Top 7 Quality Assurance Systems for Sweeping Service Businesses

Many sweeping business owners may be unaware of some of today’s state-of-the-art tools and free or inexpensive alternatives for more efficient quality management processes. Innovative technologies as well as time-proven methodologies are being used by savvy sweeping service operators throughout the country, revealing an array of strong selection of quality assurance programs, most of which can be seamlessly implemented. Below is a list of some of the best options in both standard and innovative quality assurance systems that NAS has discovered in use over the past year.
Most Common Current Quality Assurance Practices in the Commercial Sweeping Industry
Surprisingly, numerous sweeping business owners have not thought about any structured quality management system, while others admit to doing only sporadic quality spot checks, and yet others actually say they just wait for customers to call with complaints. But, most modern sweeping business owners do actively seek to ensure quality service for their customers. Common policies regarding quality assurance protocols throughout the sweeping industry include:
• Site visits by a dedicated quality control supervisor after drivers leave properties they’ve just serviced.
• Random spot-check courtesy phone calls to customers from a route supervisor or an administrative office employee, to obtain feedback on overall satisfaction with services.
• In-person visits from the sweeping business owner or manager, to demonstrate to customers that the company values the relationship and to ask about satisfaction with service.
• No proactive quality assurance process at all, because the business has full route books and does not need to advertise or do active sales in order to acquire new customers.
• Verbally assuring customers of the company’s pride in delivery of high-quality service, and attributing the business’s success to the owner’s and team’s deep commitment to quality, emphasis of quality performance to employees, but no actions to confirm that quality service is actually being consistently delivered.
• Reliance on GPS alone, confirming that employees have been where they were supposed to be and that they remained there for time lengths that were sufficient to deliver thorough service.
• Reliance on field service employees’ good will and work ethic to form assumptions that a good job is being done every time for every customer.
Many of today’s sweeping business owners across the industry have implemented more advanced methods than the above, to ensure optimum service for their customers. Here are some approaches that stand out as the most impressive quality management options for sweeping businesses:
1. Real-Time Quality Inspections
There’s really no substitute for the intensive service quality inspection that can be conducted by a trained quality supervisor closely following the delivery of service at a site. Even video monitoring and photo texting (#3 and #2 below, respectively) cannot provide the full coverage and careful scrutiny that a live inspection offers customers and sweeper business owners, to virtually guarantee ideal quality assurance and protection of critical service business relationships.
This quality management methodology requires little explanation of its benefits to customers and sweeping service companies. All service business owners intuitively know that the comparable level of effectiveness of this particular quality assurance process exceeds any other alternative. After all, it’s a long-lived service tenet that nothing beats a first-hand expert performance evaluation immediately after work is completed.
2. Photo Texting
A picture is worth at least a thousand words when it comes to quality assurance in a business like commercial sweeping service. Many sweeping businesses are now either equipping field services employees with smart phones or paying a portion of drivers’ cell phone bills to support their use of the devices on the job. Some companies have high-end quality processes in place, in which drivers text nightly to their route supervisors photos of key service areas at each property they sweep. Supervisors then forward the photos to customers’ designated information recipients, accompanied by notations and requests for any feedback or other comments the customer may have.
This real-time direct interaction with customers and continuous flow of photo support constitutes a dazzling quality system that offers sweeping services customers the epitome of personalized service —including exceptional attentiveness and true assurance of their vendor’s unsurpassed process for, and commitment to quality management.
3. Video-Generating GPS
Some sweeping companies are now using remote monitoring services that email reports of occurrences inside service vehicles, along with video evidence and other support for the monitoring agents’ reports on a range of concerns, from service quality issues to problems with field employees’ actions while driving between customers’ locations. As with non-video-upgraded GPS tracking, GPS supplemented with video footage can be used for payroll tracking as well as to make inferences about quality, based on the validations of drivers’ whereabouts as they’re matched to route sheets and on the arrival and departure times that route supervisors use to mark total time drivers spend servicing each location.
Video-generating GPS adds the benefits of concrete proof of occurrences that are outside the company’s policies and normal practices and the convenience of leaving the monitoring to outsourced monitoring and performance review service providers. This system saves many busy sweeping services’ management teams from the high net costs in time and potential productivity spent for in-house monitoring of GPS data, freeing them to apply the time gained to additional quality-focused efforts that can significantly increase the overall effectiveness of their quality management system.
