Inspections are an important part of a janitorial company’s quality control program. However, there can be a tendency in our industry to focus on the inspection and inspection report itself rather than the purpose of the inspection. For example, we might tend to talk about the technology we use to perform the inspection rather than describing how the inspection leads to delivering real value to the customer. In this article we explore five truths about inspections and inspection reports.
Truth #1 – Inspections are simply opinions
If inspections are performed without the input of a customer representative, the data is just your opinion. However, the customer’s opinion is the one that matters most. You might say – “well, we are professionals, and we know better what is clean and what is not.” While I agree that we may know more about janitorial techniques, the customer ultimately determines if they are pleased with the cleanliness of their facility. And yes, that is their opinion.
TIP – If possible, ask the customer contact to accompany you when performing your inspection(s). In this way, you will see what needs the most attention through their eyes. Additionally, you can share what you look for when measuring your team’s effectiveness.
Truth #2 – Customers are not really interested in the actual inspection report*
Before joining the janitorial industry, I was a purchaser of janitorial services. During my nearly ten years of using janitorial services (in an outpatient medical facility), I never once thought, “I wish our cleaning company would provide me a copy of their inspection reports.” Not once. Why? Because I was only interested in the outcome of their work – a clean building for our patients and staff reduced distractions caused by cleaning issues, and peace of mind knowing that the cleaning company was doing their job each night. Customers are generally pleased to know that inspections are a part of our quality control program, but most want us to provide consistent service.
* Because of the product/service a customer provides, they may require you to produce inspection reports as part of their quality assurance program. In these cases, they are very interested in your inspection reports.
Truth #3 – Inspections/inspection reports are an excellent coaching tool for your team
While customers may not be keen on viewing your inspections, these reports are an excellent way to provide your team with positive and corrective feedback. One might argue that this is the primary purpose of inspections/inspection reports – helping your team better serve your customers through coaching and encouragement.
TIP – In much the same way you might have a company contact accompany you during an inspection, having your team member(s) accompany you is an excellent way to show them what you are looking for.
Truth #4 – You don’t have to have “fancy” software to have an effective inspection program
A simple Google search for “Janitorial Inspection Software” will return several different products from which to choose. Most of these products are bundled with additional features such as messaging, time tracking and payroll, work orders, etc. Most of these programs/products provide a great deal of value to the janitorial industry. However, a company doesn’t need an elaborate system to perform quality inspections. In fact, if you are trying to use software for inspections, and find yourself bogged down in the setup, simply create a spreadsheet checklist and start inspecting.
Truth #5 – What and how you inspect is really important
While it is certainly appropriate to have a scoring system (i.e., 1-5, stars), what is most important is what you inspect and how you inspect the areas in a facility. For example, certain “out of the box” inspection software may have items like “Window Leadges: Window ledges are free of dust and dirt.” How does a person score this on a 1-5 scale? Here’s the point – your inspection system must be easy to understand and make sense. Using the previous example, a better approach might be: “Window Ledges – Looks Good or Needs Work,” and then provide an opportunity for the inspector to comment – “Several window ledges in the account/HR area had bugs and dust that need to be removed. We might need to increase the frequency on this side of the building”. This is language your cleaners can understand, and when/if presented to the customer, it shows that your inspector is suggesting ways to improve service. Lastly, we recommend inspecting items that indicate your team is paying attention to details. Things like: tops of partitions in restrooms, ceiling vents, bases of toilets, under urinals, floors – behind doors and office equipment, and cobwebs in corners.
In closing, and as stated previously, janitorial inspections are an essential quality control element. We recommend reviewing your inspection process and system to ensure the effort delivers value to your customers and your team.