$9.4 Billion Reasons to Combat the Flu in Your Building

Combat Flu at WorkThis year’s flu season has been one of the most intense in over a decade. And while the good news is that we may be past the worst, we’re not out of the woods yet. Widespread flu activity is still being reported in 48 states, according to the latest data from CDC. Employee absence rates from the flu are projected to cost employers about $9.4 billion in lost productivity nationwide.

The best way to prevent the flu and other viruses from spreading at the office is for employees to either work from home or to take a sick day. Unfortunately, 1 in 4 employees go to work sick. Also, many people are infected (and contagious) 1 to 2 days before they develop any symptoms.

Cost of Flu

Cost of flu in U.S. according to CDC

Here are 3 ways to help the flu from spreading in through building.

  • Encourage employees to frequently wash their hands, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, after touching any high traffic surfaces (copy machine, door knob, etc) or being near someone who is ill.
  • Use no-touch trash cans, provide hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes.
  • Ensure that janitorial is providing a 3-step cleaning process to clean, disinfect and sanitize surfaces. Sanitizing a surface will reduce 99.9% of bacteria but will not remove viruses. Disinfecting destroys bacteria and germs, but it is not designed to lift dirt off a surface. Flu viruses can survive for 24 hours on hard surfaces so it’s important to clean, disinfect and sanitize.

Keeping building occupants healthy and productive will reduce absenteeism costs all year long.

Posted in Janitorial | Leave a comment

Bold Predictions for Retail Trends in 2018

Bold Predictions Retail 2018We’re making bold predictions for retail trends in 2018. We’re forecasting more growth, more consumer confidence and more hope for the industry.

The beginning of 2017 heralded the “retail apocalypse” (so much so, the term even garnered its own Wikipedia entry). Major department and big box stores announced hundreds of closures across the countries and malls across America saw unprecedented turnover. Retail, as we know it, was announced as dead by leading forecasters from Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Forbes, and more.

The retail model definitely doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago, it’s true. But in today’s digital age with ever changing technology, what industry does? Over the years, retail industry leaders have proven their ability to transform and reinvent themselves to meet ever changing and ever more demanding consumer trends.

Here are our three bold predictions for retail in 2018:

1. More growth for retail

Yes, the last couple of years have been rough to watch with store closings, bankruptcy filings and the abundance of empty, leasable space in malls. While some of this impact was a result of economic recession and a burgeoning online market, this decline can also be attributed to a need by the industry to balance its previous overgrowth. According to The Atlantic, “the number of malls in the U.S. grew by more than twice as fast as the population between 1970 and 2015,” and by more than 40% as fast as our Canadian counterparts.

The good news for 2018 is that the retail sector is still growing by 4.2% compared to year-over-year comparisons released by the Census Bureau. Other good news:

2. One word – omnichannel

More and more retailers are embracing an omnichannel approach to sales, providing customers with a seamless shopping experience online, by telephone, through their smartphones and in brick-and-mortar stores. For 2018, we will see further growth in the customer experience, connecting both the digital and in store experience with greater personalization and a higher, data driven targeted focus to connect the two.

According to Google, 78% of all local searches on mobile result in a purchase in-store within 24 hours. And even once customers are in brick-and-mortar stores, 71% of all shoppers are using their smartphones for research. Top retailers have embraced the omnichannel approach and are taking advantage of a customer’s journey to purchase – online, offline and across devices.

Customers are even still researching products online Some researchers estimate that digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in a brick-and-mortar store so we know both the digital and in-person experiences are linked.

