Category: Healthcare Cleaning

01 Jun 2021
cross-contamination

Avoid Cross-Contamination When Cleaning

Oftentimes the spread of germs is facilitated by cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is defined as the transfer of bacteria or other microorganisms from one substance to another. Surprisingly, cross-contamination often occurs as a result of cleaning. While this may sound counter-intuitive, poor cleaning practices are a major source of cross-contamination. Professional cleaning companies recognize this fact and put in place procedures and protocols that are designed to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination.

How To Avoid Cross-Contamination When Cleaning

Use Smart Cleaning Processes – Putting cleaning processes in place helps ensure that cleaning duties are performed in a consistent manner. Smart cleaning processes take into consideration the risk of cross-contamination and focuses on taking steps to prevent it.

  1. Always start with a clean pair of gloves and fresh cleaning equipment.
  2. Clean one area at a time.
  3. Always clean from top to bottom, wiping down surfaces with an effective cleaning solution.
  4. Spray disinfectant on all high-touch surfaces like desks, phones, doorknobs and push plates, elevator buttons, counters, railings, and all bathroom surfaces, following manufacturer recommendations for saturation and dwell time.
  5. Finally, clean the floor starting from an inside corner and working your way toward the exit.
  6. Place cleaning cloths, mop heads, and other used cleaning tools in a plastic bag and dispose of your gloves when you finish.
  7. Repeat this process for every area that you clean, never using the same cleaning cloths, mop heads, etc.

Color Code Your Cleaning Supplies – Color coding cleaning supplies is an excellent way to reduce cross-contamination. For instance, always having ample supplies of cleaning cloths in pre-defined colors can help cleaning crews avoid using the same cloth in two distinctly different areas. A simple color-coding system might look like this:

  • Red – Red cloths and equipment marked in red are designated for high-risk areas like toilets and urinals.
  • Yellow – Yellow cloths and equipment are designated for medium-risk surfaces like restroom sinks and countertops.
  • Green –  Green is designated for lower-risk areas such as office areas and non-prep food surfaces.
  • Blue – Blue cleaning supplies are reserved for low-risk surfaces like glass and mirrors.

With a color-coded system like this, you can avoid you can mitigate cross-contamination and more easily monitor workers to ensure they are following protocols.

Choose The Right Tools –  Choosing microfiber over traditional cloths and mop heads is a big step forward in reducing cost-contamination. Traditional cleaning cloths and mop heads are made from absorbent cotton fiber. One study conducted by the University of California Davis Medical Center in collaboration with the EPA that traditional wet loop mops reduced bacteria by 30%, while microfiber mop heads showed a 99% reduction in bacteria.

Microfiber traps bacteria in the fibers of the mop while wet loop mops capture bacteria in the water molecules. Every time a wet loop mop gets dunked in a body of water the bacteria are released, only to be redistributed on the surface being cleaned. Microfiber employs positively charged particles to trap dust particles which is where the bacteria hide. It is a much more effective method for removing bacteria from surfaces.

Like microfiber Hepa filters do a better job of trapping dust particles that harbor germs and bacteria. Traditional vacuums typically employ a cotton or polyester fiber filter that fails to hold the dust as well as the fiberglass and charcoal found in a Hepa filter. Selecting a Hepa filter vacuum will help reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Segregate Cleaning Staff – Assigning designated staff members to areas throughout your facility is a great way to mitigate cross-contamination. Allowing the same individual to clean the restroom and the kitchen can easily create cross-contamination concerns.

People, whether they realize it or not can collect and carry germs and bacteria on their clothing, shoes, hands, and hair. Limiting cleaning crew staff to designated areas helps to reduce the risk of transmission.

Employ A Commercial Cleaning Company – A well-organized and well-managed commercial cleaning company will already have these protocols and procedures in place. They will be fully versed in the use of proper chemicals and equipment, and they understand how to clean and disinfect virtually any surface.

 

 

 

30 Apr 2021
cleaning and disinfecting

Cleaning And Disinfecting: The New Normal

There is no denying it. The new normal demands that everyone steps up their cleaning and disinfecting protocols and procedures.

