The challenge these days is to reduce costs in an effort to improve profits and provide better service at a lower price.
This is an ongoing concept that has been around for as long as I can remember, and I don’t see any indication that this focus will change in the future.
Some might see this as a problem or a negative situation.
I don’t see it that way — with every challenge comes an opportunity for those who can see past today’s cloudy skies to the sunrise beyond the horizon.
Here are some trends that I think will help us meet tomorrow’s challenges in a positive way.
I don’t see any way around more widespread use of part-time, leased and temporary staffing.
The primary reason is labor costs.
With the new Affordable Care Act taking effect over the next couple of years, you will see many employers reducing the hours each employee works to meet the government’s definition of part-time worker, thus avoiding the cost of having to provide health insurance for each employee.
In response, you can expect the government to continue to reduce the number of hours used to define part-time employment.
Sooner or later, the law will apply to all workers at which time, self-employment, subcontracting and entrepreneurship will become ways to skirt the requirement.
In the meantime, you can expect to see a lot more part-time job openings in the cleaning industry.
More And Better Equipment
In an ongoing effort to increase production and hold down labor costs, the use of production enhancing equipment will become more popular.
This will include items like simple flat mops and microfibers up to backpack vacuums, autoscrubbers, and finally, robotics.
Along with this will come advances in equipment, products and chemical design that will enable us to do a better job in less time.
This is exactly what has driven production and quality improvements over the last 20 years, and we will see this continue in the future.
Systems will become the word of the day.
There will be a process and checklists for everything.
Computerization via smart phones will play a key role in planning, tracking and scheduling projects and workers.
The cleaning of areas will be engineered and no longer assigned in a haphazard fashion, as the costs and risks are simply too great.
Finding and keeping cleaning workers, supervisors and managers will be key to running a successful operation or business.
Workers will have to perform at higher levels of productivity and competence, and the only way to accomplish that will be to provide in-depth and ongoing training, along with opportunities for upward mobility.
As the work becomes more detailed, costly and critical, results cannot be left to chance, and again, the best way to assure that desired results are achieved is to provide employee training.
Now For A Little Fun
Last month, I was in Northampton, United Kingdom, conducting the Industry Certification Expert (I.C.E) class for 25 cleaning professionals from England, the Netherlands and Ireland.
This was part of the international expansion of the Cleaning Industry Management Standard program (CIMS/CIMS-GB) that is administered by the ISSA in the U.S.
CIMS is a program you should know about and be involved with.
The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) will administer and expand the program in the U.K.
On the second day of the class, five top cleaning industry consultants participated in an advanced session of Auditor/Assessor training so they can verify compliance for CIMS applicant companies and operations in this part of the world.
As part of the training we traveled to Warwick University and conducted a mock audit with the director of cleaning services and two of her managers.
This was exciting and eye opening as we in the U.S. often think that we are the only ones doing what we do.
In the class, I had the pleasure of working with 25 top industry professionals who are the “cream of the crop” in their world.
I’d never heard of any of them — and they’d probably never heard of me — but we all deal with the same issues every day.
This was all great fun and a welcome reminder of how big and how small the world really is.
William (Bill) Griffin is the president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. and president of the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN). ICAN is a nonprofit association comprised of industry professionals providing free consultation services through the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) and their Ask The Experts page. Comments and questions about bidding and estimating are encouraged: (206) 849-0179 or WGriffin@CleaningConsultants.com.