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I AM THE STRATA! Miscommunication and Residential Services Provision

Ironically one of the most common (and frustrating) source of disagreement we see in our residential cleaning services, emerge over issues where nobody is in the wrong. Failing to establish clear lines of communication often leads to needless disagreement and problems.

It should be no surprise that this occurs. Part of the issue is that there are multiple parties involved, who may not all be on the same page. First there is the service provider. Obviously we provide the same service every day, so we have our own views on how things should be done based on our experience. Furthermore service requests only provide us with the “what,” we have to fill in the blanks on “how.” Businessman with Ice Pack

Next, there is the property manager operating on the behalf of the Strata. In an ideal world, the manager would operate as a single point of contact, bringing together all of the requests, concerns and issues for us to respond to. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, as the Canucks discovered in 1994 and 2011. Property managers have different relationships with stratas, where the latter may take a more active role. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with such a setup, but it does increase the chances that a miscommunications will occur. The title of this article comes from an incident with an unhappy council member, who, when shown our work order, responded “I AM THE STRATA.” That puts us into a bit of an awkward position. Furthermore there are the locations’ residents themselves, which can add a third wrinkle. They may have their own individual concerns, which may or may not be congruent with the building’s overall requirements.

So what’s essential in this situation is flow of communication, right from the start. Everybody who needs the information should get it. We try to do our best, from the moment a quote or service request comes in, to when we leave the site a final time. This includes email notification of, upcoming work ongoing and completed work, contact information with our field staff and managers. Property managers should include council members who need to know and post notices in a timely fashion. Furthermore having a clear, agreed upon, single point of contact for issues and complaints, (ideally the PM), reduces the potential friction. Items don’t get mixed and we can promptly resolve the issue.

So taking care early to set up a clear flow of communications will help to ensure success later. If everybody is on the same page, we can focus on the issues that really matter. If you want more information, we have a handy cleaning guide where we discuss this area further.

Window Cleaning Season. Planning for Issues and Solutions

As spring has finally arrived, so has window-cleaning season at ServiceMaster Clean Residential Vancouver. With it inevitably comes complaints. Here’s a common example.

Screen No Screen

This is a window where the screen was not removed. Its pretty evident when the left side seems completely clean, while the right has speckling from weathering. How can we avoid it and how to handle it, is the focus of this article.

So we first off try to avoid as many problems as possible. One of the most important things we do is send out a building notice a week or two before informing residents of the work that will take place and anything they must do. This can include having their windows closed for a specific time, special access requirements and/or removing screens. These notices must be posted in a visible place, and should not be changed in any way.

Once the work is completed, we have a straightforward process for handling concerns over a seven-day review period.

FIRST STEPS

  1. Make sure the window you are concerned about was included.
  2. Please Clean the Inside Surface of The Window (Now with more light from the outside you can see the inside))
  3. If your screens were not removed and windows closed your windows would not have been cleaned and we are not able to return.
  4. Still not happy, it happens, that’s okay email us with your unit number and the window you are concerned also please include a photo of the window.

NEXT STEPS (If the above steps don’t address the concerns.)

  1. We will set up a return visit.
  2. The window will need to be identified from the interior with a piece of paper
  3. If your building is a high rise we may need access to the affected suite.

What are some other common issues? Watermarks and streaks, which is caused when the window dries too quickly after being washed. Experienced technicians can minimize the possibility of them developing (often by using the minimum amount of water), but even they run afoul of this issue.

Tucker Pole Dried Funny

Watermarks are easily resolved: a quick rewash will remove them as the following photo illustrates.

re cleaned window

The watermarks are immediately gone, and the window will likely dry streak-free. We do re-services for this sort of issue.

Another common issue is un-cleaned window interiors. Often, a technician will do a pass through a location, and a resident will complain that they see no difference. In many cases, there is an internal buildup, which is the issue. We typically ask that residents try to clean their windows as a first step before calling in for a re-service. More than once we have arrived at a site only to find the window has been cleaned, but the interior is the issue.