Let’s put all of our cards on the table and stop him-hawing around. There is no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a new normal for all of us and change is in the air. There is no longer time for a wait-and-see mentality. We have waited. We have seen. The elephant in the room can no longer be ignored.

We can not walk into a grocery store without noticing how Covid-19 has changed the world in which we live. Every interaction we have, every building we enter, every time we venture out in public, it is another environment we have been exposed to, another risk we have taken.  We have risked not just our own safety, but the safety of our family, friends, and neighbors. Everywhere we go, we are wary of the unseen danger.

People need to feel safe in these unprecedented times and as facility managers and business owners, we play a key role in adjusting to the new normal. We must help people to feel safe. It is both social responsibility and business imperative.

Cleaning And Disinfecting Makes People Feel Safe

The first step in making people feel safe in your facility is to create and implement a cleaning and disinfecting program that addresses peoples’ concerns. Your program should the latest safety, infection control, and cleaning protocols recommended in official guidance from the CDC, WHO, and OSHA. Your program should utilize EPA-recommended cleaning agents and disinfectants that are designated for use against Covid-19. You should also provide clear policies and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting your facility and include training for all employees on the proper handling, dwell times, and use of all cleaning chemicals and disinfectants.

That is a lot of work and it will take time and money to implement properly. There is the cost of chemicals and cleaning equipment, time spent researching and training staff on proper use, and safety protocols. And, of course, the time your staff will spend doing the actual cleaning and disinfecting – time they will not be spending doing the work you pay them to do.

If you do not have robust cleaning and disinfecting protocols already in place, starting from scratch may not be a viable option. You may find it more efficient and less costly to hire a reputable commercial cleaning company that has the equipment and know-how to hit the ground running.

Qualified commercial cleaning companies already have the trained staff, the proper procedures and protocols, and the right tools and chemicals, and the knowledge and experience to clean and disinfect your facility effectively. All this adds up to reduced costs for you, faster time to implementation, improved employee productivity, and favorable public perception for your business.

The new normal demands that business owners and facility managers make cleaning and disinfecting an integral part of the customer service offerings. Customers, business partners, and staff now consider health and safety a top priority and it is your job to make them feel safe. This shift in public perception is not likely to go away anytime soon and the sooner you put a rigorous cleaning and disinfecting program in place, the better.

20 Apr 2021
janitorial services

Getting The Most Out Of Your Janitorial Services Company

Hiring a janitorial services company can be a huge boon for your business especially in the midst of the current pandemic. But we should not forget that janitorial services also come with a price tag and it is vital that you understand how to get the most out of your janitorial service provider to ensure the greatest return on your investment. Here are a few tips that will help you and your provider deliver the most bang for your buck:

Get An Accurate Janitorial Services Estimate

Often times when hiring a janitorial service for your place of business, cost becomes a primary factor in determining which provider you choose. It is important to keep in mind that low pricing is not really what ensures a healthy ROI. When vetting commercial cleaning companies you will likely receive a variety of quotes from different providers, and business owners often assume that all the quotes they receive reflect the same level of service.

The reality is if you do not take the time to clearly define your organizational needs you are leaving it up to the service provider to determine the level of service they will provide. Having a clear understanding of what you expect from your janitorial services company and ensuring that they understand your needs and expectations will go a long way toward getting more accurate quotes.

You should know how much space will need to be serviced, how much traffic that space receives, what services you require to maintain the space, and how often it will need to be cleaned. This information is important to your janitorial services provider because different facilities require different cleaning programs, different equipment, larger crews, and potentially more specialized cleaning and/or security protocols. All of these things are taken into consideration when providing an estimated cost for services.

How You Can Reduce Janitorial Services Costs

Consider Your Space

If we consider janitorial services costs on a cost per square foot basis we can find ways to reduce the cost overall. Obviously, the fewer square feet that need to be cleaned the lower the total cost. Of course, you do not want your janitorial services provider to only clean half of your office, but you may find that some areas of your facility require less frequent cleaning. Perhaps your 10,000 sq/ft facility houses 5,000 sq/ft of storage space, 2,500 sq/ft, of office space, and 2,500 sq/ft of common area. Your storage area likely does not need daily cleaning and if it does, it may be a task that can be managed by in-house staff, the same may be true for private office space. On the other hand, common areas and public-facing spaces do require more frequent and thorough cleaning.

