By Robert Kravitz

Four Questions to Ask When Planning a Floorcare Strategy

Floorcare is too time consuming, too complicated, has too much impact on the environment, and too important to the overall health, appearance, and safety of a facility for it to be based on trial-and-error.  This applies to large and small facilities but obviously, the larger the location and the more hard surface floors to care for, the more important it is to have some type of floorcare strategy in place. 


But before starting any program, cleaning contractors and facility managers must form a team.  As a team, managers and contractors can work together to make floorcare decisions and determine the best floorcare strategy for the building.  Once formed, this floorcare “team” must answer the following four questions. Their answers will form the foundation for the floorcare program.


The four questions are the following:


How much is the floor worth?  The different floor areas in a facility will be worth more than others.  For instance, lobby areas – and any common areas that form the introductory impression of the location – are worth the most.  Even if it is the same type of floor, in most cases managers will want “first impression floors” looking much better than, for instance, the same floor in the mail room. That means, first impression floors are worth more.


Do we want a high- moderate- or no-gloss floor?  This ties in very closely to how much the floor is worth.  For first impression floors, a high-gloss shine may be desirable.  Not only does this mean more coats of finish must be applied but in some cases, the floor will have to be burnished every night.  That translates into time, labor, and increased costs.  Walkways and clerical areas within the facility may only need a moderate- or no-gloss shine.  Be aware that the main purpose of a floor finish is to protect the floor, not create a shine, and with a floor finish applied, the floor will be easier to maintain.


How much should we spend on floorcare equipment? We can call this the “sticker shock” part of floorcare. Burishers, generating 1500 RPMs range in price from about $1,500 to over $4,000.  Auto-scrubbers range in price from $1500 to $10,000 depending on size and type. An alternative, is the AutoVac floor cleaning system from Kaivac. The “initial purchase price is as much as 90 percent less than an equivalent sized automatic scrubber,” according to Parish Supply, a 60-year-old distributor of these machines located in New York State.


By the way, just in case you’re wondering if the lower sticker price of the AutoVac means there’s a catch, like it takes more time to clean a floor, the following testimonial from a verified customer should set the record straight:

“This machine is great, so lightweight and easy to use (anyone can use it)! It ran so quick through the job you didn't even notice how quick it was done! Anyone with a large amount of VCT flooring should have one...cleaners will most definitely thank their managers for eliminating mopping. We did an entire beauty school in 22 minutes with a half bucket of solution and only drained the battery down a dot! Mopping used to take us forever! We love it! " - BSC, Syracuse, NY http://tinyurl.com/hkc73hr


How healthy do we want the floor to be?  While every manager and cleaning contractor will say they want their facilities to be healthy, that may not translate into what actually happens.  We are of course referring to the use of mops and floor mopping. In independent lab tests, both the AutoVac and a traditional autoscrubber removed 98 percent of the soil on a floor while a new microfiber mop only removed 44 percent.  Worse, as that microfiber mop is used, it and the mop water become soiled. When this happens, the effectiveness of the microfiber and the entire cleaning process declines significantly. 


As you can see, these are very serious questions because they are so tied into the costs of floor care – time, labor, and equipment.  However, protecting the health of the facility is less of a cost issue.  In fact, it can even help reduce the overall cost of floor care, if the right equipment is selected for the job.

Robert Kravitz

Robert Kravitz

Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor, having owned, operated, and then sold three contract cleaning companies in Northern California.

He is the author of two books about the industry and continues to be a frequent writer for the industry. 


Robert is now president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which provides communications and marketing services for organizations in the professional cleaning and building industries.


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