What you don’t know CAN hurt you: An audit will improve your cleaning quality

by Randy Burke — This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of ISSA Today

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No one wants to hear the phrase, “We’re being audited.” It ranks up there with “I’ve booked your root canal appointment.” We’re here to tell you that a cleaning audit can be quick and painless, support your overworked staff, help your cleaners, and improve building health and safety.

Facility managers understand the need for visual cleaning inspections. Using a third party provides proof that your cleaning program is meeting specifications. No matter how good your quality control (QC) program is, letting cleaners ultimately grade their own work isn’t good governance.

Hygiene audits are no longer nice to have in the aftermath of the pandemic — they are essential. Combining a cleaning-for-health program (like GBAC STAR) with compliance audits sends a powerful health and safety message to stakeholders, enhances the brand of your facility, and supports your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.
Even though it sounds counterintuitive, periodic inspections by a well-qualified independent expert are something that cleaning contractors and in-house cleaning teams should embrace.

If cleaning quality is on spec, third-party verification provides additional proof to senior executives and building owners that they are getting the results they pay for. Because cleaning quality is so subjective, these reports can also be a valuable tool to reassure tenants and occupants. And welcoming a knowledgeable inspector into a facility demonstrates confidence and transparency.

If the facility doesn’t receive a passing grade, having a company that understands the cleaning business is essential. A hit-and-run audit doesn’t work for anyone. At DCS Global, we often find cleaning issues aren’t the fault of cleaners.

In many cases, a cleaning “issue” is due to a poor or non-existent specification. The cleaners aren’t being asked or paid to perform a duty, so they don’t. Cleaning issues may also be traffic-related due to tenant activity, or seasonal, access, or equipment issues. Having a third party who understands how to fix these roadblocks adds value.

If there is an issue with staff, training, or leadership, cleaning management needs to be aware of the problem and deal with it proactively before it leads to chronic issues, tenant complaints, performance penalties, or the loss of the contract or their job.

The focus is on facilities management and cleaning contractors to ensure that the inspector or auditor is qualified to do the inspection, understands the results (with possible causes), and works with all parties to provide fit-for-purpose answers. The process needs to be fair, collaborative, transparent, and respectful. These are values DCS lives by.

Audits demonstrate duty of care for building owners and provide reassurance to occupants. Combining a program like GBAC STAR with a third-party compliance audit pays big dividends to all stakeholders.

About the Author

Randy Burke is the founder of DCS Global, an international custodial advisory company specializing in servicing property and facility management in RFPs, auditing, and cleaning for health. To learn more about hygiene auditing and how to get started in your facilities, visit dcsglobal.us/services.

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ISSA Today is published by ISSA, the leading trade association for the global cleaning industry. ISSA has a vast membership that includes distributors, manufacturers, manufacturer representatives, building service contractors, in-house service providers, and associated service members. ISSA offers the industry’s largest cleaning shows, the popular website ISSA.com, educational products, industry standards, periodicals, and legislative and regulatory services that specifically focus on the professional cleaning industry.

ISSA is headquartered in Northbrook, IL, USA, with regional offices in Toronto, Canada; Mainz, Germany; Sydney, Australia; Shanghai, China; and Seoul, South Korea. ISSA also works with various associations, alliances, and government agencies around the world to represent the cleaning industry. For more information, visit www.issa.com.