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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

Building Inspections “Staying Ahead”

In our modern lives people are bombarded with different tasks, jobs and interests. That leaves us less time to notice small details in our surroundings, until they become a big problem. We also have come to  expect that someone takes care of it… so who takes care of your buildings?

Our cleaning staff and caretakers are constantly in a building (everyday in some cases) and are acutely aware of its health; its part of their job. In the service industry we try stay in front of challenges in order to do this one the tools we have is periodic inspections of our sites. We accept the responsibility that we are the eyes and ears on the ground for the property managers we serve.

So if our staff has this information, but we don’t pass it along to the property managers we serve then where is the value in the inspections? We use a cloud based software called ServiceLink  that allows our Supervisors perform monthly inspections, (some accounts semi-monthly). These inspections are forwarded to the property managers (or whoever is designated). In these inspections we rate areas and every inspection is logged in the system.

CleanTelligent – Inspection Report – Sample

The report can help us identify problem areas and or recurring concerns.  In some cases it may not be as simple as the staff on site need to spend more time on a certain area. It could be a training issue, a cleaning product issue, site issue, equipment, etc. We also will let our customers know if there is some other maintenance items that is need of attention, like if the garage door doesn’t seem to be working. At the end of the day we do our best to stay ahead of problems and make sure the property managers we serve know the condition of the their buildings.

Servicelink gives us this ability to perform at a higher level.

What Is A Clean Gutter?

cleaned gutterGutters exist for function, not beauty.  So when a service company is hired to clean the gutters on your building, it is to ensure that they are able to perform their function properly, not to ensure that they look good.

The challenge then for a strata when they hire a service provider to clean their gutters is: how do they know that they got good value for their money?  What is a ‘clean gutter’?

Let’s consider all aspects of that as it relates to gutter cleaning and see if you agree.


Gutters exist around the edge of building rooflines to direct the rainfall in a safe manner away from the home.  If water fell all around the edge of the roof around the building, then landscaping would be ruined, and the foundation potentially damaged.  So instead, the gutters help direct the flow of rainwater away from the building in a safe manner.

Cleaning a gutter allows for this function to continue.

Therefore, a dirty gutter, or a gutter which requires service is a gutter that has its function impeded.  Gutter cleaning is to remove those impediments to function.

When leaves and other debris fall into a gutter trough, they restrict the flow of water through the gutter channel, or possibly choke it off completely.  This causes the gutter to fill with water and overflow, leading the type of scenario the gutter was installed to eliminate in the first place.  It can also clog downspouts with the same result.   So the leaves, debris and other items must be removed by the cleaning service to allow the water to flow through the channel, down the downspout, and away.

If the debris has been removed and water can flow freely, then looking down into the gutter channel should reveal a gutter trough free of impediments; not necessarily a gutter trough that looks clean.

“Looking Dirty”

This is where a lot of confusion arises.  Usually, when we clean something, it is to keep the area or item sanitary, and improve appearance.  The challenge is that this is not the way we need to judge a gutter cleaning service.   If all of the impediments to function have been removed from a gutter trough, it may still ‘look dirty’ (see pic above). There may be algae scum adhered to the sides of the trough, or a thin layer of silt or dirt still clinging to the inside.  However, if the proper function of the gutter has been restored, the the gutter is ‘clean’, or ‘fixed’, or returned to its proper state.  The aesthetic appearance doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect the function of the gutter at all.  Anything remaining in the trough may look dirty, but a gutter doesn’t need to be disinfected or look good to function well.  And, if it were cleaned to the point where it does look good, then the extra labor time and cost to get it to that state is essentially wasted money on the part of the purchaser of the service.  Why pay extra to over perform in an unnecessary manner?  After all, rainwater will strike the roof surface and carry surface dirt and sediment down and into the gutter the next time it rains. In very short order, the gutter won’t look good again.  But really, what does it matter?  We don’t want to look out into our gutters, we just want them to work.

Value/Quality of Service vs. Function

Some stratas want the inside or outside of the gutters to ‘look good’.  On the outside, this can make sense if it improves the overall appearance of the building.  But this type of aesthetic clean should not be confused with what is commonly referred to in the industry as a gutter cleaning service (for function).  Combining this type of cleaning with an inside clean or cleaning of siding may make sense, but don’t expect a regular gutter cleaning service to include an aesthetic clean.  As discussed, it isn’t necessary, and so should be considered an additional option for which the purchaser is paying extra.

Here’s a suggested breakdown to look at gutter cleaning.

1x Cleaning Service For Function.

