5월 14, 2024

Exposing 4 hidden costs of manual floor scrubbers in retail

If it ain't broke, don’t fix it. A useful saying that has its time and place.

But while that pearl of pragmatism may hold some truth, it can also be an oversimplification. This is especially true in the retail industry, where progress through innovation helps retailers stay competitive.

A small but significant part of stores remaining competitive is a clean facility. Dirty floors limit productivity, undermine product quality, interrupt service consistency, and damage your reputation — among other things.

And when it comes to pushing or riding a floor scrubber, while it may do the job, your store, your team, and your finances will never reach their true potential with a manual cleaning process. The needs of today’s modern, dynamic retail spaces demand more.

Against a backdrop of tight budgets, labor problems, and troubling financial headwinds, mediocrity is no longer an option. Maintaining the status quo will leave your store at a competitive disadvantage. 

Grocery stores, malls, big-box stores, and other retail establishments need a smarter, more practical solution. Step forward autonomous floor scrubbers. 

Cleaning robots — the kind that do the dirty work for you — tick all the right boxes: convenience, efficiency, and simplicity. But what about cost-effectiveness?

If you’re new to robotic floor scrubbers, their sophisticated technology can look expensive at first glance. Even more so when you’re coming from years’ worth of experience using a manual machine.

But with modern technologies and smarter ways of working come new ways of saving. Cleaning automation boosts your balance sheet in ways you may not have previously considered.

In fact, the costs you considered for years as unavoidable expenses of using a manual machine are anything but. They’re hidden hits to your wallet that have been fleecing your finances for years, and that you could’ve avoided had you made the switch earlier.

Here are four hidden costs of manual floor scrubbers.

Hidden cost #1: Employee absenteeism

Manual cleaning machines come in many shapes, sizes, and functions, each with their own use cases. But there’s one weakness that’s a common denominator for all of them: labor.

Without someone to push, ride, or guide the floor scrubber, manual equipment is a closet-sized paperweight, delivering zero value. Going even further, debates about their usefulness matter little when it’s the workers who use them that dictate their efficiency.

The majority of retailers in the U.S. and Canada are understaffed more than 25% of the time. The absence rate due to illness or injury in the retail trade industry is nearly 15% higher than the average.

Inevitably, stores will find themselves short-handed. How does the equipment operate itself then?

The cleaning professions have historically high turnover rates because of the tiring and dirty nature of the job. And that was before the pandemic upped the stakes, placing even more demands, higher expectations, and increased scrutiny.

So, with nobody to operate the machine, the floors don’t get clean, and your store, your brand, and your customers suffer.

With that in mind, the full cost of a manual cleaning process only reveals itself later. And by that time, your operations have already suffered the damage.

Hidden cost #2: Loaded labor costs

Labor shortages are a thorn in the side of everyone, affecting all industries. Demand is outpacing supply in many cases, with either not enough interest or not enough qualified workers two problems among many.

Between a rock and a hard place, retailers must find new ways to attract recruits. As a result, higher pay and beefier benefits packages are a necessity.

Economic uncertainty is widespread right now; inflation, energy prices, and interest rate hikes continue to push costs upward. So, while enticements may be necessary to lure new employees, they’re expensive and unsustainable in the long term.

Health insurance costs, one of the most sought-after benefits for workers, continue to climb. The average annual premium for small businesses in Canada is 15% of payroll, rising up to 30% for larger companies.

In the U.S. it’s a similar story, with a recent survey of 1700 employers revealing U.S. businesses expect a 5.4% rise in healthcare costs per employee in 2024.

So, you’re not just paying for your commercial cleaning equipment, but also the money needed to attract — and keep — the workers who push and ride them.

And when your employees' loaded labor costs are unstable, unpredictable, and tied to larger market forces, what you’re paying today doesn’t reflect what you will be paying next year — another hidden cost.

Hidden cost #3: Lack of consistency

How do you measure cleanliness in your facility? Or perhaps the more apt question is this: How do you verify the accuracy and integrity of your cleaning records?

