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Teaching An Old Industry New Tricks

Last updated 5 years ago

This article was originally published by CMM Online

By Richard DiPaolo

Several years back and a few years before America became entrenched in The Great Recession, I wrote an article that outlined a changing time in the JanSan industry.

At the time, the dot-com bubble had popped, but distributors were still being affected by untraditional competition as end users had more options to purchase products and equipment online or at big box retailers.

The article also painted a grim picture of the industry’s state of training, citing that only one in 10 cleaning workers was properly trained.

The industry’s durability was being challenged, and an obvious transformation in thinking and cleaning approaches was omnipresent in the market.

The Industry’s Resilience

Prior to writing the article, and for many decades previously, the professional cleaning industry provided workers and owners with stability; some even referred to the JanSan industry as recession-proof.

However, over the past 10-plus years, a different reality has been realized.

“While the professional cleaning industry is certainly not recession-proof — as it was called during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s — it is recession-resilient,” asserts Robert Kravitz of AlturaSolutions Communications, a JanSan-focused communications firm. “Despite setbacks, we know how to get back on our feet and start building again. However, at this time, we have not fully recovered, and some ways of doing business may have changed forever.”

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

So far, it appears as though the message continues to be received by decision makers.

“The cleaning industry enjoys a certain insulation from external economic factors,” notes Dan Wagner, director of facility service programs for ISSA. “Facilities continue to need to be cleaned regardless of economic malaise. Further, despite tightening budgets, there does seem to be a growing appreciation for the role cleaning plays in protecting public health, the environment and facility assets.”

Wagner adds that 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.”

The number of business-savvy end users will have to strengthen and these decision makers will have to consider more than just a price point.

“There is a growing demand at the end user level for understanding the total ‘cost of clean,’” says Michael Wilson, marketing director for AFFLINK. “Successful companies are now looking at their facilities’ budgets more holistically and in the context of their overall profits and losses. Seeing that a product may save 10 percent on the buy side may not be a wise investment once the cost of acquisition, possession and application of that product are factored in.”

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