By Harrell Kerkhoff
Maintenance Sales News Editor
What the public thinks about a business can often make or break that business. This can be magnified at such venues as sports arenas and other large facilities. First impressions and good experiences go a long way in making sure patrons/visitors want to come back.
Keeping such large, and often well-known, places as pristine as possible and safe requires a special commitment from those in charge of cleaning and maintenance. Jan/san distributors can help by providing the right products and training for such big jobs.
Addressing the topic “Public Spaces and Sports Arenas: What They Say To The Public,” during a recent ISSA seminar for cleaning industry professionals, were Steve Spencer, of Spencer Consulting; and Joe Davis, senior account executive, of Procter & Gamble (P & G) Professional.
Both men have experience with large venue care. Spencer recently retired as a facilities specialist with State Farm Insurance, where his responsibilities included interior maintenance and training for the company’s wide variety of locations. He was with State Farm for 22 years.
Davis joined P & G in 1996. The company has been an official cleaning supplier for multiple Olympic games. Davis’ primary responsibilities include managing the P & G Professional’s floorcare and janitorial propositions.
Through his years at State Farm, Spencer learned that when it comes of facility maintenance, the old saying remains true: “You only get one shot at a first impression.”
“If their first impressions are good, customers are likely to come back. If their impressions are bad, you may not see these customers again. If they do return, these customers are still going to remember their first impressions, which were negative,” Spencer said.
He added that there are three critical areas in any facility that can leave either a good or bad impression on visitors: the entrance, the lobby/reception area and the restrooms. Not only should these areas be well designed and attractive, but also well maintained on a continual basis.
In giving examples, Spencer highlighted two large facilities that he said have gone above and beyond what he considers visitor friendly. These are The Corn Crib minor league baseball stadium in Normal, IL; and the Buc-ee’s convenience store chain in Texas.
“These are places that have made lasting impressions on me. They show how to keep people coming back for more visits,” Spencer said.
The Corn Crib is home to the CornBelters baseball team, which competes in the Frontier League. The team regularly draws good attendance, which Spencer said is due, in part, to the stadium’s modern design and attractiveness.
For many baseball enthusiasts, walking into any ballpark is a special experience. There are certain attributes to the Corn Crib’s appearance, however, that make this facility one that even the average sports fan can appreciate. One such feature is the entrance to the stadium, which depicts a field of corn painted on the front steps.
“This really catches the eye. Many people talk about the entrance to this facility,” Spencer said.
The Corn Crib’s restrooms are also well-known in the area — and in a good way.
“It seems everyone in town has had to go to a ballgame just to see The Corn Crib’s restrooms. They are special, and have been highlighted in magazines and newspapers,” Spencer, who lives in nearby Bloomington, IL, said. “The restrooms are huge, with multiple sinks, beautiful tile, and there is a different design on the back wall of each stall.”
He added that the most important aspect of a first impression at a facility is cleanliness.
“There was a study that showed 50 percent of people who go into a dirty restroom at a restaurant will tell many other people about their negative experience. People equate the cleanliness of a restroom with the cleanliness of a kitchen,” Spencer said. “For the restrooms at The Corn Crib, the facility employs a person who, during games, makes sure waste baskets don’t overflow and that everything remains clean. It’s been a boon to that organization. Clean is what is truly important when it comes to first impressions.”
The same is true for Buc-ee’s, the convenience store chain that Spencer said is also known for its clean appearance and acclaimed restrooms. He showed slides of one of the company’s facilities, noting that the restrooms are large and include a number of sinks, stalls, paper towel and hand sanitizer dispensers, and an overall attractive and clean design.
It’s important for facility providers — and the distributors who help them — to remember that cleanliness and safety go hand-in-hand in all parts of a building. Spencer said this is especially true for public restrooms. He spoke of the importance of keeping floors dry at all times to prevent slip-and-fall accidents, and the value of product selection. Spencer also noted that touch-free dispensers, sinks and toilets are preferred by a large number of patrons.
