Why we set out to build the best IoT cleaning analytics platform
When we initially started Mero, we knew property managers will want to see results and see them fast.
- They've been burned in the past by unreliable IOT or smart building solutions.
- They've got a lot to do and not enough time or budget to do it.
- Premium tenants are paying top dollar to feel like their spaces are clean, safe, and just as inviting as their own homes.
- Property managers cannot jeopardize this at any cost.
How can a single platform create complete transparency over cleaning operations in commercial buildings, drive sustainability goals, reduce costs, improve tenant experience - and do all the above with the least amount of risk for property managers?
We debated it heavily that year (2017). What resulted was an understanding of what was lacking in other solutions, and detailed criteria for what makes the best cleaning analytics platform.
Below we discuss both in turn.
Our past experience: Why accountability in cleaning was so hard to find
Our intimate knowledge of the challenges in the industry stemmed from personal experience. We've lived them for years.
My co-founder Cole was working in a large property management company, sifting through pen and paper logs where cleaning staff would record tasks done.
"I was sitting in a basement and every time maintenance requests would come up, someone would log it."
As you can imagine, the logs were unreliable.
"The logs were always done manually and always after the fact - they were all over the place.
Some maintenance requests would be put in but they would never have an end date.
And there were so many cases of just incomplete data
because it was all pen and paper"
Those pen and paper logs became the only single source of truth for property managers to make multimillion-dollar contract negotiations.
Here was the crux of the problem: both property managers and commercial cleaners were often operating on gut instincts. They had no visibility or concrete information about what cleaning teams were doing on the ground.
Here was our hypothesis: sensors could collect information on supplies and where people were in the building, the data would be so crystal clear and automatic that property managers would trust the data and make accurate decisions.
What started as a prototype in his parent's basement that measured how much a toilet paper roll was left has sprung into more than 10000+ sensors installed across 100+ buildings.
Below we describe 3 universal problems we’ve identified for commercial property managers when it comes to cleaning operations.
Problem 1: Property managers had no visibility over cleaning operations
This was the starting point. We realized that property managers, commercial cleaners, nor tenants had a reliable way of seeing where cleaners have been and what they've cleaned.
This lack of visibility led to several related issues:
- Lack of accountability: How can cleaning companies and property managers
make sure cleaning goals are met? And have the facts to prove it?
- Overreliance on gut instinct: How can you be sure the way things are done is optimal?
How much idle time or wasted supplies is there?
- Complaints from tenants: If cleaning standards are not met, how can you fix it before tenants notice it?
Nobody had any real-time data and everyone was relying solely on information written on signing logs.
When billion-dollar buildings, million-dollar consumable budgets, and a reputation that was painstakingly built over years were at stake, this was not enough.
We knew that there had to be a better way.
- What if cleaning teams could surgically target high traffic areas based on usage and not arbitrary SLAs? (which now make little sense when you cannot rely on full occupancy anymore)
- What if tenants could clearly see when and where spaces were cleaned?
- What if property managers and commercial cleaning companies held each other accountable, had proof that cleaning compliance goals were met, and could negotiate contracts based on facts?
Here was our starting point: provide reliable, easy-to-understand data across all cleaning operations: occupancy, cleaner routes, and supplies.
Our end game? Transform cleaning into a fully transparent, proactive, and just-in-time operation for every commercial building.
Problem 2: Smart building vendors are leaving property managers stranded
A common problem with IoT and everything “smart building” is that companies are getting burned by spending a lot of money on beautiful dashboards that look really neat, but have no use.
Customers are given all this data and then left on their own.
Result: they don't know what to do with the data.
This stems from 3 reasons:
- Property managers are not experts in data. They don't fully understand where it comes from, what it means,
and what they should do with it. This leads to a lack of trust.
- Most solution providers lack the industry expertise to advise on specific use cases and educate customers
on what to do with the data
- Most IoT solutions are jack of all trades, masters of none: general-purpose sensors advertised for hundreds
of use cases ranging from supply chain to cold storage.
Bottom line: We looked at the market and sensed a general lack of situational awareness and industry knowledge by other smart building vendors for cleaning operations in commercial buildings.
Anyone can build a nice graph and make a forecast of what value a sensor is going to be.
So we knew that to create the best IOT cleaning analytics platform, we needed to guide property managers toward action, and not just build pretty dashboards for people to stare at.
People needed to trust and understand the results from our technology enough to fundamentally change how their job was done.
Problem 3: Property managers have no time to spare
We've talked to hundreds of property managers at this point. They were managing everything from AAA-grade office spaces to stadiums, hospitals to universities.
One thing they all had in common? Too much on their plate and too little time.
If we wanted to get any traction, we needed to deliver results fast.
But it also needed to be hands-off for property managers.
- Sensors needed to be up and running as fast as possible.
- Data needed to be reliable and always available.
- The system needed to be intuitive and easy to adopt for everyone:
property managers, operations managers, cleaning staff, etc.
- And it needed to generate savings and efficiencies on its own.
Our strategy for building the best IOT cleaning analytics platform
Right from the beginning, creating sensors that gave our customers accurate data was table stakes. Anybody can get a sensor, stick it somewhere and get it to ping data.
