Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
June 2014 A Clean Sweep

Looking Back With Gary Clipperton

Collectively, our industry can bring cleaning operations to the next level.

June 8, 2014

It was during high school that I was first introduced to commercial cleaning.

I started out as a carpet and floor tech at a local hospital.

It was good feeling to turn dirty carpet into clean and to keep the floors shiny.

And yes, I actually used Carnauba wax on vinyl composition tile (VCT) flooring.

During my 40-plus years in the cleaning business, I have encountered my share of unusual situations.

One experience I recall dated me as an old-timer ... let me explain.

About 20 years ago I was prospecting carpet and floorcare at a local mall.

I explained to a retail store manager that my experience with carpet cleaning dated back to 1962.

He looked at me seriously and questioned, “You mean commercial carpet existed in 1962?”

I assured him that it did, and the only equipment we had available was a shampooer.

A Lifetime Career

In 1969, I started full time in the industry as a JanSan sales representative.

I enjoyed the marketing, training and demonstration of cleaning supplies and equipment.

Then, in 1974, I decided to open my own janitorial supply store and a building service contractor (BSC) division.

Since I enjoyed the hands-on cleaning and managing of crews, I sold off the JanSan portion of the business.

By the mid-90s I had expanded my service division and discovered I had a knack for evaluating cleaning processes, inventing new ones and writing training manuals.

My mindset was to observe the cleaning processes, dissect the required steps and explain the pros and cons of each task.

With some background in motion-time studies, I was compelled to observe each step and the required movements in order to evaluate overall efficiency.

Not Everyone Is Suited For This Business

Unfortunately over the years, I have had to dismiss a lot of workers.

I learned that improvements in my training programs would decrease the attrition rate.

Cleaning & Maintenance Management (CMM) materials became part of my arsenal of tools to develop a productive staff.

My personal introduction to CMM came through Bill Griffin and Allen Rathey.

Both men are incredibly knowledgeable contributors to our industry.

About 14 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Humphrey Tyler, the previous editor of CMM.

I began teaching at the CM Expos and offing my books to the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) bookstore.

The CM Expos were awesome.

The topics were informative and the vendor booths allowed participants to interact with many of the major suppliers.

Although CMM and CMI have continued to keep the industry informed, the venues continue to evolve.

Now there are CMM digital magazines, regional seminars, webinars and bulletin boards to consult.

We can even get the CM e-News Daily sent to our smartphones.

Training Reduces Costs, Improves Results

The CMI training materials are key tools to assist cleaning managers and BSCs in upgrading their operations.

Many of the CMI courses offer testing and certification.

Additionally, they strive to keep their resources up-to-date.

At the same time, CMM offers relevant and helpful seminars nationwide.

They continue to keep us informed with all the latest trends in green and sustainable cleaning, software, cleaning tips and advances, carpet and floorcare seminars and custodial, janitor and management training.

Many of the new developments in the cleaning industry might have remained unknown if it wasn’t for CMM’s publications.

Here is a question that I regularly ask myself, “Do I have 40 years of experience, or one years’ experience 40 times?”

To remain progressive, we must educate ourselves daily and keep up-to-date regarding all cleaning issues.

This will build value for our organization as we become experts in all topics related to cleaning and building management.

Cleaning contractors gain more accounts and enhance customer satisfaction levels by solving most every cleaning challenge.

Increase Your Knowledge Base

Here is a word of caution I have offered to hundreds and thousands of BSCs.

Many prospects want to assess the experience and expertise of a potential cleaning contractor.

One way to weed out the unqualified is to probe deeply concerning cleaning issues.

If the hopeful contractor offers the same answer, “I don’t know,” then the prospect may counter: “Tell you what, come back and see me when you know what you are doing.”

Lack of knowledge can easily result in rejection, lost business and cleaning deficiencies.

Skill deficiency can get you sidelined.

By mastering relevant programs, such as those offered by CMM, readers will overcome technical unawareness.

Knowledge enhanced by practice should lead to skill efficiency.

In turn, delivering the highest quality of cleaning with the greatest degree of efficiency is what is required in today’s market.

Knowledge + Skill + Determination = Superiority

We still have challenges ahead of us.

The industry needs greater acceptance of cleaning certification courses.

We must promote innovative programs to recruit, train and keep a staff of happy and proficient cleaning technicians.

Workers and managers must focus on improving both productivity and quality of the job performed.

We must caution building owners that when they accept low-ball bids, or when a building manager cuts the cleaning staff, the quality will likely suffer.

The industry must quantify and effectively communicate achievable cleaning production rates.

When we compensate for the difficulty factors along with exact cleaning specifications and desired outcomes, we must arrive at accountability and conformance to the outlined frequencies.

If someone offers a cleaning rate or a price that looks too good to be true, it probably is.

I commend CMM for the great service they have provided over the past 50 years and look forward to upcoming progress.

Collectively, our industry can bring cleaning operations to the next level.