Jennifer Spencer remembers the day the floor of her Dairy Queen Grill and Chill was installed like it was yesterday—even though it happened 48 years ago.
“My dad did the job himself, laying these four-by-four quarry tiles by hand,” she says.
A lot has happened since then, including Spencer and her husband taking over the Northbrook, IL-based family business in 2017. Yet, despite countless customers tracking in a half century worth of mud, snow, ice melt, and dirt, that original, grouted tile floor installed by her dad still looks and performs like new.
It was not always the case. Spencer reveals that even after diligently cleaning the tiles with a mop, bucket and “every kind of grout cleaning tool available” the quartz tiles did not look so great. The kitchen was always little greasy, the corners and edges of the restroom always looked dingy, and a spilled soda meant that section of dining room floor was sticky all day.
A Better Approach to Floor Care
When pandemic restrictions closed her busy Dairy Queen in 2020, Spencer considered a reset. She shopped around for a professional to deep clean her floors. The quote, however, ended up flooring her.
“It was almost $900! That is way too much money for a one time clean.”
So, Spencer invested in a UniVac from Kaivac instead. For about the same price, she got an advanced tool that cleans every section of her restaurant’s floor to the highest standard every time. Spencer noticed the difference immediately.
Stubborn grease buildup on the kitchen floor was gone. Bits of fallen food were also gone, completely vacuumed up by the UniVac instead of pushed under kitchen equipment by a mop. The entire restroom floor—even the dingy corners and edges—sparkled now that workers no longer needed to get on their hands and knees to scrub. And the dining room looked great, especially the grout lines.
“I wish I took a before picture,” Spencer says with a laugh.
Spencer reports that daily cleaning with the UniVac rejuvenated the floor to the point where staff now only need it about two to three times a week (more during busy seasons or to remove road salt). They also bring the UniVac out to clean up spills on the fly.
“It picks up messes quickly and leaves the floor dry so there’s less risk of slip and fall accidents,” she says. “That is important because our dining room is always busy.”
Training and Retaining QSR Workers
The machine also helps battle high employee turnover rates. At a time when QSR owners are looking for innovations to help retain workers, Spencer reports that her staff is in awe of the advanced cleaning machine.
“Trainees come in expecting a mop and bucket,” she says. “So, when they see the UniVac their eyes get really wide.”
The delight only increases from there. Staff appreciate that using the UniVac means no bending, twisting, or scrubbing on their hands and knees.
“I hear a lot less complaining about having to clean the floor,” Spencer says. Spencer notes that switching to the UniVac helps her cut down on overtime.
“Even if a shift is down one or two people, floors are cleaned to the highest standard and everyone clocks out at a reasonable time.”
Staff also enjoyed the training process with the onboard KaiTutor.
“It’s a great system for teenagers and young adults with short attention spans,” Spencer says. “Everyone watches the instructional video and takes turns using the machine. There was no learning curve at all.”
As she gears up for another busy spring and summer, Spencer’s plate is full. Owning a Dairy Queen means juggling everything—inventory, payroll, customer concerns, inflation, and shortages. But Spencer no longer worries about her floors.
“The UniVac is great. My floors are cleaned the way I want and I’m saving money in the long run.”