Offer Employees A Work-From-Home Incentive

Believe it or not, the amount of traffic in your facility can impact the cost of cleaning. A break room that services 15 employees is much easier to clean than one that services 50 employees. Allowing employees to work from home when possible reduces the amount of daily traffic in your facility and the amount of time required to clean it. For instance, if your office building houses 35 private offices, that takes a relatively large cleaning crew several hours to properly clean. If half of your office staff works from home, you have effectively cut your cleaning requirements in half.

Consider The Frequency Of Cleaning

As was stated earlier, some areas in your facility require daily cleaning and disinfecting. Lobbies, entryways, breakrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and shared office spaces, just to name a few. These are the areas that you want your janitorial services provider to focus on. Other areas such as storage areas, stockrooms, and private offices may only need to be professionally cleaned once a week, or every other week.

Getting What You Paid For

Just as providing an accurate quote requires you to clearly communicate your needs and expectations, meeting your needs over time requires that you communicate effectively with your janitorial services provider. Organizational needs change over time and if you do not communicate these changes effectively, your service provider will have no incentive or reason to change the services they are providing.

Any reputable janitorial services company wants to retain your business. It is far less expensive for them to maintain an existing client account than to acquire a new one. They want to meet and exceed your expectations. That is why when needs or expectations change you should communicate those changes clearly to your provider.

This is true even when your needs have not changed, but your expectations are not being met. You should always reach out to your point of contact with the janitorial services company with any and all concerns. If you hired a reputable provider, they will bend over backward to ensure your expectations are met.

13 Feb 2021
urgent care cleaning

Urgent Care Cleaning 5 Best Practices

Urgent Care clinics require constant cleaning and disinfecting under the best of circumstances. With flu season in full swing and a lingering pandemic, the importance of urgent care cleaning and disinfecting protocols can not be overstated. Whether you hire a professional cleaning company to manage these tasks or you train in-house staff to address your clinic’s cleaning needs, there are some very basic protocols that need to be followed.

1) Prioritize High-Touch Surfaces

High-touch surfaces are those that tend to come into contact with patients and staff on a regular basis. Door handles, light switches, bed rails, telephones, and shared office equipment are just some examples of high-touch surfaces. These surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day to help reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.

The first step is to thoroughly clean the surface with the appropriate cleaning agent and allow it to dry. Step two is to use a CDC-recommended disinfectant to kill any bacteria that are residing on the surface. Be certain to allow for the appropriate dwell time as per the manufactures recommendations.

2) Develop A Cleaning Strategy

To properly clean and disinfect your urgent care facility it is important to develop a strategy. Once developed, your cleaning strategy should be used as the defacto procedure by which every facility cleaning session is completed.  Your cleaning strategy should prioritize when and where cleaning should occur and in what order.

Urgent care facilities typically have a variety of rooms that can be classified based on their utility and general ‘dirtiness’. A doctor’s personal office space is likely not as dirty as an examination room or the facility’s restroom. When developing your cleaning strategy it is wise to address the least dirty areas first and move on toward progressively dirtier areas of the clinic. Prioritizing cleaning in this way can help reduce the spread of germs and bacteria.

3) Use Proper Chemicals And Equipment

Knowing which chemicals to use on which surfaces is extremely important as some disinfectants are more effective on certain surface types and some surfaces can be damaged by too harsh a cleaning agent. In addition, some chemicals can cause respiratory distress in some individuals. Know your chemicals and how and where to use them.

Utilizing the right equipment is nearly as important and can reduce effort and promote more effective cleaning and disinfecting. For instance, microfiber mops and cleaning cloths can help reduce bacteria when compared to other options. Take the time to learn about the best equipment and cleaning supplies for your clinic’s particular needs.

4) Reduce Or Eliminate Cross-Contamination

As an urgent care facility manager, you are acutely aware of the dangers of cross-contamination. One of the most important considerations for any cleaning protocol is how best to limit or eliminate the potential for cross-contamination. Cleaning cloths and mops used in one area should always be decommissioned prior to moving on to another area of the facility. They should be placed in a sealed plastic bag for laundering. When preparing to clean the next area on your list always start with fresh cleaning cloths and mop heads.

