ICS Magazine

The Future of Hard Floor Maintenance

May 17, 2010
Hands-on experience is crucial to career growth


For years I have advocated education and training in the floor maintenance industry. Learning how to perform floor maintenance services is not something that is acquired by osmosis or through a good night’s sleep. Learning the craft of floor maintenance is the same as any other: you need exposure and experience.

The purpose of floor maintenance is to protect the client’s investment by removing damaging erosive soiling conditions. The technician must maintain the cleanliness, appearance and safety considerations of the flooring surface. The process incorporates finding the answers to what, why, when, where, and how through a combination of education and training.

No one would argue against education and training. The difficulty, however, comes in trying to determine what to learn and when to learn it. Education is defined as “the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning, especially at a school or similar institution.” Training, on the other hand, is the process of teaching or learning a skill or job.

The traditional method of learning floor maintenance is hands-on or on-the-job training. The novice spends time with a skilled technician until such time as the novice can go out on his own. This approach has worked for many, many years. It is an excellent way to begin training a new employee: they learn from the ground up and, as they acquire more skills, they are given more responsibility and an opportunity to move up the career ladder.

The employer may invest more money and time on the employee if they think they are worthwhile and teach them academic knowledge such as flooring identification, maintenance theory and floor maintenance development. This new knowledge will help the individual to lead, schedule, sell and in many cases manage floor maintenance services.

As a person moves up the career ladder, academic knowledge becomes more important. This knowledge may be acquired by enrolling in certification courses, college courses or even trade schools.

The question then becomes, Who should be responsible for paying for this education? In the past the employer has invested the time and money in the individual with the hope that the technician will stay with the company long enough to be promoted into a position of responsibility making the investment in education and training worthwhile.

Unfortunately, in many cases the novice learns the skills from one source and goes to work for another or goes into business for themselves. Then the cycle starts over again. The result is that the employer questions the reason for using all these resources only to have their technicians become their competition.

You, as a floor maintenance technician, can and should take on the educational responsibilities of floor maintenance for yourself; after all, it is your career. People go to school to elevate their knowledge base to be competitive in the job market, why is floor maintenance any different. If you have the credentials and certifications, you will certainly elevate the possibilities of getting a good paying position with an opportunity to move up a company ladder.

The classroom is just as important as the jobsite

Additionally, if you can demonstrate that you are interested enough in your craft that you are willing to go out and get certified or trained on your own, you will be looked at as a motivated individual and a “go getter.” These are truly qualities that any employer looks for when hiring an employee.

If you are an entrepreneur building your own business, possessing credentials and certifications in conjunction with your experience will certainly give you a competitive edge in securing business. Many contracts are awarded to those individual companies that can talk the talk and walk the walk.

The company that is not only certified, but also qualified, will have the largest opportunity to secure the work. Certification is the academic or educational side that demonstrates you know what to do. Qualification is the training side, which can only be obtained by the act of doing it over and over again.

Qualification equals experience: the more experience you have had performing floor maintenance services, the more qualified you are for the job. This holds true to both general and specific knowledge.

The demands for education and training of floor maintenance technicians are growing more now than ever before. The green movement has challenged the floor maintenance technician with the task of not only knowing what chemistry, equipment, tools and materials to use, but to understand the ecological, health and safety implications of using those materials as well.

Additionally, the current economic downturn has everyone watching every penny, which means making sure that the money is spent wisely; there must be value and worth to every maintenance dollar allocated.

Property managers are constantly looking at ways to increase results, while reducing the cost. The best way to do this is by hiring individuals or companies certified to perform the services, and that possess the skill set to accomplish the objective. Educated, skilled technicians will get the job done right the first time in a shorter period of time because they know what to do and they know how to do it.

You can be one of the new leaders in the floor maintenance field, or you can do things the old fashion way. It’s a brave new world; are you ready for it?