In the Facility Services industry, and particularly in the cleaning end of the business, we have for too long ignored the power of data to help us improve our service, satisfy our clients and outperform our competitors. While other industries have adopted Six-Sigma, Lean Processes, and other data-driven measures to identify efficiencies and deficiencies in their businesses, we have marched happily on without thoroughly measuring how we run our businesses to determine if they measure up.
That time is gone. The days of paper inspections and restroom sign-in sheets are coming to an end. Those who cling to these outdated measures will soon find themselves out of business. Not only can data drive performance, but customers are beginning to demand data as a measure of our performance. Here are some amazing things that data can do based on technology already in the marketplace:
- Data Systems embedded in equipment can tell us how many hours a machine is used each day and tell us if the machine is being used properly. These systems can also call a technician when repairs or scheduled maintenance is needed. All of these lead to improved performance from the equipment.
- Robotic equipment can scrub floors, and vacuum carpets, and send an email verifying that their scheduled tasks are completed.
- Quality Control programs, working through smartphones or tablets, can do much more than just provide building inspections. They can provide real time access to work orders and notify customers when their requests are completed. These programs can be used to identify your most productive and least productive employees, allowing you to reward your best employees and re-train those who are less effective.
- Bidding software, and the use of handheld devices in bidding environments, will help us hone our bids so that we are more efficient, and more profitable.
- Restroom counters can tell you how many people are entering each restroom, allowing contractors to tailor cleaning needs to actual usage.
All of these systems can be used to help us move to the next level. We can begin by establishing key performance indicators (kpi) and performance benchmarks. These are valuable tools that let contractors know how they are doing based on measurable standards that will have a significant impact on the services you provide. As you identify the items that positively impact your business, and focus on improvement in those areas, you will notice a difference and so will your customers.
I know that there are many who will be slow to adopt technology. They will say something like “This isn’t rocket science, after all”. But those who ignore the benefits of technology in their businesses will soon find that they are losing to competitors who were willing to invest in these technologies to improve their services. I can remember a time before we had computers, but I don’t want to go back to that time. The technology that I am describing, I am convinced, will transform our businesses just as computers have done in the last 25 years. Take a look around and see how data driven systems can drive you to ever improving performance.
Scott Murray is a performance coach and consultant to building service contractors and other service companies looking to provide outstanding experiences through amazing customer service.