A year is a long time — 365 days to be exact — and, in that amount of time, it is easy to lose sight of overall trends and general developments that can shape the industry and its supporters for years to come.
We are all familiar with the axiom that "hindsight is 20/20."
As such, this serves as a retrospective to determine the most important happenings from the past calendar year.
In the JanSan industry, price has always been king.
Sure, many respect value and performance, but it all still comes down to dollars and cents.
Especially in this uncertain economy, many are price shopping.
But, aside from procuring inexpensive products, there are many ways people in our industry are saving money.
One way we have seen many facilities saving operational expenses — this has been happening with increased frequency, especially over the past year — is to outsource or privatize their in-house operations.
By selecting an outside contractor to perform custodial, maintenance, security and various other tasks, these businesses and organizations are able to extensively reduce or altogether eliminate employee salaries and various benefits.
Depending on your perspective, whether a building service contractor (BSC) or an in-house professional, outsourcing can be either great or terrible.
For more on the topic of privatization, check out the cover story from the August 2011 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine.
Another major development in terms of cost cutting is consolidation.
As was reported in the CM e-News Daily, some school districts and municipalities have pooled their collective resources and combined their JanSan tasks to improve efficiency and save money.
Aside from that, many companies either merged or were acquired in the past year.
These strategic business partnerships leverage the best practices from each respective company and coalesces them in a manner that better satisfies consumer demands while reducing operational costs, which are often filtered down to create lower price points.
However, because of various regulations and subsequent fees, said reduced costs are often not seen for many months — if not longer.
Training And Education
Though proper training and education can help an operation cut costs and otherwise save money, its importance warrants a dedicated section in this piece.
As budgets are dwindling and the industry is forced to do more with less, training is being viewed as increasingly vital.
Bill Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc., summed it up nicely when stating, "Training doesn''t cost; it pays."
Keeping current employees and making them more efficient is one benefit of extensive training.
By investing in workers and ensuring that they are cognizant of the latest and greatest products and techniques, turnover can be decreased and outcomes become more desirable.
This was consistent in food service, hospitality, health care and office settings.
An ideal approach — though it varies from person to person — is a healthy mixture of classroom training, hands-on learning and networking with peers.
Over the past several years, but notably within the past 12 months, the number of individuals seeking credited certifications has increased.
Many associations and third-party certifiers offer accreditations with stipulations that continued education credits (CEC) be pursued on a consistent basis to stay abreast to the ever-changing industry.
The vitality of training and education was explored in some length in the cover story from the February 2011 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine.
A growing trend in the training realm is emphasizing greener, chemical-free processes that some are calling a logical progression of the environmentally friendly mentality.
If the commercial cleaning industry is to ever receive the respect it deserves in the public eye, training and education will play a necessary role in achieving that.
The practice of greenwashing is a dying art.
As increased training raises the collective knowledgebase of our industry, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to fool decision makers, end users and building occupants.
No longer satisfied with simple assertions that a product or piece of equipment is "green" and "can increase efficiency," savvy consumers are demanding factual proof of claims.
Realizing the power of percentages and other meaty statistics, hoards of manufacturers are flocking to independent laboratories for unbiased proof that their claims are real.
Proving you are better than competition is something that every company has tried to do since the dawn of consumerism.
"Understanding our customer''s needs and working to develop solutions for them is the key to our business," says Chris Brickman, global president of Kimberly-Clark Professional. "We have commissioned research to help educate our customers and to help create a healthier, safer and more hygienic environment for their workplace. By investing in research, we are able to become truly customer facing and focused on delivering more effective solutions to solve the needs of our customers."
In today''s JanSan market, verification can be achieved through standardized tests such as Hucker''s soil to prove the removal of dirt on hard floors and carpeting, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) readings to prove the removal of live — or once living — organisms and particle readers to show the concentration of airborne particulates.
The prowess of research-backed marketing came to a head in a short article titled, "A Contentious Debate," which appeared in the January 2011 issue of Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine.
Regardless of how definitive scientific analysis can be, perhaps the best gauge of product, equipment and process effectiveness is hearing praise from a fellow industry professional.
Sometimes, laboratory testing is not entirely realistic; however, when a trusted industry veteran uses a product or service in the field and touts its performance, others tend to listen.
There is no better research than using a product in real-world situations and sharing the results with colleagues.
Cheers To 2012
It is quite difficult to extract a handful of talking points from everything that occurs in a calendar year.
Because the JanSan industry is so vast and composed of several niche markets, I was entirely unable to address overall trends in each specific segment.
So, I beg for your forgiveness if you witnessed a major trend in your corner of the JanSan industry that was not discussed herein.
But, if there is something you''d like to share with me and/or the rest of the Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine community, reference my Cleanthoughts intro to this issue for ways to speak your mind.