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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Good help is hard to find (janitors) (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Good help is hard to find (janitors)
Dominic Espinosa
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1172
From: Boulder Creek, CA.
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 03-05-2012 01:35 AM      Profile for Dominic Espinosa   Email Dominic Espinosa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Dude. What is with janitors?
We've used companies that "specialize in movie theaters".
We've used mom and pop companies. And we've used bigger, commercial janitorial companies and they all SUCK.
What gives?

Back in my GM days we didn't have janitors at one location and the other we had relatively crappy janitors but they at least picked up the trash in the theaters.

We've been through 3 janitorial companies in 4 years since I've been in ops at my current company and I find each time I'm telling them they aren't mopping correctly, or some other really simple thing. Like getting the trash out of the cupholders.
Or, even worse, reminding them they need to empty the rag-bags in the restrooms before they smell like death...like...I dunno...NIGHTLY!?
What's worse is that's been EVERY janitor we've EVER had. The first few weeks is always reminding them to empty those damn things.
My feeling is, if I'm paying thousands of dollars per month for you to be the professional at something, why do I feel like I need to tell you how to do your job? Makes me sound like a jerk...

Sometimes I think I should just go and hire some folks to be on payroll to clean the building and supervise them myself.
I spend enough time around the theaters in the middle of the night as it is already.

Does anybody else have this frustration? Jeez...

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2229
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 03-05-2012 02:44 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We use our own janitors, and it is difficult to find good ones. I think the thing you need to look for is people who simply like to work, rather than someone who is satisfied being a janitor.

I was really lucky to find a guy a few months ago who is very knowledgeable about maintenance as well as janitorial. He used to work for a company that did vacation rentals. He was responsible for turning around the rentals in a short time, as well as any maintenance work. I killed two birds in one stone and my theatre is very clean.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2458
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-05-2012 08:42 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Best janitor I ever had was a woman who had hit bottom and was starting the steps in AA. Alas, AA worked really well for her and she moved on and up in life. Great for her, a loss for the theatre.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6506
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-05-2012 09:35 AM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I remember one theater that hired a cleaning service which specialized in hiring the mentally handicapped.

They had two or three "handlers" who kept the retards under control, dealing with their problems and idiosyncrasies but, except for the occasional problem, they did good work.

The only down side is that they occasionally did weird stuff like eating candy off the floors. There was one kid who would park the trash trolley at the back of the auditorium then walk down to the front row, pick up *ONE* empty popcorn bag and walk all the way back to the trolley to throw it away. He would repeat this process until he had the whole theater cleaned.

One of the handlers had to teach him how to take an empty garbage bag with him down to the rows and not to go back to the trolley until his bag was full.

See, the thing is that the retards WANT to work. They are happy to get out of the house because, otherwise, they'd be shut-ins. When they come home with a paycheck at the end of the week, they are happier than a pig in shit to have money instead of letting their family or relatives or the government take care of them.

Maybe you can find an agency in your area that specializes in hiring the mentally handicapped. Aside from the fact that they'll (hopefully) do good work for you, you get to put that proverbial feather in your cap because you are "helping the handicapped" and being "socially responsible."

Besides, you get some free entertainment when they do stupid shit line eating candy off the floors. [Wink]

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-05-2012 10:58 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Randy Stankey
The only down side
I see what you did there.

Anyway, when I was an assistant manager of my first theater, we had a 1-person janitor crew. We had one guy who would do a horrible job, smoke in the theater and give tons of 'tude. We got rid of him I even still remember his name) and we never got anyone else before the theater was sold (a few weeks). The place got so nasty even with us trying to clean everything.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6506
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-05-2012 12:07 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Joe Redifer
I see what you did there.
Yeah, I didn't say, "Sometimes it's funny to look out the booth windows and watch the retards do stupid shit like eating candy off the floor when they think nobody is looking.

...Gotta' be politically correct, dontcha know.

