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Management And Training

Finding Value In The Standard

March 23, 2011
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Early in 2010, Kim Riley, director of building services for Seneca One Realty in Buffalo, New York, had never heard of the Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) or even ISSA — The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association.

In her position with Seneca One Realty, Riley was responsible for building operations at One HSBC Center, a multi-tenant Class-A office building comprised of approximately 968,000 square feet spread out over 40 stories, and had really never given all that much thought to the building''s cleaning service provider.

After all, their primary cleaning provider, Held''s Janitorial Services, had been providing services since 1986, and Riley was satisfied with their performance.

Yet, it was actually Held''s that first brought the CIMS program to Riley''s attention for possible inclusion in One HSBC Center''s request for proposal (RFP).

Stressing the emphasis placed on customer service by Seneca One and the importance of ensuring that the vendor–customer relationship is a true partnership, Held''s viewed CIMS as a program that could bring the two together and provide one of the most prestigious business addresses in Western New York with the validation that they desired.

CIMS Builds Value

Riley agreed, immediately recognizing the value of CIMS in helping Seneca One and Held''s continue their work towards a common goal of maintaining their current standards of cleanliness and attractiveness in order to ensure tenant satisfaction.

Riley and Seneca One, therefore, elected to include a requirement in the building RFP that their cleaning service provider be certified within six months of the start of a contract, specifically incorporating the following language: “All contractors will be CIMS-certified within six months of the inception of the contract. Failure to comply will cause the contract to be null and void. If the contractor is currently certified, a copy of the certificate must be included with the contractor''s proposal.”

Fortunately for Held''s, when the contract went out for bid, they had already started the process of becoming certified and were already working toward validating their quality and customer focus.

Riley believes that including this requirement in their RFPs leads to a stronger group of candidates and assurance that the companies who are eligible to be awarded a contract have the necessary processes and procedures in place and adhere to a higher standard.

“It''s an extremely important measuring tool when you''re putting your RFPs out there,” stresses Riley. “It is comforting to know if companies that are CIMS-certified are bidding and whether they meet a higher quality standard.”

Riley now feels strongly about the overall value of CIMS, noting the fact that a CIMS-certified provider will have procedures in place to deliver consistent quality service that will result in a cleaner, healthier building for the occupants of One HSBC Center.

“We believe that the CIMS certification provides a standard for establishing a ‘customer-centered organization,''” notes Riley. “Such an organization is exactly the type of business we want to partner with.”

Change Is Good

Riley has also noticed a change in Held''s.

Specifically, since going through the certification process, Riley has noticed improvements in their operations, most notably in their use of innovative cleaning methods, products and equipment.

For Held''s, the biggest change has been in the way they think about their business.

Dan Hyman, human resource manager, notes that CIMS has caused them to take a fresh look at everything they do.

“CIMS is more than just a certification; it allows you to look at business differently,” he says. “People often get complacent when they have been doing business the same way for a long time, and going through the CIMS certification process allowed us to start thinking about ways we can improve operations and develop a better relationship with our customers.”

Other notable improvements include the implementation of Team Cleaning and the use of green cleaning equipment and methods.

These innovations have led not only to increased performance for Held''s, but also cost savings that they are able to pass along to Seneca One.

Looking to the future, Riley believes that the cleaning industry will be taken much more seriously and that the industry has already begun moving to become greener and more efficient.

“The industry has taken great strides in developing improved methods of cleaning along with using equipment and products that are both green and efficient,” Riley concludes.

David Schweizer is a member service representative with ISSA — The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association. He can be reached at or at 1-800-225-4772.

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