5) Reduce Airborne Contaminants

Your urgent care cleaning strategy should address airborne contaminants and utilizing the proper equipment and procedures is the key. For instance, using HEPA filter vacuums and microfiber cleaning cloths can significantly reduce airborne particulate and bacteria. Protocols should be put in place for waste disposal, proper bedding and laundry procedures., and hazardous waste disposal.

Want Help Setting Up Your Urgent Care Cleaning Program?

Complete Care Maintenance can help you to set up an effective cleaning and disinfection protocol for your urgent care facility. Even better, we can provide urgent care cleaning services for you saving you time and money while giving you, your staff, and your patients greater peace of mind.

30 Jan 2021
medical facility cleaning

5 Areas Hospital Cleaning Crews Often Overlook

Medical facility and hospital cleaning is serious business. Proper cleaning and disinfecting is crucial to overall health and safety and is a vital aspect of any infection control program. And while hospitals and medical facilities are very stringent with infection control protocols, recent studies show that there are still areas within these facilities that are routinely overlooked. Here are five areas within your medical facility that cleaning crews might be missing:

1) Privacy Curtains

Privacy curtains are designed to provide privacy for patients and are likely one of the most touched items in a hospital setting. Nurses, doctors, visitors, and patients are coming in contact with these cloth room dividers and every one of them is potentially leaving germs behind. In fact, a recent study in the American Journal of Infection Control tracked the contamination of ten freshly cleaned curtains and within two weeks, nearly 90 percent of the curtains had been colonized by potentially dangerous antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA).

While there are no CDC guidelines specific to privacy curtains, it is recommended that these be changed out at least weekly with freshly sanitized curtains.

2) Bed Rails

Like privacy curtains, bed rails are touched by a variety of people in a given day. Healthcare professionals, visitors, and patients are touching these rails on a regular basis and the bacteria they leave behind can survive for weeks. Studies have shown that MRSA can survive for nearly a year on these stainless steel structures. Without regular cleaning and disinfecting, bed rails have the potential to spread germs and bacteria throughout your medical facility.

Bed rails should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily, but more frequent cleaning is recommended.

3) Over-The-Bed Carts

That little rolling cart on which your delicious hospital meals are served is a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and germs. Bed carts are a high-touch item on which bacteria is being deposited and picked up multiple times per day. Considering that these carts are typically used to serve food cleaning and disinfecting them should be a priority. This is not a place where germs should be present.

These items should be wiped down with disinfectant after every use and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected every day.

4) IV Poles

According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, these mobile hangers for IV fluids harbor various strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These ‘Superbugs’ are highly infectious and difficult to treat as they are resistant to common antibiotics.

Patients and staff alike should use hand sanitizers before and after touching the IV pole and the poles should be cleaned and disinfected daily.

5) Elevator Buttons

Elevator buttons are one of the most touched items in any building and in a healthcare setting, they can harbor a huge number of nasty germs. Countless individuals utilize the elevator every day and with every press of a button, there is the potential to leave behind (or pick up) germs and bacteria. According to a recent study in the journal of Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control, more than one-third of 48 buttons swabbed were contaminated with MRSA.

The reality is that elevator buttons are often overlooked by cleaning crews and they have the potential to become virtual Petri dishes for a plethora of germs and bacteria.

Want Expert Advice On How To Keep Your Medical Facility Clean And Safe?

Complete Care Maintenance can help with all of your medical facility cleaning needs. We provide expert advice and on-site facility evaluations to ensure that your facility’s specific needs are met. Call or contact us today to get started!

 

 

20 Dec 2020
Healthcare cleaning services

Healthcare Cleaning Services – Unsung Heroes Of The Pandemic

Healthcare cleaning services

Those who work within the medical community are literally life savers. The services they provide are essential to the well-being of millions of people every day. During the current pandemic, their services are more essential than ever, and despite the growing demand for medical services, the medical community has stepped up to serve communities across the globe.

We all appreciate and respect the work that these individuals do. Without them, our current plight would be much, much worse. What is often overlooked is the behind the scenes work that is required to ensure that the medical facilities that we rely on every day are clean and sanitary.

