Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Multiplying Demand for Cleaning Multiplexes

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Design choices

The amount of cleaning required can be preemptively curtailed by making certain choices at the stage of designing multiplexes. The kind of materials used in various areas should be low-maintenance, and easy to clean. Ms Pathania offers the example of using a leatherised material instead of regular fabrics for seats, or vitrified tiles instead of Italian marble for common areas.

She adds, “Particularly in smaller centres, the purchasing power of patrons is different.

The cost of tickets can’t be too high, so the cost of operating a business also needs to be under control. Manpower is one of the largest expenses in housekeeping; designing multiplexes in a way that requires fewer people to clean them, as well as choosing materials that make it easier to train these people, is a way to ensure the same standards of cleanliness across centres.”

Post-show cleaning

As soon as the movie ends and people start moving towards the exit, a team of housekeeping staff rushes in and gets to work.

For cleaning a 200-250 sqmt auditorium, the team gets hardly 10-15 minutes to work, before the next show. In PVR, one part of the team rushes to collect scattered trays, cups, wrappers and other garbage, while another vacuums seats (as well as under them) for dust and popcorn. A typical auditorium has about 250 seats; one person with a damp duster and sanitiser wipes each and every cup-holder.

If a seat cannot be used for some reason, the PVR housekeeping team asks the operations team to block that seat for the next show. If a patron refuses to be re-assigned a seat, the blocked (and cleaned) seat is fitted with a cover or cushion so the patron can sit with his or her family.

Deep cleaning

Shows can start as early as 7 a.m., and continue one after another until late at night. It is only at 1.30-2 a.m. that the multiplex is empty of patrons, and the housekeeping staff can embark on a more thorough cleaning.

During show times, food areas are very busy; only full trash-cans can be taken out and spillages quickly mopped up. But at night, these areas are emptied out, and all greasy areas are thoroughly cleaned, and then dried, to prevent pest infestation. Weekly pest control and mandatory fumigation are also carried out during this period.

In the movie-watching area, a team moves from auditorium to auditorium, shampooing carpets and upholstery, polishing floors and paying attention to LED lights and glass surfaces like chandeliers.

Washroom cleaning

Washrooms are cleaned section by section, after cordoning off each one. PVR not only cleans but sanitises each part, so that there is no scope for them causing any health issue.

Machines and chemicals

Apart from washing cloths and sanitisers, the cleaning of each auditorium requires at least two backpack vacuums and one regular vacuum. A steam cleaner is employed by PVR for washrooms and F & B areas. Apart from this, for deep cleaning, a scrubbing machine, polishers, foam generators and shampooing equipment, brushes and spotting kits are also required. Materials for pest control and fumigation are required every week, apart from regular top-ups of hand sanitiser, liquid soap, tissue dispensers and toilet rolls for patrons.

Manpower

Pathania says that each post-show cleaning team consists of four cleaners led by a supervisor; show timings are staggered to ensure they begin and end at different times, so the same team can move from one location to another every 15-20 minutes. Typically, a fivescreen multiplex will have 14-16 facility management employees across three shifts, apart from a housekeeping executive who coordinates their work. If the multiplex is spread across two floors, this number increases.

Staff training and motivation

Since much of the staff is outsourced, there is a lot of turnover, and maintaining quality becomes a problem. PVR uses simple, pictorial tools to demonstrate the minimum standards of cleanliness expected; for example, a big cross across a picture of an overflowing bin, and a tick mark over across an empty one. It also employs a buddy system, where new employees are assigned to work with pre-decided ‘buddies’, whose responsibility it is to train them on the job. Pathania says that having everyone wear a uniform also makes them feel part of the company, instead of just a temporary employee.

Costs

Pathania has devised two ratios to determine the costs of multiplex housekeeping: per-seat cost and per-patron costs. The former depends upon theatre occupancy, and is maintained at less than five rupees per seat, while the per-patron costs may be higher. These ratios may be slightly lower in Tier 2/3 cities, where the ticket prices are also lower. The total housekeeping budget is maintained at around 3% of the total operating cost; this does not mean the budget is small, it only reflects the very high costs of other expenses like electricity and rent.

Future trends

Chewing gum stuck under seats or on carpets is a pain point for all multiplexes. Until now, it was removed by using ice and scraping it off, which could damage carpets; PVR is set to use a small, batteryoperated machine which sucks up the chewing gum in a matter of seconds, without causing any damage.

PVR is also using natural chemicals for cleaning to prevent pollution of water, and intends to scale up its use of the same. A software specific to multiplexes for digital facility management does not exist at present, and is the need of the hour.

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