Managing equipment is like brushing teeth . . . in time, the negligent are left with nothing to worry about.
For maid service operators, the cost of equipment and supplies is a pittance in comparison to the cost of labor. So some operators don’t bother themselves a lot with controlling equipment damages and losses.
As with most things in our industry related to scale, there is so much we can learn from the maid service franchises. The franchises all apply systems to control equipment losses, because they understand that the cost of equipment abuse is about more than just the annoyance and relatively minor cost of replacing and repairing equipment. To fully capture the cost of equipment abuse, management must also consider the effects of equipment failure, including lost man-hours, and client dissatisfaction. Additionally, we believe that superior, professional, well-maintained equipment never fails to make a good impression on clients. And when it comes to forfeiting clients, the cost of a vacuum pales in comparison.
Most importantly, the House Cleaning Alliance believes that equipment abuse is highly correlated with potentially much more costly client damages. Turning a blind eye to employees’abuse of your own equipment invites them to treat your clients’belongings in a similarly careless manner. Identify the gorilla who is abusing your vacuum, and you may find that you have also fingered the slippery culprit for the Client Damages of the Year Award.
We have managed to get control of equipment damages by holding Team Leaders accountable for unreported losses, and for the regular simple maintenance of their own supplies and equipment. Not to mention that accounting for losses has eliminated a mountain of stress and added a decade to my life. We apply the following systems:
- All equipment is marked, and assigned to a specific team leader.
- Extra vacuums are kept on hand, so that we can hold back each vacuum regularly for servicing (don’t imagine you can develop a system for controlling the servicing of vacuums which doesn’t actually involve servicing them).
- Any equipment which is not used daily is locked away.
- All vacuums are inspected weekly and citations are written for the two worst-kept and two best-kept vacuums. Equipment spot checks are performed throughout the week and we write additional citations for deviations (good and bad).
- Team Leaders are held responsible for all lost and damaged equipment which they fail to report (while we don’t really expect them to nark out their friends, we have no problem with allocating the loss to them when they don’t).
- Citations and damages are two of eight performance parameters for Team Leaders, and we skew their pay to reflect performance.
If you don’t take some measure to cause employees to appreciate the importance of simple maintenance, then your vacuums and equipment will not function properly. And poor vacuuming is a pretty good reason for firing a cleaning company. Training and maintenance is important, but at the end of the day, losing your gorillas may be the most important move you can make towards improving your equipment maintenance. It’s a personality thing-employees care or they don’t. Successful independent maid service companies manage their equipment, but they also manage to keep those employees who care, and pack the rest off to a less discerning competitor.
The House Cleaning Alliance believes that the most efficient way to influence all types of employee behavior is to hold individuals accountable, measure performance, and link pay to performance. If you want to know more about our systems for accountability, pay, and Maid Analyzer, or if you want to comment about this article, then please proceed to the forum by . . . .
Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be vacuum cleaner repairmen.