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Make sure a plan comes together

07 March 2013

The latest advice on planning commercial carpet maintenance from Keith Robertson,NCCA training director

The latest advice on planning commercial carpet maintenance from Keith Robertson,NCCA training director

If you are involved in the maintenance of commercial carpet it is logical to suggest to your potential customers that you can put together a site-specific carpet maintenance schedule that will allow them to maximise the appearance and life of floor coverings, and benefit building users by the resulting improved air quality.

Unfortunately, building managers do not usually understand that planned maintenance not only presents their buildings in the best possible way, but is also likely to extend the life of the carpets and may well be more cost efficient on a year by year basis. Professional carpet cleaners are in a better position than consultants in preparing a maintenance schedule as long as a number of steps are followed.

Firstly, make sure you know the full extent of the job. Is it a complete building or only a number of floors? Are there other buildings to be included? What is the building or different parts of the building used for? Who uses the building and are they office or manual workers? Each of these factors will affect the requirements of your proposal.

Take a walk
It is important to walk through the building, preferably with your client, to take notes and if permitted, photographs. Count the number of entrances and check how adequate the barrier matting is.Walk outside and check the external surfaces, as you may wish to put down recommendations as to how the car park or outside walkways are cared for.

Determine whether there are vending machines or small kitchen areas throughout and whether staff move through the building carrying drinks.

Ascertain what type of carpeting is used as you may decide that different methods might be required, for example, if carpet tiles are used rather than woven or tufted carpet.

It is preferable to obtain plans of all the areas as this will allow you mark out the areas that require more cleaning.A simple colour code to differentiate between heavy, medium and light usage will be useful to help determine frequency of cleaning and scheduling.
Decide when you can clean. Is it possible for interim cleaning to be carried out during normal working hours or must all cleaning be done out of hours? Timing and scheduling may affect the cost of the work. Where carpets may still be under warranty do carefully consider the manufacturer's cleaning recommendations so as not to void the warranty. If you believe there is a reason for using a different method, perhaps an absorbent pad system on a carpet whose manufacturer only recommends hot water extraction, be sure to discuss this before implementing it.

If you are not going to be involved in the daily maintenance you should also set out the basic requirements for daily vacuuming, outlining the importance of this being carried out correctly, as currently most business premises are never adequately vacuumed.

What's the frequency ?
Once you have completed your analysis you can produce the cleaning schedule and determine just how often you need to be present in the building. It might be weekly or fortnightly if there is heavy usage, and less often in other situations.

Is there a requirement for specific spot cleaning or can this be dealt with when the interim cleaning is being done? There are a number of methods of interim cleaning ranging from dry compound, absorbent pads or dry foam shampoo, so you need to decide the most appropriate for the particular needs for each customer. Consider how often restorative cleaning needs to be carried out, remembering that although some text books might suggest it should be done on a quarterly basis, good vacuuming and interim cleaning might well make the intervals much longer. In fact some of the methods commonly described as interim cleaning, if practised professionally, might well last almost indefinitely.

If you, or anyone working for you, needs training in carpet maintenance, think NCCA.The NCCA runs a range of training courses at all levels throughout the year. If you would like more information about NCCA training courses, please contact Keith Robertson.