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Making the Transition from Worker to Supervisor

One of the biggest challenges we face in the cleaning industry is finding and keeping qualified workers. An even greater challenge is finding and keeping qualified leads, supervisors, and managers. One of the best places to find a new supervisor or lead is to develop and promote an individual from within the ranks of your existing staff.

As an industry consultant, I get to examine the inner workings of hundreds of cleaning businesses and organizations of all types and sizes. One thing I’ve notices is that very few organizations provide upward mobility training that is specifically targeted at helping existing workers successfully make the transition from cleaner to a lead or supervisory position. (more…)

Training for Sales and Estimating

Two of the more difficult positions to fill and train for in a cleaning business or any type of service operation are the salesperson and estimator.

Not everyone agrees as to what type of a background is needed or most advantageous to have when it comes to finding someone to fill these positions. Some will say; if a person knows how to run the numbers and can learn a computer program they can bid, estimate and workload cleaning accounts. The same can be said about sales; if a person has a silver tongue, handles themselves professionally and knows a few buzz words and follows the basic concepts of how to close a sale, they can sell cleaning services. I disagree. In my experience, the best sales people and estimators, not only have the above listed skills, but also have experience in the cleaning, maintenance or property management field.

Making Training Effective

Training is most effective when utilized as a method of supervision and management. Training is much less effective when it is an activity done on a set schedule or only done in an attempt to solve a problem or correct a behavior. Training should be a mindset that guides how you approach and interact with staff, customers and others, whose behavior or attitude you want to influence.

For training to be effective on a long term basis it must be ongoing and reinforced with follow up refresher exercises that keep the information easily accessible in the mind of the learner. Training should start before an employee is hired and continue indefinitely with each and every contact or interaction you have with individual.

Training 2013 and Beyond

In our life time it seems as if the demands on management, production workers and vendors to get more done in less time and with money has never been greater. These are the realities of a changing world and a maturing industry, economy and nation. This trend has been evolving over the last 30 years and I don’t expect it will stop or reverse itself in the future. In fact, I would expect the process to continue to accelerate as we find ways to deal with increasing demands and expectations.

Our greatest challenge won’t be in getting the work done, but in preparing ourselves to cope with the speed of change. The only real opportunity for success in this effort is to hire, train and retain the best workers available.

Training Tip # 7 – Using Writing Surfaces;

I like to use writing surfaces in my presentations and classroom activities. I find them to be a great way to actively involve students in the learning process. I also like the fact that after the class I can take the written sheets and type them up and in some cases to turn them into PowerPoint slides which saves me from have to write some things on the flip chart in the next class.

If you haven’t seen or used Static Cling Sheets in place of paper, give them a try, they are come in several sizes, are inexpensive, easy to travel with and far more flexible in use than paper. Markers work great on them and they cling to any smooth flat surface without tape, adhesive or pins.

I think the biggest benefit of using writing surfaces comes when I get students out of their chairs and in front the writing surface in group exercises. This keeps everyone on their toes and involved vs. sitting listening to me talk. (more…)

Training: Overlooked And Undervalued

If there is any one area of management that is often overlooked and undervalued, it has to be employee training.

As a supervisor, manager or owner, you don’t have many options other than training to get employees to do the job correctly or to improve the quality and production of tasks that are assigned.

The easy way out would be to say that training doesn’t cost, it pays.

Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS)

What is CIMS?
The Cleaning Industry Management Standard certification program was developed over 3 years ago by the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) in cooperation with the American Institute of Cleaning Science (AICS). Since that time the ISSA and AICS have certified over 140 organizations and businesses as being in compliance with the requirements of the standard.

I complete four to six assessments or recertification audits each year in all types and sizes of facilities throughout the country. My assignments have included health care facilities, school districts, universities, and contract cleaners. The largest was the Crothall Services Group, where I audited 17 hospitals in 12 cities over a two week period, to Mr. Clean Maintenance Systems, a specialty cleaning contractor in Southern California that maintains hard floors in grocery stores.

Standards and Certification

Standards and Certification or All About Green Backs?
I just read an article in the newspaper about a school district that decided not to seek LEED Green Certification ( for its new high school because doing so would have driven the cost up by $1.5 million. According to the article, approximately $700,000 of the cost was for certification audit services. Obviously there is a lot of money to be made in Green Certification.

Over the last year Green Seal has been accepting donations to put together its Green Cleaning Certification Program for Building Service Contractors. In a recent revote on the details of the program I noticed in the small print that Green Seal would also be requiring, and I assume providing for a fee, the audit services to verify that it’s approved contractors are meeting the requirements of its certification program. (more…)

Cleaning in the USA

Honoring Dick
A friend of mine died recently. I don’t usually do funerals, weddings or memorials but I made an exception for Dick. He was one of the good guys and there aren’t enough of them around anymore. Over Dick’s 30 + years in the cleaning industry he worked his way up from a part time janitor to Branch Manager for American Building Maintenance Co. in Seattle WA. This was quite an accomplishment, considering that ABM is one of those places with the 300% turnover.

Cleaning in the USA


IICRC Holds Meetings and Instructors Symposium
The Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, WA was the site of the recent IICRC Instructor Symposium and its twice annual Board and Certification Council meetings held on Oct 22 to 24. The only thing people didnít like about the location was the $30.00 cab ride from the airport; otherwise it was an excellent location with Tempurpedic mattresses, large showerheads, and great food.

There was a lot happening at this year’s meeting. The Instructor Symposium was a hit with those in attendance. I missed the first day because of date conflicts with the ISSA Show; let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. As for the second day, Doug McCallum, an instructor with the Bob Pike Organization, walked the instructors through over 60 different instructional techniques that can be used in educational settings with adult learners. McCallum stressed the need for student involvement and shared responsibility for learning along with less use of PowerPoint in presentations. These concepts took a little getting used to for some instructors as we have always heard that PowerPoint and lecture formats were the best method to get all the technical information across to our students. (more…)