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Dominic Espinosa
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1172
From: Boulder Creek, CA.
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 03-05-2012 12:10 PM      Profile for Dominic Espinosa   Email Dominic Espinosa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Joe Redifer
We had one guy who would do a horrible job
Sounds like UA before the sell-out (not to Regal, just when they sold out in general).

Randy, that's an idea. We have a couple companies like that in the area. We actually employ a couple folks with autism part-time on the floor. And they're pretty good. Getting the other kids past the stigma is a trick though...

I'm not sure if it's for us though because when things aren't done right I don't want to feel morally "bad" about chewing out the supervisor. And I think I would in that case...

But a good idea if you are a person with patience.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6506
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-05-2012 01:08 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
First, the supervisors are well paid to make sure their handicapped employees are doing their jobs and aren't getting into too much trouble.

Second, these crews usually came in at night, right before closing or early in the morning before the theater opened. They weren't there while the place was busy. 90% of any customers who were there in the evening (last show) understood that the theater was hiring the handicapped. Those kind of Brownie points are usually good for business... ifyaknowwhatimean...

Your regular employees won't have to work alongside the handicapped ones very much. Everybody knows that they are "The Cleaners."

The place I saw didn't hire any difficult cases or, at least, they didn't bring any of them to the theater. I think they evaluate every employee for fitness in a particular position before they send them on a job.

The people that I saw did as good a job as anybody else. Often, they did the job better than most, mainly because they are motivated people who WANT to work.

I wouldn't feel bad about criticizing them any more than some other agency's employees. Just so long as you keep the criticism on job performance and not personal.

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Dominic Espinosa
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1172
From: Boulder Creek, CA.
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 03-05-2012 02:04 PM      Profile for Dominic Espinosa   Email Dominic Espinosa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Randy,

all good points. It's not so much about those points. I was just saying I'd feel bad if I ever had to give them negative feedback. In one way or another it filters back to the cleaners, which, they're working and trying to do their best.
Being a parent I hate having to give any kind of negative feedback to youngsters for the same reason.
No matter how you frame it, there's always that little sting of the feeling your best isn't good enough.
It's sometimes important and necessary, I just don't like doing it.
I'm not ruling it out. It's a good idea and community brownie points aside it's a great thing in general. The ones we employ already are happy to be treated equally and to be working and that is a fulfilling thing.

While I can be a bit of an a-hole with the current janitors I don't feel as bad about it because they're supposed to be the professionals and they're doing such a half-assed job. There's no excuse for them and I can't understand it.
That's all I'm saying.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6506
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-05-2012 03:51 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I understand. When you criticize "normal" people there should be an understanding that the conversation is about the person's performance and, unless the dialogue degrades, it should not be about personal issues.
(The word "normal" is used in quotes because we all know there really isn't such a thing as normal when you are talking about whether somebody is handicapped or not. It's only a matter of point of view.)

Anyhow, if you are paying a person to do a job, whether they are handicapped or not, the employer has a right to expect that work be done to spec. The employee has a right to be paid and be recognized for his work. Both sides have the right to criticize the other as long as those criticisms are within the bounds of reason and good taste.

The only real difference is about how you approach the person with your criticism. When speaking to a normal person, you might simply say, "The floor isn't clean. Mop it again." If the work doesn't get done, you might say, "Mop the floor or else I'm going to write you up." When speaking to a handicapped person, you might have to take them to the place that isn't clean and show them how to do the job the way you want it to be done.

Basically, it goes back to the old addage, "It's not what you say but HOW you say it."

McDonald's has a good policy of hiring the handicapped. Those kids clean tables, mop floors and take out the trash and most of them do a good job. I also think the key is that they have somebody on staff who understands the person well enough to direct them to do the job the way it needs to be done.

The company that I saw had staff that came to work with the handicapped people and acted as supervisors and, for lack of a better word, "handlers" or "baby sitters" so that the theater people didn't have to do that. If the theater had a problem they went to the supervisor and made the complaint. It was up to them to take it to the person and figure out the solution.

The main reason for having these kinds of programs is to "mainstream" the handicapped so that they can learn how to live and work with other "normal" people without being treated as "different." So, within limits, part of the goal is to teach them HOW to take criticism when they don't do as they are asked. On the flip side, they should get credit for a job well well done. Right?

