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Taking Care of Business | Useful Cleaning Tips for Chicago Businesses

Taking Care Of Business - Useful tips for chicago businesses - ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons - chicago - fire and water damage restoration - commercial cleaning services

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons – Useful Cleaning Tips For Chicago Business – Commercial Cleaning & Disaster Restoration Chicago


As a commercial property manager or a business manager, you are tasked with maintaining a clean and operational property, a dependable staff, and an environmentally sound atmosphere for the tenants and businesses that occupy your property.  Below are valuable tips for maintaining your business and property. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is Chicago’s trusted name in cleaning and disaster restoration.  We take pride in helping the environment.  We take pride in Chicago.


Selecting a Cleaning Contractor. Maybe you already have one, but is it the right one for you? Here’s a list to help you make the best choice.

While your building or business may already have a cleaning service, as businesses everywhere look for ways to improve, this may be one area to examine.

Do you know the right “bottom line questions” to ask? Here are some important ones:

  • OSHA Compliance. If the contractor isn’t compliant, YOU might be held responsible for liability to injuries to cleaning workers or tenants.
  • Performance Guarantees. While “guaranteed clean” might seem a hard-to-define concept, a real professional can provide you with a guarantee of performing specific functions to a specific level. That shows their confidence in meeting your expectations.
  • Realistic Cleaning Specifications. You and your contractor should mutually agree on what “quality” means, and what it will cost. If the price seems too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Crew Selection. How are they trained? How are they supervised? You’ll have to depend on your contractor to screen and hire good people, train them, and provide supervision and direction. Ask for background information on who will be supervising in your building.
  • Uniformed Employees. Cleaning crews will access every part of your building, often when no one else is around. Having uniforms will help assure your tenants and provide better security.
  • Keeping Good Employees. A dependable contractor will have the training and motivational programs to retain trained people…so your building won’t suffer from continual “new training problems.”
  • Good Communication. The contractor will need to communicate with you, and perhaps with all your tenants. Make sure it is someone you CAN talk to and build understanding and trust. If you want the best quality, get involved and provide feedback to a contractor.
  • Respecting the Environment. Today’s business world demands an account of how wastes are disposed of or recycled. Your cleaning contractor should be able to help with both.


Investing Underfoot – Long Lasting Carpets. Tips on how to keep what you have looking, and what to look for the next time you buy.

Carpets make up a great deal of your building’s interior, and replacement can be costly. Consider these factors when it’s time to replace your carpets.


  • Consider the total life/cycle cost. That’s the cost of the carpet and its upkeep, divided over the number of years you expect to use it. Also consider the effect of acoustics, energy savings (through potential insulating effect) and the cost of disposal and downtime for replacement.
  • Consider the environment. Traffic patterns – heavy or light? Close to external doors (which will track in outside dirt and moisture). Wheeled equipment or chairs. Does the nature of your environment suggest that food or beverages may be spilled?


All that should give you an idea of whether your emphasis is on sturdiness, stain resistance, aesthetic appeal, etc. Also, consider the material. Wool looks the best but can be costly. It also wears the fastest. Nylon resists crushing and abrasion. Olefin isn’t as crush-resistant as nylon but resists staining better.

Density – A higher density carpet holds up a lot better to heavy traffic. As you’d expect, it costs more. Since parts of your floor may have more traffic than others, you can be smart on density – many manufacturers offer the SAME PATTERN in different densities, so you can put your money where it counts.

Backing – If crushing is important, backing makes the difference, since it’s how the carpet transfers weight, like the shocks in your car. Good backing also needs to be able to stand up under chemical treatments and spills, while being resistant to moisture and odors. Sadly, you may not have much choice of backing, but by asking the right questions, you might pick one manufacturer over another. You can also probably choose whether or not to have the carpet glued directly to the floor or placed on a cushion. Cushion adds cost but provides many benefits, from energy and acoustic savings to increased life and appeal.

Maintenance – Maintenance is key. Most manufacturers provide guidelines to what kind and how much maintenance is needed. Regular vacuuming is critical, whether the carpet “looks dirty” or not. Unvacuumed particles will lead to the ground in stains.