3. More personalized consumer experiences

There is simply no replacement for great customer service in 2018. From your favorite barista remembering your coffee order, to sales clerks greeting you by name, to first-rate recommendations that you can trust, digital platforms cannot match the face-to-face interactions of brick-and-mortar store. Customers want the sensory experience of being able to see, touch, feel and try out items for themselves, to literally kick the tires. Leading retailers are leveraging big data and online shopping/browsing analytics to create a more personalized, experiential customer engagement. Stores are making every visit count, from personalized shopping assistance, to Instagram-worthy backgrounds, to leveraging the human connection by creating a sense of community. Technology like augmented reality, RFID and face recognition software will also be contributing to more personalized consumer experiences across retail platforms in 2018 and beyond.

We’re hopeful that the retail industry in 2018 will continue to grow and adapt. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer supporting 42 million working American and contributing $2.6 trillion to the GDP. Consumers are showing renewed interested and growing confidence in brick-and-mortar stores and we are hopeful that the retail industry and economic impact will continue to be positive.

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5 Reasons We Appreciate Our Customers

5 Ways We Apprecaite Our Customers_200As we celebrate the Thanksgiving season, it’s a time to reflect for all that we are grateful. Below are the top 5 reasons we appreciate our friends and family – and our customers.

1) Teamwork – Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” We are proud and grateful to have the smartest, best trained, hardest working team of people in the industry. And while individually we think all our employees are rock stars, it is the special chemistry of their teamwork and respect for one another than makes them – and our company – shine.

2) Staying Human – Margaret Heffernan said, “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, it’s easy to rely on email and computers. We enjoy long-term relationships with our customers because we take the time to get to know them face to face. Email is great, but faster isn’t always better. Regular face-to-face interaction between our employees and with our customers builds trust, understanding and establishes genuine, long-term relationships.

3) Passion – “You can’t fake passion,” said Barbara Corcoran. No matter how hard you work, if you are just going through the motions, you’re not truly moving ahead. We believe that a relentless, passionate drive to exceed customer expectations is what drives our company’s success and sets us apart from our competitors. We care about what we do and how, and it makes all the difference in the world.

4) Feedback – Ken Blanchard said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” While we love receiving compliments and glowing feedback, we also appreciate when employees and customers share criticism and concerns. The more open communication we have with our teams and our customers, the better we are able to improve. If we don’t know about a problem, we can’t fix it. With constant communication, it is our goal to address issues before they become problems. You’re only as good as your last 24 hours, so let us know how we did and we’ll make the next 24 even better.

5) We’re growing – “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,” said John Maxwell. Just like death and taxes, change is inevitable. We are grateful to our customers and our teams for the unprecedented growth ESCFederal has experienced over the last year. We continue to expand both our national reach as well as our local touch to deliver first class integrated facility services. We are thankful for the trust and loyalty.

From our team to yours, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Posted in Customer Experience

Meet our Team

Meet Our TeamOur People. Our Passion. Our Performance. With national reach and local touch, our regional management team personally visits every facility monthly for a quality assurance assessment. Because we believe in getting it right every day for our customers, our staff and the people who live and work in the properties we service.

Meet some of our nationwide regional management team – the most dedicated and hardworking people in the industry. To learn more about our featured members and full executive staff, please visit our Team page at http://www.escfederal.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Tucker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Customer Experience

Benefits of Integrated Facilities Services

Why Integrated Facilities ServicesThere are many benefits of an integrated facilities services program. A single-source provider has the training, technology, efficiencies and experience to provide asset management and engineering services designed to extend the operating life of your capital investments. More importantly, they will keep your facilities looking and operating at their best for years to come.

Benefits of an Integrated Facilities Services program

Today’s most effective facilities services solutions are data-driven. Cloud-based technology ensures that rigorous measurements can be taken to drive improvements based upon best practices, sustainability, physical security, energy management and intelligent building projects. Integrated facilities services offer predictive maintenance schedules that measure effectiveness, track operational efficiencies and better pinpoint opportunities.

An outsourced, integrated facilities services partner brings deep and broad expertise in equipment and systems management, with up-to-date training and expertise where you need it most. Instead of watching short-term operating costs, facilities managers can manage the total cost of ownership and occupancy and turn their attention to where it is needed most.

