SYRG Interview: Kory Wright, Simply Right

Rob Snyder
July 17, 2019

SYRG is interviewing executives about how their businesses are thriving despite today's staffing challenges. These interviews span industries, including facilities services, temp agencies, supermarket chains, and more. Know someone SYRG should speak to? Nominate an interviewee at info@syrg.app.

Simply Right cleans 300+ buildings every night, with more than 1,000 crew members in over 30 states. Kory Wright runs operations for Simply Right, overseeing regional and area managers. Simply Right is based in Utah, and started by cleaning movie theaters. The level of detail-orientation required for cleaning movie theaters has led to Simply Right expanding to serve customers in other segments including Class A office space, bank branches, manufacturing/industrial accounts and performing arts centers. 

SYRG spoke with Kory about Simply Right and the challenges and opportunities facilities services companies face.

How do you differentiate yourself in the market?

With 30 years of experience cleaning movie theaters, we differentiate on our ability to master any task and our detail orientation. Plus, we’ve built the capability to ramp up our operations quickly, and can easily onboard customers with a network of buildings in multiple states. 

Our ability to pay attention to details enables our team to notice opportunities that other companies might overlook. For our customers, the details matter. 

Can you tell me about staffing challenges the industry is facing?

The labor shortage is well-known in the facilities services and janitorial industries. The economy is strong, there are plenty of job opportunities, and there’s a growing difference between minimum wages, living wages, and prevailing wages. As cleaners often have multiple jobs - and cleaning is their second job - they’re seeing higher wages and more options for their primary jobs, and that makes it difficult for many in the industry to retain employees. This is especially the case when our industry is so cost-conscious.

Here’s an example: Utah’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and the living wage is somewhere between $11 and $12 per hour. Our company’s mindset is to bridge the gap between the living wage and the minimum wage. This reduces turnover and is a sign of respect for the hard work our staff do. Paying above minimum wage increases our service quality and our competitiveness in the market.

Beyond wages, what are you doing to recruit and retain staff?

As I mentioned, cleaning is often a second job. We’re conscious about being flexible with scheduling, knowing that our workers have other jobs and life commitments. Our work happens at night and can be done at virtually any time prior to our customers’ buildings opening, so we work with our staff to ensure that their scheduling needs are met and the building is clean.

In all, it’s about respect. We’re adamant in giving our staff a paycheck in their name. And we train our supervisors to treat employees with respect. We try not to overwork our employees - we’ve stopped allowing employees to work seven days per week because we found it decreased satisfaction and productivity.

We’re also eager to invest in tools that improve productivity and job quality. We’ve invested in a bathroom cleaning system that provides a better clean in a third of the time. With this, employees don’t have to bend down and scrub bathrooms. Finding tools such as this and integrating them into the workflow attributes to lower labor costs, satisfied customers, and happier employees.

Imagine a property manager customer/potential customer is going to bid. What advice do you have for them given challenges in the labor market?

We realize that the people who clean for our clients are people, not robots. We are patient with our staff, and realize that the lowest cost is not always the best outcome. 

Customers must be realistic when looking at how they want their buildings cleaned. If they only focus on costs, the results will be apparent: Employees will cut corners, turnover will be high, and the building won’t meet their vision for cleanliness.

So we ask potential customers: What does clean look to you? What is your image of clean? Then we create a plan that maintains their vision and pays our employees a reasonable, livable wage.

Simply Right can be found at www.simplyrightinc.com

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