How to transform your cleaning staff into top athletes and high performance teams


Dirk Tuip, CEO of FacilityApps on the similarities, and differences, between sports teams and cleaning teams

“In my previous life I was a professional athlete. I dare say that sports has largely shaped me into who I am today. I am therefore grateful to all, my trainers, coaches, specialists and fellow athletes have contributed. In this article I will try to apply my view on professionalism and the way I look at professional sports and athletes, to the comparison with cleaners and cleaning teams as there are many”.

Dirk as a handball player

Dirk as a handball player

 “I want to emphasis in this story that I particularly will focus on the ‘hard’ side of the story in this article. This because cleaning, and the control of it, above all, is a service and therefore people work. In a different article I’ll focus on the ‘soft’ side of the story.

If I can make  at least 1% of you readers start to think differently about the future of professional cleaning services, I will very satisfied. The question remains however how to measure this? Therefore please share this article with others. That at least is a measurable result.”


Topsport starts with dreaming

In Top level sports, everything starts with dreams. With ambition and the absolute goal to achieve something. This is already an important difference with running a business or working for an organization. Simply because you’re crazy to “voluntarily” train 20 hours a week, to live like a monk to eat, stick to a special diet (in my case I had to gain many kilos, which wasn’t easy either) and say ‘no’ to most nice things in life. All this for the sake of sports. And we are talking amateur sports without any professional renumeration.

With Youth friends we became 3 years in a row Handbal Champion of the Netherlands. In one season we were unbeatable 64 games in a row.

With Youth friends we became 3 years in a row Handbal Champion of the Netherlands. In one season we were unbeatable 64 games in a row.

Cleaning out of passion?

People do not usually become a cleaner out of sheer will and passion. Most of the time because they have to earn money. Still, for many people cleaning work is indeed a very important activity in their lives. Pure and simple because they have a lot of hours invested in it and they earn their living with it. In my opinion, it is therefore important to make people aware of this and invest time in positive coaching them and to reinforce what they want out of their job and their lives. How can you make people responsible for their own work process? By have them think about their own development at work by having them make their own decisions?


Test, big data analytics and measurement

The daily life of an athlete consists not only of daily training, rest, doping test and a smart diet to achieve that single achievement. Each athlete is subjected to daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly assessments and measurements. Lactate, heart rate measurements and weight measurements to exercise testing, jump showdowns and sprint ability. And then the weekly “Moment of Truth” in the form of a competition or tournament. That immediately makes clear whether the training schedule was optimal and whether you and your team are capable to put all these preparations successfully put into practice. Each error will be noticed by the public, fellow players and coaches. There is no escape. At the same time: any error is an opportunity to learn. Any mistake is a wake up call.



Measurements by cleaners?

How do you see this compared to the cleaning industry? Of course in cleaning there are measurements. But often these remain within the range of technical quality, quality of experience or as a daily quality control (DKS). The results can almost never be 100% traceable with 100% to a specific cleaner (unless you equip all cleaners with an app of course), let alone what would you measure on an individual level?:

– Heart rate measurement work, compared to your maximum heart rate?

– How much distance covered with a pedometer (not square meter from the calculation)?

– Which physical spaces and elements are cleaned?

– Technical errors made, number of customers compliments or complaints?

– Regular performance and commitment measurements?

And all this of course compared to other cleaners playing in the same position (i.e .the same types of cleaning buildings and the same type of rooms). How do you score against your peers and the benchmark? Where do you make mistakes and what is the cause? Do you need more training in certain respects or is it simply wrong behavior?


With Big Data Analytics and predictive maintenence to high performance cleaning teams. Make your cleaning staff and cleaners ready for the near future!

This is just the beginning

This seems to go far but this is just the beginning. How about daily brief test of 1 minute with a device to measure whether you are fit enough (or have recovered sufficiently) to deliver a top performance. A measurement system which signals at an early stage any disease or injury in ‘metric comparison’. Or as the University of Michigan already does: all students are required to have a Fitbit (SmartWatch type measures things constantly) so that they can keep an eye on the individual status. The students have to share these data with the university because their results and figures depend on it.

