For any company, budgets can be a tricky and unpredictable aspect of business. Creating them, sticking to them, and adjusting them can be a difficult but crucial task to keep your business up and running.
Operations budgets can be difficult due to the number of departments such as production and sales, types of equipment, and labor costs. This also makes them incredibly important because it impacts the successful and efficient operation of your entire business.
Aside from this, an operations budget will also provide financial accountability. With a well-organized and closely followed operations budget, you will decrease the chances of splurging on any purchases that might not be necessary for the business.
In the cleaning business, an operations budget is especially important to BSC’s and managers of cleaning teams. Respondents to a CMM facility management survey noted that “half are responsible for 11 or more facilities; 37 percent of them are responsible for more than 20 facilities.” They make the final call on the operations budget of their teams and facilities, so it is crucial for them to know how they can improve on this.
Typical Budgeting Problems in the Cleaning Business
1. Budget Cuts
Over the last year, many things have changed. The pandemic had a significant impact on many businesses, some of which lost revenue and some even shut down completely. On the other hand, the focus on cleaning for health and safety has never been stronger.
As CleanLink puts it, cleaning team managers are facing “the age-old challenge of doing more with less.” Often customers do not fully understand the complexities of maintaining a considerable number of buildings and different areas, which can make it difficult to manage their expectations.
Meeting higher standards on a lower budget can be a challenge for BSC’s and managers, but it can be done once you take a good look at your operations budget.
2. Misunderstanding Total Cost of Ownership
Another budgeting problem that might come up is simply not knowing the total cost of machine ownership. Most property managers and BSC’s struggle to stay up on the total cost of ownership for their fleet because the bills for their equipment are being sent to a separate accounting department.
When you have three machines, this might not be a big problem. It is easier to communicate about this with accounting, or managers might even handle the bills themselves. But once you have a larger fleet, this can cause issues when it comes to your operations budget. Many machines, all with multiple bills from service, maintenance and repairs can easily make any manager lose sight of what is being spent to keep the machine running.
Being unaware of the total cost of ownership can cause the budget to be incomplete, which can lead to problems with both future and present expenses. In this way, it can impact the health of your cleaning business.
3. Cost of LaborAnother thing that can cause issue in an operations budget is labor costs. The cost of labor is one of the biggest expenses in cleaning budgets. Couple that with the inability to track performance and set clear processes and the cost of labor can be driven higher than necessary.
Information like cleanable square footage, the scope of work, priority areas and minimum frequency of cleaning is crucial for time management. Although BSC’s and facility managers are aware of the importance of this, it can be hard to monitor everything that needs to be done when they are not on location. This can lead to staff not knowing a clear process, the days cleaning goals, and even result in mediocre cleaning.
Knowing how many hours are necessary to clean a space as well as setting up clear processes can save a significant amount in terms of labor costs.
4. Losing Track of Maintenance and Repair CostsMany cleaning teams that are tasked with cleaning larger areas use cleaning machines to help get the job done more efficiently. But while these machines can be a great solution to save time, they might be causing other problems when it comes to your operations budget.
A large fleet of machines can make it difficult for managers to know exactly where the machine is and how (and if) it is always functioning. Unexpected breakdowns or malfunctions can cause service and maintenance costs, but you need to know this happens to be able to incorporate it in your budget. When managers oversee many machines in separate locations, this might slip through the cracks, causing these costs to get lost in translation.
The Subscription Service as a Solution
1. Budget CutsUsing cleaning equipment that is provided through a subscription plan can positively impact an operations budget.
One the biggest benefits is that subscribing to equipment frees up capital and keeps it liquid, giving you flexibility.
This includes maintenance, parts, service and more. This can help offset unexpected expenses that often negatively impact a budget, which is especially difficult to navigate when your budget is shrinking or just tight.
Not only that, but by subscribing you’ll keep cash liquid since there are no large upfront costs, and this gives managers and BSC’s the ability to bid more jobs or off set budget cuts.
2. Total Cost of Ownership
Using a subscription service for cleaning equipment can have a positive impact on understanding the total cost of ownership of your machines.
Across the cleaning industry, it is common practice for property managers and BSC’s to be left with the responsibility of maintaining their equipment. This means that when a machine is down, they are responsible for calling to get maintenance and service.
This results in trip charges, and labor and service chargers, often being billed separately. Multiply that across a fleet of twenty or more machines, and it is easy to see why understanding total cost of ownership is a challenge.
With a subscription plan, the service, maintenance, and parts are included—eliminating the hassle of multiple bills and making it easier for your finance team to keep track of the exact cost of the machine.
This can have a positive impact on the overall operations budget as much of the guess work is taken out of the picture. Plus, you’ll gain a more accurate understanding of equipment costs which can help better keep the budget on track and have a major impact on forecasting for the future.
3. Cost of Labor
For managers, the efficiency and productivity of their cleaning team is a crucial part of labor costs, thus of the operations budget. Luckily, with the right tools, this can easily be improved without straining your staff.
As mentioned before, one of the biggest problems for BSC’s and managers is maintaining an accurate overview of cleaning teams and equipment. Losing track of machines, for example, can cause productivity issues and gaps in the budget.
End users gain access to information like equipment operator, location of the machine, total square footage cleaned and run time. In this way, managers can know when, where and how their fleet is being used.
With access to this real-time data, BSC’s and managers gain insights into the cleaning process anytime, anywhere. This information helps to identify pain points in the routine and gives managers the ability to create more efficient and effective cleaning plans and to work with staff to optimize routines and processes.
4. Active MaintenanceAs noted above, the costs associated with maintenance and service of equipment can be a problem when it comes to budgeting.
It can be easy to lose track of the different expenses necessary to keep a fleet running, having a negative impact on the overall budget.
“The real expense isn’t always the cost of the damaged structure, but the business interruption, loss of use or loss of income associated with the peril that is the most costly expense.” according to Timothy Hull, director of operations at Violand Management Associates
So, while the cost of maintenance might not be the main issue, the downtime this produces can pose a real problem in your daily operations and budget.
With a subscription service, managers and BSC’s gain access to Active maintenance. Active maintenance can help to reduce downtime and even identify or anticipate problems before they arise.
Since the subscription service includes access to i-Synergy, managers and BSC’s gain the help of the ICE Robotics’ Tech Connect team.
Through close observation and tracking of machine notifications and alerts the team learns what error codes need what parts or labor and work to notify the equipment users before there is an issue.
On top of that, the Tech Connect Team can diagnose and fix issues from a remote location—working to fix the problem as soon as possible, or they’ll deploy a service technician to the site.
Another excellent feature here is that since the Tech Connect Team is consistently working to decipher notification codes, they can prep the service technician before arriving on site—limiting the amount of time it can take to get a machine up and running again.
This reduces machine downtime, which can take a week to two weeks in typical situations. Active maintenance keeps your team working, helps to eliminate unnecessary downtime, and is included in the subscription service at no extra charge.
Reach out to our experts for more tips and information on how to improve your operations budget!
If you’d like to read further, we suggest: 5 Ways Your Business Can Reduce Annual Cleaning Costs