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Management And Training

Industry Certification Programs

April 14, 2011
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This month we have two consultants who have shared their thoughts regarding industry certification.

First, Bill Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc., will describe what he sees as the good, the bad and the ugly of certification programs, followed by Gary Clipperton, president of the National Pro Clean Corporation, who will comment on the importance and value of training and certification.

The Good

Certification programs have raised the level of professionalism and brought standards, training and opportunities to individuals, companies and associations in various segments of the cleaning industry.

What we have today is a great starting place, but is not good enough that we should accept anything less than ongoing improvement.

The Bad

Not everyone is aware of, supports or sees the value of training or certification.

Some don''t like the idea of being told how to do things or being held accountable, while others see little or no benefit in paying the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining certification.

All segments of the industry need to endorse, support and require ongoing improvement and certification of products, companies, individuals and certification programs.

The Ugly

Not all certification programs are created equal.

Certification is relatively new to the cleaning industry, and some programs are more about the money than requiring and validating ongoing improvement or compliance by applicants or the certifying agency, company or group.

An important question to ask is: Who''s certifying the certifiers?

Internal politics and personalities often get in the way of progress and divert the focus away from the original purpose of a certification program.

All too often, too much emphasis is placed on collecting the fees, answering questions and getting a passing score, with little or no attention paid to what is actually happening on the job or in the workplace.

So, what you end up with is meaningless certification without competence.

Industry professionals, associations and customers must continue to push for improvement and accountability and, over time, we will see less of the bad and ugly and more of the good.

Training And Certification

As the pioneer of a Cleaning Contractor Training and Certification program from 1989, I discovered a segment of the industry that was hungry for training.

A diploma does not particularly qualify or earn you more business, but it is a step in the right direction.

Contractors, who include certifications with their bid proposals, often find the prospect is favorably impressed by extra credentials.

Customers and bosses are constantly searching for solutions to cleaning challenges.

Special education and certification can provide that competitive edge.

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) programs have helped individuals and organizations get started with the improvement and certification process.

Our research indicates that individuals like to attend a hands-on training program where considerable time is spent one-on-one with the instructor, although online training programs provide a great way to prepare for these hands-on classes.

Diagnostic and troubleshooting skills are two things that separate the amateur from the professional.

Most cleaning jobs are straightforward; however, special challenges require enhanced skill levels.

Often, instructional materials by themselves are insufficient and require a personal touch that only interaction with a skilled professional and instructor can provide.

If the proof is in the pudding, then we need to improve the educational process by evaluating the results that are offered by the new trainees.

After 40 years in the business, I still try to abide by these two axioms: “If the student hasn''t learned, the teacher hasn''t taught,” and “Education doesn''t cost, it pays.”

The pursuit of excellence and professionalism includes improving the knowledge and performance of each student and worker.


Wm R. Griffin is president and Garry Clipperton is the vice president of the International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN). 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 are welcome: Griffin, (206) 849-0179; Clipperton, 1-800-796-4680.

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