“Most people don’t want to touch anything in a restroom. You see many touch-free options, for example, in airport restrooms,” he said. “This helps from an impression standpoint.”
While employed as a facilities specialist with State Farm Insurance, Spencer worked with interior designers, architects, engineers and construction specialists — all in an effort to help State Farm’s many facilities leave a positive impression on visitors and employees alike.
He explained that newer products and changes in a building’s infrastructure, such as the installation of modern flooring, can go a long way in improving the safety and appearance of a facility. This is especially true for the entrance of buildings. Such changes can result in both cost effectiveness and making the facility more attractive.
Making his point, Spencer discussed remodeling that took place at the original State Farm headquarters facility, located in downtown Bloomington, which was built in the 1920s.
Changes to the historic facility’s entrance include the installation of walk-off tile in a checkerboard pattern that, Spencer said, better absorbs dirt, water and snow from people’s shoes as they enter the facility.
“This has been a big plus for the building’s entrance from an aesthetics and safety standpoint,” Spencer said.
Overcoming Large Venue Challenges
Imagine the Olympic games being rocked by a large norovirus outbreak, or a well-known sports arena developing a negative reputation after reports surface of poor sanitation practices. The possibility of negative publicity can give nightmares to those in charge of facility maintenance. Opportunities, however, abound for jan/san distributors who are hired to help these providers overcome such obstacles.
During his presentation, Joe Davis outlined several unique challenges to maintaining large venues, such as sports arenas and other public spaces. This includes:
■ The encompassing of multiple sectors within one location, such as hospitality, foodservice and athletic facilities;
■ The need for a large cleaning staff, which can lead to greater employee turnover challenges and additional training requirements; and,
■ Infection control concerns are on a much larger scale.
“Whether it’s a university or professional sports stadium or other large facility, there are a number of reasons why scale is important. This includes added health and safety concerns and the addition of many touch points,” Davis said. “Think of all the different places visitors can be found within a public facility after they have paid for their tickets and are ready to be entertained.”
He noted that there is true economic value for those who own and/or oversee a properly cleaned and maintained public facility. When spectators experience a good stadium environment, for example, they tend to purchase more food, return more frequently and have a more enjoyable experience. It’s not just about what is actually taking place at the arena or stadium, such as the outcome of a ballgame.
“Image is everything. When maintaining a large venue, it’s also important to find efficiencies that save both time and money, while not sacrificing the cleaning process,” Davis said. “It’s therefore essential to work with the right partners to ensure quality. The value of cleaning is about the first impression that Steve (Spencer) discussed, regardless of facility type. This includes restaurants, sports complexes and hotels. It all applies. The value of cleaning focuses on elevating the experience for customers and other visitors.
“Implementing a proper cleaning program is not only a cost saver for many companies, it can be a profit saver as well. It’s therefore important to understand choice factors — why people enjoy a particular shopping, eating and/or sports experience.”
It’s also important to recognize that what certain people may view as something mundane can still lead to a negative impression for others. For example, a person visiting a large venue may be turned off when sitting next to a half-empty glass of soda that was left by someone else. Cigarette butts are another big turnoff for people. A person’s positive impression of a facility can erode when confronted with such unsightliness.
“Impressions can quickly cascade, with such negativity being relayed to a person’s family and friends,” Davis said. “The next thing you know, revenues are dropping. It happens all of the time within such categories as foodservice and hospitality.”
Davis also highlighted the unique demands placed on large-scale cleaning operations for such venues as the Olympics. If anything goes wrong, such as a viral outbreak, the negative publicity could be magnified throughout the world.
How large of scale is Davis talking about? For the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, he said maintenance crews cleaned after 5 million people, took care of 2 million square feet of surfaces and washed more than 30,000 linens — every single day.
