Facility managers allocating more $ for janitorial services

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A slight trend toward increased janitorial budgets is underway in 2005, as facility managers across America acknowledge the importance of effective cleaning for occupant health and productivity, according to a study commissioned by ServiceMaster Clean. The research shows, however, that facility managers are experiencing mediocre service levels from their janitorial providers and will likely seek enhanced performance to justify their investment.

The ServiceMaster Clean “Office Cleanliness Monitor 2005” surveyed 330 facility managers and 215 office workers in the U.S. to explore beliefs, attitudes, and experiences related to office cleanliness and janitorial services. The Monitor found that 43% of facility managers reported a janitorial budget increase in the past year, with only 14% experiencing a decrease. Of the facility managers who were surveyed, 61% report no corresponding change in their task schedule in 2005.

“Interestingly, facility managers are starting to put money back in their budgets, just as an overwhelming 95% of them acknowledge that a crucial link exists between effective janitorial services and building operations,” says Gary Bauer, vice president, ServiceMaster Clean Business Services. “In addition, only 17% of facility managers disagree with the notion that office cleanliness directly links to employee sick days, suggesting that tenant productivity and health may be a consideration in these modest budget increases.”

Although a mild trend toward more robust budgets is developing, facility managers’ confidence level in their janitorial companies is not overwhelming. More than half (53%) rejected the notion that their janitorial provider exceeded their expectations.

“That’s a troubling statistic for our industry,” Bauer adds. “Facility managers are saying that effective cleaning is important, yet they are struggling to find providers that can deliver. These decision makers are insisting on consistent ‘above-and-beyond’ service which includes first-rate cleaning, outstanding communication and the ability to address special requests as they arise.”

“Office workers themselves are saying that offices need to be cleaner. In fact, only 24% believe their office is as clean as it should be and are starting to take their own steps to fix that,” Bauer says. “From the research, we are seeing an increase in the number of employees who are straightening items in their workspace and wiping down surfaces with germ-killing substances. Office worker disenchantment is filtering up to facility management, and it likely represents one reason for this year’s budget increases and why a majority of facility managers express some reservation about their janitorial companies.”

The Monitor offers this snapshot of what percentage of facility managers include the following in their task schedules:
· Daily trash disposal: 95%
· Daily vacuuming: 85%
· Dusting (non-blinds): 81%
· Mini-blind dusting: 46%
· Cleaning/disinfecting phones: 43%

The research shows, however, that office worker concerns do not track against current task schedules in many important respects. To illustrate, 33% of office workers believe the floor is the least clean area of their individual workspace, yet 85% of facility managers include daily vacuuming on their janitorial team’s task list.

“The savviest facility managers are aware that a communication gap exists and are using this opportunity to spur a dialog with both their janitorial providers and their building occupants,” Bauer explains. “The best janitorial providers are terrific at helping facility managers develop creative solutions to issues if they have a full picture of their customer’s priorities and strategic goals. At the same time, tenants need information from facility management on how they can best help their building’s crews maintain clean and healthy offices.”

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