Monday, July 29, 2013

Finish Flaws: Avoid Common Wood Floor Finish Failures

This article was originally published in Hardwood Floors.

It's crucial to be confident in understanding what the realistic expectations are for a site-finish wood floor and translate that confidence to your customer. Have you ever had a customer tell you there’s a problem and you need to come see it at a certain time of day when the sun hits it from a certain angle with your head cocked to one side just right? Per our industry standards, this perceived “problem” that needs to be viewed under specific conditions may not necessarily be a problem at all. It’s unrealistic to think a site-finished floor will end up looking like furniture or cabinets. It’s also unrealistic to think the finish on furniture or cabinets will perform the same as wood floor finishes. We don’t walk on furniture and we don’t (usually) eat on our wood floors. These finishes are manufactured to perform for different purposes and are applied using different methods; therefore the final results for wood floor coatings are completely different from cabinets or furniture.

When assessing wood floor finish issues, the standard is to evaluate the floor under these conditions:
  • The floor should be observed from a standing position on the floor being assessed.
  • The evaluation must be conducted with ambient lighting, meaning the general illumination present in the room. As contractors we need to take into account what the lighting situation is specific to the job we’re on, whether that includes a big window or a row of can lights, and adjust our methods accordingly. 
  • Glare from direct light sources must not be used during evaluation. You can’t introduce new lighting sources or wait until a certain time of the day to be able to evaluate the problem. 
Before you start the job, paint a picture for the customers of what to expect during the project and, more importantly, when the job is done. This opening conversation with your customer is extremely important and will ultimately affect how your entire job will flow. They need to know ahead of time that wood floor finish is designed to be walked on and that it will not look or perform like their kitchen table. Once your customer understands the complexity of applying finish in an uncontrolled environment and the potential unexpected pitfalls we can endure at the time of application or during dry times, they will better accept minor inconsistencies in the finished product.

Read the rest of the article here to learn about common problems and how to fix them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

How to Add "Green" to the Bottom Line

For the past few years, the topic of sustainability and the green movement have taken a back seat to the economy. Even though customers understood the value of being an environmental steward and purchasing with a “green” intent, saving money trumped saving the environment. In other words, a sustainable green message temporarily was lost. The key word is temporary. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified homes, products with the Green Seal of Approval, hybrid and electric automobiles, alternative energy solutions, recycling initiatives, water conservation strategies, among other sustainable solutions, are again making their way back into the news.

Rental houses have an opportunity to take advantage of green in a couple of product areas, including renting floor equipment that is designed to have a minimal impact on the environment. “Green is not a fad,” says Paul Albrecht, national account manager for Clarke Equipment. “The rental market usually follows what has become popular in professional applications. Hospitals and school districts especially are continually buying more products that are green, which means rental houses will likely see an increased demand in the same way.”

Floor equipment manufacturer Clarke offers green solutions for both homeowner and commercial customers. Albrecht highlights three products as examples.

“Our Focus II Boost Auto Scrubber reduces water and chemical consumption by up to 70 percent over traditional disc scrubbers,” Albrecht explains. “A unique scrubbing head cleans with an aggressive, tight orbit that doesn’t sling water. Using less water and chemicals is not only good for the environment, it also increases run time and saves on labor required to dump and refill the tank.” A low sound level, only 65 dB(A), adds to the unit’s environmentally friendly features.

“Introduced six years ago, this auto scrubber is ideally suited for commercial use in schools, universities, hospitals and gymnasiums,” says Albrecht. “The 20-inch model is ideal for rental houses; it can do both large and small areas, is easily transportable, and runs three hours on a battery charge.”

Clarke’s BEXT Pro 100H portable carpet extractor features the Carpet & Rug Institute’s (CRI) seal of approval for carpet extraction, which comes with LEED endorsement and the Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services (GS-42). The unit cleans with 212-degree F heated water and can be used without soap, which lends to its green attraction. As Albrecht points out, the hot water sanitizes the carpet while cleaning 40 percent better than cold water.