In order to best serve you, following the steps outlined above can make all the difference.Ideally we would like to deal with all of the issues in one return visit. We do ask that that clients collect all of the defects into a single communication, so we can deal with them in one go. Having pictures of the issue and marking it by a sticky note when our crews arrive also helps us fix the issue.

All in all, we hope that this may have been informative and helpful this spring season. If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to call us at 604 435-1135, or email us at Info@svmresidential.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of a One Source Vendor

A significant majority of our clients only contact us for a one type of service, like carpet cleaning or dryer vent cleaning. Yet our firm, like several others actually offer a wide array of services for residential buildings.

 

There are a number of benefits with going with a single provider for multiple services, over several different providers. Perhaps the most important is familiarity. A multi-service provider tends to have better corporate memory and internal communications: staff from one service line can provide their knowledge and advice to ones in others. They can point out a building’s unique requirements and identify efficiencies, which will improve the quality of service we can offer.

Furthermore one-stop vendors tend to be larger and have more stability in their staff. It is much more likely that the same individual(s) who completed the work the first time would be the same for subsequent visits. These factors result in one major benefit: reduced costs. One-stop venders pass on those efficiencies in terms of a discount as they expect to take less time to finish the same work.

A multiple service provider also greatly simplifies administration. With the overall cost reduction factored in, it is unlikely that three different service providers can offer a lower price than a bundled service package from one provider. In addition to these direct cost savings, there are indirect savings for the property manager, who does not need to manage bids for the different services. Furthermore any problem, especially complex ones, can be resolved more quickly as there is only one number to call.

So with better quality of service, lower costs and less administration, going with a bundled service makes sense. Call us today.

ServiceMaster Clean

Real Time Field Management At Work – Real Time Updates & Reminders

In the last few weeks, some of you may IMG_0398have noticed that we’ve been sending some emails notifying you about scheduled services for the buildings you manage. This system is connected to our real-time field management software, and are tied to actual dates and events. Its part of our broader effort to bring you a higher level of service.
We currently send two emails. The first is a reminder for an upcoming service. We implemented this system because we noticed that building representatives often forgot about the upcoming work, or were never informed of the date it was scheduled for. Perhaps a more serious issue was the failure to post building notices. This would often cause problems: screens on windows were left up, residents were not home for dryer vent cleanings.
This was not always the fault of building representatives: the emails we send could be blocked or missed. Thus by sending a reminder, we ensure that everybody is on the same page as to the upcoming service.
The second email we send informs you of when a job is complete. Often, and especially for large technical work that my sprawl over a large complex, it is difficult to know when our staff has completed its assigned work. However by leveraging our field management systems, all work is marked complete by staff upon finishing their work. We then automatically send an email a few hours later based on that status change. While we originally thought of this as a courtesy email, we realized there was a very useful purpose for our customers: they could now bring up problems to correct.
The system is still fairly new, and there are still a kink or two to be worked out, but by far we’re pretty happy with the result. We hope that you will be too.

Water Restrictions – The Facts

So this week has seen a return to the hot summer weather in the Lower Mainland. While we are in better shape than last year, its still likely that we’re going to see water restrictions later in the summer.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 8.59.16 AMLast year there was immense confusion on what the water restrictions actually meant for the different types of exterior cleaning: window washing, pressure washing and building facade cleaning. Two of the three require significant amounts of water, which means we are subject to the water restrictions (sort of, more on that later.) With this in mind, a number of our clients cancelled work that was legally permissible to occur. Certainly they should be applauded for their proactive approach to water conservation, but it was done without understanding the regulations that govern this area, or the safeguards we have put into place to redress any problems we may encounter.

As you are probably aware, water restrictions are based on a four-stage system. As of last month, we are at the Stage 1 restrictions: the most tangible aspect for most people is watering lawns only on specific days. However, as the summer moves along, it is likely that we will see Stage II and perhaps even III restrictions. This gets a little more complicated. At Stage II, there are actually no restrictions on commercial cleaning of residential windows, driveways, patios or other features.

