The world is always moving forward and with that comes wave after wave of new technology. A sales rep at the forefront of the software effort discusses how businesses are changing internal processes and documentation in the cleaning world right now.
Trent Peterson joins us from the Janitorial Manager sales team to talk about the importance of adapting to new technology within the cleaning world. From changing your internal processes to properly documenting your cleaning process, there are now higher stakes when it comes to quality, and as your company grows. You’ll need to be able to seamlessly share past and current information. What features are the most relevant right now and what ones should you pay attention to from within the cleaning world?
Trent’s Contact Information
Halie Morris 0:32
Hello, my name is Halie Morris. I’m the podcast coordinator and host for The Business of Cleaning. And with me today I have Trent Peterson. Trent is the Sales Team Lead for Janitorial Manager. He’s going to tell you a little bit about himself.
Trent Peterson 0:46
I appreciate that. So, like Halie said I am the team lead of inside sales here at Janitorial Manager. For those of you that don’t know what Janitorial Manager is, we’re a software company described as a workplace management system to really help any sort of cleaning operations operate on a more streamlined basis.
We really sell ourselves as that all-in-one program. So anywhere from your inspections, your time and attendance, all the way up to work loading and bidding. So I’ve been here for about going on three years now when I’m not doing demonstrations. I’m working with the team, trying to improve our processes and help our customers.
Thank you for that. Today, we’re going to be actually talking about changing internal processes and your documentation, of course, because we have somebody with experience in a system that does just that. So with Janitorial Manager and with the cleaning industry in general, we’re seeing huge shifts today because of COVID-19, and with those shifts, comes this need to actually get a little bit more with the times more quickly.
I think I told somebody good the other day that a lot of the stuff that the changes that we’re seeing to businesses are coming because they were already coming. There are already these advances in technology, people are getting on board, people who aren’t getting on board are already starting to slip behind. I think COVID-19 and 2020 as a whole because there have been a million things in 2020, just fast-forwarded to that. This isn’t gonna take 10 years, this is going to take a month.
So now everybody’s kind of forced to jump on the trend. I guess for you, what were you seeing leading up to this point as far as businesses that come into you or other businesses in the cleaning industry? What were you seeing them do as far as internal processes in the past?
Yes, so a lot of people weren’t actually- and as many of you probably know, the software is a little bit newer to the janitorial industry. So a lot of people were still doing paper time sheets, paper schedules, maybe using Excel as their software program. And that’s just not that doable nowadays, especially with all the different types of documentation and reports that are required for cleaning businesses. You just can’t use Excel and pen and paper anymore.
Kind of went off that someone’s tracking something in Excel. How many customers do your clients often have that they’re trying to manage in an Excel book?
Sure. The most I’ve seen is 300 locations being managed in Excel. Now, obviously, we have customers that are beneath 300 locations and above that, but props to that customer that was able to manage their book of business in Excel or the typical customer. I mean, we have some startups that have under 15 locations and then you have up to 50-75 locations and then that’s where you need a full-time employee just to manage that Excel sheet.
That’s what I was gonna say. I can’t imagine somebody trying to do that and a different job at the same time. It’s a full-time job just to keep track of what’s going on. All right, but it’s shifting, right? So, what are we starting to see? What are those shifts that are happening to those processes?
Yes. So, especially with COVID-19 going on right now, and a lot of people clean schools or for the schools that do other cleanings in-house, there’s a lot of requirements. You have to document ‘when the last time this facility was cleaned?’ ‘are you performing those routine inspections to make sure that you’re providing the best value to your customer?’ So that’s what we’re getting a lot of requests of right now, people that are wanting to document their processes, make sure that their customers are being serviced to the highest standards, and then making sure that that follow up is always in there as well.
Yeah, so it sounds like a lot. I’m really glad I don’t have to document and track all of that. What are some of the manual tasks that go into managing and tracking all of that? What do you think it takes to do that with 50 plus locations, or even 15 locations, just to make sure that you are getting paid at the end of the day and your employees are doing what you hired them for?
