Expert Interview – Increasing Floor Care Productivity

Expert Interview – Increasing Floor Care Productivity 

The New Year often brings new budgets and goals for reducing costs while improving productivity. For January’s Expert Interview I spoke with Jim Lety, Dade Paper’s Regional Director of Janitorial Sales and a champion of productivity initiatives. With over 25 years of experience in the janitorial industry, Jim has held positions with distribution companies, national marketing organizations, chemical manufacturers and a floor equipment manufacturer. For the last 11 years, he has been part of the Dade Paper team progressing through the sales management ranks to a senior leadership role.

LC: What are the major changes that you have seen in recent years that impact facility managers?

JL: Microfiber technology has been a game changer in the cleaning industry. These specialized mop heads and cloths attract and hold soil, absorb seven times their weight in liquid, are not susceptible to quaternary binding, and can be washed hundreds of times.

Another important advancement has been in battery technology. AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are now used in auto scrubbers. They are safer, lighter, and more reliable compared to standard lead acid batteries. They also charge five times faster. Lithium ion batteries are now used in many vacuums and have eliminated the need for power cords which increases productivity.

LC: Saving time is a big factor.

JL: Yes, facility managers are now required to do more with less. They have additional square footage to maintain yet their budgets have been cut and they have fewer employees. That is their biggest concern today.

LC: What can they do to address that issue?

JL: Understanding proper cleaning procedures, including the use of power equipment, to increase productivity is paramount. I often compare floor care to lawn care. Lawn care companies have a trailer full of equipment and just two people in the truck. They complete each job quickly and move on to the next. Now think about a janitor’s closet. In most you will find a lot of mop buckets and wringers and if you’re lucky a walk-behind scrubber. But cleaning 15,000 square feet of flooring with a mop and bucket takes a very long time. It would be like a groundskeeper using scissors to cut grass. The answer is to increase productivity with proper education on the use of chemicals and the introduction of rider floor care equipment.

LC: That makes sense, but what about the cost?

JL: Rider equipment pays for itself. There is a minimum 20% increase in productivity compared to a walk-behind scrubber and 500% productivity increase over a mop. New models are available in smaller sizes as well. Micro-riders have the same foot print as a 20 inch walk behind. We have productivity calculators that can determine the ROI based on square footage, frequency of cleaning, and the hourly wage of the crew. It is an investment that really pays off.

LC: Sustainability is a hot topic right now. How does floor care fit into a green cleaning program?

JL: Manufacturers of floor care equipment have been tasked with creating equipment that fits into a green cleaning program. The use of orbital technology prevents cleaning solutions from “slinging” out, or spraying into the area being cleaned. This type of equipment also uses 50-70% less water and chemicals compared to conventional scrubbers. Chemical-free stripping is another process that is ideal in education and healthcare facilities where indoor air quality is critical.

LC: What is something a facilities manager can do today to improve their operations?

JL: Consult with a knowledgeable supplier about their challenges. There are many new cleaning technologies on the market today that can save time and money and produce better results. Also, never trade service for price. Expect both and partner with a supplier that provides the overall best value.

Jim Lety and his team are available to consult with customers about floor care and facilities maintenance programs. Jim can be reached at jlety@dadepaper.com.

Expert Interview – Improving Restaurant Operations

Restaurants are a huge part of the U.S. economy and according to the National Restaurant Association represent $700 billion in annual sales and employ 14 million people. They are the last stop in a complex supply chain of food products, supplies, and equipment before the finished product reaches the end consumer. Mitch Irvine has been part of that supply chain for over 25 years. He has held positions with a broadline food distributor, a manufacturer of foodservice disposables, and for the last 8 years Mitch has served as the Regional Sales Director for Dade Paper with a focus on the restaurant segment.

LC: You have been involved in supplying the restaurant market for a long time. What are some major changes that you have seen in recent years that impact restaurants?

MI: There are several major changes that have impacted restaurants in recent years. The economic downturn, corporate chain influence, local restaurateur pushback to that influence and the ever changing desire of the American palette for new and unique concepts and foods.