Why an Integrated Facilities Services program?

There are many reasons to choose an integrated facilities services program:

  • An integrated facilities service approach generates workflow synergies that, together with management optimization, create value
  • Eliminates duplication of management and other overhead
  • Provides the ability to work out of the same technology platform and share data which results in improved daily operations and reporting
  • Allows for cross training and cross utilization/sharing of resources, which improves efficiency, job satisfaction and employee loyalty
  • Creates a more cohesive team and improves communication across service lines and with the customer
  • Promotes team work and commitment to the workplace
  • Allows lessons learned, innovations and better practices to be more easily shared
  • Optimizes procurement processes

Facilities Managers have enough headaches. Don’t you deserve true asset management for a greater return on your investment?

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ESCFederal Teams Stand Houston Strong, Prepare for Irma

We always say that people are the heart of our company, driving our passion, our performance, and our commitment to our clients. Never has this been more true than during Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Our team members in Houston truly went above and beyond the call of duty under the most dire of circumstances.

Knowing the severe rain and flooding that Harvey would bring there were a number of proactive operational preparations that took place on the properties we service. First, we reached out to every property manager to discuss what preparation the property would need before the storm hit, when and if the property would close, and when our employees would be released. All properties were assessed on-site from the top-down; roofs were inspected and all drainage was cleared from drainpipes, walkways, parking garages and sewer grates. Our teams installed as much waterproof sealant as they had access to around trash corridors, electrical risers, boiler rooms and other system critical areas. A small cache of fuel was also secured to ensure that RTVs, generators and other gas-powered remediation tools could be operated during and after the hurricane.

Second, we made provisions for our people to ensure that those who needed time off to evacuate or take care of their families were able to do so. A number of our staff were caught on-site at key properties in the Houston area. For those team members and others who needed refuge, we were fortunate to be able to secure hotel rooms on or next to serviced properties to ensure they would have safe shelter, hot showers, meals and water.

As the full force of Harvey began to hit Houston, we started a communication tree that included all onsite team members, regional managers, executive staff, our company president and property managers. We felt it was important to communicate with serviced properties at least every 2 hours during the storm to assess their needs.

12 employees who were staying at or near properties then proceeded to work tirelessly for 6-7 days (and nights) straight though the storm. Working in long shifts, this dedicated staff cleared all drainage 4 times per day. The did daily walk-throughs of offices and accessible interior spaces to note and take pictures of water leaks, flooding and other damage that were sent to the property managers for insurance and other documentation needs, as well as for remediation planning. One exterior night crew, while stranded in a local hotel that was serving as a community shelter during the storm, even pitched in to help change sheets and make up beds when there was a need. We are deeply grateful that our people in Houston weathered the storm safely, and even more so for all the efforts that helped our clients and community members stay safe as well.

Our Houston crews are now hard at work helping properties dig out from inches (and, in some cases, feet) of mud, muck, fish and other debris strewn across landscaping, parking garages and building interiors. Some businesses have been lucky to quickly re-open, for others it will be months before they are able to fully recover the property from all the water and flood damage.

Today, we all wait with baited breath as Hurricane Irma prepares to make landfall in Florida. We are communicating closely with our Florida properties and staff, many of whom have already been evacuated.

While we prepare properties for the worst, we hope for the safety and best possible outcome for our people, friends, business partners and Southeastern communities.

 

Posted in Community Interest, Customer Experience, Janitorial, News, Safety

The Invisible Work of the Commercial Janitorial & Facility Maintenance Industry

Invisible Janitorial Worker_150Jonas Salk once said, “The reward for good work is the opportunity to do more.” This is particularly true for the commercial janitorial and facility services industry where good work often goes unnoticed.

There is a certain invisible factor to janitorial and maintenance teams. These workers are often scheduled for second or third shift to clean the building during off hours. Their efforts go well beyond keeping your facility pristine – they also keep occupants healthy, help to reduce accidents and are often the first to encounter and often address a facility or safety issue.