The third product on his sustainable list is the company’s line of dust containment vacuums that can be attached to all Clarke sanders. “The vacuums eliminate the dust when performing a wide range of sanding jobs,” says Albrecht. “Four models are available, including a backpack model for small sanding jobs and three tank models.” An optional H.E.P.A. filter can be installed to meet federal regulations when sanding surfaces that may contain lead-based finish.

Read the full article here to learn more.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Seeking Higher Green Cleaning Standards In The Professional Cleaning Industry

This article was originally published in Cleaning Maintenance & Management.

Those in the professional cleaning industry often hear from clients that their facilities “look even better” after making the switch to a green cleaning program. While customers may attribute this improvement to using green cleaning chemicals, janitorial service providers believe there’s something else going on. The detailed training protocol that is a part of a comprehensive green cleaning program often results in cleaning staff learning new and more effective ways to perform tasks, leading to a cleaner, healthier facility overall.

This outcome demonstrates an idea that green cleaning advocates have been promoting for years: green cleaning means much more than just the use of environmentally preferable products; it involves proper green cleaning equipment, processes and procedures, communication and training as well.

In keeping with this view, Green Seal, a leading not-for-profit certification organization, has developed an industry standard for commercial and institutional cleaning services. Green Seal designed this standard (GS-42) with the goal of protecting the health of janitorial workers, building occupants and the environment. Service providers certified to the standard, including private cleaning companies and in-house custodial workers, have met specific, rigorous and science-based criteria that ensure cleaning excellence. In addition, GS-42 calls for stringent oversight of cleaning operations after workers have completed the appropriate training.

The standard mandates follow-up visits by Green Seal, ensuring workers are continuing to perform the correct green cleaning procedures and processes as required by the standard. In many ways, this operations review is similar to the periodic audits Green Seal performs to confirm that, for example, manufacturers continue to produce their green cleaning chemicals adhering to the criteria that originally earned the products their certification. Along with detailing a very comprehensive training program, GS-42 also specifies that, to maintain compliance, certified professionals use only environmentally-preferable cleaning products.

Other requirements of the standard include, but are not limited to, the following.

Standard Operating Procedures: All cleaning service providers must develop and maintain a set of written guidelines that govern all cleaning processes, chemical handling and tracking requirements, equipment maintenance, operational procedures and reporting and recordkeeping practices.

Building-Specific Green Cleaning Plans
: Cleaning service providers must create building-specific green cleaning plans that comprehensively describe the methods by which they will effectively clean a facility, while also protecting human health and the environment.

Floorcare Procedures: Cleaning service providers must develop and implement a floor maintenance plan consistent with manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations. This plan should extend the life of flooring through routine, periodic and restorative cleaning, with the goal of minimizing floor refinishing cycles, as refinishing is often the most environmentally harmful floorcare task.

Approved Equipment Selection: Vacuum cleaners and carpet extraction equipment must meet the minimum approval standards of the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval program.

Training Considerations: All cleaning workers must receive “best practices” training regarding the proper handling of chemicals, the proper use and maintenance of capital equipment and proper cleaning procedures.

Not only does this training help protect the health of the cleaning worker, but following green cleaning practices can also result in a significant reduction of indoor air pollutants when compared to using conventional cleaning processes. Because the professional cleaning industry tends to have high employee turnover, the standard recognizes the importance of and requires the training on proper cleaning procedures for all new workers.

This training should include teaching the proper sequencing of cleaning steps and the proper use of personal protective equipment. To comply with the standard, employers must provide this training before a new employee can begin work.

Read the full article here to learn more.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Top Five Dirtiest Areas in a Restaurant

This article was originally published on Clean Link

 Popular user-review websites such as Yelp have put diners in the driver’s seat when it comes to identifying restaurant issues. Contributing more than 39 million reviews, “Yelpers” can make or break a restaurant’s reputation, frequently identifying issues with poor service, food quality or cleanliness. To help restaurants maintain a positive online reputation, Cintas Corporation released what online reviewers have identified as five of the top dirtiest areas in a restaurant.