Of course we run into privacy issues and discussions. Yet it would, in my opinion, definitely be a healthy debate between cleaning and housekeeping staff. Not from  a pure control point of view, but as a positive coaching opportunity and a way to see how cleaners perform better, more effective and happier.


Team Performance Review

It would also be fantastic, just like in sports, when you could record when, and how, a cleaning team would win, be successfull, or when lost. And what could be improved, preferably after each cleaning round. In sports all practices and games are constantly directly analyzed by the coaching staff. Indirectly by analyzing statistics or directly from video (often from all angles).

The same phenomenon was seen during the last World Cup Soccer. After each game mountains of statistics and analyzes emerged. How many meters did who in total, what percentage passes were okay or not good at? How many corners, possession and penalties on each side leading to the force majeure and profits? How effective were the individual players and the team as a whole? And led these data to the final victory?


World Cup Soccer vs daily cleaning

It would thereby be ideal if,  by constantly receiving and comparing data, you as the management of a cleaning company could in  advance be warned which teams are performing well and which not all. This may be due to the composition of the team, the job combined with the qualities of the people in the team, or because the requirements and expectations simply can not be fulfilled within their means. It would provide a nice discussion with the client to discuss open some team metrics, so that a customer can choose what he finds important. Of course this is not a World Cup, but why not? There is no World Cup for cleaning teams yet is there?

In addition, the coach of the cleaning team (direct or indirect Supervisor) is to interpret the data correctly and he / she can see at a distance where he should pay attention to within the teams.

Big Data in Professional Football. How does big data in cleaning looks like?

Big Data in Professional Football. How does big data in cleaning looks like?


People make the difference

The professionalism and measurability of top level sport, I rarely come across in the business environment. This despite the fact that in most cases it involves paid jobs and  performance levels are expected at similar levels. Especially in a business environment, the training methods and elements mentioned above could make the difference between winning and losing. Especially in a highly competitive ‘people’ industry such as the cleaning industry, where margins are under pressure and customers are becoming more discerning.

So the question is how to your cleaning employees walk faster on the workfloor? Can clean up more meters, keep more satisfied customers and so can let you win more matches? And how meanwhile. you can measure their time management, effectiveness, precision, production, satisfaction and their overall effort?

 Apple, Google and many more big tech companies (including the health industry) is capable to invest billions of euros in devices that measure these type of productivity things. But for consumer purposes only. I personally believe this is not the future, but their will be more and more examples around us of successful and less successful examples of how to make the combination ‘of people and data.


Join the discussion during webinar

What are your ideas regarding the measurability in cleaning? And how quickly do you think this reality is going to happen in the cleaning? Talk to us during a hangout / skype meeting on ‘Cleaners measure just as athletes’ or follow through our Apps and sign up through Alternatively you can respond directly via our LinkedIn company page or via



About the Author Dirk Tuip

Dirk Tuip is CEO of Facility Apps. After 15 years of playing Top Sports Dirk (33) found a new love: get results in business. After 4 years of marketing experience and with the largest regional cleaning company in the Netherlands (Succes Schoonmaak, the biggest regional cleaning company in the Netherlands), Dirk worked for two years under the supervision of the ‘master’ at the Johan Cruyff Institute where he was Marketing Manager.

Dirk Tuip and Johan Cruyff

Dirk together with his former ‘boss’ Johan Cruyff

Then Dirk started his own business, FacilityApps, and after 5 years of entrepreneurship leads a team of ten online marketers who engage in the future in marketing and sales, and a team of 15 app developers engaged in the future of people management in e.g. Cleaning, Facility Management and Greener Management. A future that is largely determined by the possibilities of technology and the Internet which will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years.