The cleaning industry isn’t known for rampant change. The old joke at trade shows is that every year it’s the same products, but now available in blue.

Kidding aside, there is some truth to that statement. Comparing IFMA’s “Operations and Benchmarks Reports” from 2006 to its recent edition, there is little change in cleaning frequencies. Apart from some decline in daily restroom cleaning and waste removal, BSCs performed the same level of service in 2008 as they had in 2005.

BSCs performed the same
level of service in 2008 as
they had in 2005

Well, significant change has finally come to the cleaningindustry. But unfortunately, it’s not for the better. There are no surveys to back it up, but the BSCs we talked to for our cover story, “Fundamental Shift,” report service reductions ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent due to the current recession. In addition to the services mentioned above, in order to reduce costs, facility mangers are also cutting back on daily dusting and vacuuming. Deputy Editor Lisa Ridgely also reports that weekly services have shifted to once or twice a month and quarterly services are now performed twice a year. Add-on services such as carpet care and window washing have been hit the hardest and are now done on an as-needed basis.

But what concerns BSCs the most, Ridgely finds, is the possibility that demand for these services won’t bounce back to pre-recession levels anytime soon. That’s a legitimate fear, because as the IFMA data supports, cleaning frequencies apparently don’t change that often. What a customer requests today probably will remain that way for a few years.

Next month we’ll continue our coverage of the changing marketplace and investigate some of the options BSCs can consider to make up for this lost business.