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Evaluating Service Conditions

Evaluating Service Conditions: Eight Tips for Inspecting the Service Area before Performing Services
By Stan Hulin

When arriving on a job site, it’s important to inspect the service area before performing any services. The idea is to try to think of all things that can happen on a job before they happen and implement a process to contend with them. This can help to decrease potential problems and increase customer satisfaction. When arriving on your next job site, here are eight suggestions for evaluating service conditions:

1. Service Assessment. Hard floor maintenance of any kind begins with assessment, and it often begins with the customer stating what service they are requesting. In the first layer of assessment; the objective, location, area, flooring type, square footage, environment and traffic conditions are discussed to establish the current condition of the floor. These are the obvious questions that impact the outcome of the service. The second layer consist of the physical attributes of the job that will impact the delivery of services such as; preparation, power, light, water and congestion. These assessments are often overlooked until a situation arises, which can then be too late.

2. Preparation. Performing any hard floor maintenance task begins with preparation. Once the objective is established, preparation commences. The objective dictates the chemicals, equipment, tools and materials that will be required to perform the job. Using a check list can help to ensure that everything needed will be on site when the service is started. Forgetting essential elements of the supply requirements will either cause a stop in the work to retrieve the item or improvisation that may result in a less than desirable outcome.

3. Essentials. Power, light and water are basic elements of the service procedure that can stop a job immediately. Power that runs the equipment is often in the form of electricity, but may also include battery and propane power. Without power, equipment is useless, so ensure the power supply is sufficient to perform the task. In case you lose power, know where the circuit breaker box is. Electricity is almost always the primary source of light, check with the customer to ensure that the lights are not on a timed system that shuts off at a specified time.

In most hard floor maintenance procedures, except for wood, water is an essential component of performing the service. Identify the water source and test the water pressure. Sometimes, water pressure is low and can cause lengthy time loss. Ensure there is an appropriate sink or toilet for dumping soiled water and make sure the area is cleaned before leaving.

4. Congestion. Congestion falls into three classifications, physical congestion, area congestion and personnel congestion. All three of these classifications of congestion will impact the result.

5. Physical Congestion. All the objects and obstacles in an area that have the potential of obstructing or impeding hard floor maintenance services are considered physical congestion. Physical congestion impacts productivity and proficiency, and affects safety and liability. When operating in a physically congested area the potential for damage or injury to personal property or people is greatly increased. In many cases, the objects will have to be completely removed from the area to ensure they are out of harm’s way.

It is important to remember that physical congestion is not only the congestion on the floor, but also includes objects that may be on shelves or on walls. Art and other valuable objects are often placed on the wall or on shelves and should be removed by the customer before work begins.

6. Area Congestion. Area congestion relates to how the area is divided. A large area divided into smaller areas will have additional linear feet (edges and corners). Linear footage is directly correlated to the division of the area, the more the area is divided the more the linear footage increases. This can impact the technician on two fronts; preparatory taping protection when required and detailing. Both are done by hand, so the more there is to do, the longer it takes.

7. Personnel Congestion. Then there is personnel congestion, which is the amount of people that must be contended with to perform the services. People represent the highest potential of liability, therefore performing services should be done when the fewest people are around. A 24-hour a day, 7 day a week operation is the most difficult personnel congestion environment to operate in. This scenario requires the maximum level of attention.

8. Safety. Being safe requires total commitment, unrelenting dedication and continual practice. Most everything that is done requires multiple safety elements. The final layer and arguably the most important is the safety of you, your employees and your customers. Safety must be an integral part of your analysis, to ensure a safe work environment, inspect and analyze the entire area for things that may be dangerous or unsafe.

A member of the hard floor maintenance profession since 1975, Stan has over four decades of hard floor maintenance, services, training, educating, sales/marketing and management experience. He has worked for such companies as ABM, DuPont Flooring Systems and milliCare Textile and Carpet Care. He is currently the President and CEO of Future Floor Technology, Inc. and The League of Hard Flooring Professionals. He is a national and international consultant for chemical, equipment and janitorial supply distribution companies and has conducted hard floor maintenance seminars throughout the United States as well as the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Egypt and Japan. A columnist for many years, Stan has written over 150 articles for ICS Cleaning Specialists and other trade magazines. He has been involved with the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) since 1998 and has held many positions within the organization.

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