We wanted to create a system that:
- Was low-maintenance and hands-off for property managers
- Provided complete visibility on all cleaning operations
- Drove action and measurable results in record time
So with the problems identified, we had the basis of a strategy to offer something we were proud of.
We felt that if we could do that, we would genuinely have the best cleaning analytics platform on the market because a company that could offer all of the solutions below was exceedingly rare (we have yet to find anyone else that can do all of this).
Here are our solutions.
Solution 1: We advise you on what to do with your data
We believe that:
- Not all data is created equal
- Data without insights is useless
- Only actions and results stemming from data matter.
Here are some actual examples of reports we've produced for clients recently:
These are completely customized reporting available through our dashboard product and also delivered through emails or presentations. They are used to educate our customers on what they're getting and how it helps their business.
- Specific knowledge of the property manager's pain points
- Education over what the data means and how you can use it
For the first requirement, we've built a team with industry expertise. We're not just technology people. The team Cole and I assembled have specialized knowledge from the real estate, commercial cleaning, and hygiene industries.
This knowledge shines when framing data in a way that is both comfortable and clear for every property manager.
For the second requirement, we adopt a consultative approach to data.
Think of us as external consultants for your cleaning data.
This ensures every customer not only receives the data they need but also the necessary insights to improve cleaner workflows, reduce consumables waste and improve the lives of their tenants.
We bring not only the relevant data points that move the needle, but we also educate our customers so they can instantly trust the data they're giving and use it to drive forward their cleaning operations, satisfaction efforts and many other parts of building maintenance.
Thus our customers are not left on their own. This is a massive shift from traditional IOT products and is essential to adoption and tangible results.
We're not talking about grabbing data points, plotting in a graph, and calling it a day.
We're talking about thorough consultative sessions where we shape entire business proposals around the property manager's pain points and needs.
This changes everything. It creates truly actionable data.
Solution 2: We built our product to be "set it and forget it"
To create a path of least resistance for property managers, Mero had to work autonomously to optimize cleaner workflows.
We went one step further by taking care of training the cleaning staff.
This is massive as it removes the burden of driving product adoption and promoting habit changes for property managers.
- We monitor compliance with refill percentages and we ensure that cleaners are keeping up with the system.
- If any high-risk bathrooms require immediate attention, we will also notify your operations managers,
so they can dispatch a cleaner to handle it.
Here are other ways we've engineered Mero to simplify the lives of property managers:
- Installation in 30 seconds: Our stick and peel sensors can be installed in 30 seconds or less.
- Straightforward pricing: We price based on the number of installs. No additional proprietary supply costs.
No 3-year contract.
- Battery-powered sensors: Our devices lets you avoid time-consuming and expensive building overhauls.
- Retrofittable: Our sensors can fit on any dispenser, any device.
No manual work required on dispensers to fit our sensing equipment.
Solution 3: We hold ourselves accountable to measurable results
From day one, we came up we the value proposition of supply savings. The one metric you should care about is that we're going to help you save up to 35 percent on cleaning supplies (paper rolls, soap, etc.)
We wanted to hit that number because it was actionable and it directly correlated to cost savings.
We've now expanded into other use cases including:
- Adjusting cleaning staff based on actual real-time occupancy (a major trend for the future as we try to forecast
the future of occupancy in a hybrid work environment)
- Optimizing how much time it takes for cleaners to respond to alerts
- Adjusting inventory
We pride ourselves in ROI - everything from the installation all the way onwards.
We focus on ROI in the first three to six months. We do it through more effective supply changes.
Here’s how it works.
In commercial buildings, a lot of times supplies are thrown away preemptively because of the way cleaners do their routine work. They go to the next area in their routine instead of attending to the area that actually needs attention.
With the Mero system, they'll get a ping right before supplies are running empty. This results in supply savings of around 35 percent.
You can realize this return on almost any major commercial building because of the way routines are managed.
Here’s success story that illustrate this.
How QuadReal saved $350 000 with Mero
When Quadreal (a global real estate investment, operating, and development company) began using Mero, they saved 35% on consumables.
We installed a sensor for a few months to monitor a baseline of what cleaners did without the Mero alerting system.
What we found was that cleaners often threw out 50 or even 60 percent of a roll every single time they enter the washroom. Because the washroom at that time was so busy, they never really knew the next best time to enter.
By using this routine-based cleaning, they were focused solely on ensuring tenants didn’t find anything empty by preemptively throwing away perfectly good supplies.
Result: a huge waste of money and usable supply.
Almost immediately after turning on the Mero alerting system, cleaners were routed on a just-in-time basis. They were able to save up a difference of 35 to 40 percent of those rolls. The cost-benefit can be up to $350 000 for the entire building.
We usually think of toilet paper towels as a cheap item but that’s a misconception. Large buildings tend to spend up to $1,000,000 per year on their consumables. And the average portfolio size for a major tier-one property manager is around 80 buildings.
When property managers are working at this scale, these savings are extremely impactful.
If you are interested in working with us, here are the details
Finally, if you feel the above resonates with you, you book a call with us here. We'll give you tailored advice based on your building type and use case.