4. GPS Tracking
GPS technology has transformed the sweeping industry’s quality processes. Sweeping business owners’ essential way of thinking about quality management is increasingly driven by the concrete numerical evidence generated by GPS time and location tracking functionality. The ability to know precisely where service vehicles are located at any given moment and exactly how long they remain at that location equips quality managers with a revolutionary information tool.
When used as part of a more comprehensive visual quality check system, GPS tracking is an indispensable resource for validation of the level of efforts a sweeping company is devoting to each particular customer.
5. Supplementary Spot Inspections
Service quality spot inspections by any employee of a sweeping service can offer very valuable support to the company’s quality management team. The caliber of quality assurance is elevated when sweeping business owners, sales representatives, route supervisors, and admin staff members who happen to be visiting an area for one of any number of reasons habitually use their opportunities to detour for quick drive-through assessments of conditions at nearby service locations.
Enculturation of this level of quality assurance mindset is a hallmark of the best sweeping service businesses we’ve found. When quality spot checks are used as supplementary support for other quality assurance methods, they can add up to help create an especially robust system of quality management to benefit customers, sweeper business owners and employees, and many external stakeholders.
6. Customer Satisfaction Check-In Phone Calls
While in-person quality check-in visits are premium expressions of a business’s level of caring about their customers’ satisfaction, there may be arguably greater value for some sweeping companies in the check-in phone call, vs. driving out to each customer’s location. Especially for sweeping companies with larger customer bases in geographically expansive market areas, in-person visits may become less and less feasible for owners to do personally in a way that covers sufficient numbers of customer locations to yield a significant return on the time and effort investment, in terms of increased customer satisfaction due to the visits.
Much more ground can be covered by quality check-ins by phone calling, of course. Many more customers can be reached, and greater frequency of calls to customers is made possible through phone outreach, in lieu of the in-person approach. Phone calling also comes with the benefit of having the customer’s account information displayed on a computer screen. This makes quick referencing possible, from screen to screen using a CMS system during the contact. The caller can also patch other people into the call, to help go the extra mile, when appropriate. Hands-free note-taking, if a headset is used, allows more abundant documentation of customers’ comments and callers impressions and service improvement action items and ideas. These are all methods that either become redundant or more awkward to utilize during onsite visits, where eye contact is the higher priority.
7. Periodic In-Person Customer Satisfaction Visits
Asking for feedback on the same day that service is delivered, such as route supervisors do as part of the Photo Texting method (described in #2 above on this list), enables emphasis on the kinds of questions that draw the greatest abundance of the most useful kinds of information from customers for service quality improvement. However, where staffing limitation or other prohibitive conditions do not allow such up-to-the-minute collection of reports of customers’ impressions of service, less frequent check-ins offer the next best thing. In fact, it’s an act in a class of its own for a company’s authority to go so far as to dedicate some of his or her own premium business time to drive to the customer’s location and personally walk in the door to find out what they can do to make the service ideal for them.
It’s low-tech and old-fashioned approach to customer care, but that’s what makes it so special and curiously unique in today’s all-virtual-all-the-time world of commercial services and customer account management. The unmatched personal aspect of communicating in-person, delivers a customer experience of service that is typically above and beyond expectations these days. Many service quality sins may be more likely forgiven when an exceedingly busy person shows they care by sacrificing the amount of time it takes to come and visit you personally.
The Future of Sweeping Industry Service Quality Management
Every sweeping industry competitor in every market is well advised to find resources to perform quality spot checks, at minimum, to confirm what the service provider believes about his or her team’s success in delivery of quality service. Even in markets with high demand and limited sweeping service vendor options, taking for granted that customers will stay on your books by default is a risk that is unlikely to pay off if/when a new competitive market entrant starts circulating and selling on price.
There’s no real security against customer attrition in any competitive market for any type of service business except legitimate assurance of consistent high-quality service delivery for customers. That’s the stable foundation upon which all lasting customer relationships and revenue bases must be built, and as we’ve observed in small and large markets throughout the industry, it’s the most successful sweeping businesses that habituate the actions that reflect this most honorable and eminently practical service philosophy.

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