To The Editor:
Every so often a new trend or buzzword catches the imagination of the cleaning industry. I say “imagination” because these are seldom widely implemented, just imagined as applying to the profession.
Most will remember the Total Quality Management (TQM) phenomenon a few years back. All of us who were intent on turning out only partially clean buildings were snapped to attention by that one.
Then there was the movement toward acquiring ISO certifications that would allow us to fully and accurately document how dirty our buildings were according to internationally accepted record keeping standards.
Just recently (11/06), ISSA introduced the Cleaning Industry Management Standard, adherence to which “demonstrates that the organization is structured to deliver consistent, quality services.”
The document mentions performance outcome only in passing, so this essential to assessing quality service is left indeterminate.
Still, if one does all that is mandated, the outcome will be one of quality, once it is determined what that is.
Splish, splash we’re taking a bath
The biggest splash of all in recent times was that made by tossing the “green cleaning” rock into the janitorial labor pool.
For years, it was taken for granted that a clean building, with clean toilets, washbasins, carpets, and air handling systems would result in a healthier indoor environment.
The natural conclusion by the cleaner’s client was that clean spaces and objects were more attractive to look at, lasted longer before replacement, contributed to the physical health and mental well-being and safety of the building occupants, and, in general, were just a splendid idea.
This was uncommonly known as “Cleaning It to Get It Clean,” CITGIC™ for short. Rhymes with sit kick.
In recent years, Cleaning for Health®
has emerged as the phrase of focus, associated with the industry moving into the green cleaning era.
Obviously, the cleaner’s age-old notion that that which is clean is less contributive to the spread of illness was set aside in order to promote the idea that clean surfaces are less likely to assist in the distribution of disease.
Since that is saying pretty much the same thing, some sought to differentiate the two identical concepts by indicating that formerly cleaners only did their work to get things to look attractive, whereas now they clean to make those same things healthy, which we know has happened because they have enhanced their appearance.
So they are healthy and attractive because the cleaning was successful rather than the cleaning being successful because they are attractive and healthy.
If it looks like a duck, etc., it must be a woodpecker
Now what can we do to make something — which is identical to something else — stand out?
How about we say that the first thing was accomplished while poisoning people, and now we are not doing that?
How about telling clients that we are no longer damaging their health by our cleaning efforts as we were in the past?
How about bragging that we are now “green,” which is good, instead of “clean,” which is deadly?
This places us in the position of the one who is asked, “Are you still beating your wife?”
No matter what the answer, there is no really good response to that one.
Try it with me: “Are you still damaging the health of the people in the buildings you clean in order to protect their health?”
Your answer here … No! We are now green.
Yes, that will build confidence and respect in your operation. Just relieve the tension by telling folks that ISSA certifies you can do a good job, whatever that proves to be when someone determines what it is.
You didn’t ask for it, but got it anyway
CITGIC™ by using sound practices now will result in a healthy environment automatically, just as it always has. Sort of the way that greasing the zerks on an auto’s front end results in the steering wheel turning easier. You can’t have one without the other.
So, while you are enthralling your clients with stories of “green” pastures on the other side of the fence, please avoid implying that this is a radical departure from the disastrous ways of the past. There is already enough misleading information out there to go around. Just look at some recent headlines:
- “School regrets hiring ex-con as custodian”
- “Meth means money for cleaner”
- “Janitor nabbed as death-squad killer”
- “JanSan firm settles sex harassment case.”
In an industry filled with ex-cons, murderers, druggies, and sex offenders, why should we wish to add “indoor polluters” to the list?
Seriously, in any city of over 6 million inhabitants, a few of these would fall into the above categories, and the janitorial metropolis is no exception.
However, taken by themselves, such headlines are misleading, are they not? So are broad green cleaning indictments of the past.
Let’s become once again advocates of “Cleaning for Wealth®,” which is the real reason most of us are in the business. To do that, we must avoid the misdirected, and even damaging, concepts that accompany so many popular, even valuable trends, and concentrate on doing a responsible job of cleaning at a fair, yet profitable price.
Determine what we do, do it well, and do it consistently.
That is what most of us have been doing for many years and to imply otherwise diminishes us all.
Lynn E. Krafft
Krafft Cleaning Services