Well, that’s the biggest one right there is making sure that people are getting paid and that you’re getting paid. So we run into it all the time. You’re a cleaning company, and you have your employees that are just writing down their time. You’ll have a piece of paper at your locations, you write it down, ‘hey, I showed up here,’ or at this time, and then when they’re done with their shifts, they’ll write it down as well.
Well, at the end of that payroll period, guess who has to add up all of those different times. If you have 15 employees, 50 employees, you’re not going to want to add up all those times all the time. So a lot of people are now looking to say, ‘Hey, can I automate that feature?’ and with software like Janitorial Manager, you have the ability to track that time automatically. It does the thinking for you, making sure that your employees are there. Then it’s also saving you time on adding up how many hours each employee needs to get paid for.
I think that’s why outside the cleaning industry, businesses have been doing it for a while. I mean, they’re at different stages. I know we’re going to be transitioning our own time clock internally here shortly. But it’s crazy to think you have that on tracked on pen and paper and there’s gonna be some faults to that. What are some crazy stories maybe you’ve heard about?
Yeah, when you buy a timekeeping system, you also want to make sure that you ensure that your employees can’t steal time from you. Nobody is making sure that you’re writing down the right time. You might have to be at a location to clean at 9 pm and then might take two hours and you leave at 11 pm.
Well, if you’re an employee, you could say “I showed up here at 8:30, but I left at 11,” so instead of getting paid for a two-hour job, you’re stealing that time and taking on an extra 30 minutes. That’s very common. We have a lot of people that are wanting to make sure that you’re getting the accurate time and that their employees can not steal from them?
Yeah, and I know that some of the time tracking things even go a little bit further with some of the features now. That’s crazy, though, to think that we’re still having to catch up in that regard. How long have people been clocking into work? I think I remember like the show you watched and they go in and they have a little paper [that they insert]. I think you can do it straight from your phone. Right?
Exactly. Phone, tablet, anything.
That’s awesome. What other things- I mean, I can only imagine if you’re working in the cleaning industry and you’ve got these locations, that they’re going to be different as far as what you have to get done at those locations as well. So how do people track that? How have people been tracking what needs to be done?
So, from the beginning, I feel like people have handwritten cleaning instructions, or I see it even to this day, you have a big binder, you have to print off all the cleaning instructions, all your alarm codes and all of that, and you give it to your employees. So yeah, a lot of people are still using paper and pencil when there are programs out there that allow you to have your cleaning instructions right on your phone or a cleaning checklist right on your phone or on your tablet. To answer your question, a lot of people were and still are doing things on paper with a pencil.
That seems like a lot of stress to put on your employee to keep track of all the sheets of paper and make sure they don’t drop them in a puddle or whatever else. Then have you-I had a discussion that will actually pop up in our episode three of this podcast as people listen, but that is a lot of companies are creating a sanitation team now too. So that’s a whole nother level, right?
Yeah. So now people looking at and they’re hiring. Or just new people are getting into the industry and they’re focusing on sanitation. And they find that this industry is a good industry to get into right now, especially with COVID-19 going on. But with that, you need to make sure that you have the right processes in place.
So whether you’re cleaning an office building or a home or a university, or you’re doing disinfecting, you still have to keep track your schedules, you still have to make sure your employees are where they’re supposed to be, and that your employees know exactly, step by step, what they need to do.
It’s good to see that we have more people moving towards that obviously with pandemic on our shoulders still. I’m sure we’re handling this a lot better than we did the last pandemic a hundred years ago. I’m going to insert too that I was reading something the other day and they said ‘epidemic,’ and I was like, ‘Don’t you mean pandemic? Oh, wait, not everything is this extreme!’ It’s kind of crazy, but it’s also good to see that there’s so much more attention to it and there’s recognition now for the employees as well.
Yeah. Because everybody before this didn’t always show the most respect to janitors, but now people are realizing that those janitors are those frontline workers. So if you’re a business and you’re still going into the office, you better be thanking the janitor that’s coming in to do that cleaning. I’m really glad that the people in this industry are finally starting to get recognized.
