The cover story in this month’s CM Magazine discusses the changes in the janitorial and maintenance industry over the last several years and the impact of the recession.
The editors turned to Susan Popovic, CLS president, for her professional input and perspective on the status of the cleaning industry.
“..This industry's resiliency and how it performs during uncertain times relies heavily on facility and cleaning service owners’ and managers’ abilities to uphold the importance of the cleaning worker’s role in healthy, properly functioning buildings.
… the recession seems to have highlighted a widening divide between facility end users who understand the true role of cleaning and are willing to treat it as an investment and those who treat cleaning as a commodity and look for the lowest price, regardless of ‘total value.’ … decision makers will have to consider more than just a price point.
… today’s automated, ‘smarter’ tools and equipment can improve both productivity and results…And, forward-thinking BSCs and in-house managers now side with long-term value over short-term savings.
‘We are constantly looking for innovative ways to reduce labor, but still provide the same level of service to our customers,’ says Susan Popovic, president of Cleaner Living Services, an Illnois-based BSC. ‘As an example, during the recession, we invested in machinery and equipment to reduce labor hours. A daily maintenance project that took eight hours a day is now reduced to 45 minutes.’
According to Popovic, her company was able to keep costs lower and not reflect any increases to clients.
“We continually think of ways to stabilize prices and rely on the partnership with our suppliers to introduce us to the latest innovations in our industry,” comments Popovic. ’Every day, we are thinking about how we could provide the same services for our building owners without raising prices – we just have to work smarter and rely on manufacturers to continually introduce us to new ways to improve our business operations.'
…Green cleaning and being more sustainable, albeit not new trends at all, continue to evolve in this industry. For some, green in not a trend at all, but rather the norm today.
‘Green cleaning is no longer a trend; it is a way of doing business and it is here to stay,’ says Popovic. ‘The green movement has compelled initial skeptics to now focus their attention on delivering more environmentally friendly services and products. As the market matures, there wll be a demand for services from businesses that understand how to cater and actually deliver the specifics rather than just greenwashing.’
…While there are still companies who maintain the one-in 10 average of properly trained cleaning workers, the statistics are improving as a result of an increased emphasis placed on training and worker certification, and reputable BSCs and in-house cleaners will continue to be rewarded.
BSCs, such as Popovic’s company, are seeing a comeback effect occurring.
‘We have experienced boomerang customers … those who have turned to the low-cost option for budgetary reasons, only to return to us after a short amount of time due to performance issues,” say Popovic.
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