Manual cleaning equipment is a relic of an earlier era, when real-time, digital record keeping didn’t exist or perform like it does today. As a result, many don’t come standard with tracking software that monitors and measures performance and task completion.

Instead, paper checklists and word of mouth fill those information gaps, and that’s where you risk landing in hot water.

The retail sector is a revolving door of workers, with quit rates above the industry-wide average. As a result, stores are understaffed. Without enough people, tasks don’t get done and corners are cut.

Meticulous, digital cleaning records are one way you can help avoid this problem. They give managers a transparent and detailed view of store cleanliness at all moments.

But when your commercial cleaning machine doesn’t record this information for you, you open yourself to the inevitable pitfalls of lackluster oversight. This includes missed, ignored, or half-cleaned areas — cleaning blind spots that will leave you in trouble with your customers. 

In larger retail environments, finding out the status and location of your cleaning operations can be a game of cat and mouse. And if you don’t have any way to accurately track and report who cleaned what and when, you don’t have a clear picture.

But that’s the least of your problems when the staff you rely on to fill in the blanks are unavailable, unreliable, or both.

Take shift work, for example, where different crews work separate times of the day. Or organizations who outsource cleaning to building service contractors.

In those examples and more, how can managers verify the accuracy and consistency of their work? In most cases, they can’t.

A clean store is a bare minimum requirement. No one likes to shop in a dirty environment. And as far as first impressions go, it’s a surefire way to scare customers away.

So, when your cleaning process leaves things to chance because of poor or non-existent digital oversight, you’re in trouble. Because an unclean shopping experience throws any chance of return revenue and new business out the window, and your brand and your business suffer.

Hidden cost #4: Inability to reallocate labor

Your employees perform multiple roles every day. Managing inventory, cashier, customer service — just a sample of what the average retail worker will complete every shift.

But for most store staff, cleaning is also a responsibility. Did someone spill liquid in an aisle? Is the entranceway scuffed and filled with dirt and debris?

As the largest surface area inside any building, scrubbing the floors is a full-time job. It’s also a time-consuming, tiring, repetitive, and unlikeable task too.

The cold hard truth of a manual cleaning process is simple: someone needs to push or ride these machines. And it’s here where you lose money because that same person could be doing something more productive.

The labor hours your team spends cleaning the floors could instead go toward serving customers, fulfilling orders, or other revenue-generating tasks. Instead, they’re toiling for hours weekly on a chore none of them want, and which drives many of them away.

Lest we forget, the retail industry suffers from quit rates, unemployment rates, and absence rates above the average of other industries. Month after month hundreds of thousands of jobs are still open.

As a result, the ability to reallocate your existing staff has never been more important. But this flexibility doesn’t exist when manual machines consume your employees’ time, burn them out, and push them to look for more fulfilling work elsewhere.

Scrub-stantial savings: Clean up your finances with automation

Missing workers. Ballooning labor costs. Unreliable and unverifiable cleaning records. An inability to reallocate labor.

Is this what you signed up for when you purchased your ride-on and push-behind floor scrubber?

Stop counting the hidden costs of a manual cleaning process. Instead, start expecting the boost to your store and your operations with Kas, the fully autonomous commercial floor scrubber purpose-built for retail environments. 

Automating your cleaning process is a more efficient way to keep your space looking its best — and your balance sheet too.

Rather than continuing to juggle labor and economic pressures quarter after quarter, in one move you can:

  • Lower your exposure to worker shortages, employee absenteeism, and high turnover.
  • Reduce your cleaning cost per square foot alongside an ROI that’s always growing.
  • Save countless labor hours per month you can redirect to value-added tasks.
  • Improve cleaning quality and consistency compared to a manual machine.

Kas also won’t force you into a salary-based arms race to attract new recruits, leading you down a road of spiraling expenses and unsustainable costs.

In fact, the only path Kas leads you down is one where your staff, your finances, and your operations all take flight. A world where cleaning your store saves you money rather than washing it down the drain.

Ditch the ball and chain that is your manual cleaning process, and free your finances from hidden costs and headaches.