The professional cleaning industry in North America and much of Western Europe recognizes the benefits of providing green cleaning services to its customers. More importantly, it understands the positive health benefits of these services to building users and cleaning staff. However, the benefits of green cleaning are unknown in many other parts of the world.
As a representative of ISSA, giving presentations in Central America and South America, a key focus of my talks is green cleaning. I am finding that many cleaning contractors, especially those operated by younger people, are excited about green cleaning and view it as a business opportunity. Although they are anxious to encourage their customers to adopt green cleaning products and strategies, they are not always sure how to go about it.
I would like to share with CMM readers some of the questions I’m asked in other parts of the world. I would not be surprised if many cleaning contractors here in North America are struggling with some of the same issues.
How do I introduce green cleaning to my customers?
I am an advocate of in-person presentations to customers on the value of green cleaning. You can find several studies online on green cleaning benefits, such as how student performance and attendance has improved when green cleaning programs are in place at schools, and how worker productivity has been enhanced and absenteeism has declined due to green cleaning in offices.
Which customers most want green cleaning programs?
Clients who are doing business nationally and internationally are the first you should approach. Companies want to do businesses with other companies that share their culture, and often this culture includes green cleaning.
Large corporations will ask their vendors what green and sustainability initiatives they have in place. Many of your customers view adopting green cleaning and sustainability initiatives as a smart business practice.
How do I get staff to make the change from traditional cleaning methods?
In some cases, it can be easier to get your clients on board with a green cleaning program than your staff. Cleaning workers become very accustomed to the products they have traditionally used and are reluctant to change. The first step is to show them that many green cleaning products are as effective and perform as well as the traditional alternatives they have used in the past. Emphasize that when used correctly, green cleaning products also are safer and healthier for the cleaners and protective of the environment.
What changes do I need to make?
ISSA’s CIMS-GB (for green buildings) program is offered throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and in several cities in Latin America. The program reviews all the key components of a green cleaning program and explains how to get one started for your business and your clients.
How do I sell and market my green cleaning program to prospects?
As I mentioned, I am a firm advocate of live presentations before prospects; increasingly, this is becoming essential to win their business. When calling on larger, more lucrative prospects, these presentations will be expected of cleaning contractors. Prepare a professional PowerPoint (or similar) presentation. While your prospects are interested in what you have to say, having a professional-looking PowerPoint to enhance your talk is icing on the cake.
Rehearse your presentation. Twenty minutes is enough time to speak and allows for about ten minutes of questions and answers. Also, tailor your presentation to the type of organization you are meeting with. A school, for instance, will have cleaning concerns that may not be shared by an office building filled with attorneys.
Finally, a question I frequently am asked is if contractors should provide both traditional and green cleaning programs. At this point, I suggest transferring to green cleaning. Because the performance of most environmentally preferable cleaning products is as effective as their traditional alternatives, and cost effective as well, there is simply no need to offer both.