This changes once upgraded to Stage III, where there can be no pressure washing, however window washing of all types is permitted to occur. That however does not mean we can’t clean buildings: we just cannot use water from the public system. Last year we invested in large portable water tanks that we can bring on site to store water for our cleaning tasks. Since they are filled with water from private sources (including potable recycled water sources), they are not covered by the restrictions. A number of buildings were cleaned this way last year without any problems whatsoever. Moreover using public water for building façade and pressure washing is permitted if it is in preparation of applying a treatment or painting. For example, we completed some water proofing and caulking last August.

So as we enter into the hot months of the year and you are concerned that your building’s exterior won’t get cleaned, don’t be. We’re already on top of it, ensuring that you get the work done when you needed and with a minimum of fuss. That’s the ServiceMaster Clean difference.

Setting Up A New Building “Meet The Team Document”

People deal with people, a novel concept.

When we set up a new building, we send the property manager and site contacts an information binder that outlines what services we will provide. It includes a “meet our team” document. We let them know a little bit about the cleaning staff , their supervisor and general manager, as well as their roles, contact information and a headshot. When lines of communication are opened, it allows all parties to have relevant conversation. This in the end  greatly helps us to meet and exceed our customers’  expectations.

Please Click  below to see a sample meet your team sheet.

ServiceMaster Clean _Meet Your Team_ Sample

Keep Your Building Healthy In The Cold and Flu Season!

This year seems to be a particularly bad one for colds and flu. The summer cold season has extended into the fall and winter, while the flu season has started earlier than normal.

Certainly there are a number of preventative approaches that building residents can take, like washing hands and using hand sanitizers. Servicemaster Clean Residential can also play a strong part in keeping people healthy at home. One of the benefits of going with us is that we are franchise of an larger organization, with a wide variety of customers and situations. One of the more critical clients for commercial janitorial franchises is hospitals and other medical facilities like doctors offices. These locations often have extremely high standards, both for the cleaning quality and the chemicals used. On the hospitals expect the highest levels of cleanliness, which is a matter of life and death for its patients.  At the same time, harsh chemicals can also upset and even harm the very same people they seek to protect. Similar considerations are present in other janitorial locations, such as daycares and schools. Nobody wants their kids going attending a classroom that smells of heavy disinfectant. 

These considerations has pushed ServiceMaster to develop stringent cleaning practices, as well as proprietary technologies such as our Green For product line. We at ServiceMaster Clean Residential take advantage of these innovations and techniques for our clients. We have discussed aspects of this system in earlier articles, such as the microfiber advantage. Our Green For cleaning line all have been formulated with very strong disinfectant properties, like Sanimaster 6. Others, like GlideRinse and Microban Disinfectants, continue to protect a surface after it has been cleaned. 

Solutions and technology can only go so far: how you employ them is the proverbial other half of the coin. Our staff are trained using the ServiceMaster’s best practices, which incorporate the stringent standards mentioned earlier. We also develop written specifications and task schedule, with a inspection plan that ensures problem areas are taken care of on a daily or even hourly basis. This includes trash removal, spot cleaning of constantly handled items (like doors, railings and buttons), dusting, vacuuming and wet cleaning. These practices are essential for reducing the prevalence of viruses, bacterias and other harmful substances on common surfaces within residential buildings. 

So if you’re considering looking for a janitorial service for a building and want to ensure you will get a professional cleaning service that will do its best to keep its residents healthy and the location clean, give us a call. We have the experience and the know-how to meet your needs, whatever it may be. 

