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Selecting a cleaning service ...References, communication keys to choosing contractor

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by Ann Bucy

SBJ Contributing Writer

When selecting a cleaning service to do the housekeeping of the workplace, there are specific questions that should be asked before making a decision, according to area cleaning services.

Bob Dresner, who owns DomesticAide, 607 N. Jefferson, with his wife Karen, said he believes each company or individual should "check out a cleaning company's background, their reputation and overall sense of business ethics. This is the kind of business that requires honesty and integrity. People need to trust that we'll do the job we're called to do," he said.

The issue of honesty is important because the cleaning crew will have access to the business' equipment, phones and anything that employees might leave lying around on work surfaces.

The Dresners purchased their business in August 1992 after the company Bob Dresner had worked for for 25 years began downsizing its operations.

"We had always thought it would be neat to work together, but didn't know exactly what we wanted to do, " he said. When they purchased the business, employees only cleaned residences. Dresner said that today, commercial cleaning makes up 60 percent of the company's total business.

"Choosing a cleaning service is like picking a doctor or a lawyer," Dresner said. He added that it is a good idea to start with a referral from someone who already uses a service.

Ask cleaning companies for references, and follow up on them. Contact people who are using the cleaning service now or have used it in the past and ask about their experiences.

Dresner also recommends a personal meeting with the business owner, and that the customer get everything in writing.

"When choosing a cleaning company, it's critical to pick one the customer can partner with," said Darrel Naber, Springfield branch manager for Z-Tech Companies Inc., 1339 N. Cedarbrook. "The customer should know that we will do whatever it takes to satisfy them, and then we can talk about what it will take to accomplish that."

At Z-Tech, Naber said, the emphasis on customer service extends to the top of the management ladder.

"All levels of management are trained to serve the customers and employees, and everyone is involved in ongoing training. It all leads toward serving the customer," he said.

Another important factor is that the company provide ongoing communication with the customer.

"The relationship should be more than just when emergencies come up," Dresner said. "Communication on a regular basis that helps to verify that ongoing trust that's so all important."

Dresner said his company is very selective in who is hired to clean local offices. "We do a background check and thoroughly check their references," he said. "We also do two or three screening interviews before someone is hired."

Nixa resident Charlene McKee, co-owner of Kwik Dry with her husband Dick, said honesty and professionalism are the key qualities she looks for in potential employees.

"Make sure that the employees are honest and on-time. Our customers tell us that our being on time is important to them," she said.

The McKees purchased the Kwik Dry franchise seven years ago. Kwik Dry is a carpet cleaning company, begun by former Springfield resident Jim Boyd, which uses proprietary products he invented.

Charlene keeps the books, sets up the appointments and takes care of the advertising. Dick and their daughter, Sheri White, do the carpet cleaning.

According to Dresner, a one-time walk-through is typically required before they take on a new customer. "This is when we see what the place is comprised of (the number of employees, bathrooms and so on), exactly what they want done and then try to determine what their definition of 'clean' really is."

"We focus on the cleanliness and sanitation of the restroom facilities, the entryways (the customer's first impression) and the floors, whether they're carpeted, vinyl or tile," he said. " The workstation or individual desk is important, too, since some people spend a great majority of their working time at that desk."

Employees of Z-Tech also do a walk-through before a new client signs on.

"We look at the restrooms, the actual square footage they want cleaned, the kind of flooring they have whether it's carpet or tile and interview the customer," Naber said.

DomesticAide has more than 30 employees who serve Springfield, as well as parts of Ozark, Nixa and Willard. There are also crews that travel to Willard.

Z-Tech offers commercial cleaning services to businesses in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

Kwik Dry is in Nixa. In addition to local customers, the McKees ship cleaning products to people in Wisconsin, Florida and Kansas, among others.

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