A reader writes: "I am getting more and more confused about all the certifications being promoted by associations and companies, some of which I have never heard of. Any guidance would be appreciated."

My first response is that the right certifications can open doors for new customers, improve your company’s status and actually improve your bottom line if you actually apply the guidelines and knowledge provided. My caution is that you need consider each certification for what it covers as well as what value it brings to your table. Remember that there are different types of certifications, some for individuals, some for companies and some for both. Company certifications are a recognition that a company has documented adherence to published criteria and usually passed an inspection declaring that they have earned a certain credential. This could be for management practices, quality, production or green policies and practices. These are usually good for one to five years and allow your company to publicize achieving this recognition. Some customers will require these designations before allowing your company to even bid on a particular contract.

Individual certifications follow the person regardless of where they are employed and can help achieve some company certifications noted in the prior paragraph. Such certifications can range from management to floor care to training to a variety of other fields that can benefit your company. There is usually a set of manuals, one or more tests/exams and in some cases demonstrating knowledge and performance. Examples are being a certified carpet care technician with varying levels of expertise beginning with a basic level and ending in a recognized trainer.

You need to take into account not only the cost of the certification but also the investment of time and other resources for you or your company to earn the designation. Beware of any sales pitch that basically asks for money to earn some worthless certificate.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net