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2023/24 FM Edition - 3 steps to budget for your maintenance cleaning.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

We all take pride in being the best at what we do. Especially if we manage assets. Assets are like our trophies that we show to the world our capabilities, our skills and innovation. Most importantly, we always strive for the new, best, and innovative. Unfortunately, at times we just inherit a bad building or we have an existing issue with our building or asset that seems to be a thorn in our side.

In this article, we want to explain the 3 main things to think about when it comes to budgeting for assets. These main items are:

With Stainless Steel this can be your Stainless-Steel lifts; internally and externally, Stainless Steel facades, Stainless Steel bollards or your decorative Stainless Steel. The good thing is that this process and item can be applied to other hard surface assets, and we will show you how. Most importantly you will be able to now achieve an accurate cost structure moving forward with no more hidden costs and budget blowouts.


1- Begin the conversation with a specialist

We begin by having the conversation with specialist contractors. Not chemical suppliers, not retailers, not the manufacturers or installers and not by getting the cleaning contractor to ‘shop around’. The reasons are as follows; each person mentioned above, have executed their job well and have no other reason for anything else but to sell you more of what they initially sold you.

For example, the installer has done their job and has no other reason to do anything else. The manufacturers will give you a standard document to follow and that’s the end of their job role. The chemical supplier and retail individuals will sell you the chemicals and materials and their job and liability/care ends there. They may provide a service or ‘guarantee’ but under strict conditions of using only their products etc.

Now, once you begin having conversations with a specialist contractor that can manage a specific asset or are multi-disciplined and can manage multiple surfaces; from a technical and executional role, the specialist contractor will satisfy the following:

  1. Walk you through all steps involved.

  2. Understand and explain why things have gone wrong.

  3. Most importantly they know the multiple options to remediate and manage the asset moving forward in conjunction with what you are currently doing.

This step is your initial step to understand what to do, why you have the issues you have and what options you have moving forward. And hey, sometimes it is just a small tweak in what to do. Below are some examples to highlight the difference in approaches mentioned above.

Example 1: Dull looking tiles

You consistently have tired looking entrance tiles to your walkway, and you spend an insurmountable time continuously cleaning them and deep cleaning them, but nothing seems to work out.

  1. The installers – installed the tiles and the builder got a construction cleaning crew to do an acid wash. The installers in this instance don’t know what to do after they have laid the tiles.

  2. The manufactures – will give you a standard document to clean with PH neutral chemicals and rinse with clean water.

  3. The chemical supplier and retailers – will provide you with a range a chemicals and machinery to use and keep selling their products to use on a day-to-day basis.

  4. The cleaning company – consistently tried everything as well and spending more time and hours not getting the results and outcomes needed.

An engagement with a specialist will look like the following:

  1. Initial site inspection to determine where the soiling is coming from, how it is getting there, what is being used and what is the processes and procedures being employed by the cleaning contractor.

  2. Once this has been established, a small tweak can be a simple as putting a carpet runner on the entrance to absorb the soils, before it goes on the tiles. This keeps shoes clean, and soil isolated to the carpet.

  3. If that process wasn’t enough, then the solution may involve deep cleaning and the correct sealer specific for those tiles and utilising the correct machinery to maintain the cleanliness.

The specialist contractor will always work within the correct methodology and correct scope of works required for that specific asset.

Example 2: Dull and stained stainless steel

In the Stainless-Steel world where we reside, we encounter a lot of issues with Stainless Steel lifts and escalators. Having brand new or existing lifts but don’t look up to scratch or 100 years old (from an aesthetics stand point, not any other environmental factors). When we have the conversations, the client has generally approached the entire supply chain and ended up with the same looking lifts and at times worse.

For example:

  1. The lift company has installed the lifts.

  2. The construction company has done a basic clean on them.

  3. The maintenance cleaning company has started to clean them with Stainless Steel oil.

  4. The chemical company and retailers sell you more Stainless-Steel oil or some other polish.

An engagement with a specialist contractor will look something like this:

  1. Understand what residue and other items are on the surface and explain why.

  2. Have the ability to conduct a proper and essential deep clean so you can remain in compliance with Stainless Steel ASTM codes, building codes and lift codes.

  3. Ability to provide further information on what else can go wrong depending on other factors.

  4. Explain what the maintenance plan looks like.

  5. Provide the correct chemicals for your cleaning company to use.

  6. Provide training to correctly clean the Stainless Steel.

  7. Provide year-round support in the event things go wrong or not as planned.

  8. Ensuring that you don’t encounter the same issues again.

As you can notice here, a specialist contractor understands all aspects of the supply chain, can identify where things can go wrong, know the remediation solutions and maintenance and management of your assets for the future. This is crucial to have because this avoids any future surprises that you may encounter.

A side note: the above are different to abseilers that clean high external windows. They are also specialised in their fields, but within that particular task it has to get done and they are qualified to do the work and is on a scheduled program. the work and is on a scheduled program.

2- Focus on the 80/20 Principle

The 80/20 principle has been spoken about, tried, and tested. To a degree it works, and some results are 90/10 or 70/30. Either way it places a good guide to understanding the ratios. In regard to asset maintenance this can be explored a variety of ways, but in this article, we are going to target specifically costs and scope to particular assets.

