review of your work, you see that they are all streaky. Even if they don’t look great, are they at least clean?

The fact is, if a surface is left with streaks after being scrubbed with chemicals, it is not clean. Streaks occur because of one of the following reasons: there is either a. too much chemical used, or, b. too little chemical used, or, c. the wrong chemical is used.  When any of these three things happen, there is going to be a streaky mess. Let’s delve deeper into why these errors lead to unclean surfaces and how to avoid making a bigger mess.

  1. Too much chemical is used

When it comes to standard cleaning chemicals, you rarely need to use more chemical than what is suggested by the manufacturer in any application. There is a common misconception that more is better when working with chemicals but it is actually the opposite.  Too much chemical will leave a residue behind on the surface cleaned because the wiper will not be able to pick up all of the liquid. This results in a film of combined leftover chemical and dirt. This is what you see when you see streaks left by using too much cleaning chemical.

  1. Too little chemical is used

The opposite of using too much chemical is using too little. This can be equally problematic. When using too little cleaning chemical, there is not enough of the chemical compound on the surface to properly breakdown the soils and remove them. This results in the chemical basic moistening the soils, moving them around and then leaving them on the surface. You then see streaks on the surface you just tried cleaning.

The best way to avoid making mistakes A and B is to carefully read the instructions that come with the chemical used. Follow proper dilution rates and when spraying surfaces with chemical, be sure to wet the surface without over-saturating it. If you are concerned about chemical use and want to reduce waste, you may want to look into alternative wipers. Different wipers can use less chemical more effectively. For example, microfiber cloths can use little to no chemical to clean a surface (please note that we are not talking about disinfection in this article). The design of microfiber cloths makes them absorb liquid and grab soils easily.

  1. The wrong chemical is used

While there are some multi-purpose cleaners on the market, most cleaners are designed for fairly specific soils and/or surfaces. Chemicals work because they alter the chemical make-up of soils to break them down and suspend them in liquid, making it easy to wipe them away. If you do not have the right chemical to make the right alterations to the soil, your cleaning efforts will not be successful.

Keeping your business clean

Luckily, it is fairly easy to get back on track if you find that your surface cleaning has been ineffective lately. First, make sure you are using the right chemical. If you aren’t sure, review the product information; you can find most of our product information here.  If you have the right chemical, just review how much should be used and what kind of wiper you need.

If you have any questions regarding your current cleaning plan and the chemicals you are using, you are also always welcome to call your Penn Valley sales representative or email me at Katie@pennvalley.com. We want to help you keep your business clean.

The perks of going automatic

The perks of going automatic

So this may be because I am a millennial or it could be because I am a little bit of a germaphobe—but I am obsessed with automatic accessories for restrooms. They are cleaner, more efficient and just make for an all-around nicer restroom experience for guests. This means that when you use automatic accessories, you are improving human and building health AND creating a better, lasting impression on people which will make them want to come back to your business.

How do automatic dispensers and fixtures help human health?

Think about the average restroom experience.  You push open the door (touch point), head to the stall and lock it (touch point), do your business (major touch point), flush the toilet or urinal (another touch point), unlock the stall and head to the sink (double touch point), push the button on the soap dispenser to wash your hands (touch point) and then you do the funky elbow dance to push the lever on the towel dispenser because you need to dry your hands (an unusually complicated touch point), and FINALLY you leave by using your paper towel to wrangle the door (half a touch point?). You just came in contact with an astronomical amount of bacteria and germs doing something that we all do several times a day. And the more people who do this very regular activity in your restroom, the more germs find their way in there throughout the day.

Automatic towel and soap dispensers, automatic toilet and urinal flush systems and automatic faucets all reduce touch points which in turn reduces the opportunities for cross contamination and spread of germs. The less germs people are in contact with, the less likely they are to get sick.

How do automatic dispensers and fixtures help building health?

In addition to helping keep your team and your customers healthier, automatic dispensers and fixtures help control waste, which in turn creates a healthier building. Battery-operated dispensers help control how much towel or soap is released per use, which makes it much harder to waste these products. Automatic faucets can help reduce water waste by up to 40%. In a time where sustainability is a pressing issue on everyone’s mind and the environment is becoming an increasingly important topic, there is no need to be wasting water.

How do automatic dispensers and fixtures create a better, lasting impression on guests?

People will notice if toilets are not flushed. They will remember that they had to jam the button on the soap dispenser 27 times to get some soap out of it.  And I promise you, they will not forget that there was water dripping off of your towel dispenser and on to the floor from the previous guest who washed his hands. Automatic dispensers and fixtures help you manage your restroom so it doesn’t leave a negative impression on guests. They provide a cleaner, more distinguished image that will be positively associated with your facility for many visits to come.

If you wish to further discuss the benefits of automatic dispensers and fixtures or want to know more about how to update your restroom, please keep the conversation going. You can always email me at Katie@pennvalley.com. Let’s make sure we are keeping your business clean.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

Many people use the words cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing interchangeably. I know I used to be guilty of this particular faux pas. The only reason I learned the difference is because in our industry, it is downright dangerous to mistake any one of these words for another one. Each one of these actions has a different end result and in facilities and maintenance, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish in order to start the proper process.

Cleaning

Cleaning refers to the physical removal of dirt and grime from a surface. This is usually done with water and some kind of detergent or general cleaning agent.  When someone is finished cleaning a surface, it will be visibly clean—you will not see chunks of dirt, messy streaks or any lingering residue from the cleaning process. It is also important to note that cleaning is the first step to disinfecting or sanitizing a surface. If a surface is not cleaned of physical dirt and dust, it will be practically impossible to kill the germs on the same surface.

Disinfecting

Disinfecting refers to the process of killing mass amounts of bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. on a particular surface. When a surface is properly disinfected, the germs on that surface are killed and unable to do more damage. Please note that once a surface is contaminated again, it will need to be disinfected again. In order to properly disinfect a surface, it is important to follow the directions for the chemical as outlined by the manufacturer. Many people don’t realize that many disinfectants need a dwell time of 10+ minutes or that only certain wipers can properly pick up the chemical from the surface in question.  Disinfection is a process that needs to be done by the book in order to be effective.

Sanitizing

Similar to disinfecting, sanitizing also refers to killing bacteria, viruses and fungi. However, during the sanitizing process, far fewer germs are killed. The point of sanitizing a surface is to make it safe for users in a short period of time. While disinfection takes 10 minutes or so, sanitizing can happen in as little as 30 seconds. Sanitizing lowers the number of bacteria or germs on a surface to a safe amount but it doesn’t make the surface uninhabitable for these microorganisms.  This is an ideal process for restaurants and other food service venues that need to quickly get rid of germs but need to keep moving.

If you are unsure of which process you need in your site or don’t know which chemicals in your arsenal will work best for what you need to accomplish, please feel free to email me at Katie@pennvalley.com or check out our training library www.pennvalley.com/training-library for helpful tips and information. We like keeping your business clean (and disinfected and sanitized too)!