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September 19, 2010

In the wake of a housing bust, a banking crisis, a credit crunch and a growing wave of job cuts, what American worker isn''t worried about their job?

What business owner isn''t fretting over losing key customers or nervous about the daunting task of making cuts?

Everyone is feeling a bit vulnerable in this economic climate, especially with unprecedented business changes likely in 2009.

Already tight-budgeted schools and universities may scale back on cleaning operations or even choose to outsource the cleaning function.

And, while more outsourcing is a gain, BSCs will be forced to offer highly competitive prices and even better service to win and retain contracts.

Any in-house facility service providers or BSCs who are feeling uneasy and want to hold onto their jobs and their customers can find their defense strategy in ISSA''s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS).

Using CIMS as a guide, I''ve come up with three ways to increase job security.

Be a know-it-all
If there is one thing in-house facility service providers know better than their competition, it''s their buildings.

The more in-house staff knows, the better their job security.

In addition to mastering building (and occupant) quirks, staff should have copies of architectural blueprints or access to electronic CAD drawings, which map out building square footage, surface types and janitor''s closets.

Staff can add to these building maps the number and type of fixtures in each area, furniture and other notable facts.

Another key piece to keep close at hand is all workloading data, including cleaning frequencies, number of full-time employees and labor hours required for specific tasks.

Cleaning managers who can calculate the cost for completing each task are invaluable.

Wise managers know how to adjust to budget cuts and minimize the effect on performance outcomes.

At the same time, contractors must be able to explain, in great detail, how they''re going to do the job, how they''re going to deliver services and how they''re going to perform to prove that they''re qualified to get that work.

Take notes
Contractors are not always picked based on price or even performance; they''re also picked based on the process they bring to the table.

A well-documented and well-implemented program can be the ticket to winning that coveted contract.

To combat the threat of outsourcing and/or slashes to budgets, in-house cleaning managers also should have documentation of their entire cleaning operation.

CIMS calls for documentation in five core areas:

  • Quality systems
  • Service delivery
  • Human resources
  • Health, safety and environmental stewardship
  • Management commitment.

Armed with this information, cleaning professionals can achieve and plan for continuous improvement and quality management.

These written records also provide credibility when meeting with upper management.

Speak up
When it comes to meeting with upper management, housekeeping managers and BSCs alike must be conversant in the language of building owners and executives.

There are many BSCs that know the language very well and present their proposals using key phrases and measures.

Quantifiable data, such as "cost per patient room" or "savings per school day," are metrics cleaning managers and contractors need be familiar with and ready to present when speaking with executives.

Executives also want to know how your department or business is going to improve customer satisfaction, health and safety and operational efficiency.

In-house cleaning managers and BSCs who can explain these essential areas to executives will outshine their competition.

Dave Frank is a 30-year industry veteran and the president of the American Institute for Cleaning Sciences. AICS is the registrar for the ISSA Cleaning Industry Management Standard certification program.