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Equipment that streamlines cleaning processes, as well as operations budgetsCosts for custodial labor, supplies and equipment are on the rise, while cleaning budgets continue to be tightened. There’s no end in sight for this dilemma, which leaves custodial executives looking for ways to minimize costs without negatively affecting quality. This quandary is most apparent in the restroom. Besides being a hot spot for cross-contamination, restrooms are the primary source of customer complaints when it comes to facility cleanliness. And while restrooms are one of the most critical areas of concern, they’re among the trickiest to clean effectively and efficiently.“Restroom design, including furnishing and fixtures, has lagged far behind the interior design advances in other parts of built environments,” says Jay Glasel, managing member of Global Scientific Consulting in Farmington, Connecticut. “This means restrooms are just as difficult, if not more so, to clean now as they were many years ago.”Given this difficult scenario, it’s not surprising that simplifying restroom cleaning programs is on every custodial executive’s agenda. And streamlining is not just a matter of saving dollars. For some internal custodial departments, it’s potentially a life-or-death issue.“In-house staffs have competition out there,” says Bill McGarvey, director of training and sustainability at Philip Rosenau Co., Inc. in Warminster, Pennsylvania. “They have to be as efficient as they can because there are companies out there who say they can do it cheaper. Whether they actually can is another story, but once that cat’s out of the bag, it’s hard to go back.”There are many ways to streamline restroom cleaning, including process improvements. Many custodial departments create productivity gains by implementing team cleaning programs or LEAN principles.“Systems govern,” says Allen Rathey, president of the Healthy Facilities Institute in Boise, Idaho. “When you put good people in a bad system, the results are still bad. When you put average people in a good system, the results are good.”Systems include more than processes, of course. They also involve the tools used to complete the job. And investing in more efficient equipment can reduce labor costs.“Becoming faster and better, without creating safety issues or making cleaning more difficult, should be a no-brainer,” says Scott Spencer, associate director of the building services department at the University of Washington in Seattle.