This is a ‘standard’gutter cleaning.  It includes cleaning the inside of all of the gutter trough on the building for function.  All impediments to rainwater collection and flow should be removed.

Additional Levels of Service

Additional cost should be considered for adding any of the following:

-Aesthetic clean of the inside of the gutter trough
-Aesthetic clean of the outside of the gutter trough
-More than one visit
-Repair work to gutters (refastening downspouts, recalling seams, realigning gutters that are no longer sloped properly to drain, etc.)

If a purchaser considers a standard 1x gutter cleaning should include any of the above, then the price would go up. If after accepting a quote for service, a purchaser insists that any of those items be included, then the provider will feel that they have underpriced the work, and not want to perform the additional work above the definition of a 1x gutter clean.  Setting expectations before work begins is therefore paramount.

New Issues Arising After A Gutter Cleaning Service Is Complete

What about a clog or problem arising after a 1 x gutter cleaning service has been performed?  If water is seen to be overflowing over the side of a gutter, does that mean that the service wasn’t performed right and the service provider should come back at their own cost to fix the problem?  Does it mean the job wasn’t done right?

Perhaps.  The answer is not yes in all situations however.

Factors to consider:

-time since the initial service was complete
-condition of the gutters (a repair may be necessary)
-slope of the gutters (trough may be sitting on an angle which doesn’t allow for proper drainage.


If within days a gutter is overflowing again in heavy rainfall, then yes, a service provider should inspect the gutter system to ensure that nothing was missed.  At the same time, the cause of the overflow should be discovered and reported so that the situation can be rectified.

If several weeks or months have passed however, and a gutter overflows, then it cannot be immediately assumed to have been a flaw with the original service.  The gutter should be checked to see if a section was missed during the initial service.  However, in most cases the cause will be that new debris has fallen into the gutter causing a clog.  This happens because:

-trees shed their leaves at different times during the autumn
-most gutter cleaning services in our region cannot be timed perfectly between when all leaves have fallen and prior to water in gutters freezing, so there are always new leaves which may cause potential clogs in future.
-pine trees shed their leaves throughout the year, and can cause new gutter clogs at any time
-heavy wind, rain, and other inclement weather can blow debris onto roofs which then gets washed down by rain into the gutter system, causing clogs.

In order to address the issue of new problems arising around a strata after an initial service, ServiceMaster Clean Residential introduced our “Gutter Cleaning Program” service, which benefits our customers by including 3 free service calls for a year after the initial cleaning service, to address these issues when they arise.  (See next article below for more details).  Problem areas do present themselves periodically, and this has proven itself to be an effective method of addressing those issues.

So, a clean gutter is a gutter that is performing its function properly, based no being in good repair and free of impediments.

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.

Performance vs Hourly Cleaning

Performance Cleaning is when you hire a professional strata janitorial company to clean your residential building a certain number of agreed upon times per week.  You agree you pay them a set sum for a clean building (A task list you agree to). Hourly Cleaning is paying a contractor for a set amount of hours per visit per week.


See the difference? With hourly cleaning the cleaner could not have enough time on some service calls to complete all the items. On some days finish all the tasks early and have nothing to do.

Essentially the difference is: the strata is paying for a set number of hours per week, hopeful the building will be kept up. Or, they pay to perform irrespective of the hours.

Each approach are better suited for different situations and needs. For most cases, a performance cleaning contract is a better option. Its a win-win for both the client and the company. The service provider can now pay the cleaners per visit and not by the hour with the understanding they are responsible for the result and not the time on the clock. For the client, the reality is that the building will not always be in the same condition in regards to cleanliness.  Therefore, on some days the cleaners will be on site less time and some days it will require more time. If, for example there were a lot of move ins, there was a big party in the common room, or some occupants brought the party into the common areas, etc.

So how does a cleaning company establish the price for the customer with a performance?  Simple.  We look at the layout and the items to be cleaned and we calculate average amount of time per visit.  This is done based on experience and unit rates, such as how many square feet can be vacuumed in a hour, or how long it takes to clean a lobby, etc.

The alternative, hourly clean, is most suited for situations where some level of caretaker services are required. Some buildings, due to size or strata set-up, require an individual who can assist with the building’s operation. Part daytime cleaner, part onsite caretaker, hourly janitors help to smooth a location’s operation. Areas of service they may provide include, organizing trades, reprogramming of fobs, and accepting mail. Basically hourly contracts mean that the company will ensure someone is at the location to help facilitate the build’s business.

Keep in mind when working out what type of cleaning service you want; there is a difference between hiring a cleaning service, a cleaning service combined with caretaker services, or a caretaker.  We offer all of the above options for service; the right service always depends on the building.

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