Yeah, no, I think it’s crazy. I know my one company I worked at. We had a couple of people that were my favorite people in the entire building. One of them- she was our security guard and she also attended the front desk. She kept track of everybody coming. She got a little more attention as everybody loved her because everybody saw and interacted with her.
There was also a cleaner for the hallway that was shared between the three businesses right there that always out there every time I left my shift. She was one of my favorite people to interact with, just the happiest woman and she was always so diligent. I think she was probably the most overlooked person in that entire building and that’s so sad. I always made sure to stop, make sure she’s good, and I walk on her clean floor. Because I was like, “man, you’re working hard and I’m trying not to make your life difficult now.
You always hear people say, treat the janitor like you would treat the CEO but for some people, it’s easier said than done. Now I really think that people are doing just that, treating the janitor, just like you would treat the CEO of any business.
Yeah, and I hope it continues, that this is one of those positive trends that we’ve seen established and not just briefly. There’s so many processes, so many internal things, but what about the long term documentation of things? How does that typically work? If you’re running an excel sheet where you’re running a paper and pencil, in the past, how did people keep track? Have filing cabinets?
Well, long term- so you always want to document your goals as well, right? A lot of people, if you’re not using software, sure, you might write down your goal on a piece of paper, but you’re gonna lose that piece of paper. Same with budgets and keeping up budgets.
There’s actually a lot of people that I run into that are not properly tracking their budgets, saying “Okay, what did I do this last quarter? What did I do this last year? Was I at my budget? Did I spend more on supplies than in the year 2019?” People don’t know that. Again, that’s another request that we have. They want to make sure that they can keep track of the day to day reports. Also, they want to look back and see all their successes and their failures that they had. And then seeing where they’re going and if they’re turning forward or not.
Halie Morris 13:24
You can actually see what’s working, what worked when this happened, what worked when this happened. I mean, some people had an instance where all their business seemed to drop off at once. What did they do? So, that’s a good point. I guess kind of piggybacking off that. It seems like the answer is obvious, but let’s jump into why exactly a janitorial company should choose software or is currently in the process of moving towards a software-based system.
Other than the obvious reasons you want to stay more organized- I actually just had a meeting on Tuesday. We met with a company and they built up a big company, had about 70 employees. They had about five other people in management, but they were just not organized. They had things in so many different programs, instead of just one main one and it was still to the point where only the owner, the CEO of the business, was the only one generating revenue. He had to go out and do all the sales.
So, if you want to grow, then you’re going to need a software program, maybe a bidding calculator, for example, where it’s all streamlined. You generate your own templates for things so that way anybody in your company can just plug in all the information, and they can get those bids.
This person that I met on Tuesday, they think now that they can start spitting out 40-50 bits a day, instead of two or three a week. Because now they can have more and more people submit the bids. So staying organized. Growing your business. Holding each other accountable. Those are probably the three main things that people need to look for when they want to upgrade from paper and pencil to software.
Then, I guess with this upgrade, obviously, some people are worried about software taking over the human aspect of their business, that it’s going to be like IRobot or whatever, but there’s that whole fear that it’s going to take over. What would you say to that?
I haven’t had that experience where a customer- Sure, they might have that concern a little bit, but they’re don’t once they get using the software program. You want to make sure that you find the software program that actually has a human element to it. Find one that that’s customizable. You can add your own taste to it if you will. But at the end of the day, people weigh those face to face interactions.
So more than just software, you still got to go out there and meet with their customers call them put a face to the name, but let the software help you out on a lot of the backend things where it doesn’t really need much human interaction, like making a payroll report or doing an inspection. There’s not much human interaction that you need in that.
I was talking to somebody the other day- So I’ll add to that and say too that, those activities that it’s actually doing are what’s detracting from your human aspect. You’re spending all your time crunching numbers and tracking paper trails. You don’t get to spend as much time with your people or your customers or outside of the office even. They are probably spending more time in the office than they’ve accounted for. Their whole life might be the company now.
Whereas you could have your home life too and you could have a good work life balance. Then you could have a good team atmosphere where you’re able to kind of go the extra step. You’ve increased your revenue, you’ve decreased now, the amount of time you spend on things that feel a little meaningless, but make the company chug.