Putting as Much Faith in the Building Inspector as your Doctor. From our perspective, a building inspector is unique. The building inspector is a generalist and provides an overview of the present condition of the building. Experience and training provide the basis of their ability to detect potential problems in a building. This is analogous to a Medical Doctor that is a General Practitioner”.

The building inspector is a generalist and provides an overview of the present condition of the building. Experience and training provide the basis of their ability to detect potential problems in a building.

In many ways, your building inspector is a General Practitioner. The Building Inspector provides information to you so that a decision can be made whether or not a specialist is needed, whether corrective measures should be taken, or if the condition requires further monitoring.

So what will your building inspector look at?


  • Plumbing
  • HVAC units and ductwork
  • Floors and foundations
  • Building structure
  • Electrical
  • Roofing
  • Fire and security alarm systems
  • Elevators and escalators


Just like the human body, a building must be maintained on a regular basis. A well-kept workplace can result in higher performance, less absenteeism and a safer place to work for employees.


Security and Your Cleaning Contractor. Many offices employ outside contractors to provide maintenance or cleaning in their buildings both during and after office hours. Bringing outside workers in your office space often presents concerns about security.

Many offices employ outside contractors to provide maintenance or cleaning in their buildings both during and after office hours. Bringing outside workers into your office space often presents concerns about security. How can you select the most secure contractors for your business?

First, be sure to research the contractor. Can the business provide strong references of previous work? Also, make sure the company can provide you with references from similar businesses both in the size and needs of your office space.

Second, crew selection is another important factor in security. Since crews will have the most interaction with your building and tenants, check the screening procedures your contractor utilizes in selection. You will have to depend on your contractor to screen and hire quality people, train them, and provide supervision and direction. Do not hesitate to ask for background information on who will be supervising in your building.

A final factor to consider is uniformed employees and equipment. Crews will access every part of your building, often when no one else is around. Clearly identified uniforms, vehicles, and equipment will help reassure your employees and provide you additional peace of mind.


Finding and Keeping a Job in Facilities Management. Whether you’re after your first job, a better job, or a replacement job, you’ll find something useful here.

Consider what a career as a facility manager means in today’s market. Skill needs vary from one building to the next, but most jobs need a broad base of CORE skills. Today’s facility manager:

  • Understands the company’s core business function and corporate mission statement.
  • Manages to the company’s bottom line, and is cost-conscious in each decision. “Cost-conscious” means considering big-picture items – saving pennies isn’t good if it costs you dollars in lost customers.
  • Has excellent customer service skills and responsiveness. It’s a balancing act to serve customers and protect the bottom line.
  • Has a mix of professional training and both practical and field experience, as well as project management skills. These things help manage priorities and make good decisions.
  • Is a flexible self-starter, and proactive enough to meet changing technology and customer requirements.
  • Keeps learning. Making a real commitment to the industry, through courses, continuing education, degrees, or professional designations can help a facility manager understand industry trends.

Finally, seek detailed knowledge in one or two foundation areas. Keep absolutely current in them. Maintain a good working knowledge of all areas of the building. Learn the key points, the bottlenecks, and the right questions to ask. Most important, learn who the RIGHT PEOPLE are to ask those questions. They might be department heads, MIS folks, professional acquaintances or vendors. Build your own personal “information network” and you’ll be a valuable force in any company.


Protecting Your Commercial Carpet Investment. Carpet manufacturing experts agree. A good carpet maintenance program is not only important for protecting commercial carpet investments – it’s essential. The investment that has been made in your building’s carpet is one worth protecting.

Carpet manufacturers agree. A good carpet maintenance program is not only important for protecting commercial carpet investments — it’s essential. The investment that has been made in your building’s carpet is worth protecting. It is not only a financial investment but also an investment in your professional image and a healthy work environment.

Often, carpets are cleaned only once a year, with traffic lanes cleaned every six months, and spots cleaned as needed. This pattern of cleaning allows the soil to accumulate in the carpet fibers, causing them to appear soiled, dull and matted. Regular carpet care can prolong carpet life and save you substantial replacement costs.