In building and commercial premises, we qualify assets by being an item or material of value. Or something that you can sell. A hard surface asset is particular to surfaces that are hard in nature for example tiles and Stainless Steel compared to fabric couches or carpets. And generally, in our experience 20% of assets takes up 80% of the budget.

So, think about how much time, money and labour is spent on just the following:

  1. Maintaining floors on each level

  2. Maintaining glass

  3. Maintaining Stainless Steel on each level

Does it account for 80% or close to it of your maintenance budget and resource allocation? What we also noticed is that’s what people, ourselves included look at when we walk into a building or premise. Let’s think about this:

  1. People walk in through the front doors – most of the time it’s glass.

  2. People notice the floors when they walk in past the glass doors.

  3. People spend time in the hallway looking at Stainless Steel lift doors and surrounds.

  4. People spend time in the lift waiting to get to their level.

Also in our experience, it’s what people complain about the most in buildings. Why? Because it’s a reflection of what they have chosen to surround themselves in. No one wants dirty foggy entrance glass or dirty tiles, let alone dirty and dull Stainless Steel in a lift. And secondly it makes up 80% of the building entrance. (Excluding special decals etc. that may be installed)

Following point number 1 – engaging a specialist contractor to assist with the above, you will gain clarity on what to do to avoid:

  1. Dirty, streaky, and foggy glass entrances

  2. Dirty and dull tiles

  3. Streaky, dull, and milky looking stainless steel

After all it probably accounts for most of your budget and headaches. We always say, when managing buildings, do not let the elephant in the room stand out. Do not let your 20% of assets account for 80% of the headaches anymore.

On a side note, if you are planning on changing over cleaners, go through at least step 1 and 2 to see if you can solve the issues before you change contractors.

3- Try before you go full steam ahead

We have all heard the term, ‘try before you buy’. This point is exactly that. We encourage you when you have the conversation with a specialist contractor, to try the options and measure the results. This is important because there is no one size fits all to any building. This is because there are multiple factors that play a part in asset maintenance. For example, you have different soiling from people, different spills that can occur, people travelling with rubbish, using dirty water to clean, using the wrong cleaning chemicals.

With employing different solutions, you are able to figure out what solution will work best for your building and asset so you can move forward with the correct budget.

We will explain a few items below of what this can look like and how it can be varying in materials and costs.

Example 1: Tiles remediation

Following the example of tiles in the first section. $ being cheapest $$$$$ being most expensive. Let’s explore a few solutions:

​Initial State

Tired, Worn Negected

Option 1: A good clean and carpet runner

Option 2: A deep clean and a carpet runner

Option 3: A deep clean and seal

Option 4: A deep clean, seal and a carpet runner

Initial Cost





On going costs












Here you can begin to get an understanding of different options of just utilising a few different service options to what will yield the best outcomes for your asset. And of course, your budget. We have not gone into the machinery etc. because there different factors that come into play then. But we did add the cost for headaches for all.

Example 2: Stainless Steel Remediation

We will follow the stainless-steel example above. $ being the cheapest and $$$$$ being the most expensive. Let’s explore a few options:

Initial State

Tired, Worn and Neglected

Option 1: An initial deep clean and restoring surface back to new

​Initial Cost


On going costs






In this example we can clearly see a difference. Give it is only one option, it is because we didn’t add any additional external factors that will add another column. For example, if there’s potential for rust, then chemical cleaning will be required and needed to be factored into costs for budgeting.

So now we have gone through the need to consult specialists in their field, applied the 80/20 rule for our building or assets and provided some insight into how we have a few options that we can employ so we can get a better understanding on what is the potential best outcome for our asset. Most importantly we know what works and how much it’ll really cost moving forward.

Where to from here?

We are going to break down the 3 main sections into bit size actionable items, so you know what to action when putting budgets together.

  1. Speak to specialists and the 80/20


  1. Review which items in your building or your asset you are not happy with and causes you issues and note them down. Include besides each item from order of priority and what causes the biggest issue for you, clients, contractors and all stakeholders involved.


Current State

Biggest Issue

Total amount it can cost me, the company and the client

Stainless STeel

Dull, Milky, Tired and stained

Always look bad, client is always complaining, and my management is turning to me to find an answer.

Loss of contract with a big client.

  1. Obtain your scope of works and any other relevant information that you have on these assets. They can be manufacturers materials, emails etc. this Is because the specialist will ask you if you have been recommended or using particular chemicals and what they are etc.

  2. Make a list of specialists that you can contact. A simple option will be to ask consultants or colleague for referrals and/or google can help. For your stainless-steel cleaning, restoration, and maintenance we can help.

  3. Contact them and see if they can come out to help and assist. Asking for different options and cost structures.

2. Try before you buy:

Action Steps:

  1. Work with the options a trusted specialist will give you.

  2. Employ those options and measure the difference in:

    1. Performance

    2. Costs

    3. Happiness

    4. Complaints and any other KPi’s you need to measure.

  3. Work out the new budget, where it is cost control, employing innovation etc. to see what fits best with the outcomes you want to achieve.

  4. Prepare and plan for execution for the new and upcoming FY.

We hope the above gives more clarity on what you can do to better structure problems you face and how to obtain the correct budgets for the next financial year.


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