One of the most important aspects of medical care is infection control and all medical professionals are trained in how to reduce or eliminate the spread of infection – a practice that has taken on new meaning in the midst of the pandemic. Still, the fact of the matter is that infection control begins with the medical cleaning services that ensure safe and sanitary healthcare environments. In the midst of the pandemic more and more healthcare facilities are turning to professional cleaning services to clean and disinfect their facilities.

All of a sudden, this pandemic is a real eye-opener for everyone about how important best practices in cleaning and disinfecting are in health care and beyond.” Keith Sopha, a veteran director of environmental services in health-care settings told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview from Ottawa Canada.

The role of professional cleaning services has become integral to the success of medical facilities in the fight against COVID-19. The fact that the pandemic is already taxing hospital and medical facility staff is just one reason why these facilities are turning to professional cleaning services. The knowledge and training, well-established cleaning processes and protocols, and reduced risk make the investment in professional cleaning services well worth it.

THE EXPERTISE

Professional medical cleaning services have extensive training in the cleaning and disinfecting protocols required for healthcare facilities. Cleaning crews that are trained in healthcare facility cleaning understand the unique needs of the medical office environment. They understand the need for both thorough cleaning and disinfecting. They are also familiar with the unique compliance requirements that medical facilities must meet and are well versed in HIPPA regulations, JCAHO standards, OSHA Bloodbourne Pathogens Standards, and CDC recommended cleaning procedures. You won’t find these qualifications with a typical janitorial service provider.

Enlisting the services of qualified medical facilities cleaning staff means that your facility will be clean and sanitary – a quality that helps ensures patient health and satisfaction, as well as the health and well-being of your staff.

PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES

Cleaning crews specializing in medical facility cleaning are trained in the proper procedures and protocols required for facility sanitization and disinfection. They understand the causes of cross-contamination and manage their cleaning process in such a way as to mitigate such risks. They are experienced with a variety of commercial cleaning chemicals and disinfectants and understand how to apply them, their required dwell times, and safe storage procedures. These people understand how to properly clean and disinfect in a consistent and organized fashion.

THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT

It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that spending money on specialty cleaning will improve your bottom-line. But studies have shown that the cleanliness of your medical facility is a major factor in patient satisfaction. Because patients are more likely to recommend a hospital they perceive to be clean, it makes cleanliness a target for improvement for all hospitals.

In addition, proper sanitization and disinfection help mitigate Healthcare Acquired Infections, a major concern for all healthcare facilities. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the total direct, indirect, and nonmedical social costs of HAIs are estimated at around $96 billion to $147 billion annually, including loss of work, legal costs, and other patient factors.

It should also be noted that numerous studies have shown that a clean and sanitary workplace promotes higher productivity, lowered absenteeism, and happier and healthier staff. While these things may seem intangible, they can have an enormous impact on your bottom line.

30 Sep 2020
medical facility cleaning

Why Medical Facilities Need Professional Cleaners

Unlike most office environments, medical offices require much more thorough and regular cleaning. It is not just about making a good impression, it’s about providing a safe and sanitary environment for both your patients and your staff.

So, while general janitorial services are fine for a typical office building, medical facilities need specially trained and qualified cleaning staff that understand the unique needs of the medical community. These specialty cleaning services provide many advantages over a typical janitorial service.

1) They Understand The Environment

Cleaning crews that are trained in medical facility cleaning understand the unique needs of the medical office environment. They understand the need for both thorough cleaning and disinfecting. They are also familiar with the unique compliance requirements that medical facilities must meet and are well versed in HIPPA regulations, JCAHO standards, OSHA Bloodbourne Pathogens Standards, and CDC recommended cleaning procedures. You won’t find these qualifications with a typical janitorial service provider.

Enlisting the services of qualified medical facilities cleaning staff means that your facility will be clean and sanitary – a quality that helps ensures patient health and satisfaction, as well as the health and well-being of your staff.

2) They Know The Difference Between Cleaning And Disinfecting

Cleaning is not disinfecting, it is merely the first step in the disinfecting process. General janitorial services clean facilities. Qualified medical facility cleaning services ensure that your facility is both clean and disinfected – an important distinction in a hospital or medical facility environment.