Exactly. I agree.
It’s that virtual assistant, the one that doesn’t talk back. All right. Well, there’s obviously probably more and more software systems popping up. So we’ve got JM, probably got a couple of others I’m sure you’ve seen. Yeah. What are the features that people are looking for? You mentioned the bidding calculator. And we’ve got time trackers and stuff, but what exactly are people looking for? Or what should they be looking for?
So I’ll answer the last question first. What they should be looking for is something that is going to take the thinking out of their jobs. So again, in this call on Tuesday, I’m glad- this person, they really realized that they’re not going to have to think about how much they have to charge their customer or how much their employees are going to get paid. You want to find software that does the thinking for you and it’s very seamless, but also you want to make sure that the software program offers an adequate amount of training and support.
I mean, it took me all of high school and middle school to learn the Microsoft products, PowerPoint and Word. You’re not going to be able to learn a new software program just like that. You want to support and account management on that side of things. In terms of the features that we keep on getting requests for, it’s a lot of just the all-in-one aspect. A lot of people out there right now might have just an inspections program or just a time tracking program or just a bidding calculator. A lot of people are looking now for that all in one solution.
So that way you have one software program for all of your needs, but even more so with COVID-19, they need that documentation. Actually, a cool feature that’s releasing here next week from today is an ability to print off QR codes. So you can actually print a QR code outside of any room in a building, the customer can scan that QR code and see the last time that place was cleaned, request work orders, request supplies, and that’s huge. Because, for me to come back to the office, I wanted to make sure like, “Hey, is our cleaning staff still come in here?” And I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.
That’s a very interesting thing. I didn’t realize we were going to be releasing a feature.
Yeah and certainly what you were talking about at the beginning of the call is that we were always getting better with technology slowly but surely, but COVID-19 fast-tracked that. So our development team- QR codes was always on our radar. It’s something that we knew we wanted to get to eventually. But then this was a perfect time if there really can be, with COVID-19, but we decided to fast track this. So yeah, QR codes are gonna be a high hit and we’ve had a lot of requests for it.
I think that’s super exciting, too because we talk about enhancing communication with the customer all the time, especially right now. It makes it so seamless and like you don’t have to directly communicate with the customer. The customer can seek information on their own and be confident that it’s literally right on their phone.
With a company that’s just listening to this or watching this right now, and they’ve gone through, they’ve listened to what we talked about, what people have done, what people are doing, why we’re choosing software and these features should be looking for. How does a company actually- they’ve said, “okay, we want the software,” how do they go about implementing it? Do they just go all in? I heard JM was customizable.
In terms of implementing software, you can go all in, depending on the size of your operation, but a lot of our customers want to implement different pieces of the program. I know time and attendance is something that you want to get right. You don’t want to mess with your employees’ pay, you want to make sure that you’re being fair and paying your employees the right way. Some of our customers will say, “Hey, can you help us implement this time and attendance aspect first, and then you help us with that, and then after that, we’ll start working on the inspections and then the inventory control.”
But again, that sort of goes back to what I was saying earlier that whenever you’re looking for a software program, you want to find a company that’s going to help you implement that. For example, our account managers, we have a wide range of customers and so we’ve seen pretty much every type of operation that’s out there. As we meet with you, we know really the best approach to launching the program.
That’s great. To kind of back up to that idea that you’ve seen all kinds of people. Where are your customers from?
All over. So a lot of our customers are based out of the US and Canada, but we actually have some customers over in Ireland, Egypt, some other cool places that I’d love to visit one day. I’d say the majority of our customers are based here in the US and then Canada as well.
That’s awesome. It sounds like it’s all growing too. One feature that you mentioned, though, that I don’t think we touched on is the inventory side of this. So tell me a bit about why somebody would want a software for their inventory?
