Bill Luallen

Bill Luallen is the Director of Technical Services for XL North, a division of Textile Rubber and Chemical Company. He is the current IICRC CCMT TAC Chair and also the former Vice Chair of the RFMT. He participates on many panels and boards including the CRI 204/205 Carpet Maintenance and Cleaning Standards. When Bill is not traveling to work with customers or talking on the phone, he spends all his down time with his wife Cynthia of 30 years, outside enjoying this beautiful world.

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In the commercial floor care industry, we are seeing the effects of COVID-19 in a couple of ways. First, our customers are sending non-essential personal to work remotely from home, if possible. Second, we are being asked to assist our customers with disinfection and sanitization procedures.

What do these two things mean for us? Our suggestion is to not panic. As a country and as an industry, we’ve been through – and come out of – trying times before. Without having a crystal ball, it’s a challenge to know what we will look like at the end of this, but here are some conversations I’ve had recently with my customers that I hope will provide optimism and opportunity for your business.

“Our customer told us not to come in for cleaning because only half of the employees are in the office so it isn’t as dirty.”

That’s understandable, but shouldn’t the space be made as nice as possible for the team that is present? It’s also helpful for staff to know that some things are still running on a normal routine. That doesn’t mean a full maintenance program is necessary. It is possible to scale back, but a facility that looks like it’s in distress never gives employees a warm, secure feeling.

“Our customer wants to cancel their maintenance program until the current situation is over because they’ve sent everyone home.”

With an empty facility, it’s an opportune time for a complete deep clean of the space along with an application of disinfection and soft surface sanitization.

“The janitorial service is doing an electrostatic disinfection program throughout my customers’ space and I lost that opportunity.”

The old saying “What goes up, most come down” applies here. Anything that is fogged to disinfect a space will eventually land on the flooring surface. Most disinfectants are not approved for use on carpet and all disinfectants should be rinsed on both resilient and soft surfaces. A commercial flooring service provider should be taking care of the “side effects” of someone else’s work.

During this time, call on different clientele. Throughout the country, first responders and health care professionals are our primary essential workers. But what if we look to help our secondary essential group of employees (banking, public utility companies, and grocery stores) as they work to get us all through this challenging time? They need to know that their work environments are healthy and safe, and disinfection, sanitization, and cleaning should currently be a priority for these industries.

For the near future, the commercial floor care industry, along with many others, will have to modify to fit a new normal. It’s an opportunity for all of us to make things better as we move forward.