By Matt Ellis
This year, a group of eight AffinEco managers and senior staff attended the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) Contracting Success 2018 Conference in Dallas. The group heard a keynote address from President George W. Bush and took part in seminars and breakout sessions on topics such as applying positive psychology to boost sales and best practices for negotiating successful contracts. They also learned a great deal about using technology to improve operational efficiency. That’s a topic of particular relevance to the AffinEco team, since the company has traditionally been at the forefront of adapting new technology to improve how it serves and charges its clients.
Recently, AffinEco began piloting technology to improve quality assurance (QA) and building inspections. AffinEco partners with TEAM software, whose products provide solutions for accounting, HR, and operations management. TEAM had a booth at the BSCAI tradeshow and noted in an article on its website that Building Service Contractors (BSCs) were stopping by to ask about “better ways to establish the value they provide to their customers … and the ability to show proof of work to customers and fix issues fast.”
Ken Chavez is AffinEco’s manager of QA. He’s at the forefront of designing the company’s changing inspection processes.
“By documenting inspections electronically, we are able to perform, track, and analyze the inspections at each site. The software documents that use give us a score so we can see how we are doing and track trends,” said Chavez.
TEAM’s tool for inspections looks like many other mobile apps—users can swipe from one screen to another; there are drop-down menus and fields where the user can “score” a pre-selected location. It’s a long way from the notebooks and pencils BSCs used in the old days.
“We have different templates that cover all kinds of buildings. Those templates are built based on the floor size of a building,” said Chavez. “Each area screen offers a list of items [to be scored] and a five-star rating system.”
Inspectors walk their buildings, swiping their handheld devices and scoring the cleanliness of different items such as vertical surfaces, horizontal surfaces, floors (carpets and hard surfaces), and ceilings. Inspectors can also leave specific notes to explain the scores and identify additional work that may need to be ordered.
The software automatically calculates a score that clearly identifies deficiencies and can also alert building management to chronic issues within the property.
“These inspections are not just janitorial-based. They also identify deficiencies such as damaged ceiling tiles, scratched metal window frames, or frayed carpets. If these are not within the scope of our work, we still point them out to the management so they can be aware,” Chavez said.
Scores generated through the TEAM inspection software can be automatically imported into spreadsheets and illustrated on graphs and charts, so building managers can follow how their cleaning and maintenance programs are progressing. Clients can also be copied on reporting to show activity and the level of cleanliness.
“It’s another way for us to engage our customers and let them know how we are doing and what to look out for,” Chavez said.
During the pilot program, Chavez and other AffinEco senior managers have been reviewing the database created by the electronic inspections and making modifications to the process. So far, more than 30 field reps have been trained on the software, with more to come.
“We are telling inspectors to record everything, but we will refine this when we talk to the client and learn what they want and what is in their budget going forward,” Chavez said.
At the same time, the software lets AffinEco compare the performance of its crews month to month and identify any gaps in performance. The data generated by the software can be used to create a punch list to prioritize work for janitors on-site.
AffinEco is also using TEAM to provide customers with direct access to an online dashboard that allows them to request a new work order or additional services. The company has established a protocol to direct customer requests to the right staff to get the job started. The customer can track the progress, and AffinEco can generate the invoice once the job is complete.
While many building service providers are just beginning to explore opportunities to use technology for inspections and quality assurance, AffinEco is already using its customized program with great success. In 2019, more AffinEco customers will recognize the benefits of documenting inspections electronically and using the data that is generated to improve their buildings.
images courtesy of Logweb; TEAM