Recent research shows contract cleaning is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. The better job your commercial janitorial partner is doing, the less you will notice their efforts and the more likely you are to continue with their services. However, if the job doesn’t meet expectations, there is an immediate negative impact to the contract relationship.

According to market researcher Brandon Gaille, “The average cleaning company loses up to 55 percent of its customer base every year because of a lack of service quality or simple non-performance.” When budgets are reduced, janitorial and maintenance are often the first contracts to be cut, either with an in-house or lower-priced provider. However, there is a science to providing a clean, healthy and safe working environment. The quality of work performed is never invisible (even if the workers sometimes are).

 

Posted in Customer Experience, Janitorial

World Class Customer Service Isn’t a Myth

Customer Service MythWorld class customer service isn’t a myth, and it doesn’t happen by accident. World class customer service takes intentional thought, consistent reinforcement and constant communication. Aristotle once said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” It’s easy to say you want excellent customer service, but it takes work to make the myth into reality. Here are three ways to instill exceptional customer service at the forefront of your company culture.

1. Attitude follows leadership. If you lead, the culture will follow. As always, actions of leadership speak louder than words (or policies). If you want exceptional customer service in your organization, it must be modeled first by leadership. Then you need to positively recognize and reinforce team members who are demonstrating their commitment to customer service. “Make it clear that you’re interested in hearing about – and emulating – great customer service practices no matter where those practices originated.” (Solomon, Michah. “13 Ways Leadership Can Lead Employees To Provide World-Class Customer Service”. Forbes, 9 Jun 2016)

2. Don’t wait for the sound of silence. Just because you don’t hear about a problem, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. It just means you don’t have the information you need to proactively address the situation. If you passively wait for a customer or a team member to approach you, by the time you hear about the problem it may be too late to address. The same is true if you aren’t regularly and actively communicating with your team and your customers. “96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.” (“Are You Undervaluing Customer Service?” 1Financial Training Services)

3. Go beyond the page. Customer service training is about more than developing policies, manuals or a one-time orientation training. Exceptional customer service training requires an ongoing and relentless commitment to listen to your team and to ensure that they are empowered to make decisions. In the facilities maintenance industry, it is critical that your frontline team members can act as needed. They often will be the first to notice potential security or safety issues, to interact with visitors and to be knowledgeable about potential process improvement opportunities. “The best managers get outstanding performance from ordinary human beings.” (Kasanoff, Bruce. “The best managers get outstanding performance from ordinary human beings.” Forbes, 24 Mar. 16)

Excellence is never an accident. To have world class customer service, you need intentional commitment and communication. With more than 100 years of collective management experience, our people, our passion and our performance have helped us build the excellent customer service for which we are proud to be known.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Janitorial Services

Outsourcing Janitorial Pros and ConsOutsourcing commercial janitorial services has become increasingly common for large facilities who are looking to improve professionalism and add value, while reducing labor budgets. While weighing how to increase operational efficiencies, keep within budgets and utilize fewer resources, many facility managers are turning to the opportunity of contracting a janitorial workforce as a viable cost-cutting solution. Outsourcing options can include individual or total facility services – janitorial, day/night porters, maintenance and management. Whether an organization chooses to stay with in-house janitorial, outsource or a hybrid of both options, there are pros and cons to deciding which solution best fits the culture of the organization and adds to the bottom line.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Janitorial

One of the primary considerations for outsourcing janitorial services is both immediate and long-term cost savings. A highly-trained, skilled commercial janitorial team can often clean a facility better and more efficiently than what is typically a smaller, in-house team. As part of the outsourcing, cleaning supplies, equipment and consumable goods, like paper towels and hand soap, result in immediate cost savings. An organization also benefits from not having to pay out recruiting costs, background checks, training, benefits (such as health insurance, pension, payroll expenses) and worker’s comp expenses, which are all absorbed by the outsourced commercial janitorial partner.

