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3 Tips for Controlling Costs in Your Cleaning Service Operations

iStock_000013933799_MediumReducing and controlling costs in your cleaning service includes increasing productivity and saving money where possible.  For this, it’s important to look at your business operations and identify areas for improvement.  This will help improve your bottom line and strengthen the financial future of your business.

Below are three tips that can help you control costs within your cleaning service operations.

Train Your Employees

Proper training of employees is vital to controlling costs better.  Make sure each employee is trained in safety procedures, cleaning methods, and proper use of equipment and chemicals.  This helps prevent future rework, product waste, and costly claims that can add to your expenses.

Create an Efficient Process

Increased efficiency can decrease labor costs.  To better manage your budget, it’s important to understand the time and resources needed to complete a job.  After evaluating the facility you’re contracted to service and work requirements, clearly define a cleaning method (e.g., zone or team cleaning) and prioritize tasks that will get the job done through an efficient process.  Establishing an effective process helps employees increase productivity without compromising quality of work.

In addition, consider using equipment and products that make the cleaning process more effective and less time-consuming.  Although sometimes pricey, the higher performance, durability, and longer lifespan of certain equipment and products can help you control costs better over the long term.

Keep Your Business Insurance Premium Low

There are simple ways to keep your business insurance premium low without giving up coverage.  This includes maintaining a clean claims history, enforcing safety procedures, bundling multiple policies with one carrier, and increasing your deductible.  Learn more about saving money on your business insurance here.

For better coverage that protects you from financial loss, NIP Group’s MaintenancePro insurance program can be custom-tailored to meet the financial and operational needs of your janitorial or cleaning service business.  Visit http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/maintenancepro/ for more information or contact your broker.

How did you reduce costs in your janitorial or cleaning service operations?

Related Articles

How to Reduce Costly Risks in a Cleaning or Maintenance Service Business

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Business Insurance Bill

Resources

http://cleanguidepro.com/wpDrakeBlog/category/janitorial-costs-savings/

http://blog.staplesadvantage.com/2014/01/16/new-year-new-savings-three-steps-to-reduce-labor-costs/

 

Safety Tips that Protect Outdoor Workers from Heat Stress and Illness

worker with large crane site and sunset backgroundThe physical demands of outdoor work and extreme heat is a dangerous combination.  Landscape, tree service, construction, and other  outdoor workers spend hours under the hot sun, making them more vulnerable to heat stroke, exhaustion, dehydration, and other serious health problems.  This is not only bad for their health, but bad for your business too.

Heat stress and related illnesses have been one of the many occupational hazards OSHA aims to prevent.  In May 2015, for example, the State of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) changed employer requirements to better protect agricultural and other outdoor workers from illnesses related to heat exposure.  This includes stricter regulations.

To avoid violating OSHA regulations and control hazards, enforcing safety procedures is your best bet.  Below we list some tips for protecting your workers from these heat-related health problems.

Safety Tips for Working in Hot Temperatures

  • Dress cool.  Wear light-colored, breathable clothing and a hat.
  • Stay hydrated. Thirsty or not, drink water every 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Take breaks. Rest in the shade when possible.  Eat during lunch or other breaks to re-fuel.
  • Watch your workers’ backs. Keep an eye out for signs of exhaustion and other heat illnesses.
  • Have a response plan. Know which steps to take if a worker shows symptoms of heat illness.

Each employee should be trained in safety procedures, including recognizing and controlling hazards, and steps to take in an emergency.  By creating a safe working environment, your workers are better protected from harm and the risk of a costly claim is significantly reduced.  If a health problem does occur even after following safety procedures, an insurance plan with workers’ comp will cover medical costs, foregone wages, and other related costs to take the heat off of your business financially.

NIP Group’s insurance programs include comprehensive workers’ comp to back you up financially so your employees can focus on restoring their health and you can continue growing your business.  Click the links below for more information or contact your broker.

LandPro Insurance >

For landscape and lawn care professionals

TreePro Insurance >

For arborists and tree service professionals

GrowPro Insurance >

For greenhouse and plant grower professionals

Resources

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/documents/Heat-Illness-Prevention-Regulation-Amendments.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/wp-solutions/2013-143/pdfs/2013-143.pdf

http://landscapeonline.com/research/article/17720

Found a Negative Online Review of Your Commercial Business? Here’s How to Respond

 

White keyboard positive, neutral and negative isometryA negative online review of your services could discourage other prospective clients from hiring your commercial business.  In a study by Dimensional Research, 88 percent of respondents said they “have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision.”  Not so good for your bottom line.  Don’t panic just yet, though – a quick response coupled with some TLC (tender loving care) can help turn a negative review into a positive.

A bad review can happen to even the most reliable service businesses, whether it’s from a dissatisfied client (warranted or not) or a sneaky competitor using a fake name.  Monitoring both social media and service review websites helps you gauge customer satisfaction and your reputation.  It also enables you to showcase your company values to the World Wide Web and do damage control if an online user writes a less-than-stellar review.

Below we provide some helpful response tips for maintaining a positive reputation when an unexpected bad review is written for the world to see.

Step 1: Breathe

Your passion as a business owner makes any feedback more personal.  While it’s normal human response to get defensive, staying positive will get you the best outcome.  Remember, “the customer is always right” (even if they’re wrong).

After seeing a nasty review, collect your thoughts first and then respond in a professional way.

Step 2: Show You Care

It’s important to remember that other prospective clients browsing the web will read your reply.  To make a personal connection with the reviewer, send a private message first, if possible, before posting a public reply.  A thoughtful, prompt response communicating a solution to resolve their complaint can restore your reputation.  Offering a refund or discount on their next purchase doesn’t hurt either.

For example, a reviewer complained about a delay in your cleaning or janitorial service.  Although this delay may have been due to an unavoidable situation, such as an unexpected equipment malfunction or bad traffic, this is the chance to highlight your company values, not to backlash.  Your reply could include an acknowledgement of their complaint, a statement that reinforces your company’s commitment to customer satisfaction, and how you will rectify the problem or who to contact for resolution.

Step 3: Take the Good with the Bad, and then Learn from It

Comments about your business on review sites, both positive and negative, can be used to improve your product or service.  Make it a learning experience.  For example, incorporate negative reviews into your employee training with steps to prevent future issues.  Highlight positive reviews to keep up the good work.

Rectifying a negative online review doesn’t end with these steps, however.  If given another chance, make sure the client’s next experience with your business meets or exceeds expectations.  Follow up with them after service to see how it went.  By being responsive and showing you care both online and offline, you can help influence other prospects into becoming clients.

How did you handle a negative online review?

Resources

http://cdn.zendesk.com/resources/whitepapers/Zendesk_WP_Customer_Service_and_Business_Results.pdf

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242429

 

How to Prevent a Catastrophic Fire in Your Greenhouse Facility

 

PAccording to NFPA, there was $11.5 billion in property damage from fires in the United States in 2013. In a greenhouse environment, quickly spreading fires will easily destroy crops, damage facilities, and disrupt business operations that results in lost income. These blazing flames are a result of high temperature, combustible materials, and oxygen – all elements commonly found within a greenhouse.

Flammable materials exposed to high temperature sources plant the seed for a fire disaster.  Add oxygen to the mix and your whole greenhouse operations could get destroyed.   Sources of these high temperatures include poor electrical wiring, overloaded circuits, soldering or welding work, heating systems and other equipment, and discarded cigarettes. When a flame or high heat comes into contact with plastic, greenhouse covers, shade cloths, chemicals, and other flammable items, a fire can break out. Increasing the flow of oxygen, such as through a fan, only intensifies and spreads the flames.

To prevent these elements from coming into contact with one another and starting a fire, it’s important to minimize and control fire hazards within your facility.  Below are some helpful tips to protect your greenhouse, crops, and employees.

Build Your Greenhouse to Resist Fires

The first step to preventing a fire is to safeguard your greenhouse by complying with building codes and National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements. This ensures your facility is constructed to avoid fires, including installed sprinklers, proper electrical wiring and grounding, and location distance from other buildings.

The layout and design of your greenhouse also contributes to fire prevention.  Layout and design tips include but are not limited to:

  • Building a separate ventilated area, preferably outside of your facility, to store flammable liquids
  • Placing heating systems, electrical equipment, and other combustion-type equipment a safe distance away from flammable materials
  • Using non-combustible building materials for walkways and other appropriate areas

Regularly Inspect and Control Fire Hazards

Even with a well-designed and up to code greenhouse facility, safety procedures and routine inspections are required to prevent or control a fire.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Training employees in recognizing fire hazards, handling chemicals, using fire extinguishers, steps to take in case of fire, and other safety procedures
  • Storing flammable chemicals, liquids, and oily rags in proper containers
  • Making sure exit ways, aisles, and fire extinguishers are free from obstruction at all times
  • Checking the physical and working condition of equipment, including dust and leaks
  • Making sure equipment motors and flammable material storage areas are well ventilated
  • Testing the performance of fire and smoke alarms regularly

In addition, refer to OSHA standards for workplace fire safety.

Have a Plan If a Fire Does Break Out

Response by your employees can keep a fire from spreading and causing significant damage.  Create an emergency response plan with steps to take if a fire does break out, including how and when to use a fire extinguisher, emergency contact numbers to call, and where to exit the facility.

If the fire causes property damages or injuries, the right insurance coverage will protect your greenhouse business from significant financial loss.  To get the best coverage for your operational and financial needs, it’s important to know the risks your business faces and what is covered under each type of insurance policy.

For comprehensive insurance that covers losses due to fires, NIP Group offers GrowPro insurance program specifically for greenhouse and horticulture businesses.   Contact your insurance broker or visit www.nipgroup.com/programs/growpro for more information.

Resources

https://www.ngma.com/standardpdf/FireSafety2010.pdf

http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-in-the-us

https://blog.safetysmart.com/2014/01/12-fire-prevention-tips-workers/

 

 

 

6 Additional Insurance Coverages for Complete Protection of Your Cleaning and Maintenance Service Business

 

iStock_000014196219_MediumYour cleaning or maintenance service business could be vulnerable to a costly claim if you’re only insured with basic coverage.  While the insurance policies listed in last week’s “4 Fundamental Insurance Policies…” article strengthen the foundation of a small business, additional insurance can provide comprehensive protection that your business may need to avoid a financial mess.  This extra coverage can fill in gaps where your business would not otherwise be financially protected.

Below we describe six additional business insurance coverages to consider for more comprehensive protection of your cleaning and maintenance service business.

Umbrella Liability

When your general liability, auto liability, or other liability insurance limit is only enough to cover part of a costly claim, an umbrella insurance policy is there to help with the remaining costs.  An auto accident caused by your employee in the company van, for example, results in claim settlement and defense costs of $2 million.  If your auto liability policy only covers $1 million of this total cost, the umbrella insurance coverage is there to pay the remaining $1 million.

Inland Marine

If your cleaning equipment, computer systems, or other property used in your operations are frequently moved from jobsite to jobsite, an inland marine insurance policy could keep your business afloat.  While a property insurance policy may only provide coverage for limited types of tools and equipment that are damaged within a certain distance from your designated business location, an inland marine policy will cover tools and equipment that are damaged further away from your premises.

Crime Coverage

Crime against your business can happen when least expected, robbing your business of serious money. To be prepared, a crime insurance policy covers employee theft, forgery/alteration, and loss of money or securities on and off premises.

ISO Janitorial Services Endorsement

Covering a broad range of risks, NIP Group’s add-on ISO janitorial services endorsement includes several coverage enhancements for more complete protection. Coverage includes key and lock replacement if a customer key is accidentally lost, theft of client property, property damage due to your work, damage to client property in your custody and care, and much more.

Blanket Additional Insured

If customers are requesting a certificate naming them as an additional insured on your insurance policies, blanket additional insured could save you time and unnecessary expenses.  This automatically extends “Additional Insured” status to your customers without the paperwork and potential fees each time it is needed.

Business Income – Dependent Properties

When income is lost from damages to client or other non-owned property, business income for dependent properties will cover your loss.  For example, if a school that you have a janitorial contract with has a massive fire that prevents you from performing work and getting paid, having the available business income for dependent properties coverage will cover income lost during that time period.

To choose the insurance coverages that will best protect your cleaning or maintenance service, it’s important to first recognize the risks your business faces.  After identifying these risks, review your current insurance policies so you know exactly what is covered and if these terms cover all of the areas where your business is vulnerable to a claim.

Need more than just basic insurance to cover all of the risks of your business?  NIP Group’s MaintenancePro insurance program offers cleaning and maintenance service businesses both fundamental and additional insurance policies that can be custom-tailored to your business needs.  Contact your insurance broker or visit www.nipgroup.com/programs/maintenancepro for more information.

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4 Fundamental Insurance Policies that Protect Cleaning and Maintenance Service Businesses