Guardian Services'' Executive Vice President Michael Eisenberg understands what differentiates successful businesses from their competitors: Consistent, standardized quality and service.
This also serves as the competitive edge for his building service contractor (BSC) organization, which has doubled in size in the last two years, growing from a $50 million company with 1,000 employees to a $100 million company with 2,000 employees.
"I want us to be like Starbucks," Eisenberg says. "I want 100 percent repeatability, leaving nothing to chance."
He explains that Starbucks'' customers are confident that they can walk into any location anywhere in the world and receive the same product or service and it will meet the same quality standards everywhere.
Businesses like Starbucks achieve this consistency and quality by having specific processes in place for every function of the business.
Recognizing this, Eisenberg made the decision to pursue ISSA''s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) and certification program, the first comprehensive management and operations standard for cleaning organizations.
CIMS challenges organizations to provide documentation for meeting criteria in five core areas: Quality systems; service delivery; human resources; health, safety and environmental stewardship; and management commitment.
"I heard about CIMS and immediately agreed with its five quality principles," he says. "We already had met a lot of the criteria, but in pulling everything together we really started clarifying everything we do, making it more defined and better."
Cleaning organizations pursuing CIMS certification work with a third-party assessor who reviews written documentation that supports compliance with the five core areas.
The assessor also conducts on-site reviews of systems, processes and documentation, and even visits customer sites to ensure consistency with documentation.
"My goal was to have our third-party assessor declare that we not only had every one of the mandatory components, but all of the recommended or ‘nice-to-have'' ones as well," Eisenberg says. "I wanted to meet them all — and I think we did. We earned our certification with honors."
The CIMS proposal
Eisenberg expected there to be benefits in going after a third-party certification.
For instance, third-party acknowledgement provides credibility to an organization.
He also thought CIMS certification could one day be a requirement for many customers in order to bid on their contracts.
But CIMS also provided support in presenting customers with business proposals, especially when considering the issue of prices.
"It''s difficult for many customers to understand proposals and prices when they are so similar [between competitive BSCs]," Eisenberg says. "If the prices are equal, CIMS provides the support that we have the processes in place to ensure we can deliver the services at that price. In those five key areas, the customer''s decision is 100 percent protected."
On the other hand, Eisenberg adds, if Guardian Services is proposing a higher price than its competitors, they can easily explain why by walking the customer through the processes and services provided.
Financial institution customer Morgan Stanley awarded Guardian Services an extension of a contract partly due to its CIMS certification.
Specifically, Morgan Stanley included a bonus in its "Key Performance Indicators" area of its specifications that provides a direct financial incentive for achieving certification.
CIMS was included in the specifications in lieu of ISO certification.
The customer choice
Eisenberg''s next goal is to have a documented step-by-step process for everything within the organization, including tools, how the tools are placed on carts, uniforms, training and much more.
Step-by-step processes followed consistently at every site will help prevent the risk of a system breakdown, which could lead to customer complaints and cost issues.
"As a customer, when you''re buying something, you want order and organization," Eisenberg says. "Our customers understand we have organization and structure in what we do — CIMS creates that for cleaning organizations."
David Frank is a 30-year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences. AICS is the registrar for the ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standards certification program.