Think you can run a cleaning business without proper equipment organization? Think again.

Commercial cleaning involves a lot more than mops and buckets. In fact, none of the tools and equipment used in the field are much good if they aren’t in working order, if you can’t find them, or if they create confusion amongst employees and clients. That’s why one of the most critical—though often overlooked—components to commercial cleaning is effective equipment organization.

Much like a woodworker, an artist, or a mechanic must always know where their tools are, so also must a cleaner have a system for organizing and maintaining equipment. In this sense, equipment organization isn’t as simple as designating a room to store a buffer and a cleaning cart. There must be some sense of order to where you keep equipment, how it differs from site to site, and what to do if a piece of equipment isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

Sound like overkill? Think about it a little more. Poor equipment organization can cost your cleaning business hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars over the long term. If you’re still not convinced, here are ten ways that subpar equipment organization can end up in spent dollars or lost revenue.

Equipment Organization

10 Disastrous effects of poor janitorial equipment organization

1. Wasted time

An umbrella consequence of poor equipment organization is wasted time. If an employee can’t find a piece of equipment, or they have to do a lot of shuffling to reach something, or if a piece of equipment has to be replaced or repaired as the result of poor organization, all of these things result in time wasted that could instead be spent working with customers.

Sometimes the organization itself seems like the time waster, but in the long-run, it’s the other way around. Make the investment of time to build a system that works so that in the future, you won’t waste time by not having a system at all.

2. Reduces employee efficiency

If an employee can’t find something, that’s going to slow up the work day. The more time they spend looking for equipment, the less time they spend cleaning, which will quickly turn into dollars lost either in revenue or overtime payments, among other things. When a proper equipment organization system is in place, employees are empowered to get straight to work without fumbling through storage to find the equipment they need.

3. Increased likelihood of damage

Have you ever haphazardly tossed tools in a shed only to discover the next time you reach for them that one of them suffered damage? Inadequate organization means less care when your store each item, which leads to an increased likelihood of damage. When there is order, things are less likely to be thrown clumsily on a shelf or shoved thoughtlessly into a corner (or another piece of equipment). In this case, organization means care as much as it does structure.

4. Lost equipment

With poor equipment organization, the odds are good that eventually you’re going to lose something. Maybe it will be something small, like a mop or a bottle of cleaner, but more likely, it will be something larger, like a cleaning cart, a vacuum, or a buffer. Sure, those items are large and therefore hard to lose, but if there’s no protocol for storing them, there’s no telling where they may end up. And lost equipment equals replacement equipment—and that will cost.

5. Excessive inventory

The other potential outcome of lost equipment is that you’ll find what’s missing. But what happens when you’ve already replaced it? Now you’ve got two tools or pieces of machinery when you only need one. Maybe not the worst problem to have, but it’s still an additional spend that you likely didn’t budget for, and ultimately didn’t need.

6. Ineffective use of storage space

There was once a business owner who determined how much each square foot of his warehouse cost based on his monthly rent, and then calculated how much money he lost when his employees didn’t properly stack boxes and otherwise use the available space. The same can be said for organizing cleaning equipment. If you aren’t using every square foot of storage properly, you’re paying for it somewhere. (Not to mention that ineffective use of storage space makes an absolute mess of things, which translates back to lost time and by extension, lost money.)

7. Upset clients

If you store a lot of equipment at your client’s site, poor equipment organization may negatively affect client satisfaction. The potential repercussion here is clear: Addressed on the wrong day and in the wrong way, poor equipment organization could go so far as to cost you a client.

8. Employee confusion

If an employee expects to find something somewhere and then it isn’t there, confusion ensues. Particularly on client sites, this can be problematic because the employee may not have access to another person who can help them locate the equipment they need to do their job.

9. Substitutes will struggle

Without equipment organization, an employee filling in for a sick coworker may have a difficult time finding what they need to get the job done. An organizational system that remains the same between headquarters and all client sites (as much as possible) helps someone subbing for the day to do the job just as well as the usual person on the site.

10. Increased risk of theft

While it’s unlikely that anyone is going to steal a floor buffer, the reality is that disorganization in any capacity increases the likelihood of theft because it may be days or longer before the missing item is noticed. An organizational system trains the eye to notice something out of place almost immediately, which both reduces the incidence of theft as well as helps with recovering a stolen item.

Equipment Organization

Putting a system in place

If you don’t have an organization system in place, don’t worry; it’s not hard to implement one. The most important things are to be practical and to be lean. Store only what you need to, organize the equipment in an intuitive way, and create a guide for others that explains the how and the why of the organizational system. You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on this, but the time you do spend will be well worth the dollars that stay in your pocket when equipment organization isn’t something your business has to worry about.