In just a few months, Salt Lake City will host the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. It will be the last time the Olympics are held in the United States for many years, but the first time many U.S. cleaning contractors will have a chance to participate in the event.

Organizers already have determined that they want venues to be cleaner and better run than those at any previous Olympics. To do that, I have worked with them to develop a uniform cleaning plan for all of the locations. And, in the spirit of the Olympics, officials have decided they don’t want to outsource with just one contract cleaning firm, but would prefer to give many groups of BSCs an opportunity to clean at such a prestigious event.

That is why they are looking for two groups of people to perform cleaning work next February and March (some supervisors may need to arrive in mid-January for pre-Games activities) — paid cleaning contractors who will bid on a venue and come to Salt Lake with their crews, and professional cleaning managers who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise or who are sponsored by their employers to volunteer.

Wanted: The best in the business
Cleaning at the Olympics is the equivalent of a massive start-up that the entire world will watch. By the time the system is up and running at its best, the Games will be over. In addition, contractors will deal with unpredictable weather, extended travel to and from venues and extremely tight security. Anyone who performs well at such an event will have the ultimate experience to add to their references.

You’ll also have the opportunity to see the Olympic Games up close and personal and to work with the best cleaning contractors in the business. You could be cleaning ice arenas, the Medals Plaza, ski racing, bobsled or luge venues. Most locations will require small teams of 15 to 20 workers; larger sites will require 50 to 100 people. It’s a great opportunity to network and it’s never been open to so many cleaning professionals.

Salt Lake officials estimate they will have to bring in more than 500 cleaning workers to handle Olympic cleaning. Dormitory housing will be available for cleaning workers, and organizers are trying to secure housing as close to the venues as possible. Most of the venues are either within Salt Lake City or within a 30-minute radius of downtown. Officials will provide bus transportation to the venues and one meal per worker during each shift.

The bid process
Brad Goertzen with the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee is coordinating the cleaning effort. BSCs may request bid packets from him by calling (801) 212-2002. Packets should be available by early summer.

When preparing your bid, keep in mind the cost of getting your crew to Utah. Also, contractors will be required to use a team cleaning system developed specifically for the venues. Officials also are encouraging contractors to do a walk through of the venues before they submit their bids, so they have a good understanding of what they will have to do.

Preference will be given to contractors who are graduates of Janitor University and who are familiar with the (OS1) cleaning system, which is the process each venue will use. But contractors who can give organizers a fair price and a compelling reason to select their company will be considered even if they don’t already know the system.

Organizers will look for contractors who can prove they have the experience, background and manpower to do the job, so make sure to mention how well your company has performed during the largest or most demanding start-up you’ve ever encountered, as well as other tough jobs that would come closest to handling an Olympic venue.

Successful bidders will be expected to attend a Janitor University training seminar in Salt Lake in late fall or early winter of this year. In addition, contractors and their crews will need to arrive in Salt Lake prior to the first day of the Games, Feb. 8, to prepare. The committee still is determining an exact arrival date.

In all, expect to commit your workers for a little more than three weeks for the actual Olympics and Paralympics, plus about a week of training for supervisors.

Sponsored professionals
The Salt Lake games are the first-ever opportunity for cleaning professionals to participate in the sponsored (volunteer) program. These individuals will assist in the day-to-day cleaning management at various venues, either through their own funding or due to an employer’s sponsorship. This is an excellent opportunity for retired industry veterans to dust off their management skills, as well as for contractors to sponsor a valued supervisor as part of an employee incentive program.

Sponsored professionals also must attend a special Janitor University training seminar later this year. However, they only need to arrive in Salt Lake a few days before the games begin. Because volunteers may have tighter time restrictions, the committee is considering allowing these workers to work only for a portion of the Olympics. The goal is to gather enough sponsored professionals and volunteers that people can work a shorter number of days, such as one or two weeks.

Volunteers also will work a normal shift and have some free time to take in the sights of the city and many special events that don’t require tickets to the Games.

Like the rest of the Olympic volunteers, cleaning professionals who donate their expertise will receive a gift package consisting of things such as a full set of volunteer clothing, and many other items. Shirts, sweaters, pants, hats and gloves, all made by Marker, are part of the official volunteer package.

To volunteer or sponsor a supervisor, contact Goertzen.

Whether you come as a sponsored professional or a paid contractor, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games are sure to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience, both personally and professionally. It’s a golden opportunity you won’t want to miss!

John Walker is a regular Contracting Profits columnist. He is a veteran building service contractor; owner of ManageMen consulting services, Salt Lake City; and founder of Janitor University, a hands-on cleaning management training program.