The economic downturn in 2008 reshaped the restaurant landscape and caused most all underperforming operations to simply shut down, leaving the strong, savvy operators to improve their game to attract the shrinking market share of Americans’ with discretionary income.  As we have seen the rise of higher-quality fast casuals begin to dominate, it began putting the large traditional fast-food operators against the ropes.

And, as we have seen the more popular concept chains grow, their influence in the market resulted in others try to mimic their success.  I personally have seen local operators take their shot and life savings to make their own dream concept a reality, only to be buried by incompetent work staff and low-priced products producing a mediocre experience.  This is a toxic blend of circumstances that yield a quick collapse of their concept.  This goes to the belief that it is imperative to bring your best to market and your customers will know the difference between a penny-pinching operator and one that sees value in growing their business with a quality approach.

As the successful local restaurateur sees their peers fail, they learn from those mistakes and sharpen their skills.  They offer locally-sourced, healthful foods that attract the consumer that is eager to support their local economy, yet demands quality over a cheap meal.

Finally, the consumer does know the difference between quality and those products that are pushed as a price point. The restaurateur that cannot see or understand that distinction is destined for extinction.

LC: What are the major concerns of restaurateurs today and what solutions are available?

MI: Some major concerns of restaurateurs are tighter health regulations and changing consumer behavior.

There was a recent e coli breakout that showed even the strictest of corporate mainstream systems implemented into the restaurant sanitation process are not foolproof and can have disastrous results.  Operators today need to dial in to their systems in a much more focused manner, especially their sanitation program. Their reputation hinges on delivering a quality experience and a deadly pathogen outbreak that reaches the news outlets can permanently destroy their reputation.

Recently, we were asked to assist an operator in the aftermath of an e coli breakout. We were able to provide a medical grade hand wash that was required by the local health department directly after their shutdown. That is an extreme case, so for those operators that have been fortunate enough to avoid a pathogen outbreak, implementing a strong and rigorous hand wash procedure is the best defense against these enemies.

Along with hand washing, cleaning the dining tables and surfaces that are touched by food with quaternary based products provide the pinnacle for success in deterring outbreaks.  And, sanitizing the dishware and glasses with either a chlorine or quaternary based product or high temperature sanitation, is not only a health department regulation, but also the only options to assure the health of the guests.

LC: Having a knowledgeable partner to help select those products is important.

MI: Yes it is. That’s our job.

LC: Tell me more about the changes you have seen from the consumer standpoint.

MI: Americans are becoming busier every day, resulting in an ever-growing take-home meals market.  Restaurateurs need to distinguish themselves not only with the quality of their food, but also the packaging. Destination quality is paramount in today’s “to go” orders. Quality packaging speaks to the pride that the operators put into their food. If the package works well, seals properly, fit into the bag, nests comfortably amongst the other packaging, etc., the customer experience will be positive and operational efficiencies will improve. Customers will return more often and not with a dry cleaner’s bill in hand due to a leaky container.

LC: What are a few things that a restaurateur can do today to improve their operations?

MI: Providing the cleanest possible atmosphere and environment will help edge out the lazy competitor who skimps on the level of quality required to deliver that experience.  By using the most modern tools and equipment such as microfibers and closed-loop chemical management systems, the operator will see improved productivity and higher levels of cleanliness.  And, best practices as a part of their systems will stretch out the returns even further such as a cleaning checklist that is followed closely and managed daily by the operator or someone diligent and trustworthy to follow through with the work.

Another immediate change a restaurateur can implement today is focus on their customer. They need to invest their time in ways to draw more customers into their establishment and repeat those visits as often as possible.  By delivering a top notch experience, quality food, sanitary facilities and pleasant staff, the restaurateur can build on each satisfied customer one at a time.  We often encounter the operator that spends time away from their business looking for low-cost supplies from cash and carry outlets rather than trusting an experienced supplier to help them identify the best product for their situation.  Cost is often a concern so we show them how to get the best value while ensuring that customers are happy and enjoy their experience.

Mitch Irvine and his team of restaurant segment specialists are available to consult with restaurateurs on a variety of topics. He can be reached at mirvine@dadepaper.com .