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Management And Training

They Get No Respect In Australia

November 10, 2011
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Last week, while I was attending a presentation at the Ausclean Expo in Australia, a member of the audience made the statement that we who work in the cleaning industry get no respect.

He went on to ask the speaker what he thought could be done to change that.

A number of others in the audience agreed with his comments, and the discussion began on a downhill slide.

I couldn''t help but toss in my two cent''s worth: I agreed that much can and needs to be done to improve the image of those who work in the cleaning industry but, at the same time, we have come a long way in the last 40 years.

When I first starting teaching cleaning in 1973, Ed Feldman was the only author, consultant and seminar leader in the country.

Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who teach classes, do consulting and write books on various aspects of the cleaning industry.

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) alone has certified over 50,000 cleaning professionals in the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia.

The pay is better, too: My first cleaning job at Dan''s Meat Market in Seattle''s Pike Place Market in 1965 paid all of a $1.25 an hour; when I asked for a raise, I got a nickel — and Dan told me I was lucky to get that.

In those days, education and information was pretty hard to find.

The primary source was your local janitorial supplier, and even though there was at least one magazine on cleaning, I didn''t know about it until several years later.

The only association that I knew of back then was the ISSA, and if you weren''t a manufacturer or distributor, you couldn''t go to their annual trade show.

Today, we have multiple associations, trade shows and publications for every cleaning industry specialty that you can think of.

Plus, there are websites, forums, blogs and electronic versions of industry publications on cleaning from around the world available free, right on your computer screen.

Ausclean Was A Good Show

Over 750 people registered for the event.

The traffic on the trade show floor was good each day; the seminars were well-attended.

I sat through half a dozen presentations and learned quite a bit.

On the show floor, I came across a new floor pad that is made of microfiber sponge; the same booth had a natural microfiber cloth that contained hemp fiber and another one that held 10 times its weight in water.

Green chemicals were prominent and there was a lot of interest in sustainable cleaning practices and equipment.

Greg Whiteley, president of Whiteley Corporation, spoke on the subject of health care disinfection.

Here''s review of his key points:

  • The number one reason for losing cleaning accounts is odor in restrooms
  • Australia has a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) rate at 18 percent
  • Dry surfaces have bio films that can harbor microorganisms
  • When disinfectants are not used correctly, microorganisms get a sub-lethal dose that doesn''t kill them and allows a resistance to develop.
The speaker for the awards dinner was Robert Redenbach, author of the book "Waveman — From the Back Streets of Bagdad and Beyond."

Redenbach is a martial arts specialist who has traveled the world training police, private security and select military groups in hand-to-hand combat techniques.

His presentation related to management techniques, although he did disarm a healthy Australian who was brave enough to get on the stage with him.

Here''s some of what he had to say:

  • The key is to success is to understand how a group or individual is going to respond before they know how they are going to respond
  • Action bests reaction
  • Effective leaders respond to change in a positive manner.
I thought his points were right on the money, so I ordered his book.

It is interesting to note that, regardless of where you go in the world, cleaning professionals face the same problems of finding and keeping good help, providing training and completing with lower priced competition.


Wm R. Griffin is president of the International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN) and owner of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. ICAN is a non-profit association comprised of industry consultants with a wide range of expertise in building management, indoor environmental and service disciplines. This network provides free janitorial and building maintenance consultation service to the industry through the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI). Comments to Griffin are welcome: (206) 849-0179; WGriffin@CleaningConsultants.com.

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