Build trust with transparency when cleaning public spaces

The importance of accurate reporting in retail and hospitality settings.

Maintaining hygiene in a public setting such as retail or hospitality can be tough.

Firstly, these areas are open to the public, meaning anyone can (and often does make a mess), even if you just cleaned it.

And as per Murphy’s Law, just before the client walks past! You need to be able to verify tasks that you have done when needed.

Public areas often have regular, cyclical work that requires monitoring to ensure a suitable level of frequency is achieved.

Members of the public have differing expectations as to what a sufficient frequency of work will be for a clean, hygienic and even a safe environment.

What one person is happy with, another may be unhappy enough to report to management and trigger a flurry of remedial action. Finding the right balance is not always easy.

And of course, spills can be downright dangerous for anyone not confident or careful with their footing.

Being able to report and respond to incidents allows on-site cleaners to be the hero and not the villain – and with transparency and proof you build trust in your performance.

Setting and maintaining suitable standards with accurate reporting and delivery excellence is achievable, with the right training and tools.

Prove you did the work

Nothing kills trust more than a “he said-she said” stare down. You can train your team not to blink when challenged by clients, but in the end the client holds the cards! (I hope you know I am joking reader…?).

With today’s technology there is no reason not to have the proof to back up your work and be rewarded accordingly.

When we first started we had a client with a public bathroom who was being chased by the client regularly for not cleaning a certain public restroom.

Yet each time the client complained, the team on the ground were adamant that the facility had been cleaned. We quickly implemented task verification and the staff uploaded time-stamped photos of the site being cleaned. Proof!

Armed with this proof the client then asked security to review video tapes and then the culprit was found.

Within minutes of the team finishing a local pest was in the facility leaving it in disarray for the public who followed, and the complaints that followed that.

Security was able to intervene accordingly, and the cleaning staff were able to demonstrate that their work was completed correctly. A great outcome.

Monitor cleaning frequency

Retail and hospitality settings have large enough environments that a team is doing rounds of cleaning.

If you can’t report the frequency of their rotations at key checkpoints, then your service and quality will remain open to questioning.

Monitoring needs to be able to identify waypoints on rounds and provide time stamps when actions are reported to have been completed.

Spot checks may still be needed, or you can ask staff to capture a photo of key problem areas to eliminate any doubt.

Consider a public feedback loop

In almost any conversation on service breakdown someone will mention ‘communication failures’ as being the root cause. Being a communication technologist,

I am not about to argue. But I am going to add that the communication can be a lot more convenient, especially when we all have mobile phones to hand.

The public can be your ally if you allow them the means to let you know if an area needs attention. Posting simple signage can allow the public to SMS a text message to a monitored number with a unique location ID.

More tech-savvy players might consider a chat-bot that can be readily programmed to allow customers to alert workers to areas of concern and collect all required information instantly. Or where that is too hard, a phone number for reporting more urgent spills or other slip and fall hazards.

Staff can even record what chemicals or other running repairs have been used at a site if the public and client need to know. And logs of any public or client interaction can be collated and worked through with your team for training, and with the client for validation of service standards.

Make your life easier

Cleaning of a location that is constantly available to the public is not easy. But doing it without the tools that verify your hard work and connect your team to where they are needed most, is even harder.

To excel you can look to engage the public and your clients with readily available technology and prove who was where, at what time and doing what tasks.

It is now simple to highlight with photos the completion of any key tasks that may be the cause of frequent complaints.

And doing so in an environment that can be especially challenging during holiday seasons and extended trading hours without missing a beat will set your operation apart from others.

Martin Callan is the CEO of, an Australian-made, mobile workforce application and management portal. The author can be reached at

This first appeared in the November/December issue of INCLEAN mag zine 

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