“Imagine all the impressions made on visitors at this event. And then imagine if a pathogen had been able to spread through the foodservice area, where so many international travelers were staying and enjoying the Olympics,” Davis said. “It’s critical that proper cleaning remains a very important component in any space, as we all know, but especially with something the size of the Olympics.”
According to Davis, spectators and athletes alike expect excellence at sports venues. Business can be negatively impacted if things go awry.
“Spectators are there to enjoy their day. A big part of that experience is a clean, safe and comfortable environment,” he said. “Spectator experience impacts public relations and the overall image of an arena. It can also influence the image of a team and the athletes on the field.”
Davis noted that there have been several restaurant chains in recent years that have had to overcome negative publicity resulting from foodborne illness outbreaks.
“Now imagine the outcry if such an outbreak was to happen to people after they attended a World Series game,” he said. “It’s important to make sure a venue’s cleaning staff is well trained, and that there is a contingency plan in place if something bad does take place.
“It’s not always about the cost of a (cleaning) program, but rather what you invest in to make sure that program (or lack thereof) doesn’t cost you more in the long run due to negative publicity.”
Davis stressed the importance of jan/san distributors, and those people in charge of facility maintenance, to truly understand and teach the difference between “cleaning” and “disinfection.” He noted that “cleaning” is the act of removing soil from a surface. “Disinfecting,” on the other hand, is the act of killing/reducing microorganisms from a surface that can cause disease, odors and/or spoilage.
“Many people do a great job of cleaning surfaces, but it’s better to use a disinfectant to complement the cleaning power of a detergent. This is done to remove pathogens that can make people sick,” he said. “Multipurpose products that can clean and disinfect in a single step may provide the best value.”
According to Davis, it’s also good to simplify training programs, where possible, for those staff members in charge of keeping a large-scale facility clean.
“It’s important to realize that there were 25,000 contractors alone at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In that type of endeavor, it’s vital to get the job done right the first time, and minimize any necessary rework,” Davis said.
He also suggested that maintenance professionals in charge of large venues work to streamline products used by their staffs in order to make the cleaning process simpler and more efficient. Jan/san distributors can help through recommendations and training.
Davis concluded his presentation with advice gleaned from Jan Matthews, who was head of cleaning and catering at the 2012 Summer Olympics. When it comes to large venue and event maintenance, Matthews recommends:
■ Select vendor partners who bring added-value to a business, not just cost savings;
■ Be clear on requirements and expectations when contracting;
■ Develop a strong measurement model and ensure it is enforced;
■ Put a mechanism in place for customer feedback, and then act on this feedback; and,
■ Ensure that workers understand, and are recognized for, the importance of their jobs.
Davis added: “It’s important to develop a strong criteria for measurement and success. You will have a happier and more satisfied employee base if you can measure, in a meaningful way, what has taken place, while properly rewarding employees and acting on feedback.
“Cleaning can be an unpleasant task, and it’s sometimes a thankless job. The more these staff members are given good training and products to work with, while having their work accurately measured and are properly rewarded, the greater the chance there will be a positive outcome.”
Contact Steve Spencer at email@example.com
and Joe Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
News from Nexstep
Nexstep Commercial Products
Offers 360 ̊ Dusters
Nexstep Commercial Products now offers its 360° duster products.
The features include:
■ Soft fluffy fibers that trap dust, dirt, and pet hairs;
■ Recommended for cleaning hard-to-reach areas such as fan blades and window blinds;
■ Works on almost any surface, leaving no residue; and,
■ The 96490 handle extends from 17 to 27.5- inches.
For more information, visit www.ocedarcommercial.com.
Nexstep Commercial Products is the exclusive licensee of O-Cedar.
Nexstep Names Co-winners Of Its 2016 Sales Rep Agency Of The Year, And Top Performers
Nexstep Commercial Products has named Modern Sales Company, of Olmsted, OH, and Keystone Marketing Group, of Woodbury, MN, co-winners of its 2016 Sales Rep Agency of the Year award.
