Technology is reshaping the residential cleaning industry. Traditionally one of the most protected industries from technological advances, automation and software are allowing cleaning businesses to scale operations while maintaining relatively efficient back-office operations. Traditional time-consuming tasks can be automated and replaced with high leverage activities that bring more value to the business. This article will explore how these advancements are shaping today’s residential cleaning industry.
Faced with worker shortages and higher labor costs, companies are starting to automate service sector jobs that economists once considered safe. And while the robot revolution has not reached the level that home cleaning technicians will be replaced, companies like Tesla are working to build AI-powered robots that will make that a reality someday in the not too distant future. But for now, digital transformation is still a possibility, but the focus is on customer-facing activity and time-consuming back-office processes.
If you have been out to eat recently you might have noticed the trend. Ordering a meal at a fast-food restaurant it’s obvious to notice the touchscreen ordering kiosks, but what might not be readily apparent is that the person that is taking your order at the drive-through is not actually a person. Many of these restaurants are investing in software-based solutions that use AI to take complex orders and send them off to the kitchen staff to prepare the food. And instead of paying at a window with a cashier, you pay right at the menu board.
While we don’t predict to see autonomous robots cleaning anytime soon, we do have the opportunity to put technology and software in place that can digitally transform our cleaning businesses and improve the experience for our customers and help us get the most out of the team members we do have available.
Increasing the productivity of your current workforce is a critical component of how using the right technology can help your cleaning business operate successfully in a labor-constrained marketplace.
Efficiency is simply how well you schedule your employees, and how they use their time throughout the day. Efficient schedules can be sabotaged by employees taking excessive breaks, or by having your teams drive too far between jobs. This is a 2 sided equation. Technology can actually help solve both parts of this though. The right software can help you build efficient schedules with reduced drive time and maximizing your ability to schedule cleaning hours per day. But if it is integrated into time and attendance and payroll, you can align your team members to your companies goals with pay-for-performance models that reward team members that use their time efficiently and increase the revenue they produce per day.
Productivity is a function of job costing, training your employees, and measuring and improving results every step of the way. Job costing is first. You need to sell jobs with the right amount of time associated with them so that you can complete them on budget and with profits. But for most cleaning companies, creating a bid is just a guess. But software can solve complex bidding equations. You can leverage historical data and use that to create accurate bids that your cleaning techs can execute.
Having the right training systems is also critical, much of this training can be delivered digitally, and be made available to your teams 24/7 even in the field for them to reference. Professional training systems lead to improved outcomes and are worth the ongoing investment.
You need to be measuring every job against the allowed hours you anticipated. If you are going over those hours you need to be evaluating why and if this can be improved. There are actually jobs that you might be better off not even cleaning. Technology can help you identify the most profitable jobs, and help you sell more jobs like those. It can also help you automate the process of increasing prices to customers that are underbid, and even annual price increases to all of your customers to keep up with the rapidly rising costs of doing business.
Sales is an area in the home cleaning industry that has seen a digital transformation over the past few years. Online quoting and booking has been an area that has been adopted by our industry. The technology for this is readily available even for the smallest cleaning service to adopt today. Giving customers upfront pricing and the ability to book their cleaning online is a huge competitive advantage to companies that leverage this technology. However, most of these booking systems are not integrated into the other software systems that the business uses. So while the end consumer sees the benefit, many of the companies leveraging this technology have disjointed systems that do not communicate with each other.
The answer is an integrated online booking platform that ties to a cleaning company’s real-time availability. Availability is based on actual labor available because time and attendance are integrated functions in the software. That is really the piece that makes true automation possible in the home cleaning industry. All of the critical data needs to be in one software platform. That is one of the advantages of MaidCentral. It is an end-to-end solution that improves the customer experience but also ties all the critical data that a home cleaning business needs, into one platform. Having all of the data in one place is the key to automating everything, and improving outcomes.
Back-office functions in the home cleaning industry can also be automated. Any activity that your business does daily should be considered. Billing, reminders, quality management, scheduling, dispatching, and customer service are all wide open to digital transformation. Giving your customers the tools they need to self-manage their service not only saves you time and support dollars, but it is also what customers want.
Adopting a customer portal is one area that makes a great deal of sense in terms of leveraging technology to reduce back-office work. Allowing customers to update their credit card, pay open invoices, make scheduling requests for upcoming service dates are just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, technology will allow your customers to complete nearly every customer service activity without any necessary human override in the process. Clients will be able to manage their service end to end themselves, from the first booking to making complex scheduling requests that would otherwise not be possible without AI and rule-based software helping to create a seamless experience.
Giving better technology to your field service staff will also help to increase the efficiency of your business. The ability for service technicians to access real-time data on-site will allow them to not only be more efficient, but it will also provide you with better insight into their activity and performance. Locking down these kinds of solutions requires integrated technology that can do just that: integrate across multiple systems including scheduling, quality management, time and attendance, payroll, and more. And beyond giving your techs the information they need to do their job, technology can help automate HR functions such as requests off, and even sick calls. When an employee calls out sick in the morning, software can remove them from the schedule, notify the office, and even let the employee know if they are subject to any disciplinary action based on time and attendance rules being tracked in teh software.
When your office and technicians are using the same data in real-time, you can improve results for your customers and increase their lifetime value. Technology is not just about reducing costs, it should always be focused on the customer experience and how it can be improved. Automation can give you warnings if you are not meeting a customer’s preferences. Perhaps they have requested a particular time of day for their cleaning, or a particular cleaning tech that they like, automation can tell you if you are not meeting those requests, and give you suggestions on how you can optimize your current schedule to create profitable routes that also take into account clients wants and needs.
Digital Transformation is coming to the home cleaning industry. The companies that can adapt to the coming change are going to thrive. They will be able to create higher-paying and more satisfying jobs for their employees; Happier customers that will gladly pay more for a better cleaning experience; And increased success and profits for the business ownership team.
Find out how you can leverage all of these technologies in your home cleaning business today.