It used to be that, if you were a janitor or a custodian, your job was to sweep the floor, vacuum the carpet, dump the trash, clean the restrooms and go home.
Today, we still do those things; but, cleaning is now so much more.
We have to use the right products and procedures, we must be aware of security concerns and, along with recycling and energy and resource conservation, we have to know about indoor environmental quality, green cleaning, quality control and computers.
And, that''s just a partial list.
It seems as though our responsibilities and the need to know more about things we might not have even known existed keeps growing on a daily basis.
That brings me to my first point: Our jobs today are cleaning — and a whole lot more.
The Expanding Role
For someone to be truly successful as a professional cleaner, custodian or janitor, they have to get an education and then keep on learning about all the new stuff that impacts what we really do on the job each day.
You just can''t afford to say or think that you know what you''re doing anymore unless you spend at least some of your time and energy researching and learning new things.
You may know what you used to do, but if you aren''t reading, monitoring the chats and attending seminars or trade shows for several different industry segments on a regular basis, you are out of touch, behind the times and at risk of being replaced by someone who does stay on top of what is changing in the workplace and the world.
There will probably always be a job for someone who does a good job of cleaning, but the really good jobs in the new prestige buildings where they pay the best wages and benefits and have the latest equipment and work environment — where you feel like part of a team that is doing something good — will go to those with the most current education and skills.
That''s simply the way it works in any field — JanSan or otherwise.
And, it''s not like education and information isn''t available, because it is, far more so than ever before.
There is so much information available today about cleaning that I can''t even keep up with it — and that''s all I do from sunrise to sunset.
I recently spoke to a salesperson for a local distributor, asking him if he attended the recent ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show in Las Vegas.
His response was, "No. Our company didn''t send anybody this year."
This same company, in its heyday 10-15 years ago, used to send 30 or 40 people.
Sure, the company has been bought and sold a couple of times and is now part of a large corporation, but that''s no excuse for the company not sending its staff or for the salesperson for not attending on his own.
To me, it appears to be the beginning of the end for both parties.
I could tell he was a little frustrated and it made me sad.
This brings me to my second point: Did you attend the recent ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show or were you like my salesman friend and stayed home because no one would pay your way?
You Snooze, You Lose
If you missed the recent ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show, you really missed out on a golden opportunity to grow.
2011 was the best ISSA trade show I''ve ever attended.
There was so much to do that you really couldn''t get to it all, even if you tried.
The exhibits were excellent: Aisle after aisle of the latest chemicals, equipment and products to make your work easier and your cleaning more effective.
There was so much new stuff that, to me, it was mind boggling; I wish I could have spent another day or two finding new things and learning from the people I talked to.
The seminars and presentations were topnotch.
Tom Peters wooed the crowd as he paced from one side of the stage to the other.
What energy that guy has; only he can get away yelling at the top of voice and calling it a presentation.
Bottom line: The opportunities for success are often right in front of us, yet we look the other way and find excuses for our failures to take advantage of them.
You can''t make more money, give better service or get a better job by looking the other way.
Here''s my third and final point: There will be an ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show in Chicago next year.
Where will you be?
Will you be at the show learning and preparing for a better and more prosperous future or, once again, missing out and making excuses?
Do yourself and your industry a favor: Plan now to attend the 2012 ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show in Chicago October 16-19.
Bill Griffin is president of the International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN) and owner of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. 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 to Griffin are welcome: (206) 849-0179; WGriffin@CleaningConsultants.com.