When a business decides to replace its carpet, it’s usually not because the carpet has worn out. Instead, the decision is made because the carpet has faded. Its stains, unraveled edges and crushed fibers make a carpet so unsightly that it has to be replaced. Replacing a carpet, however, is not an easy task and often, the process of replacement costs more than the carpet itself.

Carpet lifecycle costing shows that the cost of preventative maintenance will be offset by the amount saved in making the carpet last longer. In addition, the value will be added by having the carpet look better during its life.


Furniture Repair or Replacement. When office furniture is damaged, often the first thought is the replacement. Consider repairing the piece to restore to its original beauty – usually for a cost less than buying new.

Your furniture tells prospects and customers a lot about your business. You chose your pieces with care, so you need to maintain them with care as well. When your desks and chairs, woodwork and conference tables begin to show wear and tear, your professional image may be compromised.

Rather than replace pieces with nicks, scratches or stains, consider restoration. Furniture experts can often bring the life back to your furnishings, restoring them to their original beauty, for dramatically less than the cost to purchase new pieces. Even better, on-site repair helps minimize business disruption.

Furniture restoration can generally repair the following:

  • Scratches, nicks, dents
  • Structural repair and joint stabilization
  • Water rings, burns, stains, spills
  • Flood, fire and vandalism restoration
  • Surface refinishing


Hiring the Right Security. How much security and what kind? Matching the right skills to your specific needs can make for happier people.

Some buildings and businesses are just now determining that they need security personnel and want to have their own people on staff (versus outsourcing to a security agency). Most of these questions below are important to consider even if you are hiring an agency— you want the same sort of confidence the answers should provide.

Consider what sort of situations your security people will encounter. Will there be a lot of contact with tenants or customers, or very little? Is the danger of violent crime a major concern, or protecting property?

How do you evaluate the people who apply and assess their abilities to cope with a criminal situation, or a disaster, or a tenant that’s locked him or her self out of their office? In short, how can you make sure your security people will be an asset and not a liability.

The key is “training.” Evaluate the training and experience of the prospective security officer and how it applies to your needs. Ask yourself, and the applicant, many questions.


  • Technique – Ask about techniques used to train officers. The three most common training techniques are observation, experimentation, and experience. The most well-rounded training employs all three.
  • Hands-on Experience – Ensure training includes real-life role-playing and drills.
  • Flexibility – The applicant’s training credentials may seem first-class, but how diverse has the training been. Fundamentals are terrific. However, if the officers know only how to bodyguard high officials but not how to respond to dead batteries, your facility might have a problem. Providing security for an office building is much different than for a hospital, a university, or a manufacturing facility.


Making the right decisions on security officers can make a huge difference in tenant and employee satisfaction…Literally it might be a life-or-death decision.


Mildew Prevention and Control. It looks and smells bad, it damages materials, and it sends the wrong message to your customers.  Find out how to fight back.

Mildew is actually a mold, carried by spores which are nearly everywhere. They land on surfaces all the time – it’s when they grow that you have a problem. Mildew is unsightly. It suggests a lack of cleanliness and care. But mildew problems are more than aesthetic. Mildew can actually attack and degrade certain materials, eventually destroying them. Especially indoors, mildew can cause bad smells and aggravate allergy problems.

First, know what mildew “likes” and avoid providing it. Mildew likes moisture, with a relative humidity of 70 percent or higher, and temperatures between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. And remember, mildew needs to eat – organic materials like soil, grease, or food.

To help prevent mildew:


  • Keep clean. Use good maintenance practices inside and out.
    Control the climate.
  • Use air conditioning, fans, and dehumidifiers to keep the air out of optimal mildew ranges.
  • Plan outdoor landscaping with care. Don’t create heavily shaded, closed-in areas that block air circulation and sunlight from your building’s facade.
  • Chemical mildew inhibitors and fungicidal sprays can also help in problem areas.


When it’s time to renovate, consider finishes with dirt-resistance. If mildew is a real problem in your area, there are finishes available with built-in mildewcide. For best results, combine mildewcide with dirt-resistant finishes.