Our New Sprinter! Supply & Service Vehicle

Earlier this summer, ServiceMaster Clean Residential Vancouver acquired a new Mercedes Sprinter van for its janitorial services. It’s quite spacious, allowing us to transpFull Truck Full Height Resizedort our entire catalogue of supplies, as well as a vacuums and other equipment. The van also has a roomy cabin, which will allow us to transport several of our staff to a service location. The Sprinter allows ServiceMaster Clean to improve our current services and also provide a few new ones. For example, a current serviced location may have an urgent need for a specific cleaning supply or another consumable goods, like light bulbs or toilet paper. Or perhaps the building’s needs have changed and a whole new product line is required in order to effectively clean it.

Servicemaster Jan Van Back 2ServiceMaster Clean Vancouver staff can now quickly deliver what is needed where it’s needed in a matter of hours or even minutes, if required. The van also allows us to offer a new service, which we call a “project clean.” Often a building will require much

more janitorial service than a scheduled day to day cleaning can provide, or it is a new location that will require quite a bit of work to get it up Servicemaster Jan Van Backto an acceptable standard. Our new sprinter allows us to bring a team to a location and deliver all of the cleaning supplies and equipment they require to do their job. Hopefully you will not just notice our new yellow van, but also the new level of professionalism it provides.

The Service Gap !

Whether you are a property maHiResnager, strata council member or an owner, you want a clean building right? Of course you do.

However in many buildings there are often a few “extra tasks” that seem to have no one person directly responsible, and as a result they fall through the cracks. This service gap frequently occurs when there is no building manager for the location.

Basically property managers or strata members can hire trades and to undertake cleanings, repairs and other services. Yet there is nobody who can provide access for their staff, program entry systems, change light bulbs or undertake other routine work.

Sometimes residents try to step into the role, with mixed results. The day-to-day needs of their personal lives prevent them from fulfilling the required tasks, to the building’s detriment.

Cleaning services can fill this need, and many others. The can be tailored to a particular building’s requirements, such as:

1. Part Time Cleaning Services (service calls throughout the week)
2. Full Time Cleaning (on site every day, maybe even weekends)
3. Light Caretaking duties (that can program entry systems, allow access for trades, put elevator pads up etc, call out charges.)
4. Caretaker Services (they perform all of the light caretaking tasks + minor repairs.)

Every building is different, and will require a unique mix of services. Caretakers generally are more cost effective for buildings with more than 120 units.

Buildings under 120 units are often left with a gap in service level and should look to combine their cleaning needs and their light caretaking duties.

Combined with a cleaning service, this package can meet most of a building’s day-to-day needs. For smaller locations or ones with a more active strata, light caretaking duties may be more appropriate. This can involve an arrangement to provide a smaller set of services that a building needs. However they may also provide all services, but only for select days in the week.

Trade appointments are scheduled for days the caretaker is in house. For other unexpected issues or emergencies, the caretaker is on call, but a callout fee can be charged. All in all, this makes such services more affordable for smaller buildings that would otherwise be unable to have such services.

As always, it is best to talk to your service provider to identify the building’s unique need and design the best package possible.

Meeting Expectations

 The number one reason buildings change professional cleaning companies is that the iStock_000014927638Mediumoriginal agreement is set up to fail. Why? There are several reasons that we encounter frequently:
1. Things aren’t always set up correctly first time around, which are corrected in subsequent attempts.
2. Trying to save money and not being realistic about the amount of time things will take.
3. The communication process is not clearly outlined.
4. Approving the lower price quote, it takes a certain amount of time and expenses to complete the service, if the cleaning company doesn’t have this it will eventually fail.
So how to avoid this? Think of engaging a professional cleaning company for either cleaning or caretaker services as a partnership.  Both parties should have each other interests in mind.  This way you will have a positive relationship and things will work out.  Often this relationship is viewed as being adversarial, where each side’s motives are called into question. If actors are not perceived to be acting in good faith, then every issue becomes a struggle without a satisfactory conclusion.
At the end of the day the building needs to get what they paying for and the contractor needs to make a fair return.  When there is a problem, talk it through it in a positive fashion and listen to the other side’s concerns. The contractor’s main priority is to ensure the customer’s satisfaction, so an equitable solution can usually be found.