Cleaning crews specializing in medical facility cleaning are trained in the proper procedures and protocols required for facility sanitization and disinfection. They understand the causes of cross-contamination and manage their cleaning process in such a way as to mitigate such risks. They are experienced with a variety of commercial cleaning chemicals and disinfectants and understand how to apply them, their required dwell times, and safe storage procedures. These people understand how to properly clean and disinfect.

3) They Have A Positive Effect On Your Bottom-line

It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest that spending money on specialty cleaning will improve your bottom-line. But studies have shown that the cleanliness of your medical facility is a major factor in patient satisfaction. Because patients are more likely to recommend a hospital they perceive to be clean, it makes cleanliness a target for improvement for all hospitals.

In addition, proper sanitization and disinfection help mitigate Healthcare Acquired Infections, a major concern for all healthcare facilities. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the total direct, indirect, and nonmedical social costs of HAIs are estimated at around $96 billion to $147 billion annually, including loss of work, legal costs, and other patient factors.

It should also be noted that numerous studies have shown that a clean and sanitary workplace promotes higher productivity, lowered absenteeism, and happier and healthier staff. While these things may seem intangible, they can have an enormous impact on your bottom line.

In Conclusion

As a manager or administrator of a medical facility, you have a responsibility to your patients and staff to maintain a clean and safe environment. Entrusting that responsibility to a cleaning service that does not understand the unique need of your industry is doing a disservice to your staff and patients alike.

20 Sep 2020
security

Security And Your Janitorial Company

Every business has some type of security protocol. Whether it is as simple as a lock and key or as in-depth as a full-on security system with cameras, keypads, and burglar alarms – all businesses have things they need to protect. For retail businesses, it may be merchandise, cash, or credit card numbers. For medical and legal offices it may be data, records, and personally identifiable information.

When considering a commercial cleaning company, security concerns may not be top-of-mind, but it is something that requires serious consideration. Commercial cleaning or janitorial staff have access to nearly every area of your business and they often work outside of normal business hours. This is why it is so important to make security considerations a priority when vetting potential providers.

What To Look For In Janitorial Service Providers

When hiring a janitorial service provider for your facility you need to understand their level of commitment to security. A reputable provider will have training and protocols in place that help ensure that its staff understands the importance of security. There are many ways that smart janitorial services can mitigate security risks and bolster client confidence.

Employee Background Checks – Any reputable janitorial service understands the importance of employee background checks. Background checks help to eliminate potential security risks by weeding out applicants with checkered pasts and less than honorable intentions. Make sure that your provider only employs staff that has passed a background screening.

Security Protocols and Training – In addition to employee background screening, set security protocols and regular employee training reinforces in the employees’ minds, the company’s commitment to security. In addition, it helps ensure that employees understand and follow security protocols. Ask prospective providers about their security policies and the level of security training their staff receives.

On-site Supervision – Ensuring that cleaning crews are supervised by a responsible individual provides several benefits. A supervisor represents a single point of contact, meaning that keys, alarm codes, and other access points are entrusted to only one individual. In addition, a supervised cleaning crew is far less likely to breach security protocols, knowing they are being watched.

Bonded and Insured – If your janitorial service provider is not bonded and insured, you need to find another provider. Bonding and insuring is the most important step a janitorial service provider can protect both themselves and their clients. It ensures that if a cleaning staff member damages or steals property from a client that the client will be reimbursed.

Low Employee Turnover – If your janitorial service provider experiences high employee turnover it can present a security risk for you. Cleaning staff that has had access to your building and inside knowledge of your security protocols and are no longer bound by the cleaning company, can represent a real security threat. Ask potential providers about their turnover rates and avoid companies that can not seem to retain staff.

Uniformed Staff – While this may not seem like a security precaution, uniformed cleaning staff are easily identifiable, making non-staff members easily identifiable as well. Ensuring that cleaning staff is required to wear name badges or IDs is another way that janitorial services can show their commitment to security.

A Little Forethought Goes A Long Way – It pays to be vigilant when hiring a commercial cleaning service and hiring the wrong one can cost you in a big way. Take your time, vet your prospects, and hire a firm that will add value rather than cost.