Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Green light for marketing

September 19, 2010

We’ve all heard it said that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Nothing could be truer now that Green Seal has come up with its Environmental Standard for Cleaning Services which sets a new bar for the professional cleaning industry — and building service contractors (BSCs), in particular — to jump over.

Many BSCs look at this services standard as just another attempt by the powers-that-be (agencies, manufacturers and distributors) in the professional cleaning industry to control how they clean and what they clean with.

Some BSCs put it a bit more bluntly. They believe the standard is simply another attempt at getting into their pockets and having them pony up hard-earned dollars for mandated training, another round of new equipment and chemicals and the never-ending bureaucracy of certification and fees.

And, while we’re at it, let’s not leave out the in-house facility directors who clean and maintain our schools, colleges and hospitals.

Some of them are shaking their heads, too, wondering why their jobs and focus have to change yet again if they decide to embrace the standard and go green.

In reality, in-house managers and directors won’t have a choice. If the school board, college administration or hospital board of directors reacts to student, parental or patient pressure, and says we have to go green and clean for health, in-house facility directors can only respond by saying how green.

So, for the sake of this discussion, let’s center on the BSCs who, in the real world, still have a choice.

Some, like the ones mentioned above, will resist the change to green cleaning services and will continue to provide only traditional cleaning.

Green Seal President Arthur Weissman admits there is a strong possibility that many BSCs will offer both green cleaning and traditional cleaning.

That, in the long run, might make the most sense since every facility and every cleaning task simply can’t be accomplished by going green.

Other BSCs will view this entire situation as a window of opportunity. They will leave traditional cleaning behind and embrace environmentally friendly cleaning, and they will market such services in an aggressive way.

No longer will consumer choice simply be linked to price per task nor will BSCs be shackled by dwindling profit margins made razor-thin in the name of keeping business flowing.

There will be definition in the marketplace — traditional cleaning, green cleaning, and a green/traditional combination.

That definition will mean more competition as the professional cleaning industry adjusts and reacts to the eventual growth and wider acceptance of green cleaning and cleaning for health.

Somehow, that seems like a good thing for BSCs, as well as their customers and building occupants.

And, it might please more of the people more of the time.

Be sure to check out CM/Spotlight: Green Cleaning, a special section filled with insight, information and resource material that begins on page 17. Send comments or thoughts on this topic or any other article that appears in CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management® magazine, to