Earning an industry certification such as CIMS or CBSE, or a green certification like LEED-AP can help BSCs get a leg up on the competition, for a number of reasons. Frank recommends CIMS certification for any cleaning contractor seeking entry into the schools market. In many cases, the outline of the proposal mirrors the provisions of the CIMS standard.

“CIMS is not an accident,” Frank says. “It builds backwards from the RFP, which is why you see workloading, sustainability policies, safety, employee handbooks, manuals, technical training, frontline worker training, etc.”
BSCs that ensure their operating structures are top-notch are the ones who will be best able to specialize in the education market, he adds.

Knowledge of green cleaning products and procedures may not be required by education customers, but some cleaning companies have switched to green cleaning whether customers want it or not. Nearly a dozen states have legislation requiring or strongly recommending green cleaning in schools. Even though New Jersey isn’t one of those states, Commercial Cleaning Corp. offers it anyway, Rosen says.

And Mahanay aligns his green cleaning program with LEED requirements.
“If you can meet LEED, you can meet most green requirements,” Mahanay says. “Green cleaning has become the standard. More and more people are conscious about the environment. Any cleaning company not on board with that is going to have trouble — not just in schools but in other markets, too.”

But BSCs need to think beyond cleaning and keep occupant safety top of mind, as well. Contractors’ safety practices and policies should include acknowledgement of safety codes, laws and regulations. Hiring a safety manager is wise.

“Do you understand you can’t have a propane tank in a building with children? Do you know you can’t install an alcohol-based, battery-operated hand sanitizer at a fire exit? Do you know you shouldn’t have hydrochloric acid in a building populated with six-year-olds? Most BSCs and most distributors don’t know these things,” Frank says.

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