Teena Shouse, a former chair of the IFMA Board of Directors, and an expert in facility management, says that many contract cleaning operations generally lack consistent standard operating procedures that are tied to key performance indicators and customer service level agreements (SLAs).

“That is the trifecta: it’s very important to measure key performance indicators utilizing established Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you’re going to adhere and teach to. Most importantly, all this is tied to the established SLAs,” Shouse says.

Mapping operations to industry standards gives a facility management group something to stand on if or when management demands cuts to the operations and maintenance budget.

If BSCs can show a CFO a number that makes sense and there’s occupant or customer productivity tied to it, there’s a good argument to keep cleaning levels where they are, she says. But BSCs need to sell their value and promote themselves, even if it means learning how to speak a “different language” to do it.

“I see more and more contractors gaining facility manager credentials, and that seems to be helping a great deal because it helps them understand the industry as a whole. It’s just like anything else — when you speak the same language as someone, you’re going to be a better communicator,” Shouse says.

Small and mid-sized companies also need to keep technology and digital media top-of-mind if they want to stay competitive, says Luke. BSCs should invest in having a well-designed website that is search engine optimized so customers can easily find them using search engines, and they need to be engaged with social media. All of these things help BSCs appear more professional and credible.

In recent years, mergers and acquisitions have helped create some of the cleaning industry’s largest service providers, such as Eurest Services. Other BSCs, too, have evolved their services so that they mirror facility management company offerings.

“We think our clients recognize that if they give more work to one service provider, they will receive the level of attention and care they rightly deserve,” says Mack. “It also means the client has one point of contact, one provider to go to, one scorecard to review and measure, one set of key performance indicators and one provider focused on the safety and protection of their assets.

“It supports a stronger partnership with a client overall.”

With financial belt-tightening a continuing trend in certain sectors, including healthcare and education, will come opportunities for BSCs to pitch their services to an ever-growing field of customers. And despite increased cost-savings pressure from customers, the cleaning and building services industries remain relationship-centric, no matter who the point of contact is or how the BSC was selected. 

“The trend will continue to grow and BSCs must focus on their key competencies in order to gain and, or maintain a competitive advantage in the markets in which they operate,” says Mack. “You need to understand how to play, and learn what it takes to win.”

Lisa Ridgely is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee. She is the former Deputy Editor of
Contracting Profits.

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Branding BSCs As Valuable Cleaning Experts