Friday, November 26, 2004

Holiday Insights & Protecting your clients

The Holiday season is just kicking off now and with it comes the numerous office parties and luncheons at the work place. This brings back memories of a confrontation and situation we had last year with a customer's employee.

During one of the regular cleaning nights a team leader contacted me and was seeking some advice in regards to food left out from a party that day. I stopped by the building and in the company cafeteria there were donuts, untouched in the box, open boxes of bagels and other pastries. There was also open tubs of butter, cream cheese, flavored coffee creamers etc...

Realizing that most of this had probably been out all day I instructed the staff to dispose of the entire mess except for the donuts in the sealed plastic tray. After-all, the bacteria growth on the exposed food would make someone eating it now, very ill.

Well, the next morning I get a nasty email from one of the employees who works at that site, complaining that my staff threw out all their food. I replied that the food would have been spoiled the following morning and unsafe to eat and that L & K Cleaning was looking out for their health in discarding the food.

I went so far as to do some net research on the safe handling of food leftovers and sent her the following links: Health Beat ,
USDA Food Safety

This unfortunately set her off even more, I received another email, this time saying that she thought our cleaners were taking the food home and were probably responsible for all the missing sandwiches for the entire year. Being an intuitive business person I realized that I was not going to win this one so I went to a high end bakery, purchased 2 dozen bagels, a dozen pastries and some exotic whipped butters and cream cheeses. I then drove over to the building and delivered them with a card from L & K to the person complaining.

Nothing more was said or communicated after this incident. Until one night around 3-4 days later I was going into the building lobby and the vice-president of the company was coming out. He stopped me and thanked me for the unexpected goodies! I briefly explained what had happened, that our cleaners had followed my instructions but that I felt bad and decided to replace the food. He looked at me kind of strange, nodded and left.

2 days later I get an email from the VP:

Mr. Galo, we are extremely sorry that you had to go out of your way and replace the food items. I had our IT person call up the emails that were exchanged between you and our employee. I found your concern for our employees health to be commendable and reaching far beyond what I would expect. I am, in fact, having this published in our company newsletter along with the information you provided concerning safe food handling. You will be credited with, what I feel, saving the staff from themselves.
T.S., VP

This year, the instructions to the staff are the same. If it's been out when you arrive and no one is currently working, toss it. I will buy new if it comes to that.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Complexity of Customer Relations

One of my cleaners approached me on Friday complaining that they can never mop the floors in the cafeteria because employees were constantly streaming in and out. My reply was to mop when it wasn't break time.

This made the cleaner get quiet and then say, "it's always break time"
After observing the area for awhile I realized the cleaners problem. People from the production floor were constantly sneaking in and out of the cafeteria. The place is to big for the one shift supervisor to maintain close watch on everyone.

This puts our company in a stressful situation.

On one hand, as a dedicated vendor, always looking out for my customers best interest, I should inform upper management of this situation and let them work it out. It would increase their productivity but also put their manager /shift supervisor in the hotseat!

That is the second part of the problem, we need to work closely with the shift supervisor in order to perform our services. If I turn in him to upper management, will I alienate him from the my staff? Will this supervisor make life miserable for my staff because I informed on him and his staff? Will his staff try for some revenge on the cleaners --via making bigger messes, trashing the restrooms more than usual?

This was my Zen problem of the week. I decided that I will approach the shift supervisor myself. Let them know that they have a problem and therefore so do we in performing our duties and ask them to help me work out a solution. If I can fix this without approaching upper manangment it is a win for us and the shift supervisor.

I am sure if this does not reach a happy conclusion I will be back here again with a different version and outcome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cause and affect of providing a clean workplace

This past Sunday I was yet again, covering for some absentee workers, you know, people who fail to make good on their promise to work for money!

Anyhow, while I was mopping and mopping I slipped into the zen zone.

If you do an adequate job of cleaning, the people you clean for will do an adequate job of trying to keep it clean.

If you do an outstanding, absolutely superior job of cleaning the people you clean for will do an adequate job of trying to keep it clean.

However, when you do special work, such as carpet cleaning or stripping & finishing the floors, the employees of your customer will try to keep it cleaner longer and with a little more effort on their part.

Now, is this because day in and day out they don't notice our cleaning efforts? They just take it for granted when the bathrooms are clean and the trash by their desk is empty? Then when we do something really noticable like the floors or carpet --we are back in the limelight ever so briefly? Enough to warrant some attention to their own conditions for a short period?

That's my zen thought for the week. Email me at if you have any comments or thoughts on this.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Why Are Monday's Different

There I was emptying trashcans in cubicles, row after row after seemingly endless rows when I thougt:

Why are Monday's different in our business?

and zoom! into the Zen of Cleaning

If you stop by company website, , you will see that we have been updating with pictures of before and after cleaning. Paying particular attention to project work.

Obviously because the difference with this type of work is appartent immediately and highly visible. But what about the routine cleaning, you know, dusting, vacuuming, trash, restrooms?

I mean, unless I happen to have the camera with me the day some customer's employees have another popcorn and rubberband fight, I will never really get a good shot of say, vacuuming!

Then I got to thinking some more and I realized that Monday's in our industry are different and I could run off about maybe 6-7 options. But no, instead I am going to post a Poll Question at on the Commercial line and see what everyone else thinks first.

I'll come back here with the results in a week or 2. Probably will post some other brain drain items before then, have a really busy cleaning week coming my way.................................:)

Thank God for dirty people!, I would otherwise be unemployed.!