3. Certifications can help improve business practices.

IH Services was one of the first companies to achieve ISSA’s CIMS certification, and Moore feels that earning the designation has improved the company’s documentation practices.

“There’s no question that CIMS has changed what we do,” he says. “CIMS has guidelines you have to meet, and we found that we were doing 95 percent of what they wanted, but we weren’t documenting it. A big takeaway for us was the employee training log. We definitely behave differently now.”

For Scott Stevenson, president and CEO of Madison, Wisconsin-based Kleenmark, the CIMS certification provided an opportunity to look seriously at what the company was doing and make some much needed changes that opened the door for growth.

“I thought we were highly standardized, but when I looked under the hood, I could see we could better streamline some of our systems between account managers,” he says. “Things like how we ordered equipment and the way we operated for quality control — CIMS helped us really button down some of our processes.”

Fifteen years ago, Don Zerivitz, president of Pro Clean Building Maintenance, Inc., Altamonte Springs, Florida, attended several of ManageMen’s (OS1) workshops to learn the ins and outs of the system. They continue to use the operating system for all the cleaning they do today. 

“We like (OS1) because a lot of time, [a client’s] dissatisfaction comes over a process failing or a process that doesn’t exist,” he says. “When we are able to share the job cards, routes and audits that go into (OS1), it seems to resonate with customers.”

4. Certifications can demonstrate value to prospective clients. 

To market their certifications, many contract cleaners list the designation on a company website, business cards and other marketing and sales collateral. The goal is to establish their knowledge and expertise in what they do with prospective customers.

“For a discerning buyer, [having a certification] communicates to them that we are professionals, we know our industry and we are prepared to help them,” says Lazorik.  

However, a lot of times, it’s up to a BSC to educate the client on the value of the certification. Depending on the type of designation, a facility executive or building owner may be familiar with it. But, often, it’s up to the BSC to highlight the certification in the initial business pitch and educate customers on what it means.

“I liken it to the time before Bluetooth technology became popular,” says Wagemester. “You didn’t know what it was or to ask for it in your car, but you knew you’d like to have that capability. The same goes for certifications like (OS1). There are a lot of facility managers who wish the janitorial industry was much more sophisticated — they don’t know to ask for (OS1), so we need to teach them about what it is and what it means for them.”

Stevenson says that about 95 percent of Kleenmark’s prospective clients don’t know what CIMS is, but that it’s up to their sales team to communicate the value of the certification.

“When our sales team can effectively articulate how CIMS equips us with the systems and tools to meet their needs, we win,” he says. 

5. Certifications are business differentiators — or at least they level the field. 

Contractors like Moore feel organization-wide certifications like CIMS and CIMS-GB can set them apart from the competition, but not everyone agrees. Zerivitz feels that so many BSCs have obtained CIMS that it dilutes its value. According to ISSA, approximately 200 contract cleaning organizations have obtained CIMS certification.

“We’ve been CIMS certified for roughly 10 years, and I can’t say that prospective customers are biting on that,” says Zerivitz. “We’ve had some existing customers who have included CIMS in their RFPs, but a lot of my competitors have CIMS, too.”

But Stevenson doesn’t think the lack of differentiation is a bad thing. In fact, he sees it as a positive because it levels the playing field by elevating the quality of cleaning performed. When more contractors hold CIMS certification, he feels it generates more awareness and credibility for the certification — and the importance of quality cleaning.

“We originally invested in CIMS certification because we felt the industry was becoming too commoditized,” says Stevenson. “I would much rather have my competitors be certified because then you know that they are using qualified practices. When someone else is bidding with CIMS, I know I’m not competing on price alone.”

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