Proactive Training: An Investment That Pays Off

Cleaning lessons to staff from Total Food Service that stood out in the market

Happy New Year to all. Reflecting on the last two years, our industry has certainly faced our share of obstacles. But we also made advancements in certain processes and protocols that we can carry forward.

Prior to the Pandemic, cleaning for health was not on everyone’s mind. Staff would often react to what had to be done such as cleaning up a spill by mopping the floor or wiping up a messy counter. If we learned anything, it’s that reactive cleaning isn’t good enough. As an industry, we need to be proactive. We know that, yes, the right cleaning products are necessary, but it is our ability to train on the use of those products that will forge the new normal in cleanliness. With that in mind, I reached out to Bill McGarvey, Director of Training at Imperial Dade, who, in his own words, outlined just how our industry can incorporate training to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, customers, and other stakeholders. 

“January marks my 20th year as a professional trainer on the distribution side of the cleaning industry,” Bill explained. “We believe that training is one of the key areas of value-added service we offer to our customers. We offer premium products to our customers, yet without adequate knowledge of the proper use, the benefits of those products may not be realized. There are also mandatory training needs including Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, that we can provide our customers to ensure they are in compliance.”

Our company’s approach has been to formalize the education process with Bill guiding much of the curriculum. “The Imperial Dade Cleaning Institute is an overarching umbrella for our training programs, an amalgamation of content previously created within many of our divisions nationwide, combined with new and/or updated content. We offer virtual and in person training sessions on dozens of topics. These range from cleaning for health, to floor care, to green cleaning. As we grow, we seek opportunities to expand upon any previously created offerings that can be added to augment our programs.” 

I wanted to get Bill’s thoughts on how the pandemic impacted that curriculum. “Early in the pandemic, we updated our Eat Safe Program to address the increased need for consultation and training in the areas of cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. This included the front of house, back of house, and restrooms in a foodservice establishment,” he explained. “We conducted Train the Trainer sessions to empower our managers to present this information to our customers and train those staff members previously not responsible for cleaning. Our HyProtection Zone programs offer similar guidance for an array of facility types.”

“Certainly, the pandemic has forced many operations to look at updating skills, knowledge and efficiencies. Some operations were and are more reactive in their approach to cleaning. However, I feel the more progressive organizations realize that it’s extremely difficult to get ahead of the game if you’re always playing catch-up. Emerging technologies are receiving more consideration, as operators deal with tightening labor markets, higher customer expectations, and supply chain challenges. Attracting and retaining talent is something that a professional training program can support.” 

With the retention of top talent at such a premium, I was curious to get Bill’s thoughts on how a restaurant or hospitality operator could update their program. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, variants are certainly concerning, but our cleaning and disinfecting protocols haven’t changed much, we may just want to review our frequencies. No matter the type or size of the operation, it starts with a comprehensive scope of work that includes tasks, frequencies, and special considerations/concerns. The correct bundle of products must be determined and then the training plan documented to bring everything together. Another important element is ensuring there is adequate time allowed for staff to properly complete all tasks every day. Staffing has been a challenge almost since the outset of the pandemic. And, given the rapidity of transmission we’ve seen with the Omicron variant; an organization may need more people to provide adequate coverage when some call out sick.”

“There are 3rd party certifications and accreditations that may be of interest to demonstrate your commitment to health, safety, and the environment. Industry associations and supplier partners are good resources for information on these programs.” 

During the last two years of battling through the Pandemic, there has been a new focus on indoor air quality. “Air quality is yet another area of concern and as such, we have become much more knowledgeable about air filtration and purification. We have helped many customers fulfill their needs in this area with the installation of specialized equipment and I anticipate that this will continue to be a priority, moving forward.” 

Bill McGarvey and his team of professional trainers are dedicated to sharing knowledge that makes a difference. Imperial Dade is here to help you build your “New Normal” strategy. Stay Safe in 2022. 

Laura Craven is the Vice President, Marketing & Communications at Imperial Dade. Laura oversees marketing and corporate communications for Imperial Dade, a national distribution company headquartered in Jersey City, NJ. Her responsibilities include marketing communications, brand and reputation management, internal and external communications, experiential marketing events, and media relations. Laura has been with the company for over 17 years and has contributed to the organization’s growth and brand awareness. A LEED AP, Laura consults on sustainability initiatives and as a GBAC Trained Technician she assists customers develop cleaning programs.