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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?