Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Evolving JanSan: Sophistication Is The Beginning

September 19, 2010

In 2009, successful in-house service providers (ISPs) and building service contractors (BSCs) were mindful of sustainability.

These professionals also continued to monitor science in cleaning, the possibility of a pandemic, the continued evolution of industry training and certification programs and a sluggish economy, while focusing on traditional issues, such as employee concerns, cost of insurance, the competition, productivity and so on.

For many, 2009 was a demanding year and not a time to rest on past successes.

This is a more sophisticated industry compared to a decade ago and, for various reasons, facility owners and managers are demanding information about cleaning performance, costs and proof beyond visual results.

We reached out to industry veterans who are active in the JanSan community to address several of these issues with skilled insight.

Issue One: The Economy''s Impact

Some say the country''s financial woes are nearing an end, including several government officials.

However, if true, experts say it does not necessarily indicate that cleaning will return to under-the-radar status, budgets will increase and additional staff will be hired.

"Some parts of the country are seeing some improvement, but overall, any major improvement comes from people adjusting and getting [familiar with] doing business a different way," notes William R. Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc.

And, end users shouldn''t be surprised or caught off guard.

But, it is important to know why change was looming and needed.

"[Cleaning] was a department that was highly unsophisticated and lacked documentation, structure and [similar] business characteristics of other departments," says Dave Frank, president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS). "And because of its scale — the cleaning department is [often] three to four times the size of the next largest department — it naturally hit people''s radar screen."

Survival mode, also known as doing more with less, something that most facilities have become accustomed to in recent years, will not only remain as norm, but more focus and pressure on the cleaning and maintenance departments will also continue.

In fact, says Jim Harris, Sr., who is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Concepts4 Cleaning Consultants, budgets, costs, productivity and "basically anything related to economics and doing more with less will be the arena service providers will be living in for the foreseeable future."

Some insiders believe this continued change will be positive for our industry and the health of facilities.

After all, the outcomes are believed to be smarter tools, educated workers, higher pay wages and an overall elevated sophistication of our industry.

"It''s not a recession, it''s a correction," says Frank.

The correction is based on the evaluation of priorities, including "nice to do" cleaning tasks versus "must be done" cleaning tasks.

"Because cleaning represents 25-30 percent of the total maintenance and operations budget, it now has boardroom intervention," adds Frank. "The boardroom is driving sophistication into the [cleaning] department. [And,] this level of sophistication is now a permanent trend, not a fad or a recessionary activity. The cleaning industry is now going through gates of sophistication where business managers, bean counters and administrations are asking for documentation, justification, validation and verification."

Issue Two: Success In The Aftermath

With historic proof, businesses as well as all Americans are fully aware of what follows an extended period of economic struggles: Inflation.

"As we look to 2010 and beyond, there is the high probability that inflation will emerge," says Harris.

However, moving forward, "The primary concern I have is the cost and effective management of human resource requirements to effectively function in a hygienic manner to deliver a healthy indoor environment," Harris says.

Moreover, workers and supervisors must be competent regarding cleaning frequency shrinkage at a time when new diseases are appearing, adds Harris.

The keys to success coming out of this recession will also include:

  • Being more efficient
  • Being mindful of waste
  • Operating at peak performance
  • Holding people accountable.

"These have always been good business practices," asserts Griffin. "It''s more important now than in the past because we don''t have the luxury of excess that was in the system."

Some experts believe the coming years will be defining points for many BSCs and ISPs.

Companies and departments that make validated adjustments and continue to improve their services will thrive.

"Those that don''t will be gone," warns Griffin. "[For example,] anybody who doesn''t see the value of measuring what you do is out of touch with reality."

Issue Three: Science

Future success, some say, lies in the hands of your cleaning workers.

Science of cleaning and the prevalence of certification will guide the industry in coming years.

The most impressive trends this year that will shape our future, according to Harris: "First is the introduction of cleaning science research that is emerging to better define cleaning methodology — learning more about how cleaning takes place and sharing research findings with standard setting organizations. Secondly, the new interest in measuring [cleaning]. Thirdly, the green movement has had an enormous impact on our industry."

The combination of the desire to protect health and the environment over the past five years, adds Harris, is being modified by unbiased science research yielding some very strong benefits.

This is especially true with new chemical formulations, new sanitation devices and innovative equipment.

And, according to Bill Smith, who is the vice president of marketing for National Chemical Laboratories Inc., "As far as chemicals are concerned, we''ve seen a real growth in technology. We''re getting closer to the point where [green products] are truly rivaling traditional cleaning products."

The advancement of green cleaning in today''s JanSan industry serves as a positive example to other industries and is also a clear indication of continued science in this industry.

Issue Four: Tomorrow''s Workforce

There have been advances in cleaning science, product technology, standardization and operations.

Naturally, the workforce must also shift to meet the demanding needs of the trade.

Today, organizations and associations offer a multitude of training and certification options.

One result of the desire to hire more skilled workers is that winning customers and bids to service a facility are expected to become more complex and stringent in coming years.

"[Training and certification have] helped bring some standardization and recognition and gives us a framework to operate within," says Griffin.

And, some feel an influx of training programs and certification is long overdue.

"There is no question that the industry will benefit from well-designed certification programs," concurs Harris. "We are now focusing on management, workflow, documentation and continuous improvement. This has been the problem with underperforming organizations; frankly, too much incompetence at the management level."

According to Smith, end users are going to dictate what they believe is the best mechanism to manage their staff.

Smith has seen increased awareness, especially from schools, on the importance of training.

Although some matches seem obvious, such as supplier and manufacturer training, how can end users effectively select the best industry training and certification programs that best fit their needs?

"Evaluate your needs and what is available out there," adds Griffin. "Most importantly, stay aware of the changes and don''t be isolated from the industry and your customers. See where your customers are going and lead them beyond that."

Within the next 10 years, experts predict that science, certification and product innovation will evolve.

Additionally, customers will be more aware with higher expectations.

For instance, predicts Griffin, insurance companies will not insure a building if it doesn''t have certified cleaning companies and cleaners.

Ensure your future success by knowing customer needs and marketplace shifts.