I understand that this kind of arrangement isn't for everybody. I only suggest that, if you can't find other people to do the job the way you want it done, there's no harm in trying somebody else.

Can they be any worse than the people you've got now? [Wink]

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Dominic Espinosa
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1172
From: Boulder Creek, CA.
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 03-05-2012 04:09 PM      Profile for Dominic Espinosa   Email Dominic Espinosa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You're a wise man, Randy.
Thank you.

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Dennis Benjamin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1444
From: Denton, MD
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 03-06-2012 04:21 PM      Profile for Dennis Benjamin   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Benjamin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's really a crap shoot.

It's the same when hiring managers or employees. If you hire someone that wants to do a good job, then you're mint. If you are dealing with a commercial cleaning company and they bring jerk-offs in, you get jerk-off quality work.

When I was out in Vegas, I hired Winters Company to clean my 14 plex. The husband and wife team that came in to clean every night were the best janitors I think I ever had work for me (eva). The company (Crown Theatres) were so impressed that they contracted Winters to clean all their locations. Well, when I transferred out here to Maryland - I found out that Winters didn't do a very good job out here. As a matter of fact - they did a crappy job at most of the locations they cleaned. Again, it was always about the actual cleaners themselves and the quality of work they do and not - the company.

So - good luck with finding a good company. The last major janitorial change I made (last year) was a complete and total disaster. I thought my janitors were doing a bad job, so I hired who everyone else was using. Bad decision.

The grass isn't always greener....

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 03-06-2012 08:27 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
(Gee, I haven't started a post like this in a long time.)

I know this is going to make me seem like a prick but........

........when I think of janitors, the term "creme de la creme" does not come to mind.

You get what you get.

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Steven Stroud
Film Handler

Posts: 13
From: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 03-07-2012 12:39 AM      Profile for Steven Stroud   Email Steven Stroud   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Funny you should start this topic. We've gone through about a dozen cleaners in the past year. Our main cleaner has subcontractors he assigns to the various buildings he cleans. His most recent assignment to my building also happened to be a friend of his. He did this because he knew that my GM is very picky about her cleaners, and he felt he could trust this guy to satisfy her. Everything was going well enough for the first few months. My GM still found stuff to bitch about, but everyone knew it was just her being OCD about things. I even overlooked finding empty 4 Loko cans in their supply room (that only they had access to) because they did a good job. Then, a few weeks ago things just got... bad. Our theater was a mess. There were times when we'd open in the morning and find piles of trash mounded up in the front of our auditoriums, spills from the previous night still forming a lake under the seats, restrooms still dirty... just plain unacceptable stuff. We even checked our security tapes and saw the guys were only in our building (a 16 screen) for about 3 hours. 3 hours for 2 guys to clean a 16 screen building is not even close to enough time.

My boss went on the warpath.

Now, most of the week, the owner of the cleaning company himself does out building.

Things are a lot better now...

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Christopher Crouch
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 128
From: Holywood, ca, usa
Registered: May 2006


 - posted 03-07-2012 08:53 PM      Profile for Christopher Crouch   Email Christopher Crouch       Edit/Delete Post 
I once worked for an operator which followed a policy of changing out janitorial services annually, even if they were doing an excellent job. Their belief being that the services would only provide their best work for a year or so, then, become complacent or burned out.

As a standardized, "no exceptions", policy, this occasionally resulted in a hard to find great service being replaced by a lesser one (a scenario I hated) and I'm sure most of the services figured out it was always going to be a short term gig (thus affecting their outlook). However, in the big picture, I have to admit they ended up with better overall service from their janitors. I can't endorse the practice, but I also can't deny that it worked for this particular company.

On a bizarre and twisted side note: A theatre I was associated with years ago, Cinema Center 11, in Pittsfield, Ma., had a janitor named Lewis Lent, who was eventually convicted of murder/kidnapping and suspected of being a serial killer. So, I guess problems with your janitors can always be worse.

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