Another advantage to outsourcing janitorial labor is the flexibility and peace of mind that agreed upon staffing levels and schedules will be seamlessly maintained. If an in-house janitorial team member takes time off, the management may not have an adequately skilled and trained labor pool with which to cover the shift.

Quality control is considered both a pro and con for outsourcing janitorial services. The right commercial janitorial partner will provide highly trained team members, with state-of-the-art equipment and rigorous quality control measures, which is directly managed by the vendor. Facility managers who maintain janitorial services in-house have direct supervision and control to intervene over their staff if services are less than satisfactory, without having to rely on an outside company to address unsatisfactory (and possibly unsafe) issues. If the contracted janitorial company is not well managed, there can be a negative impact and loss of quality. This lack of control is often perceived as one of the biggest disadvantages against outsourcing janitorial services.

While there are many advantages for outsourcing janitorial services, there is a stigma attached to the word “outsourcing”. People associate outsourcing with people losing their jobs and lower quality service. There can be a negative morale impact that results from layoffs as part of a transition to outsourcing janitorial services.

While there are significant advantages to outsourcing janitorial services, ultimately the right solution comes with having the right team in place – in-house, outsourced, or a combination of the two.

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5 Ways the Internet of Things (IoT) is Transforming the Janitorial Industry

Internet of Things Janitorial IndustryThe Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the world around us – even the janitorial industry.

But, first, what is the IoT? Every day “smart” Internet-connected devices are being used to extract data and help analyze insights about the world around us. These connected “things” include sensors in nearly everything, including cellphones, coffee makers, wearable devices, large manufacturing machinery, self-driving cars and more. By 2020, Gartner estimates that there will be over 20 billion “connected things” worldwide.

More and more companies are finding creative ways to use the power of IoT to enhance productivity, reduce supply costs and increase customer satisfaction and increase revenue. The janitorial industry is no exception.

Here are 5 ways the IoT is transforming the janitorial industry.

1. Predictive Maintenance

Traditionally, preventative maintenance is scheduled at regular, set time intervals. Using data collected from IoT sensors, problems can be diagnosed and transmitted in real-time to predict and enable on-demand maintenance. This predictive (or condition-based) maintenance holds great potential to decrease both down-time as well as maintenance expenses. From cleaning equipment, to a fleet of vehicles, to HVAC units, IoT connected sensors can track any deviation and the data can help to predict needed maintenance before failure.

2. Addressing Problems in Real-Time

Many people are well-familiar with how Internet-connected thermostats, lights, window blinds and security systems are being utilized in commercial buildings to help buildings be more energy efficient and to maintain comfort and safety for building occupants. These devices also help monitor occupancy usage and trends, remotely and easily intervene with necessary adjustments and provide greater peace of mind.

3. Keeping Tabs on Supplies

Connected, motion-controlled soap dispensers and next generation paper towel dispensers can send usage data wirelessly to a cloud-based platform. This data can be used to track and monitor when restrooms are having unusually high visitation – and might be in need of attention – as well as to send alerts for cleaning dispensers and re-stocking supplies in a more timely manner.

4. Virtual Restroom Monitor

Sensors in restroom equipment can help increase efficiency and customer satisfaction. Trash cans with lid sensors can sent janitors alerts on their phones so they can plan their routes to prioritize restrooms most in need of attention. Some restrooms even have sensors in the floors than can trigger alerts for leaks and flooding.

5. Self-cleaning Robots

Next generation vacuums and robotic floor scrubbers can use smart technology to clean floor surfaces on their own. Using GPS tracking and sensors, these “smart” cleaners can provide valuable data about location, work performed, usage time and duration, any maintenance issues and more.

If knowledge is power, then IoT-connected devices are making the janitorial industry smarter, cleaner and more sustainable.

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