Does Technology Attract Tenants? Sometimes it does. But the wrong technology is worse than none at all. Find out how to make smart investments before you upgrade.

Just because someone says, “It’s the latest technology” doesn’t mean your prospective tenants want it. The wrong technology can talk tenants out of locating in your building or get you stuck paying for bells and whistles that no one wants.

First, conduct a “needs assessment” and a physical site survey. Examine what your building already has, and how it compares with other buildings in the area. Talk to your existing tenants – and to the kinds of clients you would like to attract – about their current and anticipated future needs.

As you get a picture of what your customers want, keep your infrastructure plan broad enough to serve a wide range of clients. If it doesn’t have a specific business purpose RIGHT NOW, don’t invest in it. Some leading-edge technology doesn’t become mainstream.

Upgrading communication technology and infrastructure is a safe place to start. There are three main areas that offer attractive returns on investments:

1. Multiple access carriers – Several entry points and several carriers provide reliable communications by reducing the chance that external access will be entirely cut off.

2. Develop multiple Main Distribution Frame (MDF) rooms. Again, it’s a matter of decreasing the likelihood that a disaster will shut down everything in the building, assuring tenants that their business systems – and their businesses – can keep on functioning.

3. Construct redundant and diverse riser shafts. Those are the vertical spaces within a building where the cable is stored. Not only is this “emergency protection,” but it also offers more flexibility in how a business wires up their employees.


Dangers Of Cubism. No, it isn’t an art revival. But keeping employees happy in a world without walls could be considered a survival skill.

It’s hard for most employees to “think outside the box” if they feel like they’re working inside of one. Perhaps one reason so many people feel like Dilbert cartoons are “about our office” is the universal distaste for “cube” workplaces.

Look for these danger signs of “Cube Unrest.”

Lacking real walls, do employees “build” walls out of other things — file cabinets, desks, boxes, etc.?
Do employees “tune out” with personal stereo headphones? It drowns out workplace noise, but defeats the purpose of “open communications.”
Are the walls covered with Dilbert comics or other cartoons that vent frustration at the office experience?
If your cubes have glass panels, do you find them covered up by calendars, photos, or cartoons?
Listen to employee terminology and self-image. Do they work in zoo cages, pens, or cellblocks? Do they laugh about “prairie dogging,” watching heads pop up over the tops of cubicles as people try to exercise that “open communication?”

What can you do to help?

Look for ways that employees can take some individual responsibility in the upkeep and selection of their workspaces. Done well, the “cube” can actually perform as desired, using space efficiently, providing a sense of private turf, increasing communication, and providing flexibility. Done badly, employees feel like the cargo in a container ship. Provide the right balance of private and collective space, and allow some flexibility and choice in furniture options and interior layout. Sensitivity here can make a huge difference so that your folks don’t associate “getting out of the box” with escaping from the office.


Salt – Wintertime Friend or Foe? Salt is a tried and true agent in fighting winter slips and spills. However, the core properties of salt that make it useful in battling snow and ice are the same properties that can hurt the indoor surfaces of your business.

Salt is a tried and true agent in fighting winter slips and spills. However, the core properties of salt that make it useful in battling snow and ice are the same properties that can damage the indoor surfaces of your business.

Salt acts as a breaking agent for ice. Sprinkling salt on the roadways or walkways is often done to reduce the amount of ice on the path. As foot or road traffic passes over the salt, it presses the salt pieces down causing them to split the ice below. The friction allows the ice to warm and dissolve. The result is a slushy mixture of salt and water that is tracked into office spaces.

The mixture then sticks to surfaces and is coarse enough to cause unwelcomed wear and tear on your carpets. If not removed, salt and other outdoor substances can spread deep into the fibers of your carpet and cut away valuable materials.

Finally, salt attracts moisture from the air causing tile and other hard surfaces to produce a slippery finish. A quality cleaning specialist can help to neutralize this finish before slip injuries occur. Be sure to vacuum up as much of the salt as possible.


ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is Chicago-land’s trusted name in Fire Damage Cleanup & Restoration, Water Damage Cleanup & Restoration and Commercial Cleaning Services including Post-Construction Cleaning.  Call today for consultation and estimate.