Building Service Contractors (BSCs) face many challenges when it comes to keeping their clients happy and growing their cleaning business.
Labor costs, absenteeism, and high turnover are regular challenges for BSCs, 50% of which employ over 100 regular full-time employees, according to a study done by BSCAI and ISSA in 2017. On top of that, research shows,
“There are over 54,000 independent building service contractors (BSCs) that clean and maintain commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities in the United States.”
The BSC business model is a staple in the floor cleaning and janitorial industry and most BSCs have been in business for over twenty years--they are not new to these challenges.
Keeping labor costs down while at the same time retaining employees, keeping clients happy, and making a profit are circumstances they face every day. On top of that, the cleaning industry is embracing innovative cleaning equipment in new ways and pushing to get ahead of the trends when it comes to growing cleaning businesses.
Finding new ways to grow a cleaning business can be tough for Building Service Contractors--the market is saturated with competition of many sorts, from other BSC companies to manufacturers of cleaning machines and supplies, it's easy to see that options are abundant. The key is finding new ways to stand out and to offer products and services that are new to the industry, but also demonstrate reliable and trackable results.
According to the BSCAI and ISSA study, nearly 50% of BSCs surveyed said they were planning to research and consider robotics solutions within the next year (study done in 2017). This was at a time when less than 10% of the BSCs surveyed were already using robotics solutions on the job.
Adapting to innovative cleaning equipment and finding ways to make the equipment available to cleaning teams is increasingly important. Not only can it increase ROI for building owners and BSCs, but it can also provide benefits and a source of reliability and safety to cleaning teams—alleviating stress for them and management.
Labor is a huge piece of the puzzle. Labor accounts for at least 70% of expenses when it comes to cleaning and some research estimates it can get as high as 90% in certain situations. Finding ways to help staff become more productive and efficient while also sustaining the workforce is essential to growing a business.
However, keeping high standards and making sure clients are satisfied with the work being done cannot be compromised to move faster. Continued advancements in the robotics field can be a way to tackle this issue while also adding a level of sophistication to the janitorial field.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, “Both the professional and the domestic service robotics field benefit from recent innovations: Fundamental developments in the fields of digitization and artificial intelligence, specifically in machine learning, will lead to a technology push in service robotics in the next years.”
Adding robotic solutions to the cleaning team can have a direct impact on productivity and efficiency because autonomous robotics are designed to work alongside cleaning staff, as a collaborative component, or Cobot.
Autonomous equipment can take on routine and mundane work, like cleaning floors. This frees up janitorial staff to focus on higher-order concerns like dusting (especially in hard-to-reach places), sanitizing, and disinfecting—all things that cleaning staff often have a hard time getting to, due to time constraints, but have a large impact on the bottom line because they often result in a higher standard of clean.
Cobots can also be an asset when it comes to avoiding staff shortages. Robotics equipment does not call in sick, will always be on the job, and can work on its own once the power button is pushed. This can help to alleviate the stress other staff often feel when they are short-staffed. Not to mention, taking the more mundane tasks out of the picture can help staff to stay more engaged and focus on other higher-priority tasks.
In schools, hospitals, and commercial settings, bringing in robotics solutions will also be an important way for these industries to keep facilities clean without adding extra bodies to the environment—an increasingly critical issue to address.
Due to the advanced software installed in robotics technology, training staff on how to use the equipment is relatively simple. Most companies supply virtual training videos that walk users through a step-by-step process for set up, route mapping, maintenance, and storage.
In addition, suppliers have equipment technicians who are available to come on-site for training and demos, making adopting robotics equipment a part of the team even easier.
Beyond that, the robot is manually trained to its route one time and after that, it can be deployed with the touch of a button. Plus, these machines store multiple routes—making set-up time minimal for the end user.
The route-mapping capabilities act as a safety measure and another great way to support the team as autonomous equipment is built with sensors and cameras that alert the machine of any obstructions like cliffs, objects, and people. The robot will only continue its route once the object has been removed and it senses the path is clear.
This is a tool for not only cleaning crews, as it can eliminate accidents on the job due to human error, but it can also help alleviate that stress for Building and Property Managers as well.
Many cleaning machines include or have the option to add on fleet management software, for example, ICE Cobotics intelligent cleaning equipment comes fully equipped with i-SYNERGY fleet management software. This innovative software tracks cleaning data and end-users are given access to all of the data; from the exact route the machine follows, to the time it is deployed to clean each day, to any issues or obstacles it comes in contact with, even when the battery is low—anything to do with the equipment is tracked and stored in the Cloud.
This software can manage any number of machines—this is great for Building Service Contractors who are managing multiple accounts because Area Supervisors are then able to log into a database and view the use of all of the robotics equipment they have deployed in the field.
Fleet tracking capabilities like this allow for Area Managers to create reports and detect issues, allowing them to better understand the situation in each location; something they have a tough time doing without access to this type of technology. Fleet tracking capabilities are a window into the everyday life of their janitorial cleaning teams.
This information becomes incredibly valuable for growing the cleaning business because it demonstrates how well a robotics counterpart can assist the janitorial staff. In addition, Building Service Contractors can use this tracked information to show clients an overall ROI, alongside speaking about the everyday work of the robotics equipment.
Fleet Tracking capabilities also give Building Service Managers the ability to report a confirmed clean. Meaning, that because the daily work of the robotics equipment is tracked, BSCs can confirm that cleaning has been done each day, where, when, how long it took, and any issues that came up.
This is a huge benefit in situations where clients need to assure those entering the building that cleaning has been done. For example, hotels and airports may need to assure their guests that spaces are being cleaned routinely.
BSCs can use data tracking technology to assure their clients this is happening, and in turn, hotels and airports can assure their guests that cleaning is indeed happening. Providing this information to any person entering the building can add a level of security as it shows an awareness of health concerns and safety for all people.
Lastly, because there is so much competition in the industry, robotics manufacturers are doing all they can to deliver support and service to their clients.
Client Care teams are available to come on-site, help manage the fleet tracking, and work with BSCs to make sure the product is working for them.
In addition, companies like ICE Cobotics have moved to a subscription model (rental) for their equipment. This service offers a wide variety of benefits including a 36-month lease that covers repairs and maintenance (using a proactive maintenance strategy), access to fleet tracking and data analytics at no extra charge, and regular software updates (often quite significant upgrades to the robotics equipment), all for one monthly payment.
This is a great way for BSCs to capitalize on innovative cleaning equipment as a way to grow their business. By bringing advanced technology on as part of the cleaning team, BSCs can become leaders in an industry that is adapting to robotics solutions.
ICE Cobotics is a technology and cleaning equipment company specializing in automation and all-inclusive subscriptions. We are here to help with any floor-cleaning questions or concerns.
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