According to popular online review sites, the top five dirtiest areas in a restaurant include:

1. Floors. One of the first things patrons see when they walk into a restaurant is the floor. According to a recent consumer poll, a dirty floor could lead 68 percent of customers to immediately exit the facility — never to return. From dirt and debris to discolored grout lines and carpet stains, several different factors can make a restaurant floor “dirty.”

One reviewer of a major restaurant chain located in Chicago reported: “[This restaurant] has the appearance of being clean due to style, but is actually pretty dirty. The floor has crumbs and dirt all over it, for example.”

To combat dirt and stains, implement a floor care program that focuses on deep cleaning, protecting and maintaining floor surfaces. Whether restaurant floors are covered by carpet or ceramic tiles, a floor care program that involves these three steps and uses mats to contain dirt will keep surfaces clean over an extended period of time, ensuring that your guests think “clean” when they look down.

2. Restrooms. Reports of dirt and debris, unflushed toilets, under-stocked paper goods and general malodors are frequent occurrences within online restaurant reviews. In fact, some users avoid restrooms – or the restaurant – altogether because of restroom filth. A reviewer of a Washington D.C.-based Chinese restaurant stated, “I had to use the restroom, but was too scared just from a glimpse of one of them.”

To prevent this scenario, implement an ongoing restroom care program that not only ensures that restrooms are always properly stocked, but that they are also regularly deep cleaned. In addition to daily maintenance, integrate a deep cleaning program to remove organic soils that regular mops and brushes can’t remove, but can cause odors.

3. Tables. Remnants from meals, displaced napkins and general dirt left on and around tables can make guests feel unwelcome or leave them with a negative impression of the restaurant. This is what prevented a reviewer of a Miami-based fast food Mexican restaurant from giving the restaurant a better rating. He noted, “I would have given four stars, but I noticed a few tables were dirty and the little bar at which we sat I had to clean myself prior to sitting down.”

To avoid giving guests a “bad taste” in your restaurant, designate a porter to handle front of the house cleaning issues, such as dirty tables or drink spills. From removing trash to spraying down tables with a general purpose cleaner, this individual’s primary responsibility should be to keep the dining room clean and ready for guests.

4. Staff. Unkempt staff can be an immediate turn-off to restaurant patrons. From uniform stains to poor personal grooming, the appearance of restaurant employees can be an indicator of the restaurant’s overall commitment to cleanliness. For example, a reviewer of a major upscale steak house chain in New York City noted, “His uniform was kind of dirty and I didn't want to imagine if the restaurant was cleaned or not.”

In addition to enforcing good personal hygiene, ensure that staff members are dressed in an apparel program that reflects the brand standard of the restaurant. When a new employee begins work, fit them for correct sizing and immediately remove stained or worn uniforms from operation.

5. Kitchen. For restaurants that open the kitchen to guest viewing or those that operate behind closed doors, kitchen cleanliness is imperative in any foodservice operation. Reviewers will be the first to applaud kitchen cleanliness or highlight issues. A reviewer of a Chinese restaurant in Seattle noted, “I took off one star for this place because I sat near the entry to their kitchen once … I saw how dirty it was.”

From prep areas to floors, keep kitchen surfaces clean and odor free by sanitizing regularly and deep cleaning on a regular basis. In addition, a drain line maintenance program can help reduce odors emanating from restaurant drains and limit food sources for insects such as fruit flies, which can indicate a lack of attention to cleanliness.

Read the full article here to learn more. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Versatile, Rugged Sweeper

Designed to be rugged and versatile, Clarke’s BSW 28 Sweeper has the performance for both hard floors and carpets. Featuring a 28-inch sweeping path, gel batteries, self propelled traction and an active side broom, the BSW 28 sweeps even the smallest debris and dust from the walls edge. The BSW 28 is very quiet and allows sweeping in noise sensitive areas.
Features include:
  • On-board charger
  • Active filtered dust control
  • Self propelled power traction
  • Side broom for complete edge sweeping
  • Large hopper capacity
  • Gel battery power source
  • Great for carpets and hard floor applications