Modern Sales has represented Nexstep Commercial Products since April 2013, and this is the third consecutive year Nexstep has named Modern its Sales Rep Agency of the Year.
The agency was founded by Larry Flury in 1975, after spending many years as the national sales manager of a large polyethylene can liner manufacturer. Today, Modern Sales is run by Larry’s children, Charlie Flury and Nancy Pailes. Their distribution network includes Ohio, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan.
This is the first time Keystone Marketing Group has been named Nexstep’s Sales Rep Agency of the Year. Keystone began as Skytte Marketing in 1991, and evolved into Keystone in 2007. Steve Skytte has worked in the jan/san industry since 1974, with experience as both a distributor and manufacturers’ rep.
Keystone specializes in institutional and industrial cleaning supplies. It represents 13 lines. Keystone Marketing Group has represented Nexstep since 2007, serving distributors in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and western Wisconsin.
Nexstep also announced Lauren Morrison of Swatzell Sales, and Steve Skytte of Keystone Marketing as its Top Performers for the second half of 2016. Each acquired three new accounts from July to December. Swatzell Sales has represented Nexstep since 2006 in Texas, Arkansas, Louisana and Mississippi.
New From Spartan Chemical:
Xtreme Vehicle Care Products For Car Wash Facilities
Spartan Chemical Company, Inc., has added a new product category, which includes 13 products used in car wash facilities.
“Xtreme Vehicle Care is a complete lineup of products developed to meet the needs of car wash facilities. Designed to provide the utmost flexibility for both distributors and car wash operators, Xtreme Vehicle Care products can be used in self-serve, full-serve conveyor, as well as in-bay automatic facilities. Leveraging the latest in technology for each of the Xtreme Vehicle Care products, this concentrated line is formulated to meet car wash operators exacting standards,” according to Spartan.
Spartan said the Xtreme Vehicle Care line of products offers the following features and benefits:
• Efficient cost per car, increase profits;
• Minimal chemical dwell time, accelerate wash cycles;
• Optimal chemical performance, satisfy customers; and,
• Local support and on-time delivery, minimize freight, lower inventory costs.
“According to a survey that we conducted, many of our current distributor partners were already actively selling to car wash facilities,” said John Swigart, president, Spartan Chemical Company. “By adding a solution for car wash chemicals, now they can offer the same efficiency of logistics for the entire car wash operation.”
The line includes the following thirteen products:
• Xtreme High pH Presoak penetrates road film and grime, organic soils, petroleum based oils and particulate debris;
• Xtreme Low pH Presoak dissolves mineral and scale deposits, brake dust, and other inorganic soils;
• Xtreme Lubricating Foaming Detergent lubricates brushes and cloths, reducing drag and inhibiting vehicle friction;
• Xtreme Drying Agent accelerates drying and enhances vehicle shine, facilitating a spot-free rinse;
• Xtreme Pink Triple Foam is a vibrant colored foaming condition with bold citrus fragrance;
• Xtreme Blue Triple Foam is a vibrant colored foaming condition with bold citrus fragrance;
• Xtreme Yellow Triple Foam is a vibrant colored foaming condition with bold citrus fragrance;
• Xtreme Tire and Wheel Cleaner penetrates brake dust, road film, dirt, and grease from wheels, tires and rims;
• Xtreme Clearcoat Protectant enhances the natural shine and gloss of the vehicle providing lasting total body protection;
• Xtreme Weather Shield provides long-lasting shine, gloss, weather resistance, and water repellency;
• Xtreme Foaming Carnauba Wax produces hand-polished softness and durable shine;
• Xtreme Bug Blaster Pre-spray dissolves tough bug remains from all vehicle surfaces; and,
• Xtreme Tire Shine provides long-lasting shine and protection with durable gloss.
Xtreme Vehicle Care is available now through Spartan’s distributors. For more information, visit www.spartanchemical.com.