Yeah. Inventory can be, if you’re not tracking it correctly, it can cost you some money. You want to set budgets. So if you’re the one that’s buying the cleaning supplies, you probably want to set a budget for each building and say, hey, I want to spend, at most, $250 a month at this location. With the help of software, you can track that and see, okay, hey, I spent $70 in week one of this month on inventory, and then the next week I spent $140. You may want to look at that and figure out “Hey, what’s going on? Why did I have that big jump?” Then also staying organized.
So I know a lot of our customers have their employees call them, text them, leave them a note at the location. Through our software, you can submit a supply request directly from the mobile app. Tracking inventory will help you save money, stay organized so that way you don’t have five different ways of communication. Again, you can really streamline a lot of your operations and inventory is a huge one.
Yeah, that’s cool. That’s a new side that people are starting to think more about. A lot because of the PPE and stuff like that, but also, it’s just been an existing issue within the industry. Where do the supplies go? Why are we getting so much of something?
Yeah and then also track the usage. So if you’re cleaning a location, and you see one week, there’s just a huge spike of usage of supplies, maybe on day one of the month, you have 30 rolls of toilet paper. And then on day five, you’re down to three rolls of toilet paper. It sucks to say, but we’ve heard a lot of horror stories where employees are stealing those supplies and so they look for an inventory to track the usage and the consumption. Find the right program that can track those trends and see when you hit that spike of supply usage.
I worked in a call center, we were HR and we had a similar problem where we cleaned everything. As HR we went through and cleaned everything because what we were doing is setting a new expectation for how clean it was, and how often people actually were meant to clean their own booth. So we set up little cleaning stations that had the typical Clorox wipes, keyboard sprays, and different things like that. And day one, one of the keyboards sprays disappeared.
Somebody said, “Oh, it was used already,” but we’d had maybe 10 people in the office and we had about five of the sprays out. And then there were the Clorox wipes, where whole containers would disappear really quickly. So then we were able to say “Okay, we have a storage cabinet. We’re going to be the ones pulling things out because we want to track it. Then we could go to that supervisor [who worked when things were be used up too quickly] and make sure they were cracking down.
I think in the end, we kind of narrowed it down to some employees so they’d feel a little bit more attention. It was a little hard to dig as we were just eyeballing it and that was a small call center. It would be beneficial to have a system that you actually have everything coming through and then you get to your year-end, and you can see the overview of what actually happened and project for the future.
At this point, if you got a new software system, hopefully, you’ve increased revenue. so you’ve got more business coming in for 2021, which is going to be a better year. Yes! It’s going to be a way better year. You’ve got more business coming in and you actually have to project for increased need now.
I mean, a big reason why we developed an inventory management system because we hear customers- I had one guy who bought 500 Microfiber Towels or clothes for the year and at the end of the year, somehow he had under 300. You’re not just throwing them away, you can wash them. So he knew that people were stealing his supplies and using them or taking them home or what have you.
I think some of those get left behind too and it goes back to the accountability thing, too, doesn’t it? How do you stay accountable? Yeah, because people make human errors, and sometimes it’s not “we’re stealing,” sometimes it’s just “I forgot to go grab that towel or those three to five towels over the week.” Yeah, that’s lost supplies, which don’t seem like a big deal that day but at the end of the year, when you’ve done it 20 times and you have all these employees doing it 20 times throughout the year, it’s a lot.
Yeah, it adds up.
All right. We’ve talked about a lot. We’ve covered a lot. Is there anything else that you would like to touch in, in regards to changing internal processes and documentation?
Yeah. So again, I just want to reiterate, when you guys are looking for for your programs, look at the support of the product, look at the team around it that’s going to help you implement it. Make sure that it’s all user friendly. Documentation is huge. You can hold people accountable. It’s going to help you grow your business. I think the software is just going to keep on getting better and better. It can replace, not replace employees, but sort of add on to your team without having to pay a salary.
Well too, you’re probably giving your employees a break or maybe saving you from having to make hires or cut hours when you’re tight budgets and things like that. Now your employees can be a little more efficient. You can be a little more efficient in your interactions.
That’s great and thank you, Trent, for coming on and thank you everyone for tuning in to The Business of Cleaning podcast and we will see you in the next episode!