Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Raising The Bar

September 19, 2010

Editor''s note:

Wm Griffin recently wrote an article for our January 2010 issue titled "Raising The Bar With Science, Training And Upward Mobility" that has received much praise and generated a great discussion.

Below are excerpts from an e-mail string of that discussion.


I truly believe that the perception of our industry needs a 180-degree turn.

I believe that a combination of approaches is necessary and viable, and Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) is certainly at the forefront.

Showing folks what they cannot see in today''s method of cleaning — using an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meter — is truly likely to cause a change in thought perception of our industry.

I also believe in the phrase that "people will pay you more for what you know than for what you do." Therefore, education is the key.

When I train, I ask, "What is the difference between a janitor and a custodian?" The answer: Training.

— Vince Fagan


Unfortunately, janitors and custodians in America are not considered necessary for healthy environments because all they really do is "empty the trash."

Few people start out in life saying: "My goal is to be a janitor as my career path."

Even though the results are the same in regards to impact on society, there is not the same perception as a person who states: "My goal is to be a health care worker."

Instead, many custodians got into the industry as a way of working a few hours per night with no benefits and little respect in order to pay bills.

It is too often a second job until something better comes along.

When was the last time you saw a janitor, maid or cleaning worker portrayed in a truly positive light on television or in movies?

Many commercial building service contractors (BSCs) reinforce this stereotype because they are trying to keep their costs low by avoiding paying benefits.

There would need to be a paradigm shift within the American psyche in order to:

Educate workers to a cleaning technician level

Educate the general population to their importance in the front line on everything from health to green

Maintain their knowledge through regular re-certifications

Elevate pay and benefits accordingly.

Thanks for all you and others do to promote professionalism in the cleaning industry.

— Charles "Mickey" Crowe


I think anyone who has spent time in our industry would agree with the need for training and to create real opportunities for the people in our industry, along with

the tools/means to objectively measure cleaning and make cleaning performance-based.

But, I have another thought which always puzzles me because we all seem to avoid it like the plague: Wages and benefits.

In my opinion, our industry will never provide real futures for most workers unless the job, at a minimum, allows for meeting their basic needs.

If we''re smart, we will do it in a way that cleaning companies can pay good wages with benefits, provide upward mobility and the other things that can make it a "career."

Or, on the other hand, have in-house programs do so within their budgets — yes, cleaning budgets will need to grow.

This will help us truly become sustainable as companies and as an industry.

Ultimately, this is what our industry, workers and the facilities that we clean really need. Just a thought.

— Stephen P. Ashkin


Having been in higher education and hospital work in the facilities management arena for over 25 years, this article is timely, and for those in the facilities profession, I am sure many will say "Right on, Bill!"

During the last few years, colleges and universities — and more so K-12 — have been faced with massive funding shortages, and the areas taking some of the biggest hits are custodial services and maintenance.

There is increased labor unrest at institutions because custodians feel they are taking the brunt of many budget cuts.

At this stage, they are highly unlikely to invest in increased staff development, increased training, excessive quality assurance or even measurements of cleaning other than what is expected by the budget gurus — less cost per square foot, less staffing, less budgets, etc.

Even in an environment of severe economic restraint where institutions are stretched to the maximum, the customers that utilize these facilities are demanding more quality and service.

I have talked to innumerable employers and employees where they are so stretched by institutional demands for more work and customers'' demands for more quality that they are quitting, giving up or just playing out their role waiting for retirement.

We, as industry professionals, need to rise to the occasion by developing holistic strategies that will enable the institutions that are being hit with such chronic financial woes to move from the economies of cleaning to the effectiveness of cleaning: Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM).

Thus, any programs that are either suggested or implemented should be enablers and not inhibitors.

Putting it very crassly, if it costs very much money, time or effort for facilities managers to implement these programs, there will be great resistance.

However, if we can clearly demonstrate that ICM and other programs are enablers of success, then we will have succeeded.

— Alan Bigger


This "new model" for our industry will come to pass with leaders like you — congratulations.

There is a language barrier between the cleaning industry and the cleaning science research community.

But, strong inroads are breaking through and influencing new behavior.

A "spot on" article.

— Jim Harris, Sr.