The fourth and final part of this article considers the challenges in hiring workers and managers for industrial cleaning.

One of the challenges of industrial cleaning is assembling a team of workers who are able to handle not only the physical demands of the job, but also the psychological demands. A fear of heights or confined spaces, for example, might prove detrimental to a worker assigned to clean rafters or paint pits.

“People that clean in a commercial office are generally in a nice, air-conditioned facility,” says Greenland. “Industrial [cleaners] are probably wearing safety equipment, goggles, gloves and maybe even a respirator.”

Industrial cleaners might also be required to work odd hours when manufacturing operations close down, such as weekends, holidays and third shifts.

“When you’re working with manufacturing facilities you have a small window of time to execute projects or daily cleaning tasks,” says Niswonger. “So flexibility is a key component to success.”

Some customers may have prerequisites to work in their facilities, such as security requirements, that call for background checks. Mandelstam’s employees had to undergo screening to be authorized to work in water treatment and financial services facilities.

“When you have typical turnover in an office environment, it’s easier to get new people on board and into the field,” he says. “In industrial environments, there’s a longer lead time because of the screening involved.”

Pricing industrial accounts also differs from commercial work. Rather than pricing by square footage, it works better to price it by the type of work involved.

“A really small space can be labor intensive, and the opposite is also true,” says Mandelstam. “You may have a large warehouse that’s intimidating in size, but all you’re doing is picking up trash every 50 yards.”

Despite the challenges of cleaning in industrial environments, BSCs see opportunities for growth — not only through the acquisition of new clients, but also through the expansion of services for existing customers.

“There are prospects for providing industrial services outside the general services BSCs provide, and a lot of times there are opportunities from within the organizations they’re already serving,” says Segura. “The contractor may be doing all the office areas and exterior areas, and the industrial cleaning is being done in house. But often customers are looking for outside sources to do their industrial cleaning to match their budgetary goals, so it behooves the contractor who’s already in that facility to be alert and aware of those opportunities.”

Such was the case for Scioto Services, which started its industrial services division as a result of an existing account. Today, industrial cleaning makes up approximately 25 percent of its business.

“It’s the old adage, when you take care of customers and they have confidence in your ability, then other doors open up — and that’s what happened with us,” says Niswonger.

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits.

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Industrial Work May Require OSHA, PPE Training