Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

Office Cleaning Services for the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland and Orlando, Florida areas

ServiceMaster Commercial Services offers some useful information
which may be of help to those of you who must maintain commercial properties. 

Selecting The Best Cleaning Contractor For You 

Maybe you already have one, but is it the right one for you? Here's a list to help you make the best choice. While your building or business may already have a cleaning service, as businesses everywhere look for ways to improve, this may be one area to examine. Do you know the right "bottom line questions" to ask? Here are some important ones:

  • OSHA Compliance. If the contractor isn't compliant, YOU might be held responsible for liability to injuries to cleaning workers or tenants.
  • Performance Guarantees. While "guaranteed clean" might seem a hard-to-define concept, a real professional can provide you with a guarantee of performing specific functions to a specific level. That shows their confidence in meeting your expectations. 
  • Realistic Cleaning Specifications. You and your contractor should mutually agree on what "quality" means, and what it will cost. If the price seems too good to be true, it usually is. 
  • Crew Selection. How are they trained? How are they supervised? You'll have to depend on your contractor to screen and hire good people, train them, and provide supervision and direction. Ask for background information on who will be supervising in your building.

  • Uniformed Employees. Cleaning crews will access every part of your building, often when no one else is around. Having uniforms will help assure your tenants and provide better security. 

  • Keeping Good Employees. A dependable contractor will have training and motivational programs to retain trained people...so your building won't suffer from continual "new training problems." 
  • Good Communication. The contractor will need to communicate with you, and perhaps with all your tenants. Make sure it is someone you CAN talk to and build understanding and trust. If you want the best quality, get involved and provide feedback to a contractor. 
  • Respecting the Environment. Today's business world demands an account of how wastes are disposed or recycled. Your cleaning contractor should be able to help with both.

Before Purchasing Commercial Carpet

There is more to buying commercial carpet than just the way it looks. With the amount of traffic a commercial facility is exposed to, durability, maintenance, and installation should be taken into consideration as well.

There are Three Important Components You Should Consider.

1. Proper Installation:

A good installation job is worth its weight in gold. A poor installation job will cost you a great deal. Make sure you select a qualified contractor to install your carpet. There is much to consider.

  • How will the furniture be moved?
  • What kind of adhesive is being used?
  • Will the adhesive have an odor and if so for how long?
  • Does the installer have workman's compensation insurance?

2. The Right Application:

We would all like to have beautiful white wool carpet in our facility. However, we need to consider how the building will be used. White carpet in the entry of a bank building is not practical. It might look nice when it's first installed, but long term you won't be happy. What about roller traffic? If you're in health care and the gurneys are going to be rolling down the isles, then you should consider the construction of the carpet, its backing and even the color of the wheels on your gurneys. There is much to consider. 

  • How much foot traffic will I have?
  • What kind of punishment will the carpet take?
  • What is my facility used for?
  • Do I have clients coming in?
3. Good Maintenance:

Last but certainly not least is cleaning. All carpet needs to be cleaned. It will last longer if you clean it regularly as opposed to cleaning apparent soil "as needed." If the carpet must be a light color, it will need to be spot cleaned more often. Good vacuuming will prevent dry soil from damaging the fibers. Walk off matting at entrances helps to capture soil from peoples feet before it gets into the building. There is much to consider. 

  • Do you have a good contractor like ServiceMaster Clean for a preventive maintenance program?
  • Have you budgeted enough to pay for maintenance?
  • Have you considered good vacuuming programs and walk off matting?

Hard Floor Care Trends 

Trends in floor care can help save money and time
as housekeeping issues seem to grow more and more complex.

As facilities enter the 21st century, trends and concerns are coming into focus regarding housekeeping, and this is certainly true in the area of hard-floor care. Housekeeping managers continued to grapple with a range of specification, installation and cleaning issues that seem certain to only grow even more complex.

The foundation of any floor-care program is training on such issues as cost, budgeting, ease of maintenance, health and environmental concerns, safety, appearance, and prolonging the life of the floors.

The maintenance programs that housekeeping managers develop and implement for hard-surface floors are dictated in large part by the type of flooring used in their facilities. A closer look at the types of hard flooring in use today and the challenges related to keeping them clean and looking good demonstrates the challenges facing managers responsible for these tasks.

A range of materials
Hard-surface floors are more popular in commercial and institutional facilities because they are becoming easier and less costly to maintain. Flooring types such as concrete, ceramic tile and stone are widely used, as are resilient tile, vinyl sheet goods and wood floors.

An increasing number of facilities also are using specialty flooring, such as laminates, exotic and lighter wood, as well as engineered wood, and poured floors and coatings, such as epoxies, rubber, and even leather floors.

Regardless of floor type that is used, the first consideration for managers in developing a hard-floor care plan should be to obtain maintenance guidelines from manufacturers and distributors, for the floor coverings in their facilities. This information should be incorporated into written floor- care procedures. These floor maintenance guidelines also can then be used to more effectively train and guide employees.

Managers also can develop a filing system for this information with use of computer software, if desired. This filing system would make any information needed for maintenance of any floor surface in their facilities available to cleaners.

Managers have to take many issues into account when specifying flooring and ensuring its appearance, regardless of flooring type. For example, unique, specialized areas can dictate specification of floor coverings and maintenance procedures. In hospitals and health-care facilities, safety and sanitation concerns take precedence over other considerations.

Traditionally, surgery units have required seamless resilient flooring that is designed with electrostatic discharge capabilities to reduce the risk of explosion as a result of a buildup of static electricity in the floor. And in recent years, facilities also have taken significant steps to reduce the risk of such explosions by ensuring less exposure of flammable gases in operating rooms.

Vinyl sheet flooring has fewer seams than vinyl tiles, reducing the chance for mildew and bacteria growth between tiles. For this reason, vinyl-sheet flooring is recommended for patient rooms, restrooms and other areas where there is frequent contact with moisture and bacteria.

Resilient floors
In health-care facilities, schools, colleges, offices or factories, resilient floors continue to be widely used floor coverings. A wider selection of vinyl composition tile (VCT) includes an array of patterns and styles that allow for installations that are tailored to an organization’s or institution’s unique tastes and needs.

Cleanability, as well as a high-gloss shine resulting from the application of floor finish and periodic buffing, give VCT flooring an advantage in appearance not available with some of the other hard-surface floors.

Resilient floors, including VCT and vinyl sheet flooring, can enable specifiers to select unique artistic designs in surfaces, whether it is displaying a corporate logo or creating an integral piece of an overall fashion and design theme in entrances, halls, and other common-use areas in facilities.

Resilient floors, such as rubber and vinyl, are widely used in sports facilities such as gymnasiums, locker rooms, and workout and weight rooms. As its name implies, resilient flooring is softer and more resilient, and it can help create better footing, which is helpful in reducing injuries from slip and fall accidents.

Linoleum revisited
Linoleum, another type of resilient flooring, is coming back into vogue. Linoleum is a compressed and cured mixture of linseed oil, wood flour and other components. Linoleum has been updated in recent years, and now it is often used commercially in offices and meeting rooms.

Modern linoleum is softer and easier to work with, and it is heat weldable at seams. Since it is manufactured from linseed oil and other natural products, linoleum often is viewed as a more environmentally friendly product.

Another trend in floor coverings in recent years is use of natural-like products that are environmentally safer, both in regard to indoor air quality (IAQ) and in disposal concerns.

Leather tiles fit into this category. Leather is a unique, specialized floor covering that can be installed in such rooms as executive offices, conference rooms, and museums, as well as some specialty retail stores.

Leather floor tiles are available in a variety of colors, styles, textures, sizes and thicknesses. Leather floors require minimal maintenance — such as the occasional use of special waxes and coatings — and if maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications, they reportedly last for years.

Indoor air issues
Along with the desire within facilities for more natural and environmentally friendly building materials, IAQ has grown as a concern among managers in the last two decades. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown that IAQ is affected by a lack of refreshed or clean air free of chemicals and gases, as wall as mold and bacteria that can be carried by airborne particulates.

Facility flooring plays a role in this complex area. IAQ improves when hard-surface floors are maintained with a program that includes daily sweeping, cleaning and maintenance that allows dust particles to be captured and removed from the indoor environment.

By contrast, housekeeping departments too often allow carpet and rugs to act as sponges that retain dust, mold, and mildew, and in some cases, they can contribute to off-gassing from the chemical components in carpet fibers.

More natural options
Another family of natural floors includes concrete, stone and ceramic. Concrete floors might not be as comfortable to work on as resilient floors, since the hard surface adds to fatigue. Concrete floors typically are installed in warehouses, garages, locker rooms and facility hallways.

Depending on usage, cleaning crews can use a number of coatings and sealers on concrete floors. The trend today is to avoid using low-end sealers on concrete because they must be reapplied on a frequent basis.

More durable coatings contain epoxy and acrylic and can be either clear or colored, and they can last for years, depending on usage and maintenance.

Another option is to apply a silicate-based penetrating sealer, which hardens and adds density to the floor surface. Silicate-based sealers are less glossy than acrylic coatings, but they can require less maintenance in the long run and tend to perform well for managers interested in a low-maintenance program.

Natural stone floors, such as marble and granite, continue to be popular due to their lasting durability. These floor materials can be polished to a high gloss and come in a number of different colors and varieties.

Other stone floors in common use are slate and flagstone. These floors use a softer type of stone, which have a tendency to create dust under foot traffic. Using a penetrating sealer as recommended by the manufacturer can be useful in preventing both stains and soiling problems.

Terrazzo is basically a poured cement floor that contains marble or granite chips, and it comes in a variety of thicknesses and construction types. Terrazzo continues to be popular among many types of facilities because of its durability and its attractive and polished appearance.

Ceramic tile floors have grown steadily in market share over the last decade, due to the greater availability of colors and styles, and because of the low maintenance they require. Unlike resilient floors, some ceramic tile, such as the glazed type, don’t require repeated applications of floor finish and buffing to maintain an acceptable shine. Thus, departments can avoid the old "strip and refinish" cycle, keeping costs for labor and supplies low.

In many facilities, ceramic tile floors have replaced resilient coverings due to the savings of maintenance, and the durability and attractiveness of the product. Ceramic tile floors are increasingly popular in lobbies, hallways, lunchrooms and restrooms. Quarry tile is a ceramic tile that is frequently used in many facilities, especially in areas such as kitchens, restrooms and walkways.

Stone and ceramic floor products have their own manufacturer’s recommended care and maintenance requirements, which should be incorporated into the overall daily maintenance program.

The growth of wood
Recent years have seen a surge in the popularity of wood floors, especially engineered-wood products. Since natural-looking products are in fashion, wood and laminate floors are being installed in a growing number of facilities.

Manufacturers have developed new coating systems for wood that significantly improve its surface strength. And more stains are available to add design variety, which fits with the preferred natural look of the environmental movement.

The introduction of more exotic and lighter woods, such as bamboo, has led to a need for more than the usual knowledge on wood-floor maintenance. That is why it is helpful to check in with floor-covering retailers occasionally for available options in commercial product lines.

Finally, laminate floors are becoming more popular as product development has improved their wear and moisture-resistance qualities. Laminates are resistant to stains, never need refinishing and come in a variety of natural-looking colors and styles. Laminate floors are made partly of wood byproducts, and manufacturers have improved warranties of commercial rated laminates.

No Slips,
No Falls,
No Errors
Having surfaces that reduce slip-and-fall injuries should be a primary component of any floor-care program. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than 1 million people are injured each year from slips and falls, and more than 12,000 people die annually from slip-and-fall related injuries.

Understanding the causes of slip-and-fall incidents and helping to prevent them must take into account proper specification of floor coverings, as well as appropriate preventive maintenance procedures.

The ideal time to consider floor-covering issues, such as cost, product life, ease of maintenance and safety, is during the design phase of a facility. Designers and specifiers play a crucial role in determining the most appropriate floor coverings, including those for unique specialized areas with maintenance and slip-resistance concerns.

Manufacturers of floor coverings have developed products that are designed to provide facilities with slip-resistance features. For example, slip-resistant vinyl flooring is specifically designed for traction and safety and is manufactured with a textured surface layer that might include chips of a mild abrasive material, such as aluminum oxide.

Existing floors, such as concrete and some resilient flooring, also can improve slip-resistance qualities by application of monolithic floor coatings, such as epoxies, urethane and polymer-based products.
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