In both the private sector and in government, customers are demanding more service at a lower cost. As budgets are being cut, property managers and building owners are scrambling to reduce overhead. One primary target will be janitorial service contracts. And at first glance, this goal seems contradictory when one considers labor costs, insurance, inflation and other factors that keep going up, not down.

The reality is that many have been successfully dealing with this challenge for the last thirty years. Instead of giving up, we can learn from challenges like this. Following are some basic suggestions for meeting our primary challenges in this new environment:

• Get over it. All of us love progress, but few of us embrace change when it affects us directly. Only those who embrace change can adapt, grow and ultimately survive.

• Think outside the box. Whether you are just starting a contract or have had it for years, make an honest attempt to view it afresh. Many of the old rules may no longer apply.

• Learn from the pro’s. What are some of your competitors doing that you could learn from?

• Become a pro. Consider membership in associations such as ISSA, IEHA, Cleaning Management Institute and/or Building Service Contractors Association International. Focus on continuing education.

• Cultivate your distributor. Long gone are the days when we can buy a bottle of bleach, some pine cleaner and a mop at the local grocery store. Your company should be cultivating a Strategic Alliance with a reputable distributor that not only sells quality products that you standardize across the board. Make sure your distributor is earning your business by providing chemical knowledge, safety training, safety data sheet information, and technical expertise.  

• Develop a business plan. Address questions such as: Are qualified, experienced staff on board who understand service contracting?; and Is your company poised to grow as opportunities develop?

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