Grounds and buildings create first and lasting impressions. Research (e.g., APPA projects) increasingly shows that grounds appearance and clean buildings directly impact student recruitment and retention, are important to students and the learning environment, and are correlated with lower absenteeism and better health. The law of diminishing returns applies when making custodial services more efficient and less costly without affecting service level and quality.
Mission and Purpose of Custodial Services The custodial manager needs to communicate the mission and purpose of custodial services to the administrative hierarchy, linking them to the institution mission; the primary custodial mission is providing a clean environment that supports and adds value to the institution educational mission.
Road Map for Successful Custodial Operations A clear road map is needed to guide and operate custodial services efficiently and cost-effectively based on an inventory or audit of previous, current, and future services (e.g., using longitudinal data as a tool).
A custodial audit documents past and current practices and their effectiveness in supporting department and institution missions. The audit establishes a weighted baseline for institution cleanliness, supporting evaluation of procedure modification effectiveness, performance evaluations and a feedback process, and a quality assurance program with a custodial-customer feedback loop. The cleanliness baseline can use the APPA appearance levels (Figure 2.26): Level 1, orderly spotlessness; Level 2, ordinary tidiness; Level 3, casual inattention; Level 4, moderate dinginess; and Level 5, unkempt neglect. The baseline should use 5 to 10 years of key data, such as building inventory and cleanable square feet, staffing inventory (in full-time equivalents), categories or types of spaces, square feet cleaned per custodian, maintenance cost per square foot (labor and supplies), and level and quality of service provided. APPA defines appearance levels and 33 room types (Figure 2.27, with productivity and service levels) in Operational Guidelines for Educational Facilities: Custodial.
|3 Casual Inattention||4 Moderate Dinginess||5 Unkempt Neglect|
|Floors are swept or vacuumed clean, but upon close observation there can be stains. A buildup of dirt and/or floor finish in corners and along walls can be seen. There are dull spots and/or matted carpet in walking lanes. Base molding is dull and dingy with streaks or splashes.||Floors are swept or vacuumed clean, but are dull, dingy, and stained. There is an obvious buildup of dirt and/or floor finish in corners and along walls. There is a dull path and/or obviously matted carpet in the walking lanes. Base molding is dull and dingy with streaks or splashes.||Floors and carpet are dull, dirty, dingy, scuffed, and/or matted. There is a conspicuous buildup of old dirt and/or floor finish in corners and along walls. Base molding is dirty, stained, and streaked. Gum, stains, dirt, dust balls, and trash are broadcast|
|All vertical and horizontal surfaces have obvious dust, dirt, marks, smudges, and fingerprints.||All vertical and horizontal surfaces have conspicuous dust, dirt, smudges, fingerprints, and marks.||All vertical and horizontal surfaces have major accumulations of dust, dirt, smudges, and fingerprints, all of which will be difficult to remove. Lack of attention is obvious.|
|Lights all work and fixtures are clean.||Light fixtures are dirty and some (up to 5 percent) lamps are burned out.||Light fixtures are dirty with dust balls and flies. Many lamps (more than 5 percent) are burned out.|
|Washroom, shower, toilet fixtures, and tile gleam and are odor-free. Supplies are adequate.||Washroom, shower, toilet fixtures, and tile gleam and are odor-free. Supplies are adequate.||Less than acceptable assessment in the attributes listed for levels 1-4|
|Trash containers hold only daily waste, are clean and odor-free||Trash containers hold old trash. They are stained and marked. They smell sour.||Trash containers overflow. They are stained and marked. They smell sour.|
Using baseline data, institution custodial services can be compared to similar institutions and industry standards such as the APPA Facilities Performance Indicator (FPI).
Staffing the Custodial Operation
As a rule of thumb, labor accounts for 90 percent of custodial costs and cleaning supplies only 10 percent. Many factors affect custodial operation costs. Staffing models vary by institution and include zone cleaning (one person for a specific area), crew or gang cleaning (people working together, possibly as self-directed teams), team cleaning (more refined and increasingly popular; specialists working on, and cross-trained for, specific tasks), or a hybrid. The best systems build custodian self-worth and a sense of daily accomplishment. Managers use modeling programs to calculate the number of needed custodians based on tasks, frequency, time, and expected appearance level. Methods are based on raw footage, not counting space complexities or acceptable appearance level; an inventory of all fixtures multiplied by industry time standards, not considering appearance level; or type of space, which is more complex to compute but more accurate, based on inventory (e.g., using 33 APPA room types), tasks, frequency, time, and appearance levels. Buildings increasingly operate 24×7, and custodial managers (with employee and customer input) must schedule custodians to maximize cleaning but use minimal staff because of limited funding (restricting number of shifts and days); common cleaning schedules are day (increasingly popular), late night, or swing shift (each with advantages and disadvantages).
Cleaning as a Process
Custodians and managers must understand key cleaning process elements: clear vision of cleaning role; detailed policies and procedures; clear job expectations; precise job assignments; observable, measurable, and consistent standards (e.g., five APPA appearance levels); chemical use and role of safety data sheets, personal protective equipment, OSHA and EPA rules, and key factors for proper chemical performance (time, or dwell time; action; chemical, proper mixing, and labeling; temperature); safe equipment use; ongoing cutting-edge training (in-depth, field, and refresher) particularly if budgets are tight; and an active safety program (e.g., participatory safety training, injury incident reviews, joint safety committee).
Toward Continuous Improvement
Effective Quality Assurance (QA) leads to continual improvements, lower costs, and consistent cleaning. QA programs communicate standards; create a process (e.g., manager site visits to assess quality, share issues with custodians, and document results, possibly in electronic form); solicit customer feedback in person and via surveys; log in and review compliments and complaints; compare manager results with feedback, survey, and log data; praise stellar performers; use (and conduct training on) improved cleaning processes; and build teams. Feedback should be meaningful and timely, in a continuous loop (Figure 2.28).
Environmental Role of Custodial Services
The custodial manager’s role in improving the environment and enhancing sustainability is increasing. Custodians directly affect building environs and surroundings by using environmentally friendly products (e.g., Green Seal options, cleaning equipment using minimal chemicals, microfiber cloths and mops), recycling (e.g., purchase of products with minimal environmental impact, recyclable packaging), and improving indoor air quality (e